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Poverty in BhutanBhutan is a small country tucked away in the mountainous terrain of the Himalayas. Known as the Kingdom of Happiness, Bhutan is notable for creating its Gross National Happiness Index. This index serves as a tool for the Government of Bhutan to outline what must be done in order to foster and maintain a holistically sustainable environment. To uphold this index, Bhutan has made it a priority to reduce poverty in Bhutan and better the quality of life for the population.

Poverty in Bhutan

Poverty in Bhutan stems largely from issues with the country’s terrain. The Himalayas, while beautiful, are also difficult to cultivate, traverse and control. Farmers struggle to grow enough crops to maintain a stable income due to the limited access to farmable land. What workable land there is, often rests at the whims of various natural disasters. The lack of education and diverse job opportunities also have made it difficult for many to rise out of their economic situation without help and intervention.

Over the last 10 years, the government has made impressive strides to address poverty in Bhutan. Between 2007 and 2012, poverty dropped from 23% down to 12%. In 2017, Bhutan announced that it had once again cut its poverty rate by half over five years, dropping the number down to 5.8%.

Strategies and Improvements

The value of land productivity has been rising and thus, farming has become a more profitable and sustainable industry. Bhutan cultivates less than 3% of its land but the country has shifted to producing high-value commercial crops. These crops sell for a high price with countries such as India and Bangladesh, making up for the lack of farmable land. Trade agreements have stimulated the value of agricultural exports, increasing the international cash flow into Bhutan’s own economy.

Infrastructure and road production have become vital players in the reduction of poverty in Bhutan. The Government of Bhutan set out to update existing paths, develop new highways and ensure that no town is more than a half-day walk from the closest road. High-quality roads allow for traffic both through and out of rural areas. This increased traffic to urban areas provides easier access to jobs, education and other opportunities for those who previously struggled with inaccessibility.

Hydroelectric projects also play a sizeable role in Bhutan’s efforts to fight poverty. These projects have not only stimulated job growth within rural communities but have also brought in many foreign workers. The presence of these workers increases local spending, benefitting rural communities with income.

Looking Forward

Over the last decade, the rate of poverty in Bhutan has fallen to new lows. While there are still many in the country that struggle with poor living conditions, the government is working to ensure that they too will benefit from the economic changes that Bhutan is trying to normalize. The Gross National Happiness Index accounts for all the people of the country and thus, Bhutan will continue to work at helping its people until all are holistically happy.

Nicolette Schneiderman
Photo: Flickr

Entrepreneurship in Africa
Africa stands as a continent of nearly 1.3 billion people, with 27 nations having a poverty rate of over 30%. As COVID-19 spreads through the region, falling demand and break down of supply chains threaten to further slow already-sluggish growth rates. Ever the land of great resilience and innovation, hundreds of enterprising individuals have excelled in Africa, enriching themselves and their countries. Increasingly more Africans are seeking out entrepreneurial and small business opportunities to combat poverty. One such businessman helping in this effort, multimillionaire Tony Elumelu, is using his wealth to fuel entrepreneurship in Africa and transform the continent into a booming commercial hub and providing hope for the future.

Roadblocks to Economic Growth in Africa

Africa’s economy has long suffered stubborn development setbacks. Government inaction, fragile infrastructure and widespread instability have hindered the region’s industrialization and economic growth. Many countries grapple with deficient infrastructure, including inadequate means of transportation, limited access to electricity and water and poor telecommunications systems. The World Bank estimates that the resolution of these structural shortcomings would increase the region’s productivity by as much as 40%.

Politicians have been reluctant to bolster manufacturing despite an international consensus on Africa’s need for industrialization. Such apprehension can be partially attributed to Africa’s unique position in the world economy: a pre-industrial continent already aspiring to post-industrialism. This misguided ambition has discouraged lawmakers from implementing protectionist policies. Without tariffs that benefit domestic manufacturing industries, larger international corporations choke out Africa’s budding factories and discourage entrepreneurship in Africa.

Ongoing fiscal and political instability serves to magnify these already difficult issues. Mounting debt levels divert money from investment to reimbursement and waste significant capital on unproductive endeavors. For example, sub-Saharan Africa’s aggregate debt-to-GDP ratio doubled from 2008 to 2017. Additionally, frequent leadership turnover has deterred international companies from entering African countries.

Working to mitigate these hurdles is Tony Elumelu, the founder of Heirs Holdings Ltd, a private investment corporation that operates in the energy sector. Beyond oil and gas, Elumelu is investing in a far more valuable asset: Africa’s future innovators. His nonprofit organization, the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), empowers young entrepreneurs with the resources they need to build meaningful businesses.

How The Tony Elumelu Foundation Advances Entrepreneurship in Africa

The Tony Elumelu Foundation fosters entrepreneurship in Africa to alleviate poverty and spark economic gains. The TEF Entrepreneurship Programme offers grants and mentorship to innovative African businesspeople, allowing them to transform their ideas into profitable corporations. Endowed with a generous $100 million, the program has already assisted 9,000 individuals in creating businesses that invigorate their entire communities.

The broad scope of TEF’s investments cultivates economic diversification, a key tenet of development and stability. Some of the organization’s recent beneficiaries include:

  • Stars From All Nations (SFAN): Headed by Tom-Chris Emewulu, SFAN nourishes young minds through informative programs and workshops. Aimed at augmenting and supplementing children’s schooling, the company is helping to resolve Africa’s undereducation crisis.
  • Doctoora: Jubril Odulana, a Nigerian doctor, created Doctoora as a solution to Africa’s limited healthcare access. The platform collaborates with medical professionals to open private practices and ensures patients receive the care they need. In the face of COVID-19, Doctoora plays an essential role in promoting public health across the region.
  • Ufinix.com: The brainchild of Nnodim Uchenna, Ufinix.com offers aspiring developers comprehensive coding courses and guidance, preparing them for future careers in computer science. By equipping students with technological knowledge, the website is propelling Africa into the digital age.
  • Light Salone: Light Salone founder Mohammed Akamara aims to redress Sierra Leone’s severe energy shortage. In pursuit of this goal, Akamara engineered affordable hybrid solar-wind power sources to electrify rural areas and boost development. Manufactured using recycled supplies, these Sowind Technologies provide a mindful solution to Sierra Leone’s electrical desert.

By supporting young visionaries, the Tony Elumelu Foundation is generating hope, ambition and entrepreneurship in Africa. Its passionate beneficiaries are launching innovative and impactful companies that not only empower their creators but also their communities. The foundation has employed the continent’s most creative, altruistic minds, initiating a cycle of philanthropy that portends Africa’s future prosperity.

Rosalind Coats
Photo: Flickr

U.S. benefits from foreign aid to DjiboutiA tiny, desert-like East African nation, Djibouti is more synonymous with counter-terrorism and the piracy concerns of its southern neighbor than economic ties to the U.S. However, substantial U.S. foreign aid is indirectly creating opportunities for U.S. exporters. Additionally, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Djibouti by securing efficient and reliable trade routes to other nearby African countries such as Ethiopia, in which the U.S. has key commercial interests.

Home to roughly 875,000 people, as well as a significant U.S., German, Japanese, French and most recently Chinese military presence, Djibouti has a decidedly disproportionate amount of foreign military within its borders. The U.S. pays $60 million each year to Djibouti for the rights to maintain its only permanent sub-Saharan military base.

But, U.S. foreign aid coming into the country is equally important in Djibouti for the majority of citizens looking for work. Although U.S. investment in the country pales in contrast to that of new entrants into the region such as China, the actual workforce of Djibouti is benefiting from the more nuanced and domestically-oriented U.S. foreign aid.

New ventures in the construction of ports, pipelines, international airports and railways have somewhat failed to raise the standard of living and stimulate employment. Accounting for 70 percent of GDP, the new port projects have only added a few thousand jobs. According to the U.N., despite recent Chinese soft loans toward these various infrastructure projects, the unemployment rate in Djibouti still stands at 60 percent.

This high level of unemployment is partly due to a lack of qualified candidates in many sectors of the economy. Workers looking for jobs simply do not have the necessary skills required to fill many of the possible vacancies.

Through the Workforce Development Project (WDP), the United States Agency for International Development and Djibouti are working together to reduce unemployment and create a more modern labor force. Investments of nearly $25 million over five years (2016-2021) are aimed at increasing competitiveness by tailoring the workforce to the needs of a modern economy.

The WDP emphasizes creating stronger connections between worker training programs and employers. Specifically, through more meaningful ties between vocational education centers and businesses, the future workforce will be better suited for the demands of firms and will likely have greater hiring potential.

Although not as flashy as the new Doraleh Port or the new electrified railroad connecting Djibouti City and Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, the WDP will create thousands of new consumers to U.S. exports. This is especially promising since the soaring unemployment rate allows for ample economic improvements should this transformation of the workforce take place. USAID, centered on workforce assimilation, is therefore fostering job growth that will be more sustainable than temporary employment based on glitzy infrastructure projects.

Another way in which the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Djibouti is by promoting ongoing access to the substantial trade flows emanating from regional neighbors. A prime example of this is Ethiopia. Much of Ethiopia’s exports—including coffee, vegetables and cosmetics—are routed through Djibouti on their way to the U.S. Meanwhile, as of 2016, 90 percent of all Ethiopian imports were brought via ports in Djibouti.

U.S. foreign aid indirectly contributes to these regional trade routes of East Africa by creating a more prosperous and modernized workforce in Djibouti. A thriving, educated and healthy Djibouti society will undoubtedly increase the opportunities for cross-border trade.

One byproduct of this increasingly interconnected region around Djibouti would be more timely and reliable shipment of goods and lower associated transportation costs. As in Ethiopia, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Djibouti are amplified when stability across the wider East African region is maintained.

On this last issue, there is little doubt that the military presence plays a prominent role. However, U.S. programs aiming to reduce unemployment such as the WDP, by indirectly promoting a more sustainable domestic environment in Djibouti, also contribute to regional stability. Garnering less attention than the massive infrastructure spending, transforming the country one worker at a time will lead to continued U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Djibouti

– Nathan Ghelli

Photo: Flickr

poverty in Tibet

Despite political tensions, Tibet has seen marked improvements in everyday life for its average citizens. The central government in Beijing and other nations may have ulterior motives behind their funding, but the result is the same: a more prosperous Tibet. Aid is flowing in from the Chinese government, the United Nations Development Project (UNDP) and Nepal, to name a few.

According to the regional authority, over the course of the past five years, over 530,000 people have escaped poverty in Tibet. It comes as no surprise that with a falling poverty rate, there is a rise in registered capital. Currently, the number stands at over $162 billion, a 39.4 percent increase from the previous year.

Tibetan Politics: A Delicate Situation

Tibet and China have been in a tense struggle over Tibet’s autonomy since the 1950s. Many Tibetans wish for independence, and in the past, the Chinese government has acted forcefully.

The most notable example of this is the situation with the current Dalai Lama who has been living in exile in India since the Tibetan Rebellion. Despite the Dalai Lama’s tension with Beijing, it seems even he believes that remaining with China is in Tibet’s best interest. Couple that with the many development projects China has enacted in Tibet, and it appears that their relationship is looking up.

China Tries to Tackle Poverty in Tibet

The government in Beijing gives the impression that its best path to quieting Tibetan independence talks is to tackle the region’s poverty problem. One such project that China has funded is in Amdo County, where once-nomadic herders who lived in adobe huts are now receiving homes paid for by the government with a market rate of approximately $47,000.

The Shopko family, one of the recipients of these homes, have gone on the record to express their heartfelt thanks for their new home. Their old hut sat at 16,000 feet with no heating or roads to connect them to the nearby villages.

To help with the move, the Chinese government is giving migrants jobs at local tourism centers, hotels and car washes. It follows up on this guarantee with monthly bonuses for locals who manage and protect the essential grasslands, as well as 5,000 yuan a year to residents who enroll in university.

While the Shopkos serve as an ideal for how the government attempts to tackle poverty in Tibet, the program has only reached 121 families so far, but in the previous five years, the government has spent more than $9 billion to try to alleviate poverty in Tibet. Seemingly, Beijing is looking for answers to its political issues.

Foreign Aid to Tibet

Foreign countries are investing in Tibet as well. The Nepalese government has been distancing itself from its neighbor, India, in favor of China. This political posturing could be for a host of reasons; however, the projects Nepal is planning in Tibet are apolitical for the Tibetan people.

Gobinda Karkee is a Nepalese diplomat who oversees development projects with China. The most famous of these is the Friendship Bridge, which was renovated in 2016. The plans are not all symbolic, though. By 2020, Nepal plans on finishing a rail network that will connect with Tibet and lessen its reliance on using Indian ports. The $226 million project is jointly funded by Nepal and China. Along this rail line will be multiple trading points and border checks. The two nations hope the plan will boost the local economy and help rebuild much of the infrastructure that was destroyed in the 2015 earthquake.

Poverty in Tibet has often gone unnoticed in the media because when the region is in the news, it is being celebrated for its rich culture and history. The UNDP sought to take advantage of this by building tourism infrastructure in rural areas, which in turn provides higher paying jobs for the impoverished people in the Tibetan Steppe.

Much like the Chinese government’s program, UNDP has put a heavy focus on preserving the local ecology and economy. The bulk of the project focuses on Old Lhasa City. The city is famous for its courtyards, which UNDP is mapping, landscaping and organizing the foundation of to make Lhasa a tourist destination. Old Lhasa has become an exemplary case of the economic and cultural benefits of the UNDP program.

Tibet rests in a political hotbed in South Asia, and the effects of the decisions made by its neighbors can have unintended consequences on the proud region. Throughout the religious and diplomatic dilemmas, poverty in Tibet has long been a debilitating issue. Thanks to organizations like the UNDP, this problem is now being dealt with and has already improved the lives of half a million people.

– David Jaques

Photo: Flickr

Infrastructure in GhanaTechnological advancement, especially regarding mobile phone development and access, has revolutionized the way Ghanaian people are learning, both in and out of African school systems. As mobile phone access becomes more readily available throughout Ghana, app developers are revolutionizing distance education and mobile e-learning programs. According to a report published by the GSM Association, the countries of Sub-Saharan Arica experienced a 58 percent increase in the number of mobile health services available to the public that make access to health information and training programs far more accessible

With e-learning programs on the rise, Ghanaian adults now have access to college-level courses, skill development training sessions, and even medical school examination prep courses. Increased dissemination of m-learning – mobile phone learning – programs and software may serve to promote literacy and education in areas of Africa where academic infrastructure is lacking. Additionally, African colleges can utilize these learning programs to augment pre-existing programs so as to better prepare Ghanaian college graduates for employment or further education.

Stakeholders and app developers have made great strides in establishing a public health approach that utilizes online education to counter the public’s access to certain aspects of healthcare.

One particular e-learning platform, skoool HE, seeks to promote greater access to midwifery education in an effort to reduce the maternal mortality ratio, which lies at approximately 350 deaths per 100,000 women. The application, funded and developed by Ghana’s Ministry of Health, delivers an interactive learning platform wherein students are taught emergency preparedness and neonatal delivery procedures on a case-by-case basis. As a large proportion of practicing midwives approach the mandatory retiring age of 60, the Ghanaian government is utilizing educational technology to establish a new workforce to fill the impending gap.

Stakeholders involved in the sustainability of skoool HE are facilitating the development of additional learning modules and are coordinating with local communities that use the technology in an effort to augment the educational infrastructure in Ghana.

Another application supplementing healthcare education in Africa, MedAfrica, essentially mirrors the fundamental components of Web MD. This application is available to the general public free of cost and provides information regarding diagnoses, symptoms, and treatment options for multiple diseases and infections.

As Ghanaian e-learning programs continue to increase public access to college courses, healthcare information, and skill development training to adults and children, scientists are now interested in improving educational infrastructure in Ghana that promote faculty curriculum training and development.

Matthew Boyer

Photo: Flickr

Sierra Irrigation Project for Peru: Good News for FarmersPeru has been one of the fastest-growing economies over the last decade but poverty in the Peruvian Sierra remains high. Poverty rates are far above the national averages and especially peak in rural areas.

In 2010, the largest share of household income in the Sierra came from agriculture. There exists strong evidence that agriculture growth is more effective in reducing poverty than growth in other sectors. The Sierra Irrigation Project for Peru was implemented in order to bolster agricultural production and productivity in targeted areas of the Sierra with the ultimate goal of improving the financial capacity of impoverished farmers. The project is multifaceted, focusing on:

  • Modernization and rehabilitation of collective irrigation
  • Irrigation technology improvement
  • Capacity building and support to production and marketing
  • Formalization of water rights and the national water rights administrative registry
  • Project implementation support

Since being established in 2010, the Sierra Irrigation Project for Peru has made significant contributions to the growing agricultural sector. The project successfully increased irrigation water flow and frequency and irrigation efficiency. Irrigation efficiency in the Peruvian Sierra in 2010 averaged about 22 percent, however, by 2016 that number was increased to 72 percent thanks largely to the Sierra Irrigation Project for Peru.

Modernization and rehabilitation efforts for collective irrigation systems expanded the reach of 87 water user organizations that improved their irrigation service delivery to 18,758 farmers. Those 18,758 farmers then irrigated 14,770 hectares of land. These numbers turn into a significant increase in water tariffs collections, improving financial capacity in the Peruvian Sierra; 80 percent of farmers paid water tariffs in 2016, compared to just 50 percent in 2011. Improved irrigation also allows farmers to increase the value and quality of their productions. A significant number of farmers who increased their irrigation capacity also began to farm high-value crops.

The Sierra Irrigation Project for Peru was successful with each of its goals and targeted beneficiaries. The priority was to most significantly benefit farmers by improving their access to markets and their capacity to produce high-value crops. The project was also able to benefit water user organizations at regional and local levels. The Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation intends to develop a follow-up operation to scale up the results of the Sierra Irrigation Project for Peru.

– Jamie Enright

Photo: Flickr

Development Projects in TajikistanA former member of the Soviet-bloc, modern-day Tajikistan, unfortunately, answers to the calling card of poorest country in Eurasia. In 2012, the U.N. Population Fund found that 50 percent of Tajiks live in poverty and the economic downturn has only worsened in Eurasia since this figure was published. High rates of food insecurity also beset Tajikistan, due to its mountainous terrain, harsh winters and scarcity of arable land.

An incredible 93 percent of Tajikistan’s territory is covered by some of the tallest mountains in the world. This fact alone is a significant contributing factor to many of the obstacles to development that currently beset Tajikistan. In addition to high rates of food insecurity, other contributing factors include lack of a reliable power supply, limited transport connectivity and low levels of private investment.

Because the Tajik economy is highly dependent on remittances from migrant workers, the country is especially vulnerable to the regional economic hardships. The World Bank estimated that remittances constituted more than 50 percent of the country’s GDP in 2012. Russia and Kazakhstan have been the favored destinations of Tajik migratory workers since the mid-2000s and the remittances received from migrant workers in these countries have lifted many Tajik families out of poverty. Over the course of 2015, however, remittances from workers in Russia fell dramatically, which had the effect of contributing to a decline in the value of the Tajik currency by almost 17 percent relative to the dollar, since January 2015.

Amidst the troubling economic hardships facing many Tajiks today are several aid programs and development projects that are working to keep hope alive in this country. Here are five of the most salient development projects in Tajikistan:

  1. The Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Tajikistan Partnership Strategy seeks to help the Tajik government “achieve sustained and inclusive growth that is less susceptible to external shocks and create higher-paying jobs” through three key initiatives: infrastructure investments and urban and transport development; investment in climate reforms, technical and vocational education and training for the purposes of economic diversification; and enhancing water resource management and climate change adaptation, targeting poorer regions in order to improve food security. These strategic objectives were implemented in 2016 and have a target completion date of 2020.
  2. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) sees Tajikistan as a “linchpin” for regional security in Eurasia and has dedicated a significant amount of resources, with the goal of increasing the country’s security and stability. To combat food insecurity, USAID includes Tajikistan in its Feed the Future initiative, which addresses the root causes of hunger through accelerated agricultural development and improved nutrition. USAID has additionally worked to bolster the Tajik economy by assisting in the evolution of a regional electricity market.
  3. In an effort to foster economic recovery, The World Bank has dramatically increased its lending commitments to Tajikistan, from $10 million in 2016 to $226 million in 2017. Additionally, The World Bank implemented a Social Safety Net Strengthening Project in 2011, which aims to “improve the capacity of Tajikistan to plan, monitor, and manage social assistance for the poor.”
  4. Founded by the hereditary Imam (Spiritual Leader) of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) has operated in all regions of Tajikistan since 1992 and currently employs over 3,500 Tajik people. AKDN “supports the establishment of programs and institutions that allow the Government, private sector and civil society to play complementary roles” towards the goal of fostering prosperity and development in Tajikistan.
  5. The European Union (EU) has invested in development projects in Tajikistan since the formation of their partnership in 1991. Between 2014 and 2020, the EU’s development support for Tajikistan will focus on the health (€62 million), education (€75 million) and rural development (€110 million) sectors.

The current economic downturn has exacerbated Tajikistan’s struggle to overcome its numerous obstacles to security and stability, but these five development projects in Tajikistan provide hope for a more prosperous future.

– Savannah Bequeaith

Photo: Flickr

Water quality in North KoreaLocated on the Korean peninsula, North Korea has been discreetly building up a nuclear arsenal while projecting its power to ensure that it is a force not to be reckoned with on the international stage. Despite such shows of power, it is known to be one of the largest food recipients in the world. More recently, it faces immense challenges as a result of ballistic missile tests that have been met with hard sanctions. Economically unbalanced and a grave threat to the international community, the hope of cooperation seems nonexistent. Kim Jong-un still has yet to respond to the country’s severe poverty situation, with about half of North Koreans living in poverty.

The Problem
Water quality in North Korea has been affected by a severe drought, forcing relief aid to step in and counter some of these issues. One observer had the opportunity to monitor the water quality in North Korea and witness the scarcity of access to clean water due to environmental degradation that has gravely affected the nation. Too often, the North Korean people are neglected and rarely humanized by news outlets, who tend to focus on the ominous threat that the country’s government presents.

This individual, who remained anonymous, observed the work of an international charity organization known as World Vision, an advocacy organization that works on development and humanitarian aid. During this visit to North Korea, the observer witnessed the lives of people in rural and urban areas, noting the environmental degradation that had taken place due to the effects of climate change, deforestation, soil erosion and water resource depletion.

In January, it was reported that “more than 50,000 hectares of farmland in North Korea’s granary zones have been damaged by drought.” According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), a severe drought had plagued agricultural areas due to a 30-80 percent drop in precipitation in January. OCHA further cited that due to this drought, the effects were a deterioration in water quality in North Korea, causing a concern of waterborne diseases spreading among the population.

Initiatives
On a more positive note, according to a report by World Vision, there has been an increase in installations of wells, along with high-quality solar pumps, in order to pump water to water tanks on nearby hills. This action has led to substantial improvements in access to clean water for communities. Some of the most vulnerable who were lacking this inalienable right that a lot of us take for granted now have indoor plumbing, offering them clean sanitation. As the observer explained: “1,435 children will have easy access to clean water for the first time in their lives.”

Final Thoughts
With its relentless assault on freedom of expression and stifling of any political dissidents who may challenge the status quo, North Korea’s government remains a staunch opponent to any form of democracy. The average North Korean citizen only worries about their daily lives, which includes how to break out of poverty. North Koreans may be among the most difficult group of people in the world to help due to the restrictions imposed by their government, but taking simple steps to improve sanitation and water quality in North Korea can make a major improvement in their lives.

– Alexandre Dumouza

Photo: Flickr

Making Dominica Climate-ResilientAfter two category five hurricanes ripped through the Caribbean in the space of two weeks, the small nation of Dominica is forced to reassess how it will deal with future storms and become climate-resilient.

Hurricane Maria hit Dominica on September 18, 2017 in the middle of the night. It flattened approximately 22,000 homes, killed 26 people (with 31 still missing) and nearly wiped out plant life on the island. Dominica is a small island east of Puerto Rico with a population of roughly 74,000.  As of October 18, 2017, no one on the island had access to running, drinkable water. With sewage systems destroyed, locals were left with fears of diarrhea and dysentery.

It is difficult to account for people taking shelter with other families, but according to the Government of Dominica, out of 146 centers, 108 are housing 2,911 people. It is difficult to find homes in Dominica with a roof still attached.

More than 45 percent of Dominica consists of rainforests and protected national parks. These have been decimated by the storms. Some greenery has returned in the past two months, but it is still a huge blow to Dominica’s livelihood.

Agriculture and tourism, two main factors contributing to Dominica’s GDP, were upended in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Dominica is still several months away from being able to welcome new tourists. With the massive impact on income, citizens have increasingly left the island in search of opportunities in neighboring countries.

Warmer seas make stronger storms, and Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit believes that in order for his country to continue on, it will need to rebuild as the world’s first climate-resilient nation.

“To deny climate change… is to deny a truth we have just lived,” Skerrit told the United Nations five days after Maria. “No generation has seen more than one Category 5 hurricane. We’ve seen two in two weeks.”

Skerrit is pushing to rebuild Dominica in a manner that would greatly reduce the impact of hurricanes, with enclosed spaces for livestock and climate-controlled centers for agriculture. Skerrit emphasized the importance of moving toward renewable energy like geothermal and solar, as well as researching and adopting construction codes utilized in the state of Florida.

Skerrit is confident that Dominica will achieve its goal of becoming climate-resilient, but this must be done with international cooperation.

“We are among those countries which contribute least to climate change,” Skerrit said, “but over the last two weeks we have suffered the consequences of two devastating storms which have left us struggling to stay on the path of sustainable development.”

– Sam Bramlett

Photo: Flickr

Water quality in Saudi ArabiaIn our world, water is one of the main sources of sustenance for life. As our body requires great amounts of it, it is imperative that we take care of how clean and beneficial it continues to be. As a community, we must work together to meet the high standards of water quality.

Water quality is indicated by various characteristics which include physical, chemical, biological and aesthetic. The main goal is to make sure that the external factors that could corrupt the water are controlled. In this way, citizens are able to obtain clean drinking water for their survival.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is a desert country that extends across most of the Arabian Peninsula with extensive coastlines on the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. Due to its high levels of heat and humidity, water is a major concern.

The surrounding environment consists of sand, which makes it a challenge to grow crops as well as provide adequate water quality in Saudi Arabia. Most water is received from the sea, however, the high salt content means is it not drinkable. Being one of the largest and fastest expanding expat countries, Saudi Arabia faces a problem of providing enough drinking water for its citizens.

According to a research study on drinking water quality in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Abdulrasoul Al-Omran and his colleagues found that the KSA strongly relies “on groundwater and/or seawater desalination for domestic purposes.” Desalinated water has gone through various chemical processes in order to add specific minerals into the original saline water that will cause it to diminish and thus become safe to drink.

There are 27 stations operated by the Saline Water Conservation Corporation, producing more than three million cubic meters of potable drinking water. 

The water quality index (WQI) has been proven to be a simple and effective tool to assess the quality of water, as well as a method of reassuring citizens. The distinct and astounding feature is that by using several water quality variables, a single value is expressed to tell just how clean this water is in relation to others.

The concluding factor of this study stated that using the WQI method helps the design-makers with monitoring and assessment of the quality of drinking water. By being able to determine the water quality in Saudi Arabia, the country and its citizens will be more fully prepared in finding solutions to best distribute their water.

As an ever-evolving country, Saudi Arabia is striving to keep up with its growth by providing efficient ways to distribute the water. One of the solutions that KSA has found is intermittent water supply with reduced system pressures. Although it isn’t the most efficient, it does grant more water to the people that truly need it. It aims to provide 24-hour service but less water is distributed to the residential areas.

This is a challenging issue to remedy as many residents who live in Aramco, the expat compound, have tried to alleviate the intense salt that exists in the water quality of Saudi Arabia by incorporating a portion of sweet water. However, since the country is in an economic crisis, these residents have had to pay SAR 2,000 fee for this luxury, the equivalent of $533.33. 

Until better technology is developed to address desalination, the only solution that would be beneficial would be an increase in water imports from other countries.

– Nicole Suárez

Photo: Flickr