Poverty in Samoa
Samoa, a small island country in the Pacific, struggles with economic issues like rising unemployment, an imbalance between rural and urban communities and vulnerability to natural disasters. Here are nine facts about poverty in Samoa.

9 Facts About Poverty in Samoa

  1. Approximately 18% of the population lives in urban areas, with the other 82% living in rural areas. Most Samoans live in the rural and remote areas of the island, resulting in an imbalance of education, opportunities and social benefits. Most of the population finds themselves working in the agricultural business, with tropical agriculture occupying 65% of the labor force. In the urban areas, there are more job opportunities other than agriculture such as technicians, pilots, and doctors.
  2. Nearly 72% of the Samoa population does not have access to the internet. A lack of internet access can exacerbate educational and health disparities. The internet provides many resources for students to improve their education. It also contains information on the locations of hospitals and clinics. With little access to this information due to the inaccessibility of the internet, the split between low-income and higher-income communities is worsened, creating even more poverty.
  3. Natural disasters threaten Samoa’s agriculture. In rural areas, the population works mainly in agriculture. However, natural disasters can damage the industry. Samoa is located in a seismic zone called the “Ring of Fire.” It is exposed to deadly earthquakes, such as the 2009 earthquake, which had a magnitude of 8.3. This earthquake was followed by a tsunami that “took 150 lives, left 2.5% of all Samoans homeless, destroyed transport, water and energy infrastructure across large areas.” This significantly impacted the agricultural industry, damaging the economy and increasing poverty in Samoa.
  4. The unemployment rate in Samoa is only 8.4%. While Samoa’s unemployment rate is less than other countries, it has increased from 5.7 to 8.4%. Age imbalance is one of the main causes. The unemployment rate is 8.7% of all adults 15 and up; however, among youth between the ages of 15 and 29, it is 16.8%. An increasing unemployment rate, particularly for the youth population, can be devastating for a small country.
  5. There are high rates of domestic violence in Samoa. Domestic violence can lead to more poverty for its victims, often women. According to the Guardian, a report found that nine out of 10 respondents said abuse occurred regularly within their home. The frequent harassment that women face in Samoa can take a toll on them and their families. Oftentimes, these women are shunned by society for exposing these issues. This can be especially disadvantageous to lower-income women, who often do not have the support network or the financial resources to proceed with charges against their abuser.
  6. Rural households are more likely to have only one room for sleeping. In contrast, urban households are less likely to live in small homes, highlighting the inequality between these two areas. As rural families are more likely to live in overcrowded houses due to having smaller homes, there is a greater risk of infectious diseases spreading. This, on top of the weak healthcare system in place, can create a health crisis within the rural population.
  7. There is also education inequality between urban and rural areas. While the national literacy rate for the country of Samoa is at a high 97%, there is a disparity in the quality of education between rural areas and urban areas of the island. Village schools only offer four years of primary education, leaving children to attend the district school for further education. District schools, however, tend to take only the most successful students, leaving many others without adequate educational opportunities. This then leads to few economic opportunities for rural students as they become young adults.
  8. COVID-19 is contributing to the increase in poverty rates. A measles outbreak in September 2019 impacted more than 5,700 people. The death rate stood at 1.46%, similar to the COVID-19 rates. While Samoan health authorities have recent experience dealing with the spread of disease, the island is still suffering from the pandemic. Samoa is facing a shortage of testing capacities, medical equipment and personal protective equipment. International travel and public transport restrictions have led to changes in social dynamics, suspended business operations and caused people to lose their jobs, especially common in tourism and in small businesses.
  9. A handful of organizations are addressing poverty in Samoa. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is an organization helping rural people in Samoa. It has helped 7,300 households and has three multimillion projects. The organization created the Samoa Agriculture & Fisheries Productivity and Marketing Project in October 2019. This project costs $30 million and will help to increase the incomes of rural families and improve infrastructure.

These nine facts about poverty in Samoa illuminate how poverty has impacted the livelihoods of its citizens. However, through the work of humanitarian organizations in the country, Samoa can address poverty and create a more economically and socially empowered population.

Philip Tang
Photo: Flickr

12 Facts About Hunger in Afghanistan 
Due to decades of conflict, environmental disaster and economic instability, Afghanistan is one of the world’s poorest nations. One of the largest issues to building national stability for Afghanistan is the remaining issue of food insecurity. Hunger and malnutrition are the biggest risks to health worldwide, according to the United Nations. Hunger prevents people from reaching their full potential by limiting their ability to work and learn. Here are 12 facts about hunger in Afghanistan.

12 Facts About Hunger in Afghanistan

  1. By the end of 2019, average wheat and staple food production contributed to stable pricing. Even though food prices have been stabilizing, households are unable to purchase necessary food because there are few opportunities to work. Even when work is available, the pay is not high enough to account for all living costs. People in Afghanistan, on average, spend 60 percent of their income on food.
  2. It is essential to invest in agriculture in Afghanistan, as it is almost 25 percent of the GDP. At least 50 percent of all households attribute at least part of their income to agriculture. The World Bank suggests that the most promising agricultural opportunities will be to invest in growing irrigated wheat and horticulture and to raise livestock. With the combination of investing in the growth of investment in these agricultural products, the World Bank estimates that there is the potential for the growth of 1.3 million jobs over a period of 10 years.
  3. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) estimates that approximately 38 percent of rural households face food shortages. It also determines that 21 percent of the rural population lives in extreme poverty due to continuing conflict in the region, drought and floods. In addition to this range of factors, agricultural production has decreased due to insufficient investment in the sector, crop diseases and pests.
  4. The World Bank also reports that over the past decade, hunger in Afghanistan has risen from 28 to 45 percent. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) works closely with the Afghan government and development partners to reduce gender disparities and increase the social and economic status of vulnerable and marginalized communities. IFAD does this by increasing access to financial institutions in remote or rural areas, enhancing the skills of rural households and strengthening local infrastructure.
  5. From November 2019 to March 2020, the IPC, a coalition of U.N. agencies working on food insecurity, predicts that the number of people experiencing severe food insecurity will rise to 11.3 million. According to the IPC, continued conflict, mass migration back to the region, predictions of rising crop prices in the winter and unemployment are the main contributors to rising hunger in Afghanistan at the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020.
  6. The Famine Early Warning Systems Network, predicts that 820,000 people will require food assistance through January 2020 in Afghanistan. It expects this number to rise between these dates because of the returning displaced citizens from Pakistan and Iran. USAID’s Office of Food for Peace, the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP), the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and local NGOs will provide food assistance.
  7. High rates of malnutrition and lack of the right variety of food for children in Afghanistan have contributed to a variety of health issues. Only 12 percent of children from 6 months to 2 years old receive the correct quantity of food in order to grow, according to UNICEF. This results in problems such as stunting, wasting and anemia. These problems result in ongoing health issues throughout a lifetime.
  8. Mercy Corps, a global humanitarian organization, provides extensive support to farmers in Afghanistan through a U.N. grant. From 2015 to 2019, the $34.6 million grant supported more than 7,380 farmers by training them to plant and produce opium alternative crops including grapes, almonds, pistachios, saffron and vegetables.
  9. One of the largest supporters of ending hunger in Afghanistan is the U.N. World Food Programme. The World Food Programme provides monthly food and cash for a period of six months while vocationally training men and women. In 2018 in Afghanistan, the WFP program had 14,000 women and 3,000 men graduate and learn income-generating skills. Additionally, between January and June 2019, WFP assisted more than 3.2 million people across 31 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces.
  10. UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) set up a national surveillance system in Afghanistan in 2013. The purpose of it is to guide the government and NGO partners to collect and analyze data in order to quickly address nutritional challenges or emergencies. Since 2013, the WHO has trained 1,500 community health workers to accurately collect nutritional metrics and quarterly report data from 175 sentinel sites around the country.
  11. A paper in partnership with the World Bank in 2018, the Investment Framework for Nutrition in Afghanistan, examined what would be necessary for Afghanistan to improve nutrition. This endeavor also included efforts to reduce stunting and invest more in children’s health for Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health’s (MOPH) Basic Package of Health Service implementation for 2018 to 2021. The total estimated public investment necessary would be $44 million a year for five years. This money would prevent 25,000 deaths, 90,000 cases of anemia and 4,000 cases of stunting in children.
  12. Since 2005, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. has worked to improve the production of dairy in collaboration with Afghanistan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock. The results of this partnership have been the establishment of five dairy process plants and 64 milk collection centers. From 2005 to 2017, production per cow went from 3.5 to 9.1 liters, resulting in annual household income growing from $371 to $852 through the sale of extra milk.

Although there are many challenges in the region to building local capacity to handle food insecurity, there are many Afghani and global organizations that are continuing to help formulate strategies to bring about change. These 12 facts about hunger in Afghanistan shed some light on these issues.

Danielle Barnes
Photo: Flickr

Poverty Reduction Advocacy in Pakistan
Pakistan is a South Asian country with a population of approximately 212 million people. According to the World Bank, the population of people living below the national poverty line in Pakistan decreased from 64 percent in 2001 to 24 percent in 2015. However, as of 2015, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) revealed that in rural communities in Pakistan, 35 percent of people lived below the poverty line. This highlights that rural communities in Pakistan need the most aid. However, there are significant examples of poverty reduction advocacy in Pakistan.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

IFAD is a U.N. based agency that focuses on helping rural communities. IFAD aids these communities by strengthening food security and local businesses. Southern Punjab, cited as the poorest part of Pakistan, is a major center point for IFAD in the country. In 2010, IFAD initiated the Southern Punjab Alleviation Project and it is still ongoing until 2020. The project seeks to enhance agricultural productivity in Punjab by aiding laborers, farmers and women-led households.

As of May 2019, working with the government of Punjab, IFAD raised approximately $195 million for the project—Punjab governmental and beneficiary donations included. IFAD reported in 2019 that 5,500 new community organizations started in Punjab, with 70 percent of women forming these groups. The report also cited that 50 percent of people became newly or self-employed after receiving vocational training from IFAD. Moreover, as of 2018, IFAD reached 92 percent of women-headed households. IFAD also uploaded a YouTube video in September 2018 to highlight specific people and families in Punjab that benefited from its projects. The organization prominently initiated poverty reduction advocacy in Pakistan.

The Ehsaas Program

The Ehsaas Program is a government-led poverty reduction program initiated in 2018. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Dr. Sania Nishtar are responsible for the program. Ehsaas focuses on economic growth and obtaining sustainable development goals in Pakistan. The program uses a strategy of four pillars that include addressing the elite and making the government system work for equality, as well as providing safety nets, human capital development and jobs and livelihoods.

The Ehsass Program will push to increase social protection funding by providing an additional $80 billion from 2019-2021. The Kafalat program will give around 6 million women financial inclusion through a one woman, one bank account policy. Nutrition initiatives will address malnutrition and health issues impacting stunted children. The Solution Innovation Challenge will address citizen employment by developing micro-credit facilities for daily wages so that those in poverty can afford monthly groceries. The Ehsaas Program plans on developing rickshaw garbage collectors to employ people and benefit the environment and water sanitation simultaneously. The Ehsaas Program also seeks to build 20 centers for physically challenged citizens and create orphanages for 10,000 homeless children. These are just some of the programs Ehsaas plans to initiate to implement poverty reduction advocacy in Pakistan.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Ehsaas Program

As of September 2019, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation supported the Ehsaas Program through a Memorandum of Understanding between Bill Gates and Khan. This collaboration prompted the Gates Foundation to plan on spending $200 million toward poverty reduction in Pakistan by 2020. Bill Gates and Dr. Nishtar conducted an interview in September 2019 with the U.N. SDG Action Zone to educate others about the Ehsaas Program and answer questions. This is an example of a multicultural support system toward poverty reduction advocacy in Pakistan.

To alleviate poverty in Pakistan, the government recently started initiatives that the people support. Examples such as the IFAD and the Ehsaas programs show that partnerships between governments, organizations and citizens work to tackle poverty. With these organizations and funds in place, poverty reduction advocacy in Pakistan has a positive outlook for the future.

Natalie Casaburi
Photo: Pixabay


Food InsecurityAccording to the U.N., malnutrition has been on the rise in recent years. The latest data states that 821 million people are undernourished. This translates to one in nine people suffering from hunger. These statistics are staggering; fortunately, this problem is currently being addressed by numerous organizations that are combating food insecurity across the globe.

What is Food Insecurity?

The U.N. defines food insecurity as “uncertain access to food at the household or individual level.” In 2017, in the U.S. alone, 40 million people faced food insecurity. This number drastically increases when describing those who are food insecure worldwide. Food insecurity can lead to severe malnourishment. Due to the fact that the price of fresh, healthy food is typically higher than that of processed foods, food insecurity can also lead to obesity. This is how poverty can increase food insecurity

Food insecurity can be the result of multiple factors. Natural disasters and droughts are examples of conditions that contribute to food insecurity. For example, in 2016, 40 million people experienced food insecurity after El Niño. Though these statistics are discouraging, different organizations are addressing this problem. These five organizations combating food insecurity are making a difference in the lives of millions.

Five Organizations Combating Food Insecurity

  1. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID): USAID provides support for 142 countries across the globe. The largest areas of aid provided include emergency relief ($3.9 billion) and the reduction of HIV/AIDS ($3.5 billion). However, the areas of assistance often extend past these categories to include health, agriculture, education and more.
  2. World Food Programme (WFP): The WFP provides aid to 83 countries annually. They also help approximately 86.7 million people each year. This organization centers its efforts on areas of conflict and disasters. It is estimated that WFP provides 15 billion rations each year. One donation of $50 through WFP provides three months of food for a child in need.
  3. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO): FAO works in 130 nations around the world. It has adopted the slogan #ZeroHunger in unison with numerous organizations globally, which reflects its purpose of ending hunger through the use of agricultural programs. This agency of the U.N. also focuses on sustainability. Additionally, it provides support for countries to protect against the detrimental effects of natural disasters.
  4. The World Bank: Created in 1947, the World Bank has provided funding for 12,000 projects globally to go towards disaster relief and support development. The World Bank’s mission includes reducing extreme poverty by providing financial and technical assistance to developing countries. It has five subsections aimed at accomplishing specific goals. These subsections convene together to promote the common mission. One of the five institutions is the International Finance Corporation, which provides financial services to the countries where the World Bank works.
  5. International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD): IFAD is an organization combating food insecurity in rural regions. Another branch of the U.N. established in 1974, IFAD was created to address the food insecurity resulting from poverty. Its focuses include building up agricultural programs and creating a lasting impact on people in rural areas.

These organizations are a few examples of the various organizations combating food insecurity globally. Their efforts provide valuable assistance to reduce the number of people who face food insecurity and hunger around the world. Food insecurity can have detrimental effects on those who experience it. However, it is reassuring to know that there are organizations working to reduce the severity and extent of hunger.

-Carolyn Newsome
Photo: Flickr

Sustainable Agriculture in Comoros

Sustainable agriculture is an ever-present priority in the Comoro Islands. More than 80 percent of the rural population relies on small-scale agriculture for food and income, therefore sustainable farming practices have become a major necessity. Current agricultural practices do not prevent soil erosion or retain field fertility, but there are a number of projects aiming to improve sustainable agriculture in Comoros. Three organizations operating these projects are:

  1. Engagement Communautaire pour le Developpment Durable (ECDD)
  2. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
  3. International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

The Engagement Communautaire pour le Developpment Durable (ECDD) project works toward environmental conservation in Comoros through the introduction of sustainable farming techniques. These methods increase crop yields and protect natural resources like soil and water. One recommended activity is market gardening, which generates income and reduces reliance on traditional agricultural practices. The ECDD project also provides the necessary support for the people to implement the new techniques.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the U.N. also plays a big role in the improvement of sustainable agriculture in Comoros. Some of the focuses of the U.N. organization are boosting domestic food production and improving food safety. Much of the population is affected by low-quality and unsanitary foods, and farmers don’t have access to the technology and methods needed for sanitary production. Additionally, this U.N. organization, as well as the World Bank and the Global Environmental Facility, have run programs supporting sustainable fishing and agroforestry. These are two other industries that are critical for life in Comoros.

Finally, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has a number of projects in Comoros. One of these projects is the Nioumakele Small Producers Support Project, which developed and popularized the practice of planting live fences around plots. This technique has benefited sustainable agriculture in Comoros by both rehabilitating soil in the region and increasing agricultural and dairy production levels. The project officially closed in 1997, but the environmental impact is still growing as local farmers continue to use the methods and take responsibility for the sustainable activities.

Ultimately, sustainable agriculture in Comoros needs to be improved. So much of the nation depends on agriculture, and in order for the country to withstand climate change and further development, it needs to implement more sustainable practices. However, through the help of organizations like the ECDD, FAO and IFAD, the Comoro Islands have the potential to create a much more environmentally-conscious agricultural industry.

– Liyanga de Silva

Photo: Flickr

Development Projects in EthiopiaThe capital of Ethiopia is the base for multiple development efforts in the country. Ethiopia has become one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, with 11 percent average growth since 2005. The development projects in Ethiopia are a product of foreign aid, government goals and foreign direct investments.

Ethiopia is Africa’s second most populated and oldest independent country. Although it has the fastest growing economy in the region, it is also the third poorest country in the world with a Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) of 87.33 percent. To address the growing capacity issues related to the large population and poverty rate, the Ethiopian government has focused on advancing development.

These five development projects in Ethiopia are examined based on the organizations that implement them.

The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

The Ethiopian government is focused on addressing developmental concerns in multiple areas. Past development projects in Ethiopia include the Sustainable Development and Poverty Reduction Program and the Plan for Accelerated and Sustained Development to End Poverty. Now, Ethiopia is in its second of two, four-year Growth and Transformation Plans (GTP I, II). GTP I focused on advancing industrial development to relieve fiscal and capacity deficits in Urban Local Governments (ULG). The GTP II goals address specific challenges the GTP I goals met.

Within Ethiopia’s twin GTP’s, the country’s Agricultural Transformation Industry (ATI) and Industrial Park Development Corporation (IDPC) achieve specific goals. The corporation “nurtures manufacturing industries to accelerate economic transformation and attract both domestic and foreign investors.” IDPC is currently working on four major industrial parks, three of which are in the capital, Addis Ababa.

The ATI is focused on impacting the smallholder farmer level. In alignment with GTP I, the ATI focused on agricultural productivity, production, marketing, research and natural resource conservation. With GTP II, the ATI continues the GTP I pillars to enhance food security and adds additional pillars to address agri-business and implementation capacity.

Since the inception of the Sustainable Development and Poverty Reduction Program in 2001, Ethiopia’s GDP rose by close to $62 billion, the largest growth recorded in the country. In the past 15 years, Ethiopia’s population also rose by 64 million. Ethiopia has experienced immense growth since these programs were initiated and its ability to track and maintain the growth indicates the effect of these development projects in Ethiopia.

International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

The IFAD is a specialized agency of the U.N. that “finances agricultural development projects for food production in developing countries.” In 2010, the IFAD established a country office in Addis Ababa to further relations with Ethiopia and oversee the development and expansion of rural finance.

Agriculture is an important asset to Ethiopia’s economy, as a majority of their exports are agriculture commodities and agriculture consists of about 45 percent of Ethiopia’s GDP. The significance of the agriculture industry for Ethiopia’s economy is a large reason the IFAD has invested a total of $398 million in agriculture development programs in Ethiopia. The IFAD’s programs focus on improving poor rural people’s access to natural resources, agriculture and livestock production technologies.

World Bank

The World Bank is a strong supporter of Ethiopia’s development, primarily through its International Development Assistance (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the poorest. The IDA is Ethiopia’s largest provider of official development assistance. Since 1991, the IDA has committed over $17 billion to Ethiopia’s development primarily to “protect basic services, productive safety nets and roads.”

The World Bank and IDA recently provided Ethiopia with $200 million to fund the expansion of access to energy and has committed $380 million to Ethiopia’s GTP II. The World Bank has implemented development projects in Ethiopia to address education, water and sanitation and road quality and is a large contributor to Ethiopia’s poverty rate reduction from 55.3 percent in 2000 to 33.5 percent in 2011.

United Nations Development Program (UNDP)

The UNDP Ethiopia works with the Ethiopian Government and funding partners to forward a “developed and democratic nation with empowered citizens.” The UNDP in Ethiopia strengthens the relationship between the U.N. and Ethiopia by advocating for Ethiopia’s development and poverty reduction on a global platform and providing support for locating funds.

The UNDP set up the Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) to provide innovative technological productivity solutions to the industry that constitutes 80 percent of the employment base in Ethiopia. The UNDP focuses additional efforts on elevating the transparency, accountability and responsiveness of the Ethiopian government. With the support of the UNDP, Ethiopia was able to formulate and adopt Grant Sharing Formula, addressing the balance of resource flow in various regions and bringing equitable development throughout the country.


Formal relations between The People’s Republic of China and Ethiopia began in 1970. Now, China is one of Ethiopia’s largest trading partners with the volume of trade estimated to be over $6.3 billion. The China Communications Construction Company is currently contracted to build two industrial parks in Addis Ababa in partnership with the IPDC. These newly built industrial parks will house factories such as the TAL apparel factory, a Chinese company providing new jobs in Ethiopia already.

China is Ethiopia’s key foreign investor, primarily in infrastructure. In 2014, China-funded a $475 million urban rail project in Addis Ababa. China has also invested heavily in dams and roads and even built Ethiopia’s African Union headquarters in the capital. The investments from China have advanced Ethiopia’s development and provided employment opportunities for Ethiopia’s estimated 450 million workforce.

Arkebe Oqubay, from the prime minister’s office driving the industrialization policy, says Ethiopia is “focused on economic performance… the ultimate goal of any nation aspiring to develop, aspiring to catch up, is to improve the livelihoods of the people.”

With support from the Ethiopian government, multiple partners have assisted in growing the economy through development projects in Ethiopia. Today, Ethiopia has surpassed Kenya’s economy and taken the title of “East Africa’s Economic Giant.”

Ethiopia has many challenges to surpass that are associated with growth, such as job creation and capacity, but their alliances across the globe and governmental backing are a strong indicator of Ethiopia’s developmental success.

– Eliza Gresh

Photo: Flickr

How to Help People in Grenada
Since the abrupt U.S. invasion in 1983, Grenada has largely vanished from public discourse. How to help people in Grenada remains a crucial question, as the Caribbean nation has a poverty rate of nearly 32 percent among a population of only 111,724.

Poverty in Grenada remains largely confined to rural areas, among farmers who lack access to the island nation’s highly import and export-dependent economy. Farming in Grenada is peculiar in that about 87 percent of farms are individual enterprises, and poor farmers often own their own land. Especially after the U.S. invasion, which unseated the left-wing government from power, Grenada has increasingly become involved in the globalized economy. Farmers with small holdings have difficulty succeeding in an economic system in which literacy, entrepreneurial skill, access to credit and knowledge of market information are crucial to survival.

The size of Grenada’s economy leaves it vulnerable in globalized markets to rapid fluctuations and sudden price changes in crucial imports and exports. The tiny country is also susceptible to hurricanes. In 2004, the country was ravaged by Hurricane Ivan, which according to the World Bank caused damage amounting to over 200 percent of the gross domestic product of Grenada. During the reconstruction of this catastrophic level of damage, Hurricane Emily hit in 2005, further crippling the economy and the nation’s poor.

In response to the lack of viability of farming in Grenada’s new economy, many young people are leaving farms for urban centers, despite an unemployment rate of 33.5 percent. In 1961, Grenada’s farmers numbered 67,100, and by 1995 the number had decreased to 43,400.

The World Bank has worked with the democratic government of Grenada since the early 2000s to implement poverty reduction plans. They have attempted to address poverty by increasing the nation’s openness to markets, and diversifying the economy towards services and tourism and away from subsistence agriculture. However, liberalizing trade and capital has made Grenada’s small economy even more susceptible to sudden fluctuations in prices and has shattered the largely rural and agricultural sector of the population.

Grenada’s young labor force is not entering the agricultural sector, despite a lack of entry-level opportunities for youth with a lack of education. This results in a cycle of poverty and an economic downward spiral. Huge swaths of land go uncultivated, traditional farming knowledge and techniques are lost, and a large sector of the population becomes unemployed and impoverished. Substance farming, which once fed the communities on the island, is no longer adequate to produce food. Food imports now account for more than one-quarter of Grenada’s total imports.

In such a fragile economic environment, the question remains of how to help people in Grenada. In 2016, USAID approved a $9.5 million Rallying the Region to Action on Climate Change project. This project was implemented to help Grenada build sea walls, reforest coastal mangroves vital to the nation’s ecosystem, and prepare for climate-related disasters such as hurricanes.

USAID has also granted $173,968 to the Grenada Cocoa Association, a farmer’s cooperative which grows and processes cocoa for export. The stated purpose of the measure is to help empower youth (More than half of Grenadians who live below the poverty line are under the age of 20), to work for the company. By supporting this effort, this aid measure has the benefit of strengthening local cocoa farmers and reducing unemployment. Measures like this are crucial to alleviating poverty on the spice island, and aid from nations like the U.S. is a vital component in improving the lives of the poor in Grenada.

Besides supporting USAID, the International Fund for Agricultural Development has given Grenada a $3 million loan from their Market Access and Rural Enterprise Development Programme. This program is aimed at the empowerment of rural communities, the creation of employment opportunities, particularly for young rural men and women, and the strengthening of rural businesses and microenterprises.

Moreover, organizations like Food for the Poor are working daily to treat the symptoms of Grenada’s extreme poverty. Food for the Poor operates three orphanages in Grenada, while also sending food to communities that are particularly affected by the radical shift away from subsistence farming into the global market. By supporting any of these programs, you can find ways of how to help people in Grenada as they navigate a complex economic transition.

– Jeffery Harrell

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in ZimbabweOnce on its way to becoming a middle-income nation, Zimbabwe’s society and economy has experienced great deterioration since 1997. Approximately 72 percent of the country’s population now lives in chronic poverty, and 84 percent of Zimbabwe’s poor live in rural areas.

When looking at the causes of poverty in Zimbabwe, it is necessary to take the effects of the 2008 financial crisis into account. As a result of the crisis, Zimbabwe saw its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) decline by 17 percent. By comparison, the GDP growth rate for other African countries was five percent.

Although Zimbabwe made great progress to recover from the 2008 crisis, its GDP growth rate is declining since 2013. According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), this decline is the result of stalling investments and adverse climate conditions that hurt the agricultural sector. Nearly 60 percent of Zimbabwe’s workforce is employed in the agricultural sector.

Drought and Poverty in Zimbabwe

As a result of the 2015-2016 drought that affected most of southern Africa, the rural poor have become more vulnerable to the loss of both their food security and their livelihoods. A 2016 study by the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) shows that approximately 4.1 million Zimbabweans, nearly a quarter of the population, face food and nutrition insecurity due to the drought.

ZimVAC is a consortium of the Zimbabwean government, agencies of the United Nations, NGOs and other international organizations. Formed in 2002 to assess the issues facing Zimbabwe’s poor, it is overseen by the Food and Nutrition Council of Zimbabwe which works to find multi-sector solutions to the country’s food insecurity.

Some of the groups heavily impacted by food insecurity are children and pregnant or lactating women. Zimbabwe has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the region as well as one of the highest rates of HIV globally, at approximately 15 percent as of 2014. Women and children living in food insecure homes are HIV prone and either already or in danger of becoming malnourished.

Children under the age of two that do not benefit from optimal breastfeeding are more likely to contract diarrhea or pneumonia. They may also not develop to their full potential. Acutely malnourished children under the age of five are more likely to contract diseases that require intensive care.

Drought and reduced rainfall also negatively affected the quality and availability of water. Almost half of households lack sufficient water for their livestock. Eighty-one percent reported having insufficient water for their crops. Zimbabwe’s average rainfall is projected to drop by 10 percent by the end of the century. IFAD asserts that the rehabilitation and maintenance of irrigation systems must be of the utmost importance to stabilize agricultural production. Improving irrigation systems would minimize crop failure, raise household incomes and increase food security for rural smallholder farmers.

To understand the causes of poverty in Zimbabwe, the poor performance of the country’s manufacturing industry must also be explored. Manufacturing surveys estimate that industrial capacity utilization decreased from 57 percent in 2011 to 36.3 percent in 2014. This is mainly because of an erratic power supply, a lack of capital, higher input costs, antiquated machinery and deficiencies in infrastructure.

IFAD believes that by prioritizing climate-smart, efficient agricultural production and investment in infrastructure and industrial capacity building, the causes of poverty in Zimbabwe will be diminished.

Amanda Lauren Quinn

Photo: Flickr

President Kuczynski's Plans to Reduce Poverty in Peru
Since assuming office in July 2016, Peru’s President Kuczynski has promised to modernize the economy and fight poverty in Peru. By expanding basic services and aspiring to membership in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Kuczynski hopes to leave Peru a “fairer, more equitable, and more united” nation.

During the past decade, Peru experienced a commodity boom and increase in tourism, both of which contributed to impressive economic growth. Peru’s GDP and GNI per capita sharply increased over this period, and consequently, development surged.

Poverty in Peru dropped from 55.6 percent in 2005 to 22 percent in 2015. Peru has become a regional leader in education coverage, reducing dropout rates and reducing unwanted teenage pregnancy, among other indicators. The chief-economist for the Development Bank of Latin America praised Peru for consolidating its fiscal position and expanding the middle class.

Despite recent development, poverty in Peru still exists. As of 2012, 25.8 percent of the population was living below the poverty line, with nearly 5 percent living in extreme poverty.

Despite some progress in government programs aimed at helping Peru’s poorest citizens, basic services and infrastructure remain insufficient in rural areas.

To combat ongoing poverty, President Kuczynski seeks to launch a “social revolution.” Aimed at helping the most impoverished citizens, the new administration promises to expand access to basic services while also advancing Peru’s national policies and institutional involvement. These plans build on Peru’s active role in complying with the millennium development goals and show a strong commitment to the new challenge of achieving the sustainable development goals.

The main tenants of President Kuczynski’s social revolution are providing safe drinking water, improving the quality of basic education, implementing universal health care, ending informal employment, fighting corruption and developing better infrastructure.

An early sign of success for the revolution is the $74.5 million joint investment between the Government of Peru and the International Fund for Agricultural Development intended to create rural employment and entrepreneurial opportunities. The targeted regions of this investment are characterized by chronic and extreme poverty and conflict.

Additionally, the Kuczynski administration seeks to institutionalize its modernization by attaining OECD membership.

Supporting President Kuczynski, Peruvian Prime Minister Fernando Zavala has expressed progressive, development-oriented policies to complement Peru’s rise into OECD membership. World Bank vice president for Latin America and the Caribbean, Jorge Familiar, supports this ascent, claiming the OECD’s dedication to “better policies for a better life,” complements the World Bank’s goals of poverty eradication and improved prosperity for all.

President Kuczynski has big plans for Peru, but the vast development across the nation in the past decade provides a promising foundation. Expanding basic services to the poorest citizens and positioning governmental affairs towards institutional advancement forecast a hopeful future for reducing poverty in Peru and realizing Kuczynski’s goal of a “fairer, more equitable, and more united” nation.

McKenna Lux

Photo: Flickr

Dry CorridorClimate change and El Niño have left 3.5 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in Central America’s “Dry Corridor,” according to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras are experiencing extensive deforestation and soil degradation, exacerbated by the drought that has tormented these three dry corridor countries since 2014.

El Niño warms the Pacific Ocean’s surface, creating a hotter and drier environment. The effects of El Niño have only been exasperated by climate change, which causes longer dry spells and more frequent flooding.

While the changing environment presents detrimental challenges to those living in the Dry Corridor, the pre-existing states of poverty and hunger contribute to the problem. Out of the 10.5 million people living in the Dry Corridor, 60 percent are living in poverty, according to IFAD.

Small-scale farmers and rural areas are the first to feel the effects of the drought. With the decrease in crop production comes the risks of reduced dietary diversity, increased hunger among the poor, as well as a rise in malnutrition. There has been a 50 to 90 percent loss of crop harvests and 1.6 million people are food insecure, said FAO, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.

The United Nations held a meeting on June 30 at the Rome FAO headquarters to discuss the drought in Central America. Various U.N. organizations are training farmers to adapt to climate change and strengthen their food security. Farmers need support planting trees, creating more efficient irrigation systems, advancing rainwater harvesting and growing drought-resistant crops over shorter periods.

FAO is implementing risk prevention methods to help combat the impact of the drought. They are creating early disaster warning systems and assisting national and local abilities in risk management. FAO is also aiding farmers with agricultural rehabilitation and providing seeds for drought-resistant crops.

IFAD is training farmers in El Salvador to improve soil water conservation while helping them to build water-collecting structures. In addition, they are providing communities with the tools to improve basic household functions, like energy efficient stoves and low flow latrines.

The World Food Program (WFP) is distributing Super Cereal Plus to suffering communities in Honduras. The food supplement is enriched with nutrients and vitamins, to help children under five who are in danger of malnutrition. WFP is also giving aid to 600,000 families that are struggling with hunger until the end of August 2016.

Despite these efforts, there is currently a $17 million funding gap in humanitarian aid for countries in the Dry Corridor, according to FAO. An urgent response by the international community is necessary to continue to help small-scale farmers and people living in poverty survive the effects of El Niño and climate change.

Erica Rawles

Photo: Flickr