Poverty in the Horn of Africa
The Horn of Africa is a peninsula that extends into the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden. It includes seven countries: Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda. Here are 10 facts about poverty in the Horn of Africa, how poverty impacts the people of these countries and how their situations can improve.

10 Facts About Poverty in the Horn of Africa

  1. Food Insecurity in Djibouti: Food insecurity is a major problem for those living in rural areas of Djibouti. While those living in more urban areas of the country do not experience the same levels of poverty, 62 percent of those living in rural Djibouti have little access to food containing adequate nutrition. Djibouti’s climate may be a cause as it makes crop production difficult. As a result, it must receive 90 percent of its food supply as imports, making the country vulnerable to changes in international market prices.
  2. Drought and Malnutrition in Eritrea: Amnesty International reports that many in Eritrea struggle to meet their basic needs as drought and laws within the country make it difficult to access clean water and limit the availability of basic food supplies. Half of all children in Eritrea experience stunted growth due to malnutrition.
  3. Poverty in Ethiopia: Ethiopia is one of the most populated countries in Africa and one of the poorest countries in the world. Despite experiencing a massive surge of economic growth since 2000, 30 percent of Ethiopians are still living below the poverty line, and the United Nations has classified 36 million of the country’s 41 million children as multidimensionally poor.
  4. Conflict in Somalia: Years of conflict have destroyed much of Somalia’s economy, infrastructure and institutions. Forty-three percent of the population of Somalia live on less than $1 a day. Nearly five million Somalis depend on humanitarian aid every day.
  5. Conflict and Climate in Sudan: Like Somalia, Sudan has faced serious damage to its economy due to conflict. Sudan has also faced serious damage to its agricultural industry due to unpredictable climate and rainfall in recent years. One in three Sudanese children under the age of 5 is underweight due to malnutrition.
  6. South Sudan, Foreign Investors and Agriculture: Though South Sudan is rich in resources, particularly oil, foreign investors monopolize most of its supplies. The vast majority of workers in South Sudan engage themselves in agriculture and livestock rearing. South Sudan is incredibly vulnerable to changing patterns in rain, similar to its northern neighbors, and it frequently experiences floods and droughts that, in conjunction with conflict and depreciating currency, has left 80 percent of its population impoverished.
  7. Poverty in Uganda: Uganda has made great strides in reducing poverty over the last decade. However, it still requires more work. Poverty is still a major issue throughout the country, particularly in the northern and eastern regions, which have less access to infrastructure than the rest of the country. In northern Uganda, 29 percent of households do not have toilets and 96.3 percent of households are without electricity.
  8. The Link Between Poverty, War and Instability: The Horn of Africa is currently dealing with several wars and conflicts. There is civil unrest in Sudan and South Sudan, and terrorism plagues the entire region. In 2017, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn, suggested that poverty is the underlying cause of war and instability in the region and that the best way to foster peace in this high-conflict area is to focus on improving the economies of these countries.
  9. Digital Technologies: Digital technologies could play a major role in closing the economic gap between these countries and more financially stable regions of the globe. Digitalization of a country is relatively low-cost, and can significantly assist in alleviating poverty through a number of channels. Technology can allow those in rural communities to access education, health care and agricultural information that would dramatically increase productivity. Beyond that, technology allows women and other marginalized populations to enter the formal economy.  An International Monetary Fund study stresses the importance of boosting women’s participation in the economy to create economic growth. Taking simple steps in investing in things like mobile phones and the internet could lay groundwork not only for alleviating poverty in the region but also for ensuring equality and lasting peace. This strategy has worked extremely well in countries such as Bangladesh.
  10. The World Bank’s Initiative: The World Bank has developed an initiative that focuses on alleviating poverty in the Horn of Africa by focusing on building resilience in the region and integrating the region economically.

The Horn of Africa is one of the poorest regions in the world. These facts demonstrate that these nations desperately need the attention and assistance of the global community in order to create stability in the region, and a chance at a better life for the people living there.

Gillian Buckley
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Kosovo
Kosovo is a small, partially recognized country located in Balkan that has existed since its separation from Serbia in 2008. Despite being a young and still developing nation, it is rich in culture from its diverse populace. In the text below, top 10 facts about living conditions in Kosovo are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Kosovo

  1. Kosovo’s citizens are the second poorest in Europe. The country suffers an unemployment rate of 33 percent and youth unemployment near 60 percent.
  2. Around 45 percent of Kosovo’s population live below the poverty line, with 15 percent living in extreme poverty. Most of the population lives in rural areas, living on small plots with limited industrial tools. This leads to much of the country’s citizens being forced to live on near-subsistence farming.
  3. The country does not have enough doctors. Kosovo started new health care reform in 2010. These include universal, the state ran health insurance with a network of family health centers. The latest reports found 2,664 doctors in the program with an additional 1,457 doctors in the private sector. This totals 2.2 medical doctors per 1,000 citizens, far below the European average of 3.4.
  4. Personal hygiene is a huge problem in the country. Massive inequalities exist in the lower economic classes of the country in access to hygiene and sanitation. Lack of electricity exists for only 0.1 percent of university-educated people and 10 percent of people without an education. Meanwhile, lack of personal bathrooms are reported in large numbers and are usually divided by ethnic lines (0.3 percent of Albanian households compared to 20.2 percent of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian ethnicity households).
  5. Ethnic minorities face many legal barriers that compound their hardships. Minorities such as Roma, Ashkali and Balkan Egyptians suffer problems in obtaining personal documents needed to access health care, social assistance and education. This hinders these citizens from obtaining many of the programs designed to help low-income citizens, further trapping them in the vicious cycle of poverty.
  6. Many women face domestic violence as around 68 percent of women in Kosovo report having experienced domestic violence. This is due to a few and inadequate police and prosecutors responses. The government, however, has created a new National Strategy and Action Plan against Domestic Violence to fight against these crimes.
  7. People with diseases and injuries are at greater risk for inadequate homes, water and income. Inadequate housing is reported by 11.6 percent of those with diseases or injuries and inadequate water by 7.4 percent. Even more citizens in this situation, however, face problems with affordable conditions: 26.6 percent of citizens with health-related outcomes report inadequate affordability conditions.
  8. Kosovo’s courts are packed and overloaded. The latest reports from the International Monetary Fund showed the courts had 264,193 pending cases and a backlog of inventories ranging from 25.7 to 71.7 percent in different cases. They have 29 percent of their judicial positions filled and only five specialized judges in the lower court and only one in the appellate court. These statistics show a slow and inefficient court, hindering the legal action of citizens in the country.
  9. Kosovo is a fairly safe country. Kosovo has a crime index of 33.37. The same index is 37.27 in Serbia, 39.29 in Macedonia, 40.3 in Albania and 40.48 in Montenegro, all neighboring countries of Kosovo. In 2017, 72 citizens have been convicted of murder related crimes and 218 were convicted of robbery-related crimes in a country of 1.8 million people.
  10. There is not enough housing in the country as 21.5 percent of households report having two or more people per room in the house, and 28.7 percent have between 1.5 and 2 people per room. The United Nations had long been at work to address this problem, specifically in Prishtina. The project started in 2015 and in on-going.

These top 10 facts about living conditions in Kosovo are meant to highlight the problems that urgently need to be addressed in the country. Despite the problems presented in the text above and other problems facing the country, many laws and initiatives are in the works to alleviate citizens’ poor situation. Both international and local programs are currently working to improve conditions in the country, so far successfully. This, combined with a seemingly stable economy, provides a hopeful future for the citizens of Kosovo.

– Zachary Sparks
Photo: Flickr

Universal Basic Income in India
Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a periodic cash payment unconditionally delivered to all on an individual basis, without means test or work requirement. This practically means that everyone gets the same amount of cash, regardless of their social or economic status. 

Universal Basic Income in India might soon become a reality. If India implements this program, it would be the first state-administered basic income program in the developing world. In a country with over a billion people, it would be a large-scale endeavor, but one that could improve the existing welfare system.

Pros and Cons for Universal Basic Income in India

In January 2018, Chief Economic Advisor of India Arvind Subramanian said in an interview with the India Times that he sees one or two states implementing Universal Basic Income in the next one to two years. UBI will allow the population to receive compensation to fulfill their basic needs and Subramanian argues that it will be an improvement over the current anti-poverty schemes in that are in place because the program would be easier to administer.

Supporters of this program also claim that a UBI would be an improvement over anti-poverty interventions and inefficient subsidies that have seemingly been largely consumed by the affluent and damage the country’s overall financial stability. Opponents of a UBI program claim that incentivize work, and that the government should focus more on funneling funds into education and health care.

Subramanian is not the only supporter of UBI, as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) also believes this program could be successful. The IMF estimates that the government could provide $35 a year to every citizen if the country eliminates food and energy subsidies.

Consequences of Universal Basic Income

Implementing a UBI and getting rid of energy subsidies would result in a sharp increase in energy prices. It is estimated that if the government implemented such a program, the cost of gasoline would increase by 67 percent, the price of diesel would increase by 69 percent, kerosene by 10 percent and coal by 455 percent.

India has been in a state of premature deindustrialization in recent years, meaning that the country is either partially industrializing or not industrializing at all. This is due to structural transformations due to changes in technology, making it hard for developing countries to become manufacturing powerhouses.

United Progressive Alliance Reform

India has already had progress in cash transfer programs, as in 2012, the United Progressive Alliance (a coalition of political parties) began reforming the government’s subsidy structure by making payments directly into beneficiaries’ bank accounts. This program was instilled to cut down the corruption, reduce leakages, eliminate middlemen, better target beneficiaries and speed up the transfer of benefits to eligible recipients. This program has been deemed overall as successful, but it remains a small part of India’s welfare infrastructure.

Since no country has implemented a long-term national UBI, India does not have a practical framework to make a comparison of whether the program will be beneficial for the country or not. So far, there are only theoretical ideas of this program. Developing a UBI program requires a high initial investment and may also require the country to scrap existing welfare programs. Countries implementing UBI pilots such as Finland will give India more data to draw comparisons with.

Universal Basic Income in India is a program that is gaining traction in the country. This can be attributed to complaints with the existing welfare programs, as well as the fact that the program is being supported by the Chief Economic Advisor of India and IMF.

Since there are no real-life examples of this program, one can only hope that its implementation would be beneficial for India and the country’s goal of eradicating poverty.

– Casey Geier
Photo: Flick

How the Media Misrepresents Argentina
Most of the media coverage surrounding Argentina has dealt with the country’s economic struggles, its crime rate, and, following the recent World Cup, its soccer team. The misrepresentation of Argentina by the media is evident due to the fact that negative coverage far outweighs the positive, giving the public a one-dimensional perception of this South American country.

More than a Soccer Nation

Beyond the financial crisis, much of the recent media coverage regarding Argentina has centered around the country’s World Cup run. Soccer is an immense source of national pride and a beacon of hope for many Argentinian fans, particularly during hard economic times. But soccer, while deeply engrained within the national fabric and heavily covered by the media, represents just one aspect of the diverse nation.

Portraying Economic Crisis in the Country

Argentina’s economy has far from met the expectations associated with market-friendly President Mauricio Macri. The value of the Argentine peso plummeted in April, resulting in a $50 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund. This, coupled with high inflation, has brought persistent economic hardship to the country and poses a serious threat to Macri’s “zero poverty” campaign promise.

Much of the media coverage surrounding Argentina has focused heavily on the economic crisis and the crime associated with it. While the crisis is prevalent and a resolution is much needed, the rampant and disproportionate coverage of the crisis goes to show just how the media misrepresents Argentina. In doing so, the media taint the perception of the country and fails to portray the true image of Argentina, one of an improving economic and social condition.

Economic and Social Progress

In 2017, poverty in Argentina decreased by 4.6 percent and is currently at 25.7 percent, according to official estimates. Prior to the Macri presidency, transparency about Argentina’s poverty was scarce. The publishing of official statistics only began in 2016, after being halted by the former populist government in 2013. Macri has not only strived for zero poverty, but he has established the proper balances to hold his administration accountable, something that was not the case for Argentina’s recent past.

Macri has faced the delicate task of reducing Argentina’s poverty rate while also working to alleviate a large budget deficit incurred by prior administrations. Macri’s administration has focused on reducing this deficit with the help of the International Monetary Fund and the implementation of public-private partnerships. With private companies financing long-term infrastructure contracts, Argentina expects to attract $26.5 billion in investment by 2022, reducing pressure on the budget but also contributing to the fall in poverty through the creation of thousands of steady jobs.

The citizens of Argentina have also exhibited a strong commitment to social progress, pushing landmark legislation to the floor of Congress, the Senate and the offices of President Macri. However, media coverage of these events is brief if existing at all, failing to show a highly positive dimension of Argentina.

Justina’s Law

News that the Chamber of Deputies (lower house of National Congress) passed a grassroots piece of legislation that makes 44 million citizens organ donors was seldom reported. The official increase in donors will depend on how many citizens choose to opt out, but this legislation will undoubtedly ensure the survival of thousands of patients that are in need of organ transplantation. With the approval of this law, also called the Justina’s Law, Argentina would join the ranks of France and Netherlands in this landmark legislation.

While it is typical to hear for the negative aspects of Argentina’s economy and crime, the work being done to solve these issues or the positive impacts that the Argentine people themselves are having on their country is rarely discussed.

Though it may seem that the misrepresentation of Argentina in the media has little effect on the country’s economic and social outlook, this is far from the truth. Macri’s plan for foreign investment depends heavily on the perception of Argentina as a viable place for growth. The current administration’s commitment to accountability and poverty reduction, as well as social progress, show the world that the country is trending in the right direction.

– Julius Long

Photo: Flickr

Combatting the Currency Crisis in Argentina
Argentina has experienced quite a few economic struggles in the past decade. The country now faces its fifth recession in the past ten years and its currency, the Argentine peso, has lost a third of its value. Now the lowest performing currency in the world, the currency crisis in Argentina imposes the new challenge to revamp its peso and bypass the friction of its economy.

Who Is Affected?

Virtually everyone in Argentina is affected by this crisis. Business owners who expected to succeed in their business endeavors, due to the nature of Argentine markets and demand, are evidently experiencing a consumer drought.

Moreover, current negotiation details between the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Argentina’s government have consequences for the public. Infrastructure projects will be postponed, subsidies cut, transfers to the provinces reduced and the federal payroll shrunk. Social unrest has followed already as the General Confederation of Labour, the greatest trade-union group in Argentina, protested against the government’s economic policies on June of 2018.

How Did the Crisis Commence?

Wolf Richter, a writer who featured on Business Insider, described the origin of the currency crisis in a simple yet concise fashion. Lending money to Argentina’s government is a tricky venture since lending to the government in its own currency devastates their peso and lending in a foreign currency leads to defaulting of the loan.

The currency crisis in Argentina started from reasons outside of the country’s control as well as the institutional reactions to them. Argentina underwent the greatest drought in 50 years at the beginning of this year, specifically affecting the harvesting of two export crops: maize and soybeans. A stronger U.S. dollar and Treasury yields led to the risk aversion of international investors, leaving riskier assets. Thereafter, Argentina’s peso, alongside Mexico’s peso, Brazil’s real, Turkey’s lira and Russia’s ruble, struggled.

Following these uncontrollable forces, the Central Bank of Argentina raised interest rates to a staggering 40 percent in the hope of helping the Argentine peso. The endeavor did not work as planned. Argentina’s president Mauricio Macri and his administration took a $50 billion loan from the IMF. President Macri collaborated with senators, governors and other leaders in order to get the country on board with the plan. Nevertheless, the public is skeptical because of Argentina’s past experiences with the IMF, such as the 1990s Convertibility Plan that fell through and spiraled into one of the greatest economic crises for Argentina.

Possible Solutions

Solutions to this problem that directly involves Argentina and international organizations, proposed by different institutions, are as follows:

  1. Make the IMF more sensitive to political realities
  2. Selectively slash government spending
  3. Avoid overvaluation of the currency
  4. Address fiscal problems in a timely manner
  5. Devaluate the Argentine peso
  6. Revise fiscal and economic policies that tend to disrupt the peso

The currency crisis in Argentina is undergoing a tug and pull from differing sides. The public keeps a retrospective mindset as they remember the past events of the 1990s and early 2000s. On the other hand, President Macri holds onto a prospective plan, trying to help Argentina climb out on top and even willing to take a $50 billion loan from the IMF. There are a number of solutions that have been drawn out. Although Argentina struggles to find a national consensus, the gears are in motion to eradicate this crisis and past mistakes are increasingly considered as citizens politically mobilize.

Roberto Carlos Ventura
Photo: Flickr

Economic Growth in Nicaragua Has Helped Reduce PovertyThe amount of economic growth in Nicaragua is an unusual and unprecedented phenomenon in the Central American peninsula. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) even decided to close its offices in the country in 2016 as it considered the issue well resolved. IMF first opened an office in Nicaragua in 1995 with the goal of economically stabilizing the country, which had been afflicted by years and years of high debt accumulation and revolutionary wars.

“Notwithstanding challenging external conditions, economic activity remains buoyant,said Gerardo Peraza, head of the study that IMF led in 2016. The study also revealed how economic growth was projected at 4.7 percent that year. The main factors that contributed to such economic growth in Nicaragua were, according to the study, steady agricultural and commercial activity and an inflation rate that is projected to accommodate under four percent.

Where Did the Economic Growth Originate?

Experts argue that such improvements in economic growth in Nicaragua are largely attributable to the re-election of President Daniel Ortega. Many argue that his political identity and approach to crucial matters such as macroeconomy and anti-poverty measures have significantly shifted toward a more pro-business attitude.

Moreover, experts say that thanks to Ortega’s social programs, poverty fell by 30 percent between 2005 and 2014. Moreover, in 2011, Nicaragua was taken out of a debt relief program enacted by IMF in 2005, called Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative.

The Benefits of Economic Growth in Nicaragua

A study issued by the World Bank has also found that in 2011, economic growth hit 5.1 percent, slowing to 4.7 and 4.5 in 2016 and 2017, respectively. For 2018, predictions see the Nicaraguan economy growing at 4.4 percent, making it the second largest among Central American countries in terms of growth. The country’s overall stability led decision makers to focus on long-term improvement and growth rather than just damage control, with the war on poverty the highest objective, particularly in rural areas.

Such economic improvement also restored the international community’s trust in Nicaragua. It is thanks to this renewed trust that, for instance, the USDA awarded a McGovern-Dole Food for Education grant to the organization Food For The Poor in Nicaragua. The grant was distributed as a three-year program, from the fall of 2011 to the fall of 2014.

During this period, more than 4,500 metric tons of food were delivered to the poorest communities of the Central American country. The majority of the recipients were children. Students of  774 schools, located primarily in Managua, Nueva Segovia and Madriz, greatly benefitted from the program.

Looking Toward the Future

The mission, however, is far from being fully accomplished. A statement issued by the U.S. Department of State reveals that Nicaragua still has the lowest level of GDP per capita in Central America and, most importantly, 40 percent of the population still lives in poverty. The situation gets even worse in rural areas, where the rate of poverty reaches nearly 60 percent.

The hope is that the path of economic growth and fiscal responsibility, paired with social programs and foreign aid initiatives, will keep Nicaragua on a path of prosperity and heavily reduced poverty.

– Luca Di Fabio

Photo: Flickr

Costa Rica sits just above Panama in Central America, and foreign aid has benefited the nation so well that could be considered the overall standard for the effectiveness of foreign aid. This claim comes with a disclaimer and compliment to Costa Rica: Costa Rica is unique in that the will and dedication of the people caused Costa Rica to hold onto a tradition of democracy and relatively stable governments. This type of behavior and system is not always the case when it comes to the regions that receive foreign aid.

A stable government can help increase the effectiveness of foreign aid. Even after a substantial economic downturn during the 1980s and defaulting on is loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Costa Rica was able to economically recover with guidance from the IMF — a success  often considered controversial.

United States’ Withdrawal from Costa Rican Aid

By 1996, the United States’ International Development Fund closed its mission in Costa Rica. In the last ten years, the United States government has allocated less than $50 million in foreign aid to Costa Rica.

During the years that IMF imposed economic planning, Costa Rica was able to begin to diversify its economy. Before the 2008 economic crisis, large tech firms shifted the manufacturing of microprocessors and other hardware to Costa Rica.

The investment from international business before 2008 helped shift Costa Rica away from its agrarian-based economy. Currently, only 5.5 percent of Costa Rica’s 58.91 billion GDP is attributed to agriculture, 21 percent of the GDP comes from industry and 73.5 percent is from the service and tourism industry. It can be seen that foreign aid has benefited Costa Rica due to the nation’s survival of the 2008 economic crisis.

Diverse Economy and Loan Qualification

Due to its new, more stable and diverse economy, Costa Rica was able to qualify for loans from the IMF and other international banking organizations. Although it weathered the storm, Costa Rica is still paying the price — its credit rating was downgraded in 2017.

In March of 2018, the United Nations and Costa Rica agreed to United Nations Development Assistance Framework from 2018-2022 to help both the private and public sectors of the nation. The plan seems to target sectors and institutions hit hardest by increased public and government debt post-2008.

Due to Costa Rica’s reliance on foreign direct investment, a downgraded credit score has the potential for a loss in those investments, making aid more risky for investors. Poverty still remains between 20-25 percent in Costa Rica, so stabilizing its economy and increasing FDI is extremely important for the nation as a whole.

To Remain Steadfast While Promoting Growth

While the economic story of Costa Rica seems akin to a roller coaster, it will hopefully stabilize again with the help of the United Nations. Foreign aid has benefited Costa Rica in other ways as well. Due to the relatively stable economy, Costa Rica spends 7 percent of its GDP on the education system, a decision that has caused the youth literacy rate (ages 15-24) to increase to 99 percent.

The country also boasts a nearly 100 percent primary school graduation rate, and a low teacher-to-student ratio of 1 to 13 in primary school and 1 to 14 in secondary school. The United States Peace Corps has maintained a presence in the education system of Costa Rica since 1963.

How Foreign Aid Has Benefited Costa Rica

Foreign aid has benefited Costa Rica immensely in the 20th and 21st Centuries. Due to the wise use of aid, Costa Rica was able to remain firm and grow, albeit slowly, though the 2008 economic crisis which made every country in the world stumble.

As the country steadies itself with only slight economic assistance in the coming years, it will hopefully regain its secure footing. And this is the aim of most foreign aid — to help a nation prosper so that it can one day stand on its own.

– Nick DeMarco

Photo: U.S. Air Force

Economic development in Iran
Economic development in Iran seems to be on the horizon. The World Bank released a report called “Iran’s Economic Outlook” in which it states that 2018-19 will see an overall economic improvement in the nation as the increase in investments and the reelection of President Hassan Rouhani in May 2017 provides political stability.

Moreover, the GDP growth rate is estimated at 3.6 percent, and the International Monetary Fund projects the Iranian GDP to expand by 3.8 percent in 2018, for a future economic growth of 4.1 percent in 2022. According to many analysts, such unprecedented economic development in Iran is most likely due to the removal of international sanctions over the country’s nuclear energy program in 2016.

Iran’s Economy is On the Rise

Both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have revealed that Iran has seen a staggering 12.5 percent increase of its GDP in 2016. The increase in oil output was a major factor toward such economic development in Iran, after restrictions on crude sales were removed.

Such economic improvement gives hope for a comprehensive reduction of poverty in Iran. In fact, the Institute for Management and Planning Studies has released a study in which it shows more than 900 figures of what the poverty line in Iran looks like.

Data of Economic Development

This data was collected from over 40 reports released by the Statistical Center of Iran, the Central Bank of Iran and other independent research centers. Furthermore, according to study co-authors and economists Majid Einian and Davoud Severi, 12.31 percent of all Iranians are poor and a total 10.61 percent of urban and 17.03 percent of rural households live in poverty.

According to the Financial Tribune, however, the Ministry of Cooperatives and Labor and Social Welfare draws the poverty line at $159 a month for a household of 3 to 5 members. Interestingly, the economists who led the study chose $61.3 for an individual living in urban areas and $38.6 for each person living in rural areas as the standard to define what living in poverty means.

As the World Bank has reported, Iran managed to reduce poverty to 8 percent between 2009 and 2013. However, the divide between rural and urban is still quite impressive. On average, in fact, poverty in rural areas is three times higher than in urban areas.

Action to Reduce Poverty in Iran

Between 2009 and 2014, the Iranian government took action towards the reduction of poverty by assisting its citizens with universal cash transfer. This action contributed to a economic growth of 1.3 percent of the bottom 40 percent of the population.

As far as other sectors of the economy are concerned, the World Bank foresees a growth of the agriculture at a rate of 4.1 percent in both 2018 and 2019 and of the industrial sector at 4.7 percent and 4.8 percent for 2018 and 2019 respectively, and the services sector is expected to grow at 3 percent and 3.4 percent. With these statistics in sight, the future of Iran’s economic development is promising.

– Luca Di Fabio

Photo: Pixabay

How the Technology Gap Censors and Silences the World's PoorTechnology often feels like it has inundated our lives, yet about 60 percent of the world’s population does not have Internet access. Technological progress has jumpstarted globalization and fed growing economies, but the International Monetary Fund shows that it has also created a technology gap that is the driving force in inequality. The voices of impoverished people are almost completely lost in today’s technological world.

China made headlines in the U.S. recently for their technological censorship. The Communist Party holds congress October 18 and as the date has been approaching, the Chinese government has interfered with communications they cannot directly monitor. It is easy to criticize such blatant corruption – the story even made New York Times headlines – but there is comparably little concern over the fact that poverty creates a societal censorship more crippling than any government.

The freedom to communicate has been autonomous for most of history, only hindered by disability or geographical and cultural divide. Technology gave the world a solution to these roadblocks and seemed to “shrink” the world. But now it has been marketized so much that a single shift in Apple’s quarterly earnings will shift the entire Dow Jones Industrial Average. Technology is commercialized and treated as a privilege rather than a right, taking the right to communicate along with it.

The U.N.‘s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development names the technology gap as one of the greatest obstacles to eradicating poverty. The Mexico delegate expressed that bridging that gap means “embracing the information society which was plural, transparent, decentralized, democratic and egalitarian.”

China’s censorship is only one symptom and one example of a government working against that vision. The country ranks 79th on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, which is even a relatively liberal position compared to some of the world’s poorest countries. The majority of the most corrupt countries are in Sub-Saharan Africa and northward into the Middle East. Business Insider’s list of the poorest countries, based on International Monetary Fund data, shows the same pattern and attributes the correlation to “authoritarian regimes where corruption is rampant.”

Two of the best examples of this are the Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic. Ranked the two poorest countries in the world, they are also both on the list of the 20 most corrupt countries. Furthermore, in the Central African Republic, just over four percent of the population are Internet users, whereas just under four percent are Internet users in the Congo. About 10 years ago, that number was less than one percent in both countries. The technology gap means that people who need the world’s help the most unfortunately do not have the resources to ask for it.

The U.S. passed a piece of legislation this year called The Digital Gap Act, which was implemented in September and hopes to bring first time Internet access to 1.5 billion people by 2020. This is just one step – though an important one – in the direction toward a global society that is representative of the entire population, and a step toward helping eradicate poverty by ensuring those who need it most have access to helpful technology.

Brooke Clayton
Photo: Flickr

Help People in Somalia
It is no secret that the countries most affected by climate change are the least equipped to combat the implications. Much of Somalia is dependent on livestock and agriculture, and more than half the population is now in dire need of humanitarian assistance after two seasons of poor rainfall. There have been many causes of poverty in Somalia that have left the country unable to aid its own citizens — in fact, the U.N. estimates a need for $864 million to assist 3.9 million people.


Leading Causes of Poverty in Somalia


The War on Hunger

Famine looms as a very viable threat. In just 48 hours, 110 people died from starvation and drought-related illness in rural Somalia. The drought is more severe in the country’s rural regions. Many Somalis from these areas took to the road out of necessity. Somalia’s capital city of Mogadishu offers feeding centers and food distribution.

Like most, Fadumo Abdi Ibrahim made the 30km journey on foot with her nine-month-old malnourished son in arms. While she was fortunate to complete the trek, others were not so lucky. “We found several bodies of children on the road,” Ibrahim said. The malnourished children died in their mothers’ arms; mothers too weak to carry the small corpses the rest of the way.

Like Ibrahim, Somalia travelled a long and challenging road to arrive at its current state of affairs. There are many causes of poverty in Somalia. The following are a few of the most significant.

In the early 1980s, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank instigated an intervention in Somalia and imposed economic and agricultural reforms in hopes of spurring development.

In theory, macroeconomic development seems reasonable.

POVERTIES is an online publication reporting social scientific research and information on economic development, public policy, human rights and discrimination. One article helps to simplify the damages of neoliberal reforms. The neoliberal ideology consistently follows a pattern of “currency devaluation for cheap exports and cheap labor, trade liberalization by opening the borders to world trade (and to global competitors), reducing budget deficits through massive cuts in the public sector and reduction of social services.”

Somali met with many of these consequences thanks to the IMF’s reformations. Unemployment, extremely limited wages and higher food prices proved among the most punishing.


Growing Dependency

Somalia was largely self-sufficient in food until the 1970s. Its economy was based on an exchange relationship between herdsmen and agriculturalists. The IMF’s economic reforms undermined these fragile relationships, victimizing food distribution and the agricultural economy.

Since the collapse of the country’s last government in 1991, social and political order in Somalia presents itself in the form of clans. The situation has proved surprisingly less violent than expected. Most conflict, however, is rooted in land and water resources. There is a necessary method within this madness: for many Somalis, access to such resources is dependent on their clan — that is, if they have a clan at all.

Again, the causes of poverty in Somalia are countless, but the IMF and the loss of a centralized government certainly caused the greatest damage.

Somalia’s traditional pastoral economy presented itself as the perfect project for modernization, but forced reformation led the population towards a fight for survival. The reforms devastated Somalia’s agricultural sector, and war and civil war further strained essential resources (as well as other factors too numerous to list).

When the rain stopped, the entire population was at the mercy of drought, with no centralized government to provide relief from impending famine.

The fate of more than half of all Somalis now lies in the hands of foreign and humanitarian aid. Somalia and its citizens like Ibrahim have fought to make it this far on a challenging journey; the question is, will help be waiting to greet them?

Sophie Nunnally

Photo: Flickr