Relief, Investment and Infrastructure: 10 Ways to Stop Poverty
Though there are many ways to combat global inequity, this list of 10 ways to stop poverty addresses several primary concerns, including providing relief, investing in communities, and setting up the infrastructure necessary to further development.

  1. Improve national and international responses to natural disasters. Though just 26 percent of storms take place in lower income countries, these same countries account for 89 percent of storm-related deaths. The World Bank estimates that 26 million people are forced into poverty as a result of natural disasters, each year. Early warning systems, improved building codes and emergency preparedness strategies can save lives and help save $100 million in damages each year.
  2. Address water quality and improve sanitation. The entire workforce in France works 40 billion hours per year — the same number of hours spent just collecting water in sub-Saharan Africa. In addition to the value of work and school time lost to water collection efforts, an adequate supply of clean water is essential for agriculture and basic sanitation.
  3. Address hunger and nutrition. Malnutrition early in life can make children more susceptible to lasting physical and mental disabilities, preventing them from fully participating in the social and economic spheres as adults. The U.N. Development Program (UNDP) aims to end hunger and malnutrition by 2030 through supporting small farmers with land, technology and market access.
  4. Provide access to healthcare. Every day, 16,000 children die from preventable diseases like measles and tuberculosis, and in Sub-Saharan Africa, AIDS is the leading cause of death among teenagers. Healthcare services including immunizations, disease prevention and treatment are essential to UNDP sustainable development goals.
  5. Improve gender equality. Combating gender-based discrimination improves agricultural productivity and school attendance, and leads to increases in income. In the long run, gender equality contributes to the family, community and nation-wide development, and is vital to the effort to stop poverty.
  6. Invest in transportation infrastructure. The availability of transportation is important for access to jobs, education and healthcare. Better transportation infrastructure can also prevent traffic accidents. Worldwide, 90 percent of traffic accidents and resulting fatalities occur in low and middle-income countries, and constitute a larger health risk than malaria or tuberculosis.
  7. Make microfinance options available. Microfinance provides banking services to people with minimal access to such services. Loans, bank accounts, insurance and help with financial literacy may all be offered by microfinance companies. This allows people living in poverty to participate in economic activities like opening businesses. Currently, microfinance is available to only 20 percent of the world’s three billion people living in poverty.
  8. Make education accessible. In many countries, students may not be required to pay tuition, but other costs are still associated with school. The cost of textbooks and transportation, plus the money that children might otherwise earn from working, can all keep children out of school. The benefits of education are huge: Child Fund International says that “Education can be the catalyst needed to pull families and communities out of the cycle of poverty.”
  9. Combat climate change. Life and livelihood are on the line with changing precipitation patterns, rising sea levels, higher temperatures and extreme weather threatening agriculture, food supplies and water quality. UNDP argues that “It is still possible, with the political will and a wide array of technological measures, to limit the increase in global mean temperature to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. This requires urgent collective action.”
  10. Gather more information. Individual communities’ development goals must be a part of the effort to stop poverty. To this end, information must be collected regarding the location, necessities and priorities of people living in poverty to correct old or inadequate data and provide meaningful assistance.

Madeline Reding

Photo: Flickr

Recovery of MogadishuAs demonstrated in How We Made it in Africa, the mention of the Somalia’s capital city Mogadishu, alluded to images of ruin and destruction due to the World War II aftermath. In 1991, the country’s longtime military leader, Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown, triggering a constant struggle over the control of Mogadishu for years to come.

The once beautiful city, filled with wide boulevards and Italianate colonial architecture had become divided among rival warlords. Government-built schools and hospitals became prime targets for looters bent on destroying all remaining vestiges of Siad Barre’s 22-year rule. For a long period of time, chaos and crime thrived in one of Africa’s most cherished cities.

However, when the militants were pulled out of the city in 2011, the reconstruction of Mogadishu began. According to the New York Times, the hammering sound of machine guns has now been replaced with the sound of construction demonstrating that the recovery of Mogadishu is well underway. New hospitals, homes, shops, hotels and bars are being built and life has emerged from the once decrepit city.

BBC acknowledges a wave of reconstruction, which is being led by Somali expats who have come back to invest in their homeland. Foreign investors are also providing capital toward the recovery of Mogadishu.

Mohamed Yusuf, director of Madina Hospital told  How We Made it in Africa that the city is like “a patient who was in a deep coma, and then suddenly he moves his fingers and opens his eyes. Now he is moving his limbs and unfolding his legs.”

Consequently, the outside world has noticed. In a recent survey of the world’s fastest-growing cities with a population of at least 1 million, the U.S.-based consulting firm Demographia ranked Mogadishu second on the list. Demographia estimated Mogadishu’s annual growth rate at 6.9 percent, due to the return of Somalis who have come home to explore investment opportunities following improvements in the city.

In Mogadishu, the central business district is once again a beehive of commercial activity. Somali singers just held their first concert in more than two decades at the National Theater, which formerly served as a weapons depot and a national lavatory.

Mogadishu has a bright and thriving future in the context of culture, enterprise and new markets.

Megan Hadley

Photo: Flickr

The Four C's Behind Cool GivingIn the United States’ current sociopolitical climate, charitable donations and the appeal of philanthropic investments continue to increase, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Although down from the 2.4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) allocated to giving in the pre-recession 2000s, sources find that philanthropy is on an upswing, inching back to 2.1 percent in 2015 from 1.8-1.9 percent between 2008 and 2012. This trend may be due in part to a social movement of “cool giving.”

Although donations from corporations have had a sharper increase, individual giving, too, has gained traction, both in dollar amount and in frequency, according to Forbes’ list of “50 Top Givers in 2014.”

This uptick demonstrates more than a numerical increase in donations; it delineates a social movement of philanthropy, and a widespread attitude of cool giving.

The four Cs below articulate why now, perhaps more than ever, helping the world’s poor is considered cool.

1. It is often in the form of a challenge.

Be it the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge of 2014 (linked to ALS by Chris Kennedy, because of a relative suffering from the disease) or The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenge program, a competition for grantees in specific fields to solve key global health and development problems, competition sparks change. And, in an age of social media, competitive opportunities are expanding and becoming more easily accessible.

There is nothing like throwing a bucket of icy water on your head to help those in need.

2. It demonstrates strong character.

A desire for generous rebranding, fueled by the 2016 presidential election, is taking place in the U.S. Republicans and Democrats alike — Michael R. Bloomberg, Paul Singer, Charles Koch, to name a few — have made momentous contributions to charitable organizations. Partisanship aside, when philanthropic organizations reap the benefits of the one-upmanship of doing good, the world’s poor benefit too.

3. Collaboration is key.

In 2015, The Bridgespan Group, a nonprofit resource for mission-driven organization and philanthropies, published research about the U.S.’s top donors and the “big bets” hedged in such contributions. The results illustrated that 80 percent of multi-million dollar donations are given with a specific goal in mind. (Bridgespan gives the example of Don and Foris Fisher’s participation with the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) for the improvement of public education).

Increased Internet access and online materials make donation allocation easy. And, with these specifications posted online for a larger readership, corporations and individual donors feel team-like camaraderie in taking steps toward remedying a problem. As with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, key steps are clearly outlined and updated in the website’s mission statement and strategic planning pages. Collaborating on a goal and seeing first-hand results, Bridgespan concluded, further incentivizes charitable acts.

4. The sky’s the limit on creativity.

Founded in 2012, Global Citizen focuses on making policy changes toward global poverty eradication as an organization that couples artistry with charity. The Global Citizen Festival, promoted by Coldplay’s Chris Martin at the Super Bowl, epitomizes the longstanding relationship between the arts and philanthropy. At the September 2015 festival, artists like Beyoncé and Pearl Jam blended the beats of Bob Marley to the inspiring words of Nelson Mandela. The result? Wide coverage of the program’s Sustainable Development Goals, which aim to end global poverty by 2030.

Celebrity influence certainly brings attention to an issue but the multimedia tools of exposure — concerts, festivals, videos — also make the issues relatable and memorable.

Whether they come from competition, creative incentive, collaboration or character building, good deeds in 2016 are all the rage. Isn’t it cool to give?

Nora Harless

Sources: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Bridgespan Group, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Forbes Magazine, Global Citizen, TIME Magazine
Photo: Flickr

There are 63 million secondary school-aged children around the world who are unable to attend school. In West and Central Africa, this number amounts to 40 percent of their youth population. In India, 16 million children of lower and secondary school age do not receive an education. The School Fund works with investors to provide resources and funds to developing regions to help children in need.

On average, an individual’s wage increases 15 to 25 percent for each additional year of schooling he or she receives. Girls and young women who receive an education are far less likely to become a child bride and typically grow up to be healthier and more educated about sex. Women who receive an education are more prone to have healthier children and smaller families. Education can also help girls grow up to become leaders in their communities.

The School Fund operates its services by first helping investors find students to support. This process is determined by selecting a student based on their country, gender, academic interests or fundraising deadlines. The second step helps the investors decide how much to donate, and step three allows the donators to stay in touch with the students they have helped in order to see how they are contributing the funds to their education.

The School Fund has been able to provide scholarships to over 1,100 students in Africa, Asia and Latin America, totaling over US$400,000 in funds used for tuition, uniforms, materials, exam fees and food. Students have been funded by over 3,500 donors, representing more than 1,500 years of education.

The organization was founded by Matt Severson and Andrew Perrault in 2009. Having been friends for many years and sharing interests in both traveling and development, the pair traveled to Tanzania in 2007 while still in high school. While there, they were both touched by how friendly and thoughtful the residents were. Even though many of them lived in poverty, they were still willing to share with the two of them.

During his travels, Matt Severson met a young boy named John Medo. Medo came from a family of seven who lived on US$45 a month. John Medo was intelligent — he had aced all of the exams necessary for secondary school, but his family could not afford the US$150 fee for tuition. When Severson met Medo, he was working to become a farmer. Matt Severson was inspired by John Medo’s kindness and decided to provide funds for his schooling. This marked the beginning of The School Fund.

Over the next two summers, Severson and Perrault worked to expand and build The School Fund from the ground up. Now The School Fund supports students in Tanzania, Haiti, the Philippines and many other places in the world. As Matt Severson puts it, there are many other “John Medos” in the world who need support to attend school. The School Fund plans to continue to connect investors with students in need.

– Julia Hettiger

Sources: The School Fund 1, The School Fund 2, UNICEF
Photo: Ghana Culture Politics

Recent progress in Africa’s agriculture sector faces a number of potential threats according to Dr. Agnes Kalibata, the president of Alliance for the Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). Kalibata, formerly the Rwandan Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources, cites global climate change as African agriculture’s biggest threat if it’s not met with increases in further investment.

Thanks to recent financing in the form of development aid, agriculture insurance and foreign direct investment (FDI), many African farmers have developed the means to overcome the formidable climatic and economic conditions that threaten food access for hundreds of millions of people. But Kalibata says that without sustained investment, Africa’s food needs, which are set to triple by 2050, could prove unattainable.

“[Climate change] is eroding the momentum we had gained in terms of getting farmers to use improved seeds and buy fertilizers,” said Kalibata. “If a farmer puts his small savings into seeds and fertilizers and loses the whole crop, that’s the end of his whole career … Farmers are getting less rain, it’s more irregular and it’s beginning to affect their production and undermine the investment they are making.”

In a policy paper presented at the development finance summit in Addis Ababa earlier this month, AGRA estimated that the value of African agricultural output could increase from $280 billion to $800 billion by 2030. In order for the sector that employs around two-thirds of Africa’s population to realize this possibility, potential investment needs to be substantially increased and diversified.

One such opportunity for American investment comes in the form of agriculture insurance, which people and countries are increasingly relying upon to withstand conditions out of their control, such as natural hazards and climate-related disasters. Because agriculture is a high-variable venture, particularly in the harsh environments of sub-Saharan Africa, farmers are often left without the means of recovering lost investments or repaying debts associated with past loans. Insurance coverage enables those farmers to participate in riskier but more lucrative activities, like diversified harvests or mechanization.

Investment in African agriculture comes with economic and moral implications that reach deeper than the immediacy of food insecurity. Access to reliable sources of food is essential for countries in the early stages of economic development and, once established, can empower people and countries to achieve previously unattainable levels of security and self-determination.

“Agriculture is everyone’s business: national independence depends on its development because it enables us to escape the scourge of food insecurity that undermines our sovereignty and fosters sedition,” writes The New Partnership for Africa’s Development CEO Ibrahim Assane Mayaki in the United Nations’ Africa outlook. “[It] is the sector offering the greatest potential for poverty and inequality reduction, as it provides sources of productivity from which the most disadvantaged people working in the sector should benefit.”

The Food for Peace Reform and Electrify Africa Acts introduced earlier this year mark a number of Congressmen’s sustained efforts to make African development a focus of U.S. foreign policy. But in order for Africa to meet its future agricultural needs, investors and donor organizations will need to take further steps to establish infrastructure, mechanization and resistance to climate-related challenges. Those investments in food security could help to deliver increased opportunities for the African and American economies alike.

Zach VeShancey

Sources: The Guardian, AGRA, United Nations
Photo: Flickr


Urbanization in China experiences challenges when expanding out to rural areas and having to reclassify villagers as urban citizens. One consequence of expansion is the sale of farmers’ land in order to create space for urbanized living or development.

Quanzhou’s gross domestic product is about $84 billion, and the city hosts one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world at 1.22 percent. The economy is driven by textile factories, food processing plants and emerging industries such as petrochemicals and automobiles.

In 2014, protests over the urbanization and development plans through the sale of land became heated, as rows of villagers held up banners to show their dissent. The government did not negotiate with the villagers before selling their property, which forced some residents into poverty.

“The land belongs to the farmers, but the government sold it off, and the farmers haven’t received any of the money,” said Chen, a resident of the Xunbu village in Quanzhou.

The government’s seizure of rural land resulted in violent suppression and pressure for the local villagers to comply with Beijing’s actions.

While property is being sold off for the government to expand their business expenditures, there have been many successful developments and labor changes to alleviate poverty in Quanzhou. For example, improved working conditions make the city attractive to migrant workers. These workers will then be less likely to leave Quanzhou city, softening any labor shortages.

The Quanzhou Federation of Trade Unions has a new model to protect immigrant workers and benefit both workers and employers. These efforts provide individual contracts as well as collective contracts that extend their rights to neighborhood levels, such as street, village, or enterprise. Due to the success of their new model, $12.91 million in salaries have been paid to workers. This has alleviated the poverty felt by many migrant workers of Quanzhou.

With over 13,000 foreign enterprises reaching a total of $34.5 billion in investments, Quanzhou has the ability to expand and become the national center of urbanization and development that China is hoping to accomplish. As long as working conditions continue to improve and wages continue to climb, Quanzhou will be able to fill vacant positions and keep migrant workers returning. If their business model continues to succeed, Quanzhou may become the most important investment city to get the 82 million people below the poverty line out of extreme poverty.

– Donald Gering

Sources: China Daily, China Knowledge, Harvard, International Business Times, RFA, Rappler
Photo: China Mike

$14 billion in african industries
The U.S. government has announced that businesses here will be investing $14 billion in African industries. Investment was previously unsupported by President Obama. The news was released on the second day of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C.

The $14 billion investment has been pledged by companies like GE, who will invest $2 billion by 2018, Marriott, who will invest $200 million and IBM, who will invest $66 million to provide technology services to Ghana’s Fidelity Bank.

These investments will span industries such as construction, clean energy, banking and information technology. Previously, the main U.S. investments had been in oil and gas, so businesses are making an effort to focus on new sectors.

Africa is in the middle of a highly prosperous time with fast economic growth, and the U.S. recognizes that. It is home to six of the world’s fastest growing economies, and has developed a strong middle class with significantly higher spending power now than in 2000.

The International Monetary Fund is predicting that Africa will see a 5.8 percent growth in 2014. John Kerry, the U.S. Secretary of State, said that Africa could be “the marketplace of the future,” and that it is experiencing “amazing opportunity.”

The U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit is a program where representatives from nearly 100 American and African businesses gather to discuss how to boost economic partnerships. China has recently become Africa’s top trading partner, and the U.S. hopes to recover that title.

Former New York City major and billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg said, “We also realize we have some catching up to do … We are letting Europe and China go faster than the U.S.”

Keeping these things in mind, the U.S. is striving to make its impact in African businesses. Investing in Africa is highly beneficial for the United States because it will create strong economic ties and will boost the relationship that the two areas already have.

– Hannah Cleveland 

Sources: AllAfrica, Al Jazeera
Photo: Al Jazeera

A steadily growing economy and an ample supply of natural resources make Mozambique a natural target for foreign investment. The southern African country is classified as low-income and remains one of the most under-developed nations in the world, but it manages to attract millions of dollars every year in foreign aid and is working to continue economic development and build its infrastructure.

In fact, improving infrastructure in Mozambique is the purpose for the more than $32 billion that the U.S. plans to invest in the country within the next several years. Increased and updated infrastructure in Mozambique’s natural resource industries — including the natural gas and coal industries — will help maintain the nation’s economic growth, which is expected to be eight percent or higher until at least 2019.

Infrastructure investments will also be made for transportation, as improvements are needed desperately for roads, railway systems and ports. These investments will come in addition to the more than $5 billion that the U.S. has invested in Mozambique over the past two years.

If used effectively, this aid could make Mozambique one of the biggest coal and natural gas producers in Africa and significantly grow its gross domestic product (GDP.) Recent discoveries of additional natural gas reserves in the country have already brought in over $1 billion for Mozambique.

Financial services company Deutsche Bank has praised Mozambique for its “ambitious policy agenda,” which has attracted investors. Massive infrastructure renovations and additions are by no means a small task, and proposing them was risky for the Mozambican government; if foreign aid did not present itself, the government would be making a promise it could not keep.

To put the $32 billion U.S. investment into perspective, Mozambique’s current GDP is estimated at $15 billion. Despite this massive cash influx, Mozambique has become less reliant on foreign aid over the past few years. The economic growth America’s investment is projected to incite should allow Mozambique to become less and less dependent on foreign aid in the years to come.

The U.S. is likely to see at least a partial return on investment, as Mozambican industries reinvigorated by improved infrastructure will produce more exports, allowing the country to trade with the U.S. in global markets. A healthy economy for Mozambique also puts capital in the hands of people who can use it to purchase American goods.

– Elise L. Riley ​
Sources: Macau Hub, World Bank, AllAfrica
Photo: Maca Hub

The world currently produces enough food to sustain the entire global population, yet nearly a billion people around the world still suffer every day from hunger. The U.S. alone could end global hunger with only $30 billion a year — a mere fraction of the $530 billion the U.S. spends annually on the military.

If we have the power to feed the world, it begs the question — why is hunger still such a monumental problem?

The primary and most obvious cause of hunger is poverty. While enough food exists to feed the world, a significant portion of the population still live in such abject poverty that they cannot afford even the most basic food items.

This creates an incessant poverty trap. The global poor can’t feed themselves or their families, so they become weak and malnourished which makes them unable to work. In turn, they fall deeper into poverty. This phenomenon is affecting millions of people around the world. Any solution to hunger must also be in part a solution to poverty.

Another major cause of hunger is natural disasters and climate change. Storms and droughts — both of which are on the rise — damage crops and lead to massive food shortages. Often, the poorest countries are the ones least equipped to deal with these disasters, and the greenhouse gases that lead to climate change originate from the richest countries.

One way to remedy this problem is to increase foreign investment in agriculture. By establishing adequate infrastructure, cultivating the land properly, managing water usage and ensuring storage facilities are used effectively, the fallout from natural disasters can be handled much more easily.

Unfortunately, most poor countries lack the resources and the knowledge to shore up their agricultural sector by themselves. However, foreign investment in the agricultural sector of developing countries would go a long way towards helping them becoming self-sustainable. A U.N. study found that investments in agriculture reduce hunger five times more than investments in any other sector.

Finally, war represents another major cause of hunger. The most war-torn areas in the world also tend to suffer the most from hunger. In war, food is often used as a weapon. Farms and livestock are ravaged in an effort to starve the opposition into submission. In Africa, countries with the most conflict — like Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo — are often the hungriest. On the other hand, in more peaceful countries — like Ghana and Rwanda — hunger is on the decline.

There are a number of insidious causes to the problem of global hunger, but the good news is that all of them are preventable. First and foremost, the problem of hunger must be tackled by facing poverty head-on. From there, we should turn our attention away from feeding impoverished peoples through aid, and towards helping them become self-sustainable.

– Samuel Hillestad

Sources: WFP, Global Concerns Classroom, DoSomething, FAO
Photo: OoCities

In January of this year, USAID announced a new poverty reduction initiative in Kenya. In partnership with Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) and General Electric (GE), USAID promotes investments in Kenya between the KCB and medical institutions that need financial assistance to offer appropriate medical care.

To provide this assistance, banks will grant loans to hospitals and other health centers. These investments in Kenya would have previously been considered unsafe and unlikely to be returned, but under the agreement with USAID, they are guaranteed reimbursement. If a full return cannot be made, USAID will pay back 50 percent of the loan.

The KCB, according to the deal, is obliged to divvy $1 million for medical equipment like MRIs, incubators and other standard-increasing machinery to be used in local health centers. GE has left $660,000 dollars for USAID to use as potential reimbursement funds, though only $500,000 (50 percent) should be used. In return, the Kenyan health services will purchase GE equipment, expanding GE’s global market.

There are some, however, such as Monica Onyango of Boston University, who are afraid this may lead to an overstated importance of imported goods, when in fact, locally manufactured equipment is better for local economic development.

Michael Metzler, director of Development Credit Authority (which is the tool used by USAID to promote loans, as in the initiative in Kenya,) reassures skeptics like Onyango that local business and manufacturing will still have the power Kenya needs it to have to grow. Quoted recently in a Global Post article, Metzler said that “we’d be very sensitive to a deal in which that was the case.”

Aside from the deal’s economic influence, clearer effects of the enhanced medical treatment new loans insure will be seen in public health. This expedites poverty reduction in Kenya by reducing the number of deaths caused by preventable diseases thriving in impoverished communities. These include diseases such as HIV, diarrhea, tuberculosis and malaria.

Illness and poverty go hand in hand, and until one is dealt with, the other is likely to expand. This new USAID initiative incorporates this idea and acts accordingly.

Adam Kaminski

Sources: Health Poverty Action, Global Post, Federal News Radio
Photo: USAID