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On June 7, GAP Inc. announced its partnership with USAID to invest in the growth of Burma. The signing ceremony was joined by U.S. Ambassador to Burma, Derek J. Mitchell, and USAID/Burma Mission Director, Chris Milligan.

GAP outlined plans to produce at two factories in Rangoon. By doing so, it will become the first American store to compete in the Burma market. USAID will support GAP Inc. in laying the groundwork for providing growth and economic opportunities.

The partnership is anticipated to provide economic opportunities for women in Burma.

GAP Inc. is in a good position to supply many jobs and opportunities for Burma. They will apply practices such as audits by a reliable non-government organization and make sure that human rights and labor standards are maintained in the factories. This is consistent with GAP Inc.’s attempts to better global working conditions.

GAP Inc. will provide its women’s advancement program, P.A.C.E. (Personal Advancement & Career Enhancement), in the factories in Burma by the end of 2014.

Established in 2007, P.A.C.E., an award-winning program, pursues encouraging female garment workers by providing “life skills education and technical training to help them become more successful both personally and professionally.” GAP Inc. will also collaborate with Indiana University and Hewlett-Packard to cultivate their P.A.C.E. program.

GAP Inc. will disclose any information about its practices in Burma as a part of their pledge to be transparent.

“This is a historic moment for Burma and we are committed to working with the U.S. government and local government alongside local and international NGOs, to help create the economic opportunities that the citizens of Burma so richly deserve. By entering Burma, we hope to help accelerate economic and social growth in the country, and build on our track record of improving working conditions and building local capacity in garment factories around the world,” said Wilma Wallace, Vice President, Global Responsibility, Business and Human Rights, GAP Inc.

– Colleen Moore

Sources: Retail Business Review, The Wall Street Transcript
Photo: Asia Foundation

Chinese Investment
It is no secret that Africa is one of the most attractive investment destinations in the world today. Among the countries vying for a spot in the foreign direct investment space is China – a country who has been Africa’s largest trading partner since 2009.

Chinese foreign direct investment went from $500 million in 2003 to almost $15 billion by 2012, and this year China has promised to triple Africa’s line of credit from $10 billion to $30 billion.

So where is all of the money going?

China, a beacon of infrastructure achievement itself, is investing largely in roads, rail and aviation networks around the continent.

China recently signed on to give $3.8 billion to help build the “Lunatic Line”—a rail line that will run from Nairobi to Mombasa and eventually link Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan. This line, which was first built in the late 19th century, has been decaying for decades due to conflict, corruption and general neglect.

China also pledged $12 billion in energy and infrastructure projects in Nigeria as well as an additional $2 billion for the China-Africa Development Fund.

Why is Chinese investment in infrastructure so important?

In a continent where only a third of Africans living in rural areas have access to an all-season road, investment in roads and rail lines allow people the freedom to travel more easily for jobs as well as for educational and health reasons. The access the infrastructure facilitates helps decrease poverty levels because people are able to access and participate in their country’s economy more easily.

Another attractive characteristic of Chinese investment for many African countries is the promise of non-interference in local politics. While loans from the International Monetary Fund or other Western nations often come with prerequisite guidelines and reforms to be met before aid or investment is received, China requires none of these. As Chinese Premier Li Keqiang aptly put, “We will not interfere in the local politics of any African country, or ask Africa for things which are impossible to observe or do.”

China, who reduced their own poverty levels by 55.7 percent from 1990 to 1997 alone, may be able to provide just what Africa needs to overcome barriers to creating a robust and thriving infrastructure and economy.

– Andrea Blinkhorn

Sources: Business Day 1, Business Day 2, Daily Mail, Heritage Foundation, Wall Street Journal
Photo: Oil and Energy Daily

L_children_playing_africa
Across the world, almost one billion children live in poverty. They live without access to proper nutrition, healthcare and especially, adequate education. Children are the future of the world and need to be nurtured to become successful. When children grow up with skills to join the labor force, they can help pull their countries out of poverty by making changes in the political system and economy. As educated citizens, they will be less likely to engage in unethical behavior and more likely to have fewer children. As a result, both mortality and overpopulation rates decline.

By ignoring children’s education, developing countries are also unaware of talented children.

Talented children are more likely to achieve higher degrees and may go into professions such as being educators, business leaders and scientific researchers. These children have the capacity to make huge contributions to society in various fields that will support economic growth in developing countries.

Therefore, nurturing talent, both physically and psychologically is a crucial to reducing global poverty in the long run.

From a physical perspective, children need to have a good nutritional diet so that they can be healthy both physically and mentally. Lacking necessary nutrition can cause children to develop slower and not be able to absorb education properly.

From a psychological point of view, education systems and societal support are the keys to unlock the full potential for young talents. Good education gives children the chance to prove themselves as well as the basic knowledge to pursue their dreams. At the same time, support from society gives them the motivation to overcome challenges in their daily life and strive to become a better citizen of the world.

Phong Pham

Sources: Spring: Gifted Children, Spring, UNICEF
Photo: Borgen Project

children_nigeria
As the most populous country in all of Africa, the Federal Republic of Nigeria is made up of over 250 ethnic groups. The following are the most populous: Fulani and Hausa, 29 percent; Yoruba, 21 percent; Igbo, 18 percent and Ijaw 10 percent.  They also have a significant split in religion, with 50 percent of the population being Muslim and 40 percent of the population being Christian.

With the largest population in Africa, Nigeria has 174,507,539 people and is ranked as having the 8th highest amount of people in the world.  Of all those people, 76,461,896 are fourteen years of age or younger, meaning 43.8 percent of Nigerians are children.  Of that 43.8 percent, about 60 percent lack birth certificates, meaning they are not permitted to use many government facilities that would normally be free with proper proof of citizenship.

Nigeria’s government is trying to reform its petroleum-based economy, but through all the corruption in that sector, it is not focusing as much on the youth in need.  On top of that, presidential elections are tarnished by substantial violence and irregularities and the country has been undergoing long-lasting religious and ethnic conflicts, which also takes focus away from the children in need.  These children need help; about 1,000,000 children die each year in Nigeria before their fifth birthday (10 percent of the global total.) What they need to save more lives is continuous investment and organized scaling up of essential newborn, maternal, and juvenile health interventions.

In Nigeria, there are numerous state hospitals that are free for children under the age of five, but the only dilemma is that the majority of these children do not have birth certificates.  This is a catch-22 because the hospitals admit patients under five for free with proof of age, but these children have never had any way to prove how old they truly are.  From there, they have no choice but to go to a private hospital for treatment where they are forced to pay $45 (a trivial amount for a life-saving medication in the United States,) but an unfathomable expense for the people living in this region, especially since most of them live on less than a dollar per day.

The number of children lacking birth certificates in Nigeria is up to about 17,000,000, a number second only to India, which has 71,000,000 unregistered children.  According to UNICEF, one out of every three children in Sub-Saharan Africa does not “officially exist,” but does that mean that they do not still need help?  The undocumented children in Nigeria are denied education and healthcare and often times have their rights abused.  Their parents often times cannot even help them because in these rural areas many are uneducated and are not aware of how important it is to register their children.

The deficiency of birth records in Nigeria also causes an error in the government’s efforts to track demographic information.  Without the proper information on how many children need hospitalization or immunization, the government cannot tell how many vaccines it needs from organizations like UNICEF, it cannot tell how many children have already died nor the cause of death.

The good news is UNICEF is trying to convince people to register their children and trying to increase the number of registration centers in Nigeria so the families can have easier access.  They plan on having 65 percent to 70 percent of children be registered with official birth certificates within the next few years.

Kenneth W. Kliesner

Sources: CIA World Factbook, Voice of America ,UNICEF
Photo: The Guardian

Haitian_school_children
Haiti boasts a proud history.  In 1804, Haiti officially declared its independence from France and became the first nation to be founded following a successful slave revolt.  Haiti was Latin America’s and the Caribbean’s first independent nation.

Unfortunately, as of today, Haiti is the most impoverished nation in the Western Hemisphere.  Haiti has a staggering unemployment rate of 40 percent.  In a nation of close to 10 million people, an unemployment rate that high is almost unfathomable.  Haitians struggled for employment and to create a stable economy even prior to 2010.  However, the massive and deadly earthquake that struck Port-au-Prince in 2010 left residents with a crumbling infrastructure and a healthcare disaster.

How would one address these maladies?  While it is most certainly important to rebuild Haiti both physically and economically, these tasks can only be completed if a massive educational overhaul is undertaken.

Educating a young population is the cornerstone to reviving an economy.  Without a proper school system in place, young Haitians face the already depleted job market unskilled and unprepared, creating a cycle of unemployment and poverty.  More must be done to stimulate education in Haiti.

According to USAID, 35 percent of young Haitians are illiterate.  As a direct result, most Haitian children spend less than four years total in school.  Those that do remain in school are most likely not meeting the necessary reading levels of their grades, as 49 percent of children at the third grade level are unable to read.

Even more sobering still is the fact that 50 percent of school-aged children do not have any access to education in Haiti.  Haiti has the lowest enrollment rate in primary education throughout the Western Hemisphere.  The vast majority of that enrollment is in private schools that require close to 40 percent of a family’s annual income, making basic education a financial hardship.  This is due to an absolute dearth of funding by the Haitian government in public education.

An additional estimate by USAID states that close to 50 percent of educational facilities were destroyed or damaged by the 2010 earthquake as well, many not yet repaired or re-opened.

As stated by Benjamin Franklin, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”  If people hope to combat the myriad of problems facing the proud nation of Haiti, they must invest in education.  In doing so, Haiti can create a generation of problem-solvers and skilled workers that can begin to rebuild the ailing nation.

Taylor Diamond

Sources: Hope for Haiti, USAID, CNN
Photo:
Wikipedia

mother_child
According to scholars, poverty is just not what it used to be.

With approximately 1.4 billion people living at the poverty line or below, policymakers are reevaluating what the definition of poverty truly comes down to.

“The incidence of poverty in the world is higher than past estimates have suggested. The main reason is that [previous data] had implicitly underestimated the cost of living in most developing countries,” according to The World Bank.

The data fails to reflect the recent global food crisis and increasing costs of energy. These two factors alone are predicted to bring another 100 million people into poverty.

Previously, the label of “poverty” was defined in the terms of income, in reference to the “minimum flow of cash needed to pay for recurring expenses.” Recently, individuals are arguing that these definitions of poverty “fail to measure what it really takes to get by.”

Ending poverty, however, is now seen as not enough to move families beyond “the outskirts of hope.”

The average single mother who has an income of $15,500 is considered to be in the spectrum of poverty. Studies show, that even if that persons income increases to $15,600 and she is moved out of poverty, the financial stability is still minimal.

According to an article by The Huffington Post, “escaping the perpetual financial insecurity of low-wage work requires more than incrementally higher wages, it requires savings and investments for the future. Income helps families get by, but savings and investments help them get ahead.”

The key to overcoming poverty begins with access to a bank account and the proper knowledge of how to use it to sustain funds. The savings are necessary in times of emergency, while the investments build stability for an endured period of time.

Although the overall poverty rate has declined in the last 10 years, keeping individuals out of poverty and preventing others from delving into it is another task entirely.

In addition to savings and investments, reducing inequality and reducing income differences are also key to reducing poverty. The road to ending global poverty is an enduring one, but each great journey begins with a single step.

Samaria Garrett

Sources: Huffington Post, Global Issues
Photo: MONEAD

healthcare_mental_health
In order to improve and manage community health, health advocates help organize a plethora of services ranging from health events to educational experiences. Advocates come in many different forms and settings. For instance, health advocates are generally doctors and nurses though other health advocates may come from a different professional background, such as social work. However, health advocates can also come from a background unrelated to medicine, so long as the individual is burgeoning with a passion that centers on raising awareness of health-related issues.

Individuals who work as health advocates will typically aid clients in improving their health care experience by ensuring that clients not only learn about but also have an opportunity to access available programs and resources. According to SoCal Health Advocates, individuals in this field often endeavor to improve the lives of clients by breaking down barriers that prevent people from access to quality healthcare in order to prevent serious illness or prevent relapses.

However, health advocacy is not limited to only physical health. Due to its nature of stigmatization, great effort has been expended into improving mental health advocacy as well. According to the World Health Organization, it is crucial for advocacy efforts to continue educating the public about mental illness in order to truly revolutionize not only the manner in which mental health is perceived but also improve access to mental health treatments.

As part of its mental health advocacy efforts, the WHO has created MiNDbank, an online resource that has pooled together information regarding global policies and services regarding mental health. One of the goals of MiNDbank is to facilitate open debate and discussion about mental health topics in order to promote human rights for mental health patients as well as improving the mental healthcare system as a whole.

It is imperative for advocates to work towards eliminating the stigma and ignorance regarding mental illness, particularly since individuals with mental disabilities are subject to maltreatment and discrimination on a daily basis. Unfortunately, in many parts of the world, legal institutions have been unable to protect the basic human rights of these individuals.

Although the United States struggles with the burden of a stigmatized and under-funded mental healthcare system, many countries, lack adequate mental health facilities due to even greater stigma and a general lack of awareness. Therefore, mental health advocates strive to inform society about mental illness in order to reverse the disagreeable image of mental health patients, and ultimately, construct a more efficient, more understanding and more accessible global mental healthcare system.

Phoebe Pradhan

Sources: SoCal Health Advocates, World Health Organization
Photo: IIR Healthcare

lottery
Lottery tickets are extremely common in our society. In America, people buy lottery tickets because the payoff is significant if they win. Even though lottery tickets are used as a source of funding for issued states, lottery tickets prove to be a really bad investment. This money can be used in a more productive and effective manner.

With lottery tickets, an individual can spend one, two, or five dollar for a chance to win million dollar prizes. However, the chance of winning is slim, around one in 176 million. Winning the lottery is more fantasy than reality. In 2010, Americans spent $59 billion in lottery tickets, and this number is still rising. “The average lottery ticket pays 47 cents on the dollar” (Krasny & Sprung, 2012.) Therefore, the purchasers are taking a loss instead of a gain in playing the lottery. In other words, Americans wasted an average of $41 billion each year with no return on their investment.

Instead of wasting $41 billion on lottery tickets, American can invest their money in a more realistic investment, global poverty. Only $30 billion is needed to reduce world hunger by fifty percent. This money will be invested in farming knowledge, farming equipment, and farmer training.

By eradicating world hunger, the United States can benefit from the increase in exportation to the developing country, the untapped market. When the U.S. economy increases, a number of effects will take place: a) reduction of the national debt, b) increase in U.S export, and c) a bigger labor market. Ultimately, the return in investment of global poverty reduction will be distributed back to the U.S. citizens in term of employment, security, and world image.

In conclusion, humans are social beings, so we thrive to help one another for a better world. Investing in global poverty is the higher return on investment than a slim chance of winning on one lottery ticket.

-Phong Duc Pham

Sources: Business Insider, Wired, Investopedia, FAONewsroom

globalhealth
A new era has emerged in global health giving and investment.  Research on global giving emerging trends shows increased participation from a variety of donor categories, including governments, corporate and private foundations, impact investors and alternative sources of funding.  The rise in philanthropy focused on global health has led to the development of innovative strategies and techniques to tackle global health challenges.

Below are a list of five statistics and trends involving global health philanthropy:

1. Top 5 Donor Governments that Spent the Most Money on Global Health between 2006-2010:

  • United States:  While the U.S. ranked first in the total amount spent on global health at $25.575 billion, it ranked seventh as far as the percentage of its total budget spent (0.087 percent.)
  • United Kingdom:  The U.K. ranked second, with a total amount of $5.286 billion spent on global health, similar to the U.S. However, the U.K. ranked higher in terms of the total amount spent and ranked fifth as far as the total percentage of its budget spent (0.093 percent.)
  • Canada:  Canada ranked third in terms of total amount spent at $1.927 billion but fell below the U.S. and U.K. in terms of total percentage of budget spent, ranking ninth at 0.062 percent.
  • Germany:  Although Germany ranked fourth with a total of $1.908 billion spent on global health, it did not make it to the top ten list of countries who spent the highest percentage of their budget on global health.
  • JapanJapan ranked fifth in global health spending, with a total of $1.848 billion.  Like Germany, it did not make the top ten list of countries who spent the highest percentage of their budget on global health.

2. Top 5 Donor Governments that Spent the Highest Percentage of their Total Budget on Global Health between 2006-2010:

  • Luxembourg: 0.24 percent
  • Ireland: 0.14 percent
  • Norway:  0.13 percent
  • Sweden:  0.11 percent
  • United Kingdom: 0.093 percent

3. Corporate Giving:

In spite of the tense economic climate, corporate giving to global health consistently rose.  Statistics show that in 2010, “68 percent of U.S. corporations that reported a decrease in profits also increased their total giving.” With over $325 billion committed to global health, corporate philanthropy also transformed from predominantly cash donations to more hands-on approaches.  For example, in the past decade, “13 pharmaceutical companies partnered with the U.S. government, the William J. Clinton Foundation and the Elizabeth Glazier Pediatric AIDS Foundation to support a pediatric HIV and AIDS treatment strategy in countries funded by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.”

4. Private Foundation Giving:

Eight of the top 10 private foundation donors are American foundations, including prominent foundations such as Gates Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation.  The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation spent a cumulative amount of $8 billion on global health from 2006 to 2010.  Foundations are also forming new partnerships that are specifically geared toward global health issues.  Some of these partnerships include the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), which contributed $1.1 billion in 2011; the Stop TB Partnership; and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.

5. The Rise of MIST:

A new emerging-market economic bloc that has entered the scene is the “MISTs,” consisting of Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea and Turkey.  In 2010, MIST governments spent about 6.5% of their GDP on health, with the median health spending per capita at $640.  The World Bank cited Turkey’s 2011 economic growth rate of 11 percent as leading the world.  John Morales, a writer for the international development organization Devex, emphasizes, “By being aid recipients and becoming aid providers, MIST countries are revolutionizing the development world and, as some argue, are changing the rules of the game.”

– Rifk Ebeid

Sources: Convergences, The Hudson Institute: Center for Global Prosperity, Impact: the Magazine of Psi, Business Week
Photo: USAID

China_Investment_Africa
Over the last two decades, China has gradually invested in Africa, gaining ownership of more and more resources and growing industries. Recently, China has sharply increased these investments, taking on a much larger role in Africa’s future. China’s increasing investment in Africa may signal that the U.S. needs to similarly increase their investment in the region.

Africa’s biggest creditor is the China Import-Export Bank. Officials are in the process of creating the China-Africa Development Fund, which will pump over $2 billion into the developing continent over the next three years. China has replaced the United Sates as Africa’s largest trading partner, as its trade levels with Africa have shot up from $10 billion to $200 billion, over just thirteen years.

There are mixed feelings over China’s growing presence in Africa. To its credit, China has provided much-needed support, providing funding for expensive infrastructure projects and other developmental plans. Such projects have included building schools and roads, creating opportunities for many people in Africa. Similarly, China’s huge economic growth rates have helped boost Africa’s pace of growth as well. China also aids Africa’s growing consumerism by providing cheap products that improve quality of life for many people across the continent.

Conversely, many critics criticize China for overreaching in regards to Africa and taking advantage of their disorganization and lack of regulations. Others emphasize China’s exploitation of Africa’s natural resources. This has left Africa with very little profit compared with what China has made off of these resources, causing many to draw an eerie comparison to the days of European imperialism and exploitation of the continent. China’s mass manufacturing and distribution network, which makes cheap consumer products available, also has a huge advantage over Africa’s smaller upcoming production facilities. China’s ability to distribute cheap products on a wide scale discourages competition and drives many local start-ups out of business.

More alarming still is China’s focus on acquiring Africa’s natural resources. Raw materials comprise approximately 85 percent of Africa’s exports to China, largely consisting of oil and various minerals. The African Development Bank has voiced complaints over this mass export of natural resources, calling for the resources to be processed and developed within Africa in order to create jobs and profit.

Many African governments have started demanding China offer up a greater number of jobs to the African population. As Africa’s population continues to grow, the need for more jobs simultaneously increases. However, China’s established investment patterns tend to bring in their own Chinese workforce, leading to an influx of an estimated one million Chinese migrants to Africa throughout the last twenty years.

China’s soft power investment in Africa will surely lead to greatly increased Chinese influence throughout the developing continent. The question remains whether this will propel Africa to new levels or simply act as a crutch for Africa’s struggle for healthy development and economic growth.

Allison Meade

Sources: Forbes, Reuters, International Business Times
Photo: USC Dornsife