Agriculture in MalawiWith 80% of Malawians working as smallholder farmers, a great deal of the Malawian population and economy depend on the agricultural sector. However, 70.3% of Malawians currently live below the international poverty line and severe droughts and floods frequently threaten agriculture in Malawi and farmers’ livelihoods. The Malawian people are in need now more than ever of initiatives and funding to support the agricultural sector.

This is why the U.S., in its recent developmental work in Malawi, is largely prioritizing agricultural initiatives which have the potential to see the country’s soaring poverty and food insecurity rates decrease as well as boost economic growth and innovation. With that, here are a few of the important steps the U.S. is currently taking to support agriculture in Malawi.

Increasing Commercialization

Among the U.S.’s goals for the Malawian agricultural sector, one major aspect is expanding the industry’s commercialization. In a recent press release, USAID announced its $35 million support for the expansion and strengthening of Malawi’s agricultural industry. It pointed out that the country’s population is growing and limited agricultural productivity has presented numerous obstacles to meeting growing needs.

“Malawi’s agricultural industry is not sufficiently commercialized nor large enough to meet the needs of a growing population, which is projected to double to nearly 34 million people in just over two decades,” USAID explained. “[This] new project will generate jobs and incomes for smallholder farmers and increase agricultural and food exports for the country.”

Strengthening the Private Sector

As part of supporting the expanded commercialization of Malawi’s agricultural industry, the U.S. also aims to boost investment in the country’s private sector. In a speech in Malawi on July 2, USAID Administrator Samantha Powers reconfirmed this commitment, stating, “We will invest in rural economic hubs, supporting companies that, themselves, support smallholder farmers or help process their goods for export.”

One such program which will invest in the private sector in order to bolster agricultural growth and commercialization is the “Let Them Grow Healthy” initiative. Through this initiative, “USAID will invest $23 million and the private sector will match this by also contributing $23 million.” Specifically, the initiative will aim to invest in companies that have the potential to aid the Malawian government’s goals related to increasing the country’s food security and nutrition services.

Roughly 5.4 million Malawians face moderate or severe food insecurity. Initiatives such as this one are a step in the right direction for encouraging the growth and development of new, accessible and nutrient-rich food products and services.

Feed the Future Initiative

In another major victory for the future of agriculture in Malawi, at the recent G7 Leaders’ Summit in Germany, U.S. President Joe Biden announced the expansion of the Feed the Future Initiative to include several new African countries, Malawi among them.

Developed by the U.S. in 2010, Feed the Future works to identify the root causes of hunger and poverty around the globe and address them by “boosting inclusive agriculture-led economic growth, resilience and nutrition in countries with great need and opportunity for improvement.” Feed the Future is widely regarded as the U.S.’s flagship agricultural development program. USAID Administrator Samantha Powers, responding to the expansion, briefly summed up its significance for Malawi. She stated that “This will mean an intensification of our efforts to strengthen food security, poverty reduction and agricultural growth in the country.”

According to USAID, in Malawi, among other things, Feed the Future will specifically work to:

  • Develop strategies for long-term agricultural development
  • Train farmers to utilize new practices and technologies to boost productivity
  • Improve nutrition and curb child mortality
  • Work with the Government of Malawi to “develop enabling agricultural policies.”

Future at Glance

Harsh climate shocks and limited economic growth have had a negative impact on many Malawians’ way of life in the agricultural sector in recent years. However, with these current programs in place and others scheduled to take place, hope is certainly on the horizon.

Given the significant strides Malawi has made in other areas of its country— such as increased access to education, the prioritization of gender equality, as well as the reduction of some income inequality between the rich and the poor — Malawi is certainly capable of positive change. With this strong support from the U.S. and its continued partnership with the Government of Malawi, agriculture in Malawi might just see a similar chance for improvement.

– Riley Wooldridge
Photo: Flickr

Ukrainians Lack Clean Water
As the war in Ukraine has heightened, citizens have faced devastation as more than 1.4 million Ukrainians lacked clean water as of April 2022 — a consequence of the recent Russian invasion. Additionally, 4.6 million people further east of the country only have “limited access” to clean water. The most significant reason for the lack of water is the damage to water infrastructure as a result of the conflict. In just the eastern region of Ukraine, civilians noted a minimum of “20 separate incidents of damage to water infrastructure” to date. On April 25, 2022, Serhiy Hadai, the governor of Luhansk, a city in eastern Ukraine, stated that multiple water pumps and electricity plants are under attack.

Water Shortage Looms

Water is an essential human need and many other regions that also rely on aid for clean water, food and medicine are under stress as organizations are redirecting much aid to address the consequences of the conflict in Ukraine. Companies that supply aid warn that water shortages are a major cause of concern because a lack of access to clean water holds immense health risks, specifically for the elderly and children.

A spike in “transmission of diseases such as cholera, typhoid, polio, hepatitis A and diarrhea” can occur as Ukrainians lack clean water. Under international law and the Geneva Convention, the treaty that governs global armed conflicts, specifically “targeting water and food supplies” is illegal.

On March 16, 2022, a Russian-led attack on a theater in Mariupol led to the deaths of a minimum of 300 people and Russian forces are blocking much-needed humanitarian assistance from entering the devastated city. The city of Mariupol is also facing a tragic shortage in food and medical supplies as the damage continues to mount.

WASH Cluster Assists Ukrainian Communities

WASH Cluster, a group of 32 international organizations that the United Nations Children’s Fund leads is working to assist communities in Ukraine by supplying water and providing water treatment chemicals, supplies of bottled water and generators. The WASH Cluster has predicted that about 4.5 million people are at risk of losing access to water supplies due to the ongoing war.

President Biden Provides Aid

On March 24, 2022, President Biden ordered the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) to shift focus to assist in alleviating the damages in Ukraine as Ukrainians lack clean water and face other critical shortages.  Accordingly, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) “will open a CFC special solicitation” to assist victims of the war with securing their basic needs.

Purifying Water Filters

Some survivors in the city of Mariupol are resorting to melting snow and collecting rainwater for drinking purposes. Most people have no access to tap water or bottled water, and in fact, residents, consider these a luxury right now. In March 2022, Doc Hendley from the nonprofit Wine to Water sent “12,000 water filters to Ukraine and border areas in Poland and Romania where refugees” are seeking solace. These filters have a lifespan of more than 10 years and have the ability to purify more than 2.4 million gallons of water a day. The filter’s design and size are ideal for times of crisis as the filter is compact enough to fit into an individual’s pocket.

Hope Amid Chaos

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, many people fear the longevity of future hostilities. Water is not just an essential human need but is also a human right, and currently, more than 6 million Ukrainians lack clean water to some extent. Through international aid, Ukrainians are able to meet their basic needs, providing hope to Ukrainians for a brighter tomorrow amid a tragic period of conflict and violence that will eventually become a part of world history.

– Christina Papas
Photo: Flickr

The Million Dollar Vegan
The Million Dollar Vegan is famous for challenging “big names” to “go vegan” in exchange for $1 million in charity donations. However, the organization also aims to improve global health, feed the world’s hungry, reduce animal suffering and protect the planet for future generations. By promoting a vegan diet and raising awareness about the consequences of animal-sourced foods, the Million Dollar Vegan is providing a healthful and ethical solution to a global conundrum: hunger.

4 Ways the Million Dollar Vegan Reduces World Hunger

  1. The Million Dollar Vegan Promotes a Plant-based Lifestyle. The United Nations has reported that roughly “23% of greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture livestock” and the resources necessary to farm them. Therefore, a worldwide transition away from meat and dairy is necessary in order to counteract the most deadly effects of changing weather and world hunger. According to Vegans Against World Hunger, global citizens slaughter about “60 billion land animals and [more than] a trillion marine animals” for human consumption each year. Yet, one in nine people worldwide does not have adequate food to subsist on while “one-third of the world’s grain” serves as a source of food for animals farmed for human consumption. Researchers at Lancaster University found that the world already produces more than enough food to solve global hunger, but only if people switch to plant-based diets. If the crops that feed farmed animals are instead distributed for human consumption, there would be enough food to provide each human on earth with 5,935 kilocalories per day — the average person only requires approximately 2,353 kilocalories per day.
  2. Involving Celebrities and High-Profile Individuals. The Million Dollar Vegan attracts major publicity to the issues regarding the environment and world hunger by challenging high-profile public figures to adopt a vegan diet for one month in exchange for a $1 million charity donation. Some of these figures include President Joe Biden, former President Donald Trump and Pope Francis. In addition, several well-known celebrities endorse the organization, including actress Alicia Silverstone, Grammy award-winning artist Mýa and actress Evanna Lynch. Generally speaking, celebrities and other public figures often have social followings that number in the millions and the emotions that celebrities ignite in their fans allow celebrities to sway opinions and raise awareness on crucial world issues, such as poverty, malnutrition, animal welfare, infectious diseases and environmental challenges. As an example, actress, author and vegan activist Alicia Silverstone publicly endorses the Million Dollar Vegan and has an Instagram following of 1.8 million.
  3. Providing Aid During COVID-19. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic in October 2020, the Million Dollar Vegan partnered with organizations and charities to address the needs of at-risk communities by providing $100,000 in vegan food aid and supplies (such as hand sanitizers and masks) to nine nations as well as Ethiopia. The organization has extended this support to 23 countries in total, providing food aid to several developing countries such as Brazil and India as well as hard-hit communities in France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain and the United States. The Million Dollar Vegan commits to donating a minimum of 1 million plant-based meals by the close of 2022. As of November 2021, the organization has delivered 623,190 meals to global citizens facing the impacts of COVID-19, including the homeless, “underserved communities” and frontline workers.
  4. The Million Dollar Vegan Raises Awareness of the Transmission of Zoonotic Diseases. The organization educates the public on the link between consuming animals (both domestic and wild-caught) and the transmission of zoonotic diseases. The organization promotes a campaign called Take Pandemics Off The Menu (#TAKEPANDEMICSOFFTHEMENU) to advocate a plant-based diet as a way of protecting the world from future pandemics. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “three out of every four new or emerging infectious diseases in people come from animals.” For example, the 2009 swine flu was linked to the international trade and consumption of pig meat, the 2004-2007 avian flu pandemic was linked to the farming and consumption of poultry and the coronavirus pandemic has possible links to the bushmeat industry (consumption of wild animals).

In the world today, roughly 811 million people go hungry and 690 million people suffer from undernourishment despite the fact that the world produces sufficient food to feed every person on Earth — all 7.8 billion global citizens. The Million Dollar Vegan offers a possible solution to global hunger through veganism while providing vegan meals to ensure that no person goes hungry in a world brimming with food sources.

– Jenny Rice
Photo: Flickr

HIV/AIDS in UkraineUkraine has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS in the world, with an estimated 260,000 people living with the disease. Odessa, the third-most populous city in Ukraine, has “the highest concentration of HIV/AIDS of anywhere in Europe.” Poverty exacerbates HIV/AIDS in Ukraine and links to injected drug use, threats to government funding, lack of access to antiretroviral treatment and social discrimination.

Poverty and HIV/AIDS in Ukraine

In 2019, Ukraine and Moldova stood as the two most impoverished countries in Europe. The poverty rate in Ukraine increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, from 42.4% in 2020 to 50% as of February 2021. There is a strong connection between poverty and the spread of diseases; disease could be both a cause and a result of poverty.

HIV/AIDS causes conditions of poverty when working adults become ill and can no longer support their families. The disease becomes a result of poverty when the conditions of poverty put people at greater risk of contracting it. As an example, women and girls who live in poverty are more vulnerable to sexual exploitation. They are more likely to resort to working in the sex trade, which could put them at high risk of contracting HIV.

HIV/AIDS in Ukraine’s Women and Girls

UNAIDS estimates that out of all people with HIV/AIDS in Ukraine, 120,000 are women older than 15 and 2,900 are children aged 14 or younger. Gender inequality, poverty and violence against women and girls are significant factors in the spread of HIV. Women and girls who live in fear of violence may be reluctant to advocate for safe sex, receive testing or seek treatment for HIV and other diseases.

Gender inequality inhibits women’s access to resources for sexual and reproductive health. In rural Ukraine, where the poverty rate is highest, 36% of women do not participate in community or family decision-making. Only 46% of these women are competent with a computer or the internet. Furthermore, almost 48% do not have access to medical services.

The Lack of Access to Antiretrovirals

As Sky News reported, access to antiretrovirals is a major problem for many people living with HIV/AIDS in Ukraine. Although a law stipulates that antiretroviral therapy should be free to all citizens, limited national resources have resulted in restricted access.

Antiretrovirals are crucial for preventing the spread of HIV to children. The use of antiretrovirals during pregnancy and administered to an infant for four to six weeks after birth can result in a transmission rate of 1% or less. According to U.N. Women, the majority of women living with HIV/AIDS in Ukraine fell between 18 and 45 years old. Out of these women, 39% discovered that they were HIV-positive during pregnancy.

Social Discrimination Against People Living With HIV/AIDS

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), discrimination against people who use drugs and people living with HIV presents a serious challenge to identifying those who need treatment. Harsh drug laws, fear of HIV/AIDS and systematic police abuse undermine efforts to provide HIV information and services such as testing and safe needle exchanges. In addition, the law requires drug treatment centers in Ukraine to register drug users and share the information with law enforcement. This protocol keeps people who use drugs from seeking medical help, which subsequently prevents them from testing and receiving treatment for HIV/AIDS.

The War in Donbas

The war in Donbas has made it difficult for people to receive treatment in a region that previously had one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS in the country and was home to nearly one-quarter of all antiretroviral recipients. When the war began in March 2014, it displaced 1.7 million people. To compound this, unsafe sex has resulted in an increase of HIV/AIDS within the military. Combined with ongoing military conflict and a shortage of antiretrovirals, Ukraine is experiencing a crisis: the government has failed to keep up with infection rates.


In July 2021, Ukraine received a grant of $35.8 million from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. According to the Ukrainian government, the nation would use the funds to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE), reduce risks associated with COVID-19 and strengthen the health care system.

Ukraine is collaborating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), USAID and the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The country wants to implement prevention campaigns, increase access to antiretroviral treatment and target key risk groups, such as people who inject drugs, sex workers and men who have sex with men.

On September 1, 2021, President Biden announced that the United States would provide more than $45 million in additional assistance for Ukraine. The aid would help people facing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Donbas. The U.S. is working with USAID-supported programs to provide supplies for Ukrainian health care centers, training for health care workers and psychosocial support for the most vulnerable populations.

– Jenny Rice
Photo: Flickr

developing world
More than half of the global population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The world is slowly recovering from the devastating effects of the virus. However, a serious post-pandemic symptom has emerged: the global supply chain is struggling. While the supply chain affects the whole planet, there is ample evidence of how global supply chain issues are burdening the developing world.

COVID-19 Measures Slow Down the Supply Chain

COVID-19 prevention measures across the globe have shut down processing plants and restricted transportation. They have included export bans or tight quotas to control supplies and prevent the spread of the virus. These measures have all contributed to disruptions in the global supply chain, which have impacted the developing world in a number of ways. Here are a few examples:

  1. Price volatility puts certain countries in jeopardy. Export bans and other restrictions cause prices to spike and drop unpredictably. That is creating price instability in countries that depend heavily on imports. For example, small pacific islands, such as Kiribati, that rely on imports but had grounded all flights have seen the cost of rice increase by 50%.
  2. There is massive food insecurity in the developing world. As Time reported, the World Food Program (WFP) estimated that the number of people who will starve has effectively doubled due to the pandemic. However, evidence suggests that there is not really a food shortage. Instead, transportation restrictions and protectionist trade policies are disrupting the flow of foods such as wheat and rice. Therefore, there may not be a food shortage problem but rather a food access problem.
  3. Humanitarian agencies have also warned of how global supply chain issues are burdening the developing world. They have expressed concerns that disruptions in the global supply chain may affect their abilities to provide commercial aid to developing countries in need. These agencies and nonprofit groups have experienced trouble acquiring necessary inventory and transporting that inventory to target nations. However, such hardship has not gone unnoticed. The IMF recently issued $650 billion in emergency currency reserves. In addition, it urged developed nations to use this money toward developing nations.
  4. There is also a cyclical relationship between global supply chains and poverty. Global supply chain issues exacerbate poverty and deepen inequality. However, the same poverty begets more disorder in the supply chain. For instance, if unable to profit from crop production, younger generations are likely to abandon traditional farming methods, threatening the smooth flow of the supply chain altogether.

Potential Benefits

Supply chain issues have not entirely punished developing nations. Some developing countries are benefitting, as the prices of their exports continue to skyrocket. For example, major oil exporters in the Middle East have benefitted from rising oil prices, according to The New York Times.

Leaders Look to the Future

Post-pandemic growth can be slow. However, government and private sector world leaders are actively working to speed it up. On October 31, 2021, international leaders met to discuss ways that they could improve the supply chain and make it more resilient in the future.

U.S. President Joe Biden urged for fair labor conditions, the end of trade restrictions and communication.“Now that we have seen how vulnerable these lines of global commerce can be, we cannot go back to business as usual,” the President told Reuters.

– Richard J. Vieira
Photo: Flickr

impact of covid-19 on poverty in haitiIn 1804, Haiti officially declared its independence from France following the Haitian Rebellion. Similar to the United States, the legacy of colonization and slavery continues to affect the country. Haiti is one of the countries in the Western Hemisphere with the highest poverty rates, ranking 168 out of 187 on the 2014 Human Development Index. Although the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Haiti has taken a backseat to the current political unrest, it has set the island’s economic development back years. However, foreign aid from both the United States and other countries has been helping get Haiti back on its feet.

Residual Struggles from the Earthquake

In 2010, Haiti experienced a massive earthquake that left many without homes or income. The earthquake cost many lives and also hit farmers hard. Massive aftershocks that still exacerbate the island’s financial woes arrived after the earthquake. In order to move forward, Haiti relied on donations and volunteer work from other countries. However, a large portion of the billions donated disappeared due to corruption, and as the world’s attention shifted elsewhere, people once again forgot Haiti.

COVID-19’s Economic Impact on Haiti

Following the setbacks of the massive 2010 earthquake, the island began to make slow strides toward improvement. Between 2000 and 2012, extreme poverty declined from 31% to 24%. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Haiti is once again seeing increasing rates of extreme poverty. The country has also begun to see a high number of COVID-19 cases that are “threatening to overwhelm Haiti’s fragile health care system.”

Though reported COVID-19 cases in Haiti are increasing, the overall number remains comparatively low. The recent increase was due largely to increased access to COVID-19 testing. However, as cases begin to spike, Haiti lacks the financial ability to buy COVID-19 vaccines, instead relying on donations from other countries and the World Bank.

COVID-19’s Political Impact on Haiti

As Haiti continues to battle COVID-19, it is also in the midst of political unrest that the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse caused. For many, COVID-19’s impact on poverty in Haiti is a low priority because of more pressing issues such as kidnappings, political turmoil and natural disasters.

Public Awareness and Health Needs

Following the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, the country is on the verge of a public health emergency. The impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Haiti has lost its place as a top priority due to the country’s current political turmoil. The fear of war, famine, corruption and outside interference has left the country at a standstill. However, in July 2021, U.S. President Joe Biden donated 500,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine to Haiti. According to Dr. Jacqueline Gautier, a member of the national technical advisory group on COVID-19 vaccination, “Because COVID-19 did not impact us badly, people don’t think it is worth it actually.” This came after fears of vaccine side effects from AstraZeneca spread throughout the island.

Haiti’s economic advancement and wellbeing rely on the generosity of other countries. According to some scholars, France should be a key player in aid to the country since it has exploited Haiti the most.

Another pressing issue is the lack of vaccine promotion in the country. The disconnect between the public and health officials has contributed to the lack of awareness and understanding of the virus and the vaccine. As the Haitian government continues to try and prevent the country from dropping further into unrest, it will be extremely important for the government to educate its citizens on how important COVID-19 awareness is.

Under the leadership of former Haitian president Jovenel Moise, government reform and reshaping government affairs played a key role in combatting the COVID-19 crisis. Unfortunately, President Moise’s death has placed Haiti’s progression to a halt. It is now up to the international community to unite and extend care to Haiti. With vaccine donations coming in from major powers such as the United States and China, Haiti still has a chance to see its vaccination rate improve while also getting the COVID-19 crisis under control.

Jordyn Gilliard
Photo: Unsplash

Cuba's Private Sector
A couple of days after the closing of the Cuban border, 16,000 private workers, upon sensing danger, requested the labor ministry suspend their licenses so they could avoid paying taxes. That number rose to 119,000, 19% of the private workforce, in a few more days and threatened to annihilate the Cuban economy. The implementation of the global travel restrictions had a devasting impact on the country’s tourism sector, which is the second-largest revenue generator for the island nation. As a result, selective private businesses took a massive hit and the government lost a crucial foundation for foreign exchange. By December 2020, Cuban tourism had fallen by 16.5%, followed by an 11% drop in the country’s GDP. Worried by the lingering economic collapse, the government began opening Cuba’s private sector, providing Cubans with self-employment opportunities and allowing them to operate businesses in added sectors.

What Did the Government Do?

Previously, the communist-led government allowed Cubans to participate in merely 127 officially approved private sector activities. Some of the legalized activities included working as a barber, working in gastronomy or transportation or renting rooms to tourists. To expand the private sector, the government eliminated the previous list of 127 activities. Instead, it created a new list of 124 jobs prohibited in the private sector. The rest of the 2,000 legal activities, which the government recognized, will be open to Cubans. In the past, state-owned businesses have always dominated the Cuban economy. However, the private sector has managed to make a mark over recent years. Presently, 635,000 people occupy the private sector, which is roughly 14% of the Cuban workforce. The introduction of the long-awaited economic reform might increase diversification in the private sector and could spur economic growth for Cuba.

The Effects on Cuba and its People

The economic reform will allow Cubans to partake in additional economic activities. It will help eradicate bureaucracy in the governmental arrangements, as the Cubans will no longer have to manipulate their business documentations to fall under the list of legalized activities. Now, they only have to confirm that they are not running any business from the list of prohibited activities.

Further, the liberalization of the private sector will bring about a change in the career patterns of Cubans. Previously, apart from the underpaid state-run jobs, the only other viable option for Cubans were low-skilled jobs. Now, Cubans will have countless other opportunities in technical fields like engineering and economics. Still, professional fields like medicine, law and teaching could open to state employees only. Additionally, the opening of the private sector will increase employment opportunities, which will rapidly develop the private sector. Private business owners currently make up 13% of Cuba’s workforce. This number will spike due to the relaxation of the private sector.

The Future of Cuba’s Economy

Ricardo Torres, a pro-reform economist at the University of Havana’s Center for the Study of the Cuban Economy, stated that the opening up of Cuba’s private sector will diversify jobs and boost the GDP. This, in turn, triggered a shift in economic arrangements in Cuba. But the chances of the private sector dominating the economy soon are bleak, mainly due to the political settings of Cuba. Therefore, expectations have determined that state-owned businesses will direct the economy. Rather than rushing into free-market forces, the Cuban government must seek inspiration from other countries and establish a solid institutional framework. Several European states, the U.S., Japan and other East Asian countries have proved that by focusing on macro and microeconomic policies and planning and investing in citizens, an economic upliftment should be possible.

Cuba’s Relationship with the US

The economy was booming under the Barack Obama Administration. Things, however, took a turn when former President Donald Trump overturned Obama’s agreement to ease travel restrictions on Cuba. Donald Trump also ended the U.S. cruise travel to Cuba, disallowed many Cuban Americans to send remittances back home, pressured a U.S.-run hotel out of Cuba, forced countries not to hire Cuban doctors and nurses during the pandemic and re-enlisted Cuba on the list of countries that sponsor state terrorism. Cuban businesses suffered a great deal due to this. The labor reform could not have been timelier for the Cuban government as it could present a sturdy case for amendments in the U.S. policy.

One of Obama’s main objectives was to expand the private sector in Cuba. Therefore, on the back of the opening of the private sector and the appointment of Joe Biden as President, the Cuban government can look to persuade the U.S. to consider a policy reform. Although Cuban had to wait a long time for labor reform, it is crucial to mend unemployment rates, boost the GDP and restore Cuba’s unsteady economy through Cuba’s private sector.

– Prathamesh Mantri
Photo: Flickr

Kamala Harris' Foreign PolicyJoe Biden’s Vice President pick, Kamala Harris, is a new player when it comes to foreign aid and international relief. A strong arm with U.S./Mexico relations and domestic advocacy, Harris has some experience with addressing poverty. However, the question remains: what could this potential vice-presidential elect bring to the global table? This article will focus on Kamala Harris’ foreign policy. Specifically, her previous commitments to international humanitarian issues and what she outlines as her future focus.

Global Problems, Smart Diplomacy

Kamala Harris’ foreign policy, first and foremost, centers around a single axiom: “Smart diplomacy”. Harris is committed to preventing global conflict and believes that the U.S. is most successful when it stands in support of its global allies. She is an advocate for the ending the conflict in the Middle East, the deconstruction of nuclear arsenals and humanitarian relief efforts in Syria. Furthermore, Harris holds a staunch position on international threats. Abstractly, Harris’ policy could perhaps be described as proactive, rather than strictly reactionary. Regarding the human and financial toll that war often brings, Harris has been vocal and understands the direct correlation between conflict and economic instability. She hopes to reduce both.

Women of the World

As a freshman senator, one of the keystones of Harris’ policy focused on enriching the lives of women across the globe. In this vein, a (paraphrased) statement, “when women do better, we all do better” reflects this aspect of her policy. Harris recently co-sponsored the bill “Keeping Women and Girls Safe from the Start Act of 2020” (s.4003). This legislation’s aim is at reducing gender-based violence and providing sustained, humanitarian support for at-risk women. It is no secret that when destitute women have access to resources, agency and support — their communities flourish.

COVID-19, the Future and Cooperation

Kamala Harris is vocal when it comes to domestic COVID-19 relief. However, that is not to say that she has neglected the global perspective. Harris’ collaboration of the resolution s.res.579 illuminates her stance on what the U.S. needs to accomplish on the global stage. I.e., continued international support, cooperation with scientists across the globe to combat the new coronavirus and relief packages aimed at poorer communities and countries. Kamala Harris also introduced the “Improving Pandemic Preparedness and Response Through Diplomacy Act” (s.4118). This is a comprehensive bill that looks to the future of pandemic response and what will be done to combat and recover from future global pandemics. Notably, Harris’ foreign policy could potentially incorporate such radical legislation.

Africa and Beyond

Kamala Harris’ foreign policy regarding Africa is one that recognizes the continent’s diversity, potential and struggles. Harris has made statements advocating for strengthening diplomatic relationships with all of Africa to “foster shared prosperity” and “ensure global security in the near future”. Harris has also opposed reduced, foreign assistance to Central and South America. Instead, she advocates for greater investments in tackling the root issues of destabilization in Southern America.

Kamala’s Co-Sponsorships

Here is a collated list that takes a deeper look into what Kamala Harris has co-sponsored in recent years:

  1. No War Against Iran Act (s.3159): A bill proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders [I-VT] that would prohibit further expenditures and military activity in Iran.
  2. Global Climate Change Resilience Strategy (s.2565): A bill proposed by Sen. Edward J. Markey [D-MA] created in hopes to address a future affected by climate change and the displacement of climate-refugees.
  3. International Climate Accountability Act (s.1743): A bill, sponsored by Jeanne Shaheen [D-NH] to prevent the withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris Agreement.
  4. Burma Human Rights and Freedom Act of 2019 (s.1186): Legislation proposed by Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin [D-MD] to both address and aid the humanitarian crisis in Burma (Myanmar).

The Outlook, TBD

Kamala Harris’ foreign policy, in principle, is burgeoning but spells positivity and action for tackling some of the world’s greatest issues. Carefully cultivated, diplomatic relationships, pandemic relief and response legislation and a fresh outlook on familiar problems may be a positive step forward.

Henry Comes-Prichett
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

2020 election and global povertyThe U.S. remains one of the largest political powers in the world. Countries around the globe pay close attention to the presidential election and are anxious to know who will lead the country for the next four years. From COVID-19 pandemic relief efforts to foreign policies, the future of the nation’s decisions rests heavily on the outcome of the 2020 election. Read on to learn about the connections between the 2020 election and global poverty.

The 2020 Election and Global Poverty: Two Candidates

President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are running as Republican candidates on a platform similar to their 2016 campaign. Running as Democratic candidates are former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. and his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA). Both candidates have already proposed new policies as part of their campaign platforms. President Trump has proposed reducing foreign aid by 21%, while increasing border security and tax cuts if he remains in office. On the other hand, former Vice President Biden, if elected, would make foreign aid the focus of U.S. foreign policy.

As much as the candidates may vary in their views on foreign aid, however, these differences are not likely to influence the election much. Overall, voters do not consider global poverty to be a core issue. In the 2016 presidential election, global poverty played little to no role in voters’ decisions. Currently, the voters’ top five issues are the economy, healthcare, the Supreme Court appointments, the COVID-19 response and violent crime, none of which are directly related to global poverty. While foreign policy remains in the top 12 issues, it is not a major concern for current voters.

The Response to the COVID-19 Outbreak

The response to COVID-19 has significantly impacted the 2020 election and global poverty reduction efforts. As of October 2020, the U.S. faces five million confirmed cases, 176,000 deaths, a declining economy and restrictions that could affect voter turnout. COVID-19 has accordingly become a major concern for many voters. Indeed, 62% of voters believe the outbreak will play an important role in the candidate they choose.

Many voters are also concerned about the condition of the economy as a result of the pandemic. In the second quarter of 2020, the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) decreased by an annual rate of 32.9%. Congress has also spent trillions of dollars on unemployment benefits and support for small businesses. Many of the voters who believe that the U.S. government should focus on the national debt worry that this stimulus spending could hurt the economy in the long run.

The Influence on Global Poverty

In 2019, the International Affairs Budget received $52.2 billion for foreign aid. This amounted to almost 1% of the entire budget of the U.S. government. With proposed budget cuts and increased concerns over the economy and COVID-19, global poverty is in danger of remaining an issue considered unimportant to many voters and secondary to policy-makers. Despite this relative neglect, it is important that the government address global poverty. Congress must be reminded to protect the International Affairs Budget as a measure just as important as any other policy. Overall, the 2020 U.S. election will likely have a minimal effect on global poverty, given other global crises. As such, the citizens of the U.S. must communicate the importance of the 2020 election and global poverty support to their national leaders, whoever they end up being.

– Nada Abuasi
Photo: Flickr

 Global Poverty ActThe U.S. is heading towards a historically unique presidential election later this year. In the lead up to this November, it’s important to know how Joe Biden has helped fight global poverty. Specifically, Biden’s actions with the Global Poverty Act of 2007 demonstrate his commitment to increasing national security by combating poverty.

Biden’s Political Background

Before he became Vice President in 2009, Biden served in the U.S. Senate for over three decades. During this time, Biden was a ranking member and two-year chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. Throughout his political career, Biden has supported foreign aid and implemented U.S. programs to help those in need. 

In the spring of 2007, Representative Adam Smith introduced the Global Poverty Act of 2007 to the U.S. House. The bill passed in September 2007 with bipartisan support and moved onto the Senate. Senator Barack Obama and two other senators introduced the bill in December 2007; Biden co-sponsored the bill and added minor amendments. The official bill saw no further action following its proposal on April 24, 2008.

What was the Global Poverty Act?

The Global Poverty Act aimed to make fighting global poverty the main goal of U.S. foreign policy. The bill itself did not detail a specific plan to combat global poverty. Rather, the bill ordered the President and Secretary of State to draft and implement a plan. The bill stated that the President’s strategy must have detailed goals, reasonable timelines, and include consistent progress reports to Congress.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the Global Poverty Act of 2007 would cost less than $1 million per year and would not order new spending, meaning that the plan could be implemented with minor changes to the fiscal budget. As foreign assistance is less than one percent of the federal budget, implementing this plan would have a major impact on the world with minimal monetary changes. 

The bill argued that it is America’s duty to help those in need. Moreover, solving global poverty would help combat terrorism and strengthen national security. This legislation stated that Congress had already taken steps to fight global poverty, but the executive branch could do more. In particular, Congress established goals that cut the number of people who live on less than $1 a day, lack reliable food, drinking water, and sanitation in half.

Wider Impact

The initiatives mentioned above were part of the Millennium Development Goals formed in 2000. These goals were not yet achieved by 2007. Consequently, The House introduced the Global Poverty Act to emphasizing the need to combat global poverty and make progress on these goals. The bill also emphasized the need to invest in U.S. programs that help reduce global poverty. In particular, these programs increase debt relief for poverty-stricken countries, promote sustainable development, and emphasize the need for future action. By putting fighting global poverty at the front of the presidential agenda, it would show other countries that they should do the same.

The 2008 Recession likely contributed to the bill stalling. At that time, Congress was focused on drafting domestic legislation. Although the House never implemented that Global Poverty Act of 2007, Biden’s involvement shows he understands fighting global poverty is an important aspect of U.S. national security. In essence, Biden’s involvement with the Global Poverty Act suggests he will use the executive branch to help combat poverty if elected this coming fall.

Jacquelyn Burrer

Photo: Obama White House Archives