Argentia's slums, Buenos Aires slums
Argentina is the fifth-highest country with the most COVID-19 cases in South America, with 111,000 recorded cases by mid-July. Moreover, Argentina’s COVID-19 related death toll has nearly doubled since June, surpassing 5,000 cases. Confirmed illnesses continue to be on the rise, with more than half concentrated in the urban hotspot of Buenos Aires City. Approximately 88% of all cases in Argentina are reported from within Buenos Aires, its impoverished slums or its surrounding regions.

COVID-19 in Argentina

While the federal government acted early to contain the virus, including imposing a strict nightly curfew since March, Argentina’s most impoverished remain extremely susceptible to COVID-19 and its dire economic consequences. For example, within Buenos Aires’ slums, families often have to sell their homes to afford meals for their families.

Nearly half of all Buenos Aires cases were estimated to be in its slums in late May. In some instances, outbreaks became so alarming that the government would enforce security and fences around these neighborhoods to ensure residents do not spread the virus—at the expense of residents’ increased impoverishment.

Regional non-governmental organizations (NGOs) within Argentina recognized these hardships faced by low-income Argentinians and are currently working to mitigate the health and economic consequences. Here are five NGOs battling COVID-19 in Argentina’s slums.

5 NGOs Fighting COVID-19 in Argentina’s Slums

  1. Chequeado, Spanish for “Checked,” is an online journalism platform that fact-checks public information on Argentinian politics and society. The organization’s website has recently launched a new COVID-19 section to keep citizens informed about the fact-based science behind the virus. The section also covers COVID-19 cases and newly implanted preventative measures. Headlines range from the effectiveness of spraying items with alcohol to the evidence surrounding the transmission of COVID-19 by air. Given the growing number of slum residents having access to the internet due to Argentina’s globalization efforts, this news outlet is accessible to slum residents who would not have access to the information otherwise.
  2. International Organization for Migration, or IOM, works with state and non-state actors to assist migrants through various means, ranging from counter-trafficking to resettlement support. During the COVID-19 pandemic, IOM is working with the Argentine Red Cross to provide food and cleaning supplies to vulnerable migrants. The organization is also ensuring all migrants understand COVID-19 precautions, translating public information to French for migrants from Haiti and Senegal, as well as English for migrants from Jamaica.
  3. Pequeños Pasos, translating to “small steps,” aims to bring sustainable development to the lives of Argentina’s impoverished. While the NGO focuses on missions ranging from education to employment, health and nutrition have been at the forefront of its efforts. Given the looming issue of extreme food insecurity due to COVID-19, Pequeños Pasos has launched an emergency food project to feed more than 12,500 people at risk of hunger in Buenos Aires slums. For a year, the NGO will provide monthly emergency food bags to vulnerable families.
  4. Asociación Civil Ingeniería sin Fronteras Argentina is a civil engineering organization that has taken on the project to quadruple the capacity of ventilators in Argentine hospitals. This solution aims to alleviate the possibility of ICU units reaching over-capacity and providing a sufficient number of ventilators for COVID-19 patients. The project aims to raise $7,015 to expand Argentina’s existing ventilator capacity, potentially saving thousands of Argentine lives. As a disproportionate number of slum-dwellers are contracting the virus, this aid will help them overcome the effects of COVID-19.
  5. Las Tunas is an education-based NGO that offers children and adolescents various educational resources, including scholarships and arts empowerment classes. In light of the socio-economic effects of COVID-19, the organization has expanded its efforts to help families remain economically stable. New website resources include a “Monitoring, Accompaniment and Early Detections” program that helps set up productive quarantine routines for families. The NGO also has a unique “Economic Development” program, which provides families with business strategies and training materials to increase household incomes. Original educational programs for youth are now also delivered online.

Looking Ahead

While COVID-19 cases in Argentina have overwhelmingly affected the country’s impoverished populations, diverse civil society organizations are working to combat the effects of COVID-19 in Argentina’s slums. Whether through economic empowerment or preventing misinformation on COVID-19, these five NGOs aim to stabilize Argentina’s most marginalized’s living conditions during the pandemic.

—Breana Stanski
Photo: Flickr

poverty, egypt, life conditions
Egypt is an African country known for its rich culture, extensive history and seemingly otherworldly monuments. However, not many people are familiar with the living conditions in this country. For example, over a quarter of the population in Egypt is below the poverty line. To elaborate on the specifics of the living conditions, 10 facts about life in Egypt are presented in the text below.

10 Facts About Living Conditions in Egypt

  1. Ten million children in the country are considered multi-dimensionally poor, meaning they are deprived of daily necessities such as clean water, access to proper health care and education. These children lack some or all of mentioned necessities. What makes the situation even worse is that over 50 percent of the Egyptian population is under the age of 20.
  2. Starting in 2014, the Egypt government began to concentrate on enforcing a reforms program for the country’s economy. The program has yielded gradual improvements and should continue to persevere. As an example, in the fiscal year 2018, GDP grew at a 5.3 percent rate, compared to 4.2 percent in 2017.
  3. In Egypt’s capital, Cairo, roughly 11 million out of the total of 17 million inhabitants live in extra-legally formed housing, otherwise known as the slums. The slums are very underdeveloped forms of shelter for those that cannot afford proper housing and amenities. Fortunately, nongovernmental organization Habitat for Humanity has helped build and renovate roughly 33,000 homes in 33 different communities since 2017.
  4. Inhabitants of the slums don’t have access to basic needs and services such as electricity, water pipes and sewage system. These people, in general, suffer more from asthma, allergies and renal failure because they live in such unsanitary conditions and don’t have as easy access to proper drinking water. The homes that Habitat for Humanity help construct are built with proper, durable materials and employ safe sanitary systems.
  5. The political unrest mixed with the fear that security at ancient sites is not guaranteed has resulted in an increase in unemployment, a devastation in the tourism industry and consequential damage to the country’s economy.
  6. The education system is similar to that of the U.S. in the sense that there are 12 official years and education in municipal school is free. However, the schools, especially those of higher education, are heavily underfunded and a lot of people cannot afford to send their children to higher quality confidential schooling. With the help of CARE, an organization combatting poverty around the globe, education is becoming more available. CARE serves to promote and support education to those who aren’t able to afford it.
  7. Egypt is very rich in its own culture but the country is also influenced by the surrounding countries. This fact has resulted in a very diverse culture as well as the population. The main influences in the country are those from France, other African countries and Mediterranean countries.
  8. Egypt’s total population exceeds 90 million making it the most populated country in the Middle East. The population is diversified and, along with the rich history, this makes the country a real hub for culture.
  9. Egypt’s Minister of Education, Tarek Shawky, has come to the decision to implement teaching English in schools, starting from the kindergarten. This way, children will be given an opportunity to learn English at an early age and to become competitive at the global market.
  10. The country has been in a state of political unrest and turmoil with the price of basic goods and necessities rising obscenely and placing too many people below the poverty line. The streets of Egypt were a site of unrest in which political activists, protesters and journalists were thrown in jail is not so distant history. However, Egypt’s economy and the country as a whole, for the first time in a while, is in with the hopes of bringing this turmoil to peace. A bright moment for the country was participation in the World Soccer Cup held in Russia.

Through the U.S. education system, kids growing up learning about ancient Egypt and ancient Egyptian lifestyles but they never really learn about what life is like in modern day Egypt.

These 10 facts about life in Egypt provide a little bit of insight on the culture and day-to-day life of Egypt’s people in today’s world for the people that do not know what the current situation is. They also give an insight into the country’s potential of the recovery after rough years mixed with war and fear.

– Samantha Harward
Photo: Flickr