Youth Unemployment in Senegal
Like many developing countries in Africa, Senegal’s economy is growing. In fact, in 2018, the country’s GDP increased by 6.766%. However, economic growth has not translated into more jobs for the younger generation, thus resulting in high youth unemployment. Young people either end up unemployed or in the informal job sector where wages are low. To solve the problem of youth unemployment in Senegal, the Senegalese government and NGOs are creating new policies and programs.

Youth and the Formal Job Sector

In 2019, Senegal’s population was over 16 million with 40% of the population younger than 15. More than 300,000 Senegalese youth enter the workforce each year. The formal sector in Senegal makes up between three to four percent of Senegal’s job market. As a result, college graduates struggle to find jobs relating to their field of study. When looking for formal jobs, graduates face many difficulties, including a lack of connections and a failure to meet the job qualifications. Youths also lack the knowledge of where to look for formal jobs.

Furthermore, according to employers, the education system does not meet the needs of the workforce because graduates do not have work experience (internships). The internships that youths do manage to get are often unpaid. This results in more difficulties for young people to sustain themselves while working. CNV International works with unions to make sure that interns are not being taken advantage of. Although the youth unemployment rate for ages between 15-24 has decreased from 13.2% in 2010 to 8.2% in 2019, Senegal still faces a problem of unemployment among youth.

Youth and the Informal Job Sector

When it becomes difficult to find employment, many Senegalese youth turn to the informal sector or start their own businesses. The informal sector is made up of businesses that are not registered and therefore do not pay taxes. For obtaining an informal job, social and personal relations play a more important role than a contractual agreement. Furthermore, informal jobs often tend not to provide employees with any form of social security or insurance, and are also fairly low-paying. Many informal jobs generate income that is less than Senegal’s minimum wage, according to Investisseurs & Partenaires.

Consequences of Youth Unemployment

The problem with youth unemployment is that it often leads to poverty, crime and even migration to other countries. In Senegal, many have left their villages to migrate to Europe. However, the path to Europe is dangerous and many die attempting to reach or cross the Mediterranean. To respond to the crisis of youth unemployment, the Senegalese government and NGOs have created programs to help young people find jobs.

Efforts to Reduce Youth Unemployment

In 2017, the Education Development Center and MasterCard Foundation started a 5-year long project to help teach students in both middle and high school. The project aims to teach students how to get a job as well as how to start a business. The program, known as APTE, helps provide internships, job placement, mentoring and coaching. Currently, the program works in 50 vocational education and training (TVET) schools and 200 middle schools (lower secondary), and has reached over 11,000 youths in the country.

To help youth entrepreneurs, the government created La Délégation Générale à l’Entreprenariat Rapide, a fund for entrepreneurs. The fund focuses on small financing, incubation funding, equity financing and low-interest loans. In the first wave of funding alone, the program received 140,000 applications. The fund has given money to multiple industries, including food, agriculture and digital/ICT.

With the help of the World Bank, the Senegalese government also created the Skills for Jobs and Competitiveness project to help reduce youth unemployment in Senegal. The project aims to train Senegalese youth in tourism, horticulture and poultry farming. Additionally, the Programme de Formation Ecole-Enterprise (School-Company Training Program) hopes to impact 10,000 young people by teaching them crucial job skills. The government is also working with companies through an apprenticeship program to train students while they are in school.


Although the youth unemployment rate in Senegal has decreased, it still remains a relevant issue. Programs by NGOs and the government are essential to providing job opportunities for young people in Senegal. These efforts also serve to reduce poverty and encourage youth to remain in Senegal rather than attempt the dangerous journey to Europe. If this focus on tackling youth unemployment continues, a new future for Senegal’s youth may be peeking through the horizon.

– Joshua Meribole 
Photo: Flickr

how to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Poverty is like a cancer for society — it is debilitating and does not have a cure-all solution. People in extreme poverty live on less than $1.90 a day and face poverty traps due to factors such as geographic location, malnutrition, effort required to meet daily needs, lack of education and poor governance. With so many ways for people to become poor, it’s not surprising that different regions need to focus on different issues when determining how to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.

Poverty Eradication Across the Globe

According to the 2017 World Bank Annual Report, Europe and Central Asia focused 41 percent of the $5.3 billion they borrowed from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development as well as the International Development Association on energy and extractives but only two percent on education.

In contrast, South Asia concentrated 14 percent of the $6.1 billion they borrowed on energy and extractives, and 12 percent on education. Despite such disparities between these two countries’ prioritization of their energy and education sectors, both areas took action to build resilience to climate change, invest in human capital and improve infrastructure.

Benefits of Migration

For poor households trapped by low-productivity and in oftentimes remote, rural locations, migration could be a viable solution to increasing their standard of living. Such families may not be willing to migrate because it would put their sources of subsistence at risk. However, there are large potential gains from migrating to a highly productive country like the U.S.

According to a study by Clemens, Montenegro and Pritchett in 2016, the annual gain from working in a high-productivity environment is more than four times the total lifetime value of the most successful anti-poverty program.

Cash Transfer Solutions

On the policy side, well-targeted and structured cash transfers have been an increasingly popular tool for alleviating poverty in low-income countries. Cash transfers not only provide safety nets by raising the incomes of the poor, but they also help them escape from ‘psychological poverty traps.’

Contrary to the common concern that welfare programs can discourage work, a study done by Banerjee et al. in 2016 found no systematic evidence that cash transfer programs affect the overall number of hours worked nor the propensity to work among the men and women in the seven programs carried out in the Honduras, Indonesia, Morocco, Mexico (which had two programs), Nicaragua and the Philippines.

There are also solutions that require the consideration of measuring poverty based on other factors besides income and consumption. One example would be the offshoring of low-skilled jobs. While these jobs do provide a steady source of income, they are often also unpleasant, risky and may lead to adverse health effects. So, although these jobs can provide a short-term safety net, they are not a long-term solution to poverty.

Small Changes, Big Outcomes

Specific strategy government programs that have lasting effects countering poverty involve multifaceted household-level interventions. In one study by Banerjee et al., implementation of an anti-poverty program at the household level in India, Ethiopia and Pakistan (as well as both the village and household level in Ghana, Honduras and Peru) led to at least a year’s worth of lasting impact after the short-term intervention of the program.

Statistically significant impacts were made in the areas of consumption, food security, productive and household assets, financial inclusion, time use, income and revenues, physical health, mental health, political involvement and women’s empowerment. The intervention consisted of six elements: a productive asset grant, temporary cash consumption support, technical skills training, high frequency home visits, a savings program and health education and services.

Pros and Cons of Policy Change

On the other hand, governments also need to be careful when deciding on policies that involve low-income countries. Bill Clinton admitted in 2010 that his policy to dump American tariff-free rice in Haiti was a mistake. By forcing Haiti to drop tariffs on imported subsidized U.S. rice, the damage done to rice farming severely hindered Haiti’s ability to be self-sufficient.

In response to the incident, Oxfam recommended that food aid should be bought in local markets inside the country receiving aid.

Oxfam also said the Haitian government should decentralise services away from the capital, make sure farmers have credit access and improve their land tenure system where farmers could be cheated by judges able to transfer land into the hands of ‘whoever offers the biggest bribe.’

Eradicating Extreme Poverty and Hunger

The same goes for humanitarian organizations in deciding what kinds of resources and assistance to provide. To answer the question of how to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, these organizations need to first determine what consequences their intervention would lead to. By looking for methods to complement local capacities to combat poverty, humanitarians can prevent their efforts from displacing local businesses.

A great example is The Hunger Project — a global nonprofit organization dedicated to ending world hunger. With programs throughout Africa, South Asia and Latin America, this organization empowers women and men in rural villages to sustainably overcome hunger and poverty. Members of the community accomplish this feat by mobilizing and fostering effective partnerships to engage local government.

In conclusion, there are many factors to consider in different parts of the world when looking at how to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. Auspicious solutions to poverty traps include migration, conditional cash transfers and multifaceted household-level programs. On the side of humanitarian organizations and the government, much deliberation is essential to providing goods, services and policies that complement and protect rather than displace local needs and markets.

– Connie Loo
Photo: Flickr

poverty in oman

Oman is a country in the Arabian Peninsula bordering Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates, which places it in the southeastern coast of the region. The coastal regions of the country benefit from fertile soil and a beautiful landscape with impressive mountains. Despite the country’s strong agriculture and its oil, it has recently faced an economic downturn following its big investments in social welfare, causing oil prices to drop and the budget to decrease.

Economic Crisis

The aforementioned economic downturn of the country was due to a protest during the Arab Spring in 2011. The citizens demanded more employment opportunities, economic benefits, and a crackdown on the government’s corruption, which is an absolute monarchy led by the Sultan of Oman. While the government did respond to the protest by providing social welfare benefits, the result was an unmanageable budget that contributed to the poverty in Oman. The biggest concern on the economy of Oman is related to the shifting prices of oil, as the country is highly dependent on oil to generate revenue. In fact, oil can account for somewhere between 68% and 85% of the country’s entire revenue generated in a year. This is why Oman suffered a budget deficit of $13.8 billion in the year 2016, the same year global oil prices dropped.

Wages and Migrant Inequity

While the statistics don’t indicate a high rate of the country’s nationals being under the poverty line, poverty in Oman primarily affects migrant workers. Omani nationals benefit from a minimum wage at $592 a month in addition to a $263 allowance. Migrant workers in Oman do not have access to these benefits and are compensated with low wages.

Many countries in the Middle East, including Oman, employ female migrants to work in households. They are tasked with taking care of the children, cooking, and doing daily chores. Oman has at least 130,000 of these female migrant workers, and they face poor working conditions. This includes lower wages than initially promised, excessively long working hours and, according to interviews with about 59 of the workers, there are even cases of physical and sexual abuse from employers.

A Plan Forward

The state is at risk of major deficits in its budget in a case where oil prices drop, as was the case in the year 2016. To solve this, the sultan has been seeking alternative ways for generating revenue in order to reduce the risk of another economic downturn. The country has already made progress by making a development plan in 2016 to decrease its oil dependency. The plan seeks to open doors in industrialization and privatization, diversifying its sources of revenue.

According to the CIA, “The key components of the government’s diversification strategy are tourism, shipping and logistics, mining, manufacturing, and aquaculture.” Despite Omani nationals struggling to find employment opportunities due to migrant workers’ lower wages in earlier years, the country has seen an increasing number of citizens entering the job market recently. To highlight some of the progress Oman has made in previous years, its tourism industry has been opening up and contributing to the country’s GDP. 32 new hotels opened in 2018 to add over 3000 rooms to accommodate tourists, which put the country at an expected tourism growth rate of about 13% between 2018 and 2019.

COVID-19 Influence

Reports in recent months have shown a spike in Covid-19 cases among migrant workers in the Arabian Gulf countries, including Oman. Living conditions for these workers tend to be cramped and they lack access to necessary equipment and care for protection against the virus. Back in April, 16 NGOs sent letters to the gulf countries with recommendations to protect migrant workers amidst the pandemic. These recommendations include providing equal testing, medical access and continued wages for workers no longer able to work in these conditions.

While Oman has yet to respond to the letters, there has been a decline in Covid-19 daily cases over the past week. It peaked at an estimated 2164 new cases on July 13th but has been declining. In comparison, on July 15th, there were an estimated 1157 new cases.

Despite facing an economic downturn in 2016, the country has made strategic progress by diversifying its sources of revenue and decreasing its dependency on oil. These changes can greatly alleviate poverty in Oman.

Fahad Saad
Photo: Flickr

Kiribati Refugees
Climate change will drive migration on a massive scale in the coming years. Estimates of people fleeing natural disasters range from 25 million to 1 billion. The small island nation of Kiribati in the Pacific will be extinct by 2100. The government is trying to help the Kiribati refugees migrate with dignity, but their legal status is still in limbo.

    1. Most of the land of the Kiribati islands is less than two meters above sea level. It is therefore very vulnerable to rising sea levels due to climate change. Its residents may have to be the first climate change refugees.
    2. In 1999, two islands disappeared underwater. The nation is made up of 33 small islands, whose land is being swallowed by the ocean at a rate of almost 4 millimeters a year. According to the U.N., the entire nation will be submerged by 2100.
    3. Even before this drastic event occurs, changes in weather patterns are likely to produce Kiribati refugees. Droughts are becoming more severe, whilst rainfall is increasing, causing flooding. The oceans are acidifying, disturbing the delicate balance of coral reefs, whose marine ecosystems are the source of many people’s livelihoods.
    4. Freshwater supply is also problematic, as saltwater from high ocean tides is polluting wells and prolonged droughts are pushing water supplies to their limits. Many residents of South Tarawa, the island housing half of the country’s 100,000 people, are now completely reliant on rainwater.

  1. In 2003, the Kiribati government cooperated with the World Bank in the $17.7million Kiribati Adaptation Program. They built coastal sea walls, planted mangroves on the shores, developed water-management plans and invested in rainwater harvesting infrastructure, to postpone the effects of the rising ocean. The project has managed to protect one of 710 miles of Kiribati’s coastline.
  2. The former president, Anote Tong, started the “Migration with Dignity” program to ensure the Kiribati refugees will move to other states with dignity. The government has increased the level of qualifications available to citizens to those of Australia and New Zealand so that they are employable.
  3. The former president also bought 6,000 acres of land in Fiji, an island nation more than 1,000 miles away. This will act as a refuge for any Kiribati residents who will need to relocate.
  4. A Kiribati citizen applied for asylum in New Zealand in 2011. Four years later he was rejected and deported back to his sinking homeland.
  5. The 1951 Refugee Convention defines refugees as those “fleeing persecution at home.” As such, the Kiribati refugees are not protected by international law. “The truth is no one agency in the system because no one could have imagined this situation 60 years ago,” said José Riera, a senior advisor to the U.N. High Commission for Refugees.
  6. The Paris Agreement signed this past April does little to help climate change refugees. It didn’t resolve the issue of their legal status or mandate their protection.

It is hopeful that with the help of the government and international aid, each refugee, resident and the overall island will be preserved.

Eliza Gkritsi

Photo: Flickr

Honduran Refugees
Honduras, the small Central American country nestled between Guatemala and Nicaragua, is home to a rich, cultural heritage, stunning wildlife, beaches and forests. Despite the beauty this country has to offer, many of its citizens are seeking a safe haven far from the country they know. Here are 10 things you need to know to better understand Honduran refugees.

  1. The countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador often are reported on in tandem. This grouping, referred to as Central America’s Northern Triangle, experiences similar problems leading all three to their high refugee rates.
  2. Honduras is struggling with an incredibly high homicide rate. The country is currently tied with El Salvador for the highest homicide rate in the world and in 2015, over 17,000 homicides were recorded across the Northern Triangle.
  3. Many of these killings are related to gang or criminal organization activity. Citizens of Honduras run the risk of being extorted by these groups and are often threatened with violence if they are unable to pay fees.
  4. Honduras is dangerous for women. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees reported that women fleeing the Northern Triangle often report being assaulted, extorted and threatened. Honduras averages at 10.9 female homicides per 100,000 people. In comparison, the same statistic for the U.S. is 1.9 per 100,000.
  5. The number of Honduran refugees is growing. Nearly 10 percent of the region’s 30 million citizens have fled in the past 10 years. An analysis from the Council on Foreign Relations said that the number of people from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala living in the U.S. increased from 1.5 million to 2.7 million between 2000 and 2013.
  6. In addition to the threat of violence, Honduran refugees may also be fleeing from their countries for climate-related reasons. Honduras is experiencing prolonged drought effects due to the El Nino weather phenomenon.
  7. This drought is having a severe effect on food prices and on farming in the country. Bean and maize harvests have been cut in half due to the drought leading to an increase in food prices.
  8. Malnutrition is a serious risk for families. The U.N.’s World Food Project reports that around a quarter of children aged six months to two-and-a-half years struggle due to chronic malnutrition.
  9. The U.S has begun attempts to help the situation. In 2015, the Obama Administration appropriated $750 million to help address the root causes of the influx of refugees.
  10. The U.S. Refugee Admission Program has been established to aid refugees from the Northern Triangle. The program will seek to identify families in need, and then relocate them as permanent residents in the U.S.

Though the situation in Honduras looks grim, the U.S. has the opportunity to make a difference through programs that will alleviate poverty-induced violence and restore the country that is home to so many refugees.

Jordan Little

Photo: Flickr

Uganda Refugees
A landlocked country located between Kenya, South Sudan, Rwanda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda is an East African Nation that has been constantly plagued by violence. Since gaining its independence from Great Britain in 1962, the Ugandan people have been forced to deal with dictatorships, military coups, wars and a 20-year insurgency from the Lord’s Resistance Army.

The nations that border the country of Uganda are additionally tormented with instability and violence which have pushed many people into the country.

Here are 10 interesting facts that you may not know about Uganda refugees:

  1. As of 2016, there are 512,000 documented asylum seekers and refugees in the country of Uganda.
  2. Uganda refugees are slowly outnumbering the current citizen population within Uganda. In Uganda, areas like the Adjumani district expect to see the number of people seeking refuge in the country exceed the number of local inhabitants.
  3. Local farmers are in conflict with Uganda refugees. With Uganda refugee populations increasing every day, many farmers find themselves with little land to grow crops. This is due in part to the fact that the government takes portions of land from farmers in order to make room for the incoming people. This seizing of land for asylum seekers creates internal conflicts between local farmers and people seeking refuge.
  4. Roughly 85% of refugees entering the country are women and children.
  5. Migration into cities has left Uganda refugees at a cultural disadvantage. Although Uganda has warmly welcomed people seeking refuge, cultural barriers still pose a major obstacle to Uganda refugees. Barriers such as language, adapting to Uganda’s culture, stereotypes and general safety simultaneously affect the everyday lives of Uganda refugees.
  6. Uganda has hosted approximately 550,000 refugees as of July 2016. Of the 550,000 refugees, 315,000 are asylum seekers from South Sudan, while an additional 200,000 individuals are from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  7. Uganda does not question or interrogate people seeking refuge. With constant violence on the borders of Uganda, millions of people have fled their countries in order to escape unimaginable horrors.
  8. The U.N. Refugee Agency has acknowledged the nation of Uganda as having exceptional policies regarding refugees. In 2006, the country passed a Refugee act that provided refugees with employment, education, right to property, dignity and overall self-sufficiency; Uganda implemented policies that allow people seeking refuge to work in order to contribute to the nation’s economy.
  9. The continuity of violence in areas, like South Sudan, increased refugee migration into Uganda, which has overwhelmed local aid agencies. Overcrowding has become a serious issue in areas like Adjumani, which is home to the Nyumanzi reception center for refugees, as a result. The reception center is supposed to host up to 3,500 individuals; however, overcrowding in Nyumanzi has led to over 8,000 people residing at the reception center.
  10. There are many Uganda refugees that still cling to the idea that they are able to return home and resume the life they once had. A quote from a refugee who fled from Burundi, Cedric Mugisha, states, “In Burundi, I have a life, my life was promising. I miss my family, I don’t know where they are, and I don’t know what happened to my friends.”

Though many refugees have experienced tremendous hardships and trials while fleeing from their homes to Uganda, many positive efforts are underway in order to improve their quality of life. The Uganda government and humanitarian organizations, such as the U.N. Refugee Agency, are continuously providing aid and support for the many Uganda refugees.

Shannon Warren

Brain Drain
Brain drain is a rampant epidemic detrimentally impacting developing nations across the earth. As a result, businesses and political figures are making fantastic efforts to reverse brain drains on both a national and global level.

What is Brain Drain and Why is it Happening?

According to Merriam-Webster, brain drain is defined as, “a situation in which many educated or professional people leave a particular place or profession and move to another one that gives them better pay or living conditions.”

The term brain drain was first coined around the 1960s when Great Britain experienced a high percentage of British scientists and intellectuals leaving the country to find better careers in the U.S.

Since then, many other countries such as Greece, Lithuania and a number of African nations have experienced brain drain at an alarming rate.

The Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine reports that brain drain stems from a wide range of economic, social and political conditions. Most of these conditions are observed in developing countries where the careers of citizens are stifled from issues such as poverty, political instability and lack of technology.

These conditions make developed countries more attractive to those with a degree or a specialized skill. Countries such as the U.S., Canada and the U.K. have been gaining a significant amount of doctors and nurses from abroad.

Migration Abroad

In 2006, the U.S. received roughly 213,331 doctors and 99,456 nurses from abroad. Research from the WHO estimated that brain drain resulted in a global shortage of 4.3 million healthcare workers. Countries experiencing brain drain lose educated working-class employees by anywhere from thousands to hundreds of thousands of workers.

In just 2011 alone, Lithuania reported 54,000 migrating to find work in the U.K. The continent of Africa loses one in nine university graduates to Western nations. In addition, Greece estimated that 160,000 to 180,000 college graduates have left the country for better opportunities.

Though developed countries can benefit from receiving these educated migrants, the sheer amount of incoming, educated people can overwhelmingly disadvantage various sectors within developing countries.

However, there is hope to reverse brain drain as seen from the efforts of nations such as Lithuania, the UAE and many African countries.


Business leaders and government officials in Lithuania are combating brain drain through a series of university mergers. University mergers are when multiple universities unify in order to foster stronger university brands. The plan is that these university mergers will attract current citizens and international students to study in Lithuania.

Marius Skuodis, a former citizen of Lithuania, has returned to his country because of the new opportunities provided within the university mergers. He plans on pursuing his PhD at Vilnius University, despite having to accept a lower salary.

Skuodis is quoted saying that, “Lithuania offered me career opportunities I could not expect in the UK.”


The UAE has also made gallant strides in turning brain drain into a brain gain. The UAE is a nation that suffered from brain drain as well as high levels of violence for numerous years.

Recently, businesses have made tremendous efforts in the UAE to improve the quality of life for workers and residents. These efforts have turned the UAE into a thriving nation with one of the highest standards of living for citizens in the world.


In Africa, reports indicate that brain drain has slowed substantially within the continent. A study in 2014 from South Africa’s Adcorp, stated that 359,000 highly skilled South African workers had returned to work in their countries of origin.

Economists have noted that this accomplishment was possible due to the policies that governments and businesses have put in place in order to encourage workers to come back home.

Finding a solution to reducing brain drain is no easy feat, as it requires both businesses and governments to coincide with one another to tackle the issue at hand. Businesses and corporate leaders need to implement solutions to create more job opportunities with quality benefits for those with desired skills.

Governments need to strive for policy changes that encourage workers to return to their countries. However, if governments and businesses can work together to make substantial legislation changes, many nations may follow suit and reverse their brain drain into a brain gain.

Shannon Warren

Photo: Flickr


The subject of forced migration, especially related to refugees, is a major topic in current news and politics across the world. Columbia University defines forced migration as “the movements of refugees and internally displaced people (those displaced by conflicts within their country of origin) as well as people displaced by natural or environmental disasters, chemical or nuclear disasters, famine, or development projects.” Below are 10 facts about forced migration:

  1. Columbia University states that the three most common causes of displacement are conflict, development and disaster.
  2. Refugees are defined as individuals forced out of their home country due to persecution or armed conflict. Refugees are those recognized by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
  3. The most recent UNHCR report, published in 2014, stated there are 19.5 million refugees worldwide. The majority of refugees in 2014 were children. The U.N. reports 51 percent of refugees to be under the age of 18.
  4. Internally displaced persons (IDPs) are individuals who are forcibly
    migrated within their own countries. The UNHCR reports there are over 38 million people classified as IDPs.
  5. The 2014 Global Trends Report estimated 42,500 people being displaced daily within and outside of their home countries.
  6. Asylum-seeking individuals are those who have migrated across borders for protection but are not yet recognized as refugees. The U.N. reported 1.66 million people as asylum-seekers in 2014. 159,000 new asylum-seekers were reported halfway through 2015.
  7. The UNHCR Global Trends Report for 2015 is expected to show record breaking numbers related to forced migration. Mid-2015 data estimated the number of refugees to be 20.2 million. For the full year, the total number of individuals who have experienced forced displacement is expected to exceed 60 million for the first time in history.
  8. As of 2014, 86 percent of refugees are hosted by developing countries. Turkey hosted the largest amount of refugees (1.6 million) worldwide during this year.
  9. Syria became the largest source of refugees since 2014 due to the current conflict between the government and rebel forces.
  10. The UNHCR states that the ability for refugees to return safely to their homes has decreased to an estimate of 84,000 as of mid-2015. The report states, “if you become a refugee today your chances of going home are lower than at any time in more than 30 years.”

Forced migration has been a major issue for quite some time now. Although countries around the world have stepped in to help refugees and other displaced individuals, these facts further prove that it will take much more to reduce these numbers.

Saroja Koneru

Photo: U.N. Multimedia

Poverty ReductionA global health organization is utilizing innovative financing to generate funding for international development. The organization, called UNITAID, is revolutionizing international development through charitable giving. Funds are currently being generated from a small surcharge added to the cost of flying out of France.

UNITAID is an organization that was originally conceived by French President Jacque Chirac and Brazilian President Lula. It is a World Health Organization global health initiative. Less than a decade ago, an airline levy was implemented through UNITAID, which adds between one and four euro to the cost of plane tickets.

Along with France, eleven other countries have adopted the new practice. In the short amount of time that the surcharge has been enacted, the levy has raised more than $2 billion. Over the course of only eight years, $2.5 billion has been raised, which is being used to improve international development in low-income countries.

More specifically, the money raised has improved access to treatments and diagnostics for HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in less developed countries. For travelers, the small added cost is painless and relatively unnoticeable. The chairman of UNITAID, however, stresses the levy’s importance in the grand scheme of things.

Phillipe Douste-Blazy, the undersecretary-general of the United Nations, chairman of UNITAID, and mastermind behind the ticket surcharge program has stated, “With one euro, you can save children from malaria.” By breaking down the program’s significance into layman’s terms like this, he has painted the bigger picture for us.

The program’s ability to raise such a significant amount of funding in so little time has inspired Douste-Blazy to envision more potential fundraising solutions for other global crises. Namely, the funds could potentially be used to tackle the current migration crisis.

Douste-Blazy knows that disease and lack of health care options are two major factors that force migrants to seek refuge across international borders. An expansion of the current levy could bring dramatic improvements in the standards of living in migrants’ home countries.

A report released recently by the U.N.’s refugee agency revealed that most people fleeing to Europe by sea are attempting to escape conditions like war, persecution and other dangerous conflicts. Europe’s current response to deploying police and soldiers to intercept the migrants isn’t sustainable or cost-effective.

The biggest challenge of international development and poverty reduction strategies is funding. With countries facing significant debt and Greece – the number one recipient of overseas refugees – facing bankruptcy, money can no longer be appropriately allocated in traditional ways.

Douste-Blazy calls his proposed solution “painless solidarity contribution.” The process of taking small additional amounts of money out of existing financial transactions could bring money to the developing world that will not be missed anywhere else.

For the post-2015 agenda, UNITAID’s program offers an important lesson. Douste-Blazy explains, “As the needs are increasing, the money is decreasing, so we need to do something innovative.” Public engagement around the issue of poverty and international development is absolutely essential and can bring unprecedented results.

Sarah Bernard

Sources: Huffington Post, Foreign Policy
Photo: Wikipedia