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life expectancy in MongoliaMongolia is a landlocked nation in Central Asia bordered by China to the south and Russia to the north. It is the third-least sparsely populated country in the world with an average population of 1.9 people per square kilometer. Mongolia has been a representative democracy since the U.S.S.R. collapsed in 1990 when a protest movement forced out the pro-Soviet government. The country’s economy crashed after the withdrawal of Soviet support in the 1990s and then again after the global financial crisis of 2009. It exhibited a strong recovery a few years after each event. These top 10 facts about life expectancy in Mongolia should shed some light on the state of health in this country today.

Top 10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Mongolia

  1. The average life expectancy in Mongolia is 69.9 years, ranking 160 in the world out of 224 countries listed. For comparison, the U.S. ranked 43 in life expectancy. According to figures from the World Bank, life expectancy in Mongolia had increased by 43 percent between 1960 and 2016.

  2. The top causes of premature death in Mongolia are heart disease, stroke and neonatal disorders (diseases affecting newborn children). However, neonatal disorders have decreased significantly in recent years. According to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the prevalence of neonatal disorders decreased by 13.3 percent in just 10 years from 2007 to 2017. Infant mortality overall has steadily declined since 1978 from 117.9 to 14.8 per 1,000 live births. However, heart disease and stroke have both increased during that same period by 9.3 percent and 11.2 percent, respectively.

  3. The Millennium Challenge Corporation, a U.S. government foreign aid agency, cooperated with the Mongolian government on a variety of programs as part of a $284.9 million compact between 2007 and 2013. One of those programs was the Health Project, which aimed to combat various diseases, including heart disease and stroke. The project trained more than 17,000 medical professionals and provided equipment to more than 550 health facilities, which enabled those facilities to screen almost every Mongolian person over the age of 40 for various diseases.

  4. In Mongolia, there is a steep divide in health care access between urban and rural areas. Part of the reason for Mongolia’s low population density is that many people in rural areas practice a nomadic lifestyle. However, the healthcare system, which has been largely dependent upon foreign aid since dramatic cuts in government spending in the 1990s, has struggled to adapt to servicing such a mobile population. This lack of equal access to healthcare might explain why health indicators, including maternal and infant mortality rates, HIV/AIDS and others are generally worse in rural areas of Mongolia than in cities.

  5. In recent years, the Mongolian government, with the help of the Asian Development Bank, has significantly expanded access to healthcare for rural people. This involved building new health centers, and providing new equipment and training to existing centers and hospitals. Shilchin Degmid, a nomadic livestock herder, told the ADB that, in particular, “[e]mergency services have greatly improved.” In the end, it is estimated that 700,000 people will receive improved healthcare as a result of the initiative.

  6. Even in urban areas with more facilities, access to healthcare can be very difficult for people living in poverty. Whether they live in the city or the country, people in Mongolia living in poverty struggle to access affordable healthcare. According to Lindskog, in Mongolia, “population health and access to affordable health care are significantly linked to socioeconomic disparities.”
  7. Poverty affects more than 1 in 4 people. According to the Asian Development Bank, 29.6 percent of people in Mongolia live in poverty. However, extreme poverty has decreased dramatically since its peak of 26.9 percent twenty years ago. Today, 1 in 200 people in Mongolia lives in extreme poverty.

  8. One successful project in fighting poverty is the Alternative Livelihood Project (ALP). ALP has been conducted in a rural area of South Mongolia by the U.N. Development Programme and in collaboration with the local government and organized groups of local residents. The primary purpose of the project was to improve disaster preparedness and economic sustainability in the local economy. Support from the U.N.D.P. and the local government has helped local residents access training and start new businesses. Local residents were also better able to access wider markets for their existing businesses thanks to the U.N.D.P.’s connections elsewhere in the country.

  9. Pollution is a serious problem for the health of urban residents. Air pollution has been shown to significantly impact life expectancy throughout the world. Last year, UNICEF declared air pollution in the country’s capital, Ulaanbaatar, to be a child health crisis. The agency noted that Ulaanbaatar has some of the highest levels of air pollution in the world during wintertime, with pollution rates reaching as high as 133 times the safe levels recommended by the World Health Organization.

  10. One initiative working to fight air pollution is the Ulaanbaatar Clean Air Project. The project is the result of the collaboration between Ulaanbaatar’s city government, the Mongolian national government, the World Bank and the Millennium Challenge Corporation. Between 2010 and 2015, the project distributed 175,000 low-emission stoves to impoverished residents of Ulaanbaatar. Most of the residents living in ger or small detached homes in Ulaanbaatar experience disproportionate levels of poverty. As a result, they heat their homes in wintertime using their stove. The new stoves that the project distributed had 98 percent lower emissions than older models of stoves, reducing pollution during winter months. Furthermore, in 2016, the project helped 200 households to insulate their homes.

 

While the effort to improve life expectancy in Mongolia faces significant challenges, progress is being made. The Mongolian government is collaborating with the United Nations Development Programme on several programs to reduce poverty, including improving economic policy planning and enhancing opportunities for entrepreneurship in rural areas. Furthermore, many organizations have worked with local organizations and governments in Mongolia to improve healthcare in a variety of ways. And while some indicators, such as economic growth, have tended to fluctuate, others, such as infant mortality, have uniformly improved in recent years. Even though challenges remain, these top 10 facts about life expectancy in Mongolia show that the future is bright.

Sean Ericson
Photo: Flickr

Six Facts About Healthcare in HondurasIn a nation that suffers from high levels of poverty, adequate healthcare and access to medical services have taken a hit. Honduras has long suffered from frequent maternal and infant mortality, and an estimated 1.5 million people are unable to receive healthcare at all. Why is healthcare so insufficient in Honduras? And what is being done to help?

Six Facts About Healthcare in Honduras

  1. Access to healthcare for families in Honduras is determined by poverty level, socioeconomic status and whether or not they live in a rural or urban environment. Poverty is a major issue in Honduras where over 66 percent of the population lives in poverty with one in five people living in extreme poverty. In rural environments, healthcare is much harder to access despite efforts to improve these conditions. The Ministry of Health in Honduras provides care to almost 90 percent of the population, but these services are mainly available in developed cities making it hard for rural populations to receive good care.
  2. One of the major barriers to receiving good healthcare in Honduras is lack of access to physicians. The CDC reports that there are around 0.37 physicians per 1,000 people in Honduras. This number is far too low according to The Millennium Development Goal’s estimates for providing sufficient primary healthcare to a nation. Although primary healthcare is insufficient in Honduras, the country still has high immunization coverage for children with between 88 to 93 percent of children receiving vaccinations.
  3. The Honduran health system is made up of a private and public sector. The public sector includes the Ministry of Health, which provides services to the majority of the population, and The Honduran Institute of Social Security. There is also a private sector that includes nonprofit organizations as well as for-profit businesses.
  4. Unfortunately, the current health system is experiencing a crisis due to poor management, weak government leadership and poor human resource administration. This has led to bad coordination between different institutions providing health and has only made gaining access to healthcare harder. A shocking nine out of ten people are not covered by any health insurance and at least 18 percent of the population cannot access healthcare.
  5. As a result of the challenges mentioned above, Honduras implemented a different national health model in 2015. This model would provide services to impoverished and rural areas and use preventative care to improve health. Care has improved in some ways but the use of this model has been sporadic and not consistent enough to have a big enough impact. However, there is good news.
  6. The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) has started a $15.6 million Threshold Program in Honduras that is trying to improve government efficiency and transparency. Part of this program includes social audits of healthcare clinics in rural areas by nonprofits and grassroots organizations in Honduras. These audits show whether or not clinics are providing adequate care to communities then the results are delivered to health center managers who come up with new plans to fix these problems. Real change has been seen as a result of these audits and clinics are starting to be more transparent about what they offer and improve doctor-patient relationships. This has also allowed for a more successful and consistent implementation of the new health model in many rural communities.

Although the social audits have certainly helped many rural communities, the Honduran government still has room for improvement to make sure that everyone has equal access to healthcare in Honduras. Healthy citizens are able to better contribute to society and economic growth making healthcare an important and relevant issue.

– Alexandra Eppenauer
Photo: Flickr

Indonesian Sea SaltSea salt farming almost always occurs in warm climates with little precipitation, such as in Indonesia. Sea salt is harvested from shallow ponds called salterns through natural solar evaporation. As water evaporates from the shallow ponds, the salt in the water becomes more concentrated. When the water reaches about 25 percent salinity, the salt starts to crystallize and it can be harvested.

Indonesian Sea Salt Farmers

Wealthier sea salt farmers have access to technology that reduces the need for manual labor but most Indonesian sea salt farmers have to do everything themselves. Just getting seawater to the salterns requires Indonesian farmers to spend days carrying the water by hand from the sea.

Farmers with access to technology use trucks with rake attachments to break up the salt beds but many Indonesian farmers have to rake the salt beds manually. Indonesian farmers then have to scoop up the salt and carry it to washing facilities. After the sea salt is washed, farmers have to boil it to produce pure salt. To boil the sea salt, Indonesian farmers have to carry large containers of salt on their heads to open, smoky stoves.

Sea salt farming has a long history in Indonesia but other agricultural economies such as cashews, cacao and coconut palms took precedence and stalled the sea salt economy. Indonesian sea salt saw a revival in 2005 as demand for gourmet salt rose.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation

With the rise in demand for sea salt but little improvement in the technology available for Indonesian sea salt farmers, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) made an Indonesia Compact. The MCC is an independent U.S. foreign aid agency that partners with countries worldwide to promote economic growth and lift people out of poverty. With strong bipartisan support, the U.S. Congress created the MCC in 2004 and the MCC signed the five-year Indonesia Compact in 2011.

The MCC’s Indonesia Compact went into force in 2013 and ended in April 2018. The Compact’s three initiatives were:

  1. The Community-Based Health and Nutrition to Reduce Stunting Project
  2. The Green Prosperity Project
  3. The Procurement Modernization Project

Aid for Indonesian sea salt farmers fell under the Green Prosperity Project which sought to increase agricultural productivity and to improve land use practices and management of natural resources.

The MCC worked closely with the Indonesia-based NGO Panca Karsa to communicate with sea salt farmers on the ground. By introducing piping to get seawater to salterns, improving filtering techniques and even just providing farmers with wheelbarrows, the MCC and Panca Karsa have helped sea salt farmers increase the quantity and quality of their salt production, boosting the farmers’ incomes and making their businesses more sustainable.

Panca Karsa reports that salt yields have tripled in the last couple of years and prices have doubled due to improved quality. In the past, most of the farmers were only able to sell their salt in bulk at local markets or trade their salt for rice. The MCC and Panca Karsa also helped farmers improve packaging, labeling and marketing and now farmers’ salt is competitive in artisanal and niche markets globally.

Sea Salt Farming and Female Empowerment

Most of the labor-intensive work of sea salt farming in Indonesia is done by poor women. These women do not generally own the land they work on and many only take home about $2 per day. Before the MCC and Panca Karsa intervened, these women only retained about 50 percent of their hard-earned production. Now, these farmers report that they retain about 60 percent.

Besides training programs for salt-making, financial management, business planning, quality control and marketing, the MCC and Panca Karsa also offered monthly community meetings to raise awareness for maternal and child health and nutrition. The organizations helped get families access to health and other services and worked to improve gender relations by engaging households in task-sharing between men and women.

In just a few years, the MCC and Panca Karsa have helped train over 400 female sea salt farmers and entrepreneurs in Indonesia, making it possible for these women to expand their businesses and support their families.

– Kathryn Quelle
Photo: Flickr

global education solutionsEducation is a paramount issue worldwide. Many don’t realize the number of people that aren’t capable of obtaining an educational experience, and the widespread need for global education solutions.

Key Facts to Know About Education

  • About 59 million children of primary school age are currently being denied an education.
  • Almost 15 million girls in primary school will never have the opportunity of learning to read and write.
  • It would take $39 billion annually, in order for all adolescents to attend school.
  • In a third of countries analyzed in UNESCO’s Education for All Global Monitoring Report, there are less than three-quarters of teachers trained to national standards — which has led to 130 million students in school who aren’t learning the basics.

Children fortunate enough to go to school don’t always realize how many people wish they had the same opportunity. Access to quality schooling is a current problem for children residing in multiple countries. In Africa, specifically, all children don’t have the opportunity to attend school due to wars, weather conditions, lack of secure environments, etc. These setbacks can breed an impoverished environment, which makes children have to sacrifice their right to an education for survival.

Many schools around the world are unsatisfactory due to unsanitary environments, the lack of classroom management and the inability for students to stay engaged. The capability to read, write and communicate is so vital, especially for very young children. These skills tend to be exciting for primary school students because they are more receptive to learn at this age.

Benefits of Education

Education is a vital tool that entails obtaining knowledge through experiences, specific subject matter and relative immersion. Looking at global education solutions, everyone’s learning experience is different. Some people may be homeschooled, while others may attend public or private school.

Education has always proven to be a beneficiary for those who were fortunate enough to attend school. Language development, reading, writing, and numeration are some of the basic skills of literacy. While these may seem like small elements, they contribute to a bigger picture. Education helps reduce poverty, increase income, stress the importance of good health/hygiene, boost the economic growth, prevent disaster-related deaths, promote gender equality, combat HIV/AIDS, etc. The list is infinite and has significant global impacts.

The longer one attends school, the more knowledge one will obtain. Missing an education, especially a high school diploma, can hold one back from acquiring a job in some countries. People tend to equate education with money, and to an extent, this is often a reliable mindset to have. Without an education or some form of trade experience, it is very hard to find a job that pays enough for life’s essentials — food, water and shelter. If one lacks an education and/or these basic necessities, it can make it extremely difficult to take care of oneself and family and can lead to poverty.

What Is The Solution?

Among the multitude of things that can be done to improve school systems, change begins through a society’s attitude about the value of education. This impacts how independent nations collaborate to aid those who lack strong educational systems. Next, a nationwide level of respect has to find its way into the classroom. Teachers absolutely have to be trained and certified to properly educate the youth in every subject.

According to the Learning for All Symposium arranged by the World Bank (2014), some countries will not meet their primary school teacher requirements by 2030. Filling in teacher gaps is a challenge that can make a tremendous difference to global education. School districts have to start by hiring the best candidates for teaching positions.

Funding is the most imperative matter as far as global education solutions go. Money is necessary to maintain schools and the instructional materials needed for students. Organizations such as the Global Education Fund, Global Partnership for Education and the International Education Funders Group (IEFG) provide and receive donations for school systems worldwide.

Organizations Contributing To Global Solutions

Statistically, girls are more likely to be married before the age of 18 than they are to be enrolled in secondary school in 26 countries across the globe.

Spreading awareness and the importance of getting an education is another major factor to global education solutions. Michelle Obama, former First Lady of the United States, began a foundation in March of 2015, called Let Girls Learn. This organization brought together the Department of State, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Peace Corps, the United States Department of Labor, United States Department of Agriculture and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), as well as the United States President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS.

Recognizing the many issues that adolescent girls face when trying to pursue an education, this organization is invested in expanding educational opportunities. The agencies paired with Let Girls Learn are contributing to the cause by providing safe access to schools, helping rebuild education systems, creating alternative learning programs, improving the policy and access of schools and providing nutritious meals. Parallel to Let Girls Learn, there is a plethora of organizations with the same mission — help improve the education for the youth.

Save the Children

Save The Children is another foundation that assists children around the world by ensuring a healthy start to life, and presenting an equal opportunity for education. This organization trains teachers to engage with students through effective teaching practices and introduces children to the power of artistic expression — drawing, painting, dancing, music, etc. They fulfill their goal by implementing a strong foundation for learning, even during a crisis.

As of 2018, Save The Children has provided 13.8 million children the opportunity for an education. This organization accomplishes such an amazing feat through childhood development programs that help children survive physically and emotionally; financial services that provide and educate children on money and savings in order to break the cycle of poverty; and even youth employment.

Global Education is something that can’t be entirely solved until everyone does their part to help out. Governments, school systems and parents need to work in tandem to help children receive the learning experiences they deserve.

– Kayla Sellers
Photo: Google

U.S. Benefits from Foreign Aid to Indonesia
The U.S. has allocated a total of $27.8 billion in foreign aid for the fiscal year of 2018 to benefit numerous countries around the world. One such recipient of that foreign aid is Indonesia, a country that began receiving U.S.-based funds after it gained its independence from Netherland in 1949.

Agencies like the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and Peace Corps have assisted the country for over 60 years in various development challenges. Although the country attributes much of considerable progress to foreign aid, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Indonesia in numerous notable ways as well.

 

U.S. Benefits from Military Cooperation

The U.S. administration requested almost $41.7 million as foreign aid for Indonesia in fiscal year 2008. The goal was a joint fight of the two countries against terrorism, weapon expansion and other trans-national crimes. These aims also included strategic monitoring of waterways surrounding Indonesia and cooperation with the United States armed military forces.

From 2011 to 2016, the U.S. and Indonesia jointly performed 998 defense and security activities. High ranking military officials of the two countries exchanged their views on regional and global security issues through the Indonesia-United States Security Dialog (IUSSD) meetings. In 2015 at one of these meetings, the officials stated their focus on the following activities:

  • Cooperation on Maritime and Peacekeeping Operations
  • Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response
  • Defense Procurement and Joint Research and Development
  • Countering Trans-National Threats and improving military professionalization

 

U.S. Benefits from Maritime Cooperation

In June 2010, the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Maritime Cooperation which led to a joint National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expedition. This voyage helped explore geological, biological and archaeological features of the unexplored ocean and involved scientists and engineers from both countries.

The MOU also extends cooperation in conservation and management of fishery, the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) and maritime safety and security, including combating and eliminating illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing.

 

U.S. Benefits from Economic Development

In 2008, the U.S. invested almost $27 million in the economic development of Indonesia. This funding helped to prevent corruption and increase transparency in finance, investment and the private sector of Indonesia facilitating trade between the two countries.

As a result of these aims, the U.S. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) stock reached almost $16 billion in Indonesia in 2009, an increase that substantially aided the growth of the U.S. investment sector. Then, from 2010 to 2011, the trade between the two countries amounted to almost $23.4 million with a 17 percent increase of exports of U.S. goods to Indonesia.

The U.S. is also a major supplier of aircraft transport, rail transport and energy sector equipment to Indonesia. In 2011, the supply of U.S. agricultural products was remarkable and earned more than $3 billion for the country.  Different U.S. firms also invested a combined $450 million on plants.

 

Other Benefits

Indonesia is one of the world’s top greenhouse gas emitters due to its vast tropical forest. Thankfully, though, with the help of Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and USAID, the country aims to reduce CO2  emissions and generate 19 percent of the energy from renewable sources by 2019; accomplishing these goals would help fulfill the admirable targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Since 2004, the U.S. has also assisted with Indonesia’s education programs. This aid helped to develop education exchange programs between universities of two countries and in January 2017, it was reported that almost 500 U.S. citizens studied in Indonesia with scholarships helping waive tuition fees and living expenses.

The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Indonesia is manifold in fighting terrorism and fostering marine exploration, fishing conservation, exchange education programs and job creation. These advantageous results help prove that foreign aid does not have to be charity but rather a strategic investment benefitting both recipient and donor.

– Mahua Mitra

Photo: Flickr

Global Poverty Good NewsIn the effort to eradicate global poverty, the sheer magnitude of the problem can be easily overwhelming. Often, the pervasiveness of it is perceived as too great to be solved, which can lead to a kind of hopeless apathy in people who might otherwise be mobilized to action. This perception is understandable, considering the ubiquity of stories about abject poverty that dominate coverage of the matter by various media outlets. Indeed, only hearing bad news makes the prospect of ever beating global poverty bleak, if not impossible. For this reason, while it is important to be aware of the problems that exist, it is equally necessary to hear about the successes that have been made in fighting global poverty. Balancing the good and bad news is a healthy way to both educate people and encourage progress.

For that reason, here are five pieces of good news regarding global poverty:

1. According to the World Bank, almost 1.1 billion people have ascended from extreme poverty since 1990.
2. In 2014, half of all Sub-Saharan African countries had reduced their maternal mortality rates by at least 40 percent.
3. In 2016 alone, USAID provided food assistance to more than 53 million people in 47 countries.
4. In collaboration with the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), USAID has helped 11.5 million people attain live-saving AIDS treatment.
5. Literacy rates have increased by 33 percent around the globe in the last 25 years, with enrollment in primary school increasing threefold in that same timeframe.

These are not small victories. They are the result of improved economic conditions and innovative healthcare technologies that, in turn, were made possible by the deliberate decision of the developed world to solve extreme poverty. On a larger scale, global poverty has been cut dramatically in recent decades. In 1990, nearly half of all people living in developing countries lived off of $1.25 per day. That number was reduced to an impressive 15 percent in 2015. This giant leap in progress is thanks in large part to the establishment of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, which made global poverty a priority of U.S. foreign policy. Bearing these morsels of global poverty good news in mind, nearly 800 million people still live in extreme poverty. Efforts to alleviate this problem cannot be allowed to let up, especially not for the belief of it being a hopeless endeavor. These triumphs are proof that the concerted efforts of the international community to combat global poverty have positively impacted millions of people thus far. The so-called lofty goal of eradicating poverty is far from impossible.

Micaela Fischer

Photo: Flickr


According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2002, chronic diseases caused 13,000 out of 19,000 deaths in Mongolia. Of these, 30 percent were caused by cardiovascular disease. Various types of cancers caused another 21 percent of the deaths.

In 2015, 75 percent of men and 79 percent of women were overweight. Based on data presented by the WHO, focusing on implementing healthier diets and increasing physical activity could prevent 40 percent of occurrences of cancer and at least 80 percent of premature heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation spent five years encouraging healthier lifestyles in Mongolia and concentrated on early diagnosis and treatment plans of the top diseases in Mongolia, including heart disease and strokes. These two diseases alone cause 30 percent of the deaths in Mongolia, despite easy prevention. This project, which ended in 2013, funded schools and other organizations that encouraged healthy practices in the community and worked closely with the Mongolian government to increase funding for public health programs.

The Regional Office for the Western Pacific portion of the WHO looked at life expectancy rates in Mongolia and found that between 2010 and 2030 both women and men can expect a significant increase in life expectancy. Men are estimated to live 16.2 years longer and women 19.6 years. It is also estimated that the population of individuals over the age of 60 will outgrow the population of people 14 and under. They warn that this increase in the older population of the country will also lead to an increase in the occurrences of cardiovascular diseases since the elderly are more susceptible to these types of diseases and issues.

Furthering research and instituting prevention and interventions will be able to prevent this major increase in cardiovascular and other diseases of this nature.

Similarly, the Millennium Challenge Corporation believes that through programs that work to improve the health of Mongolians, the country is securing a better future and aims to target the youth of the nation, teaching them a healthy lifestyle before they become more susceptible to these top diseases in Mongolia.

Helen Barker

Photo: Flickr

 Rwanda Refugees
Rwanda refugees will not be able to keep their refugee status on Dec. 31, 2017, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees declared. This was an agreement between Rwanda and refugee host countries. Refugees will either have to return to their home country or stay in their country of residence as permanent residents or official citizens. Here are 10 facts about Rwanda refugees to know before they are no longer considered refugees.

  1. The majority of Rwanda refugees became refugees during the 1994 genocide. Extremist Hutis killed about 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus over the span of about 100 days in April 1994. The genocide was sparked by a plane crash that killed Burundi President Cyprien Ntaymari. The majority Hutus and minority Tutsis had been in conflict since Rwanda’s founding.
  2. There were warning signs before the genocide. According to a March 1994 unclassified document from the Department of State, there were almost 300,000 Hutu refugees from Burundi, over 500,000 Tutsi refugees who were exiled from Rwanda and 350,000 Rwandans who were internally displaced due to the conflict between the Rwandan Patriotic Front and the government.
  3. The Rwandan government said that 3.4 million Rwandan refugees have returned home since 1994. More than 5,000 Rwandan refugees returned home in 2016.
  4. Rwandan refugees have fled to nearby countries such as Tanzania, Zambia and Uganda. Refugees have faced physical attacks in Zambia and forced deportations in Tanzania and Uganda.
  5. There have been many pop culture references to the Rwandan genocide. “Hotel Rwanda” is a 2004 film based on a true story about a hotel owner who housed thousands of Tutsi refugees. Kanye West controversially incorporated a Rwandan refugee camp theme into his Yeezy Season 3 show.
  6. Rwanda has been holding refugees from Burundi – 81,540 to be exact. The two countries accused one another of trying to destabilize each other’s governments.
  7. Between 100,000 and 250,000 women were raped or sexually assaulted during the genocide. The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda “declared rape to be a war crime and crime against humanity” in 1994, according to the United Nations.
  8. The Rwandan government has tried almost two million genocide criminals through a process called Gacaca. This process involves allowing local community leaders to judge genocide criminals. They were organized to bring efficiency to Rwanda’s overcrowded court system after the genocide. It is debated whether this helps the communities stay involved, or allows non-professionals to serve justice.
  9. Refugees who return to Rwanda by the December deadline will receive compensation. Adults will receive a $250 resettlement package and children will receive a $150 resettlement package from the UNHCR and the Rwandan government.
  10. The Millennium Challenge Corporation, a U.S. foreign aid agency, has sought to help promote democracy and civic participation in Rwanda. They have done this through the Rwanda Threshold Program, which trained journalists, police officers, and other public officials from 2008-2011. The United States government has aided Rwanda in many other areas as well, such as healthcare, economics, and education.

These 10 facts about Rwanda refugees are important to remember as you consider 2017 being their last year to keep their refugee status. Rwandan refugees can reapply to get new refugee status in their host countries, but it is up to the host countries to decide whether to readmit them or not.

Jennifer Taggart

Photo: Flickr

Millennium_Challenge_Corporation
Since 2004, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) has successfully worked to alleviate poverty in 39 nations worldwide. Created to facilitate “smart U.S. foreign assistance,” the U.S. foreign aid agency takes a unique, country-based approach to addressing the root causes of poverty.

The MCC has approved over $10 billion in programs to promote sustainable economic growth. It partners with low- and middle-income nations to fund country-led initiatives that open markets, educate populations and encourage national and international investment.

“Funding is not a ‘giveaway,’ but a benefit that a country earns through hard work and good policy performance,” said John Hewko, vice president of the MCC from 2004-2009, “Recipient countries identify problems and solutions locally rather than accepting programs that are often viewed as highly politicized and motivated by objectives other than long-term development.”

The MCC first determines the eligibility of a nation to receive funding through a rigorous, competitive selection process. Countries must prove that their existing policies promote good governance, transparency, economic freedom and investment in citizens.

Some governments have dramatically altered their laws to openly endorse market growth. This phenomenon – termed the “MCC effect” – encouraged the nation of El Salvador to reduce business start up time from 115 to 26 days in order to apply for MCC funding in 2005.

The MCC then analyzes a country’s proposal for funding and determines whether it can realistically attain its goals within the span of a five-year “compact.” A compact requires a country’s physical and financial investment in a program in exchange for MCC funding. A local municipality called a Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) manages the compact implementation, and independent fiscal agents monitor funds thoroughly and transparently.

In 2007, the Millennium Challenge Corporation invested in a $461 million compact with El Salvador focusing on infrastructure and human development. The compact required that local municipalities and beneficiary communities fund a small portion of project costs.

The MCC projects that the compact will provide employment and economic opportunity to over 700,000 Salvadorans in the next 20 years.

Since the compact’s implementation in 2006, over 10,000 people in El Salvador and major cities in the U.S. participated in consultations. Several business owners in the U.S. have invested in long-term, business opportunities in the Northern Zone, which has been impoverished since the Civil War in the 1980s.

MCC efforts in El Salvador have produced tangible results and garnered international acclaim. Upon completion in 2012, the compact expanded electrification to 12 percent more households, provided potable water to 7,600 families and allowed 12,000 Salvadorans – 60 percent women – to access vocational training.

The El Salvador Compact has also expanded economic opportunities for dairy farmers and other small businesses that operate in the isolated Northern Zone. FOMILENIO, the MCA of the El Salvador Compact, managed construction of the Northern Transnational Highway Project. Improved road connectivity combined with investments in training, technology and product marketing assisted 17,500 producers.

In September 2014, the MCC established another $277 million compact in El Salvador to address lack of employment and infrastructure to continue its legacy.

“The MCC process has generated significant goodwill in developing countries and contributed to U.S. foreign policy objectives in those where it operates,” said Hewko.

– Paulina Menichiello

Sources: The Brookings Institution, The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, The World Bank
Photo: Segura Consulting LLC

obama_power_africa
Eighty-five percent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa does not have access to electricity. In July 2013, President Barack Obama announced the Power Africa five-year initiative as a way of doubling access to power in sub-Saharan Africa.

Power Africa is a partnership between the U.S. government, international and African partners, as well as the private sector. The initiative will begin in six priority countries: Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, and Tanzania. Additionally, Power Africa will partner with Uganda and Mozambique on responsible oil and gas resources management.

Over the next five years, the U.S. government will commit over $7 billion to the effort through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im), the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), and the U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF).

 

[big_box left=”of people” bellow=”in sub-Saharan Africa, do not have electricity.”]85%[/big_box]

The private sector has committed $9 billion to date. Some examples include General Electric, Heirs Holding, Symbion Power, Aldwych International, Harith General Partners, Husk Power Systems, and The African Finance Corporation.

Through these partnerships, Power Africa will take a comprehensive approach to providing accessible power to Africa. The initiative will include policy and regulatory best practices, pre-feasibility support, capacity building, long-term financing, political insurance, guarantees, credit enhancements and technical assistance.

Power Africa has already seen success in Nigeria. In September, the Government of Nigeria (GON) announced the liberation of the power sector. Through support from the Power Africa initiative, the power companies were handed over to the private sector. The transfer occurred from the presidential handover of the Licenses and Share Certificates to the new owners of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) successor generation and distribution companies. Power Africa will continue to work with the GON to ensure a seamless transfer of management in efforts to guarantee Nigerian households access to power. Additionally, Power Africa is encouraging the GON to implement measures of sustainability through adequate transmission, gas availability, and a cost reflective tariff.

Access to electrical power is essential for sustainable economic growth and development. At least 20 million new households and commercial entities will gain access to electricity through Power Africa efforts. However, sub-Saharan Africa will require more than $300 billion in investment to achieve universal electricity access by 2030.  Only with greater public and private sector investments can the promise of Power Africa be realized.

– Caressa Kruth

Sources: USAID, White House, African Development Bank Group
Photo: Breitbart