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10 Disturbing 10 Disturbing Facts About Global Poverty
Global poverty is one of the most pressing issues currently facing the international community. Individuals mired in poverty often lack access to clean food and water and many do not receive proper health care or education. Listed below are 10 of the most disturbing facts about global poverty.

10 Disturbing Facts About Global Poverty

  1. More than 3 billion people live on less than $2.50 a day. The world’s current population is roughly 7.5 billion people meaning that almost half of the world lives on less than $2.50 a day. This $2.50 often has to support not just single individuals but entire families.
  2. Approximately 2.4 billion people do not have access to proper sanitation. This is often a result of poor infrastructure and a lack of monetary investment by governments into adequate sanitation facilities. These conditions often lead to individuals engaging in unsanitary practices such as open defecation, which can lead to the contraction of diseases like diarrhea and cholera. Developing countries, however, are looking at developing many technologies to help improve sanitation. One such technology is the Janicki Omni Processor (JOP), which turns human waste into clean, drinkable water. The JOP has been successfully implemented in Dakar, Senegal and is likely to expand into other countries in Africa soon.
  3. About 1.5 billion individuals worldwide have inadequate shelter. This has a number of causes including lack of job and education opportunities. Many of these individuals live in slum settlements in large cities like Mumbai and Cairo.
  4. More than 757 million adults worldwide are illiterate. Many poverty-stricken individuals do not have the resources to receive a proper education, which limits their future job and income prospects. This, of course, perpetuates the cycle of poverty. However, organizations are doing significant work to help solve this problem. In 2015, the nonprofit organization, Worldreader, launched the Read to Kids initiative, which reached 200,000 families across India. The initiative leveraged the increasing popularity of mobile phones in the country by creating a free app that provides users with an expansive library of books.
  5. Currently, 780 million people live without access to clean water. Many of these individuals have to resort to drinking dirty, contaminated water, which can result in the transmission of numerous harmful waterborne diseases. To make matters worse, this water is often far away, requiring long journeys to obtain it. This prevents individuals from attending schools or working, furthering the cycle of poverty. With that said, afflicted countries are making good progress towards ensuring more individuals have access to clean drinking water. Much of this progress has come via the implementation of technologies like rainwater catchment systems and sand dams, both of which have proven to be effective, sustainable solutions for communities throughout the developing world.
  6. Sixty-four percent of the world’s extreme poor lives in just five countries: India, China, Nigeria, Bangladesh and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). There are various hypotheses as to why these five countries have such high rates of poverty. Many point to corruption, as well as poor government policies and inadequate education systems as the main culprits. However, countries are making progress towards the alleviation of many of these issues. Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has received praise for his anti-corruption efforts while in office; additionally, the government of the DRC has made major strides in its educational system over the past 17 years (70 percent of children now complete primary school, compared to 29 percent in 2002).
  7. There are more than 820 million chronically malnourished people worldwide. While the world produces enough food to feed everyone, the distribution of this food is grossly unequal. Individuals in rural communities suffer the most as they often have to resort to growing their own food (subsistence farming) due to the lack of accessible, affordable food sold nearby.
  8. Approximately 1 billion people do not have access to proper electricity. While electricity is readily available in most wealthy, industrialized countries, hundreds of millions of individuals that go without this luxury every single day. However, initiatives such as the Electrify Africa Act (2016) are aiming to change this. The EAA will provide 50 million people throughout sub-Saharan Africa with access to reliable electricity by 2020.
  9. More than 3 million people worldwide die every year from vaccine-preventable diseases. While coverage has improved in recent years, many individuals still do not have access to proper health care to receive critical vaccinations. As a result, preventable diseases such as measles and tetanus, as well as whooping cough, have persisted in many developing countries.
  10. Children make up more than 40 percent of the world’s extreme poor. Child poverty is one of the biggest contributors to the poverty cycle as children who grow up poor are unlikely to be able to obtain a quality education, meaning that when they have children, their children will likely be in the same situation that they were once in. Preventing this cycle is one of the main areas of focus for poverty reduction campaigns around the world. UNICEF’s Schools for Africa Initiative is a good example of these efforts. By helping to build schools and train teachers, the initiative has provided more than 21 million children with the opportunity to pursue an education.

While the list above detailing 10 of the most disturbing facts about poverty may be slightly depressing, there is hope for the future. Since 1981, the percentage of the world population living on less than $1.25/day has decreased by nearly 30 percent. In addition, new technologies and agricultural practices promise to make it easier than ever to obtain access to clean water and nutritious food. However, as detailed in this article, billions of individuals still suffer from extreme poverty every day; as such, it is imperative that progress continues towards eliminating global poverty.

– Kiran Matthias
Photo: Flickr

Building Toilets in IndiaKnown as the home of the magnificent Taj Mahal and the world’s largest democracy, the subcontinent of India lies in South Asia and borders both Pakistan and China.

Although India has significantly improved its infrastructure and is now one of the world’s fastest growing economies, much of the population continues to lack access to basic sanitation facilities such as toilets and clean running water. An astounding 500 million people in India resort to open defecation, accounting for 60 percent of the world’s population who do so. Unexpectedly, an Indian romantic comedy aptly named “Toilet, a Love Story” has been instrumental in pushing the need for building toilets in India into the spotlight.

With a renewed focus on providing more access to toilets, Narendra Modi, India’s Prime Minister, has promised to build 100 million new toilets across the country. Additionally, he started a new cleanliness initiative called Clean India mission in 2014 that will attempt to make India open defecation-free by 2019. According to the Indian government, 47 million toilets have already been built in rural villages and public areas, but many have criticized the program for its many failures. New toilets are being built around the country so rapidly that many of them are not even connected to running water, rendering them dirty to the point that few use them. The Indian government must focus on adding additional sewage systems throughout the country in order to properly handle the increase in toilets.

Even if toilets are built, there needs to be an entire shift in mindset before open defection will stop. For many Indians, having a toilet inside a house is considered an unclean practice, so there needs to be tangible steps taken to confirm that the newly built toilets are actually being used. Educating communities, particularly rural ones, about the undeniable health benefits of utilizing toilets, is a worthwhile pursuit. With many families using toilets as a store house for fodder, India’s government must dedicate time and resources to bringing the serious harms of open defecation to the forefront of public health issues.

The lack of basic sanitation often leads to epidemics of dangerous diseases, including potentially fatal ones such as cholera, which are spread through fecal matter. Furthermore, water sources and crops are commonly contaminated by open defecation, but many lack the awareness or the resources to properly clean their food and water before consuming it, leading to thousands of deaths every year. In addition to the need for a larger effort into raising awareness of the benefits of building toilets in India, resources need to be invested into infrastructure for waste management.

Also, the lack of sanitation facilities has proven to be an issue for women’s rights and human dignity. Without access to toilets, women in rural villages are often forced to travel in groups and are only able to relieve themselves before the sun rises in order to ensure their safety. Unfortunately, these groups of women are often met with verbal and sometimes physical abuse. Sexual assault remains a frighteningly common occurrence for Indian women who are forced to relieve themselves in open fields.

Several studies have shown that lack of access to private toilets frequently make women significantly more susceptible to sexual violence. According to a senior police officer in the state of Bihar, about 400 women were raped while they relieved themselves outside simply because they did not have access to a private toilet. Rapidly and effectively ending open defecation must be of the utmost urgency, as millions of Indian women continue to endure vicious sexual violence on a daily basis.

With toilets being a taboo subject in India, there are undoubtedly serious obstacles to be overcome if India wishes to end open defecation, which is linked to sexual violence and the spread of disease. “Toilet, a Love Story” has gone a long way in helping Indians openly discuss and raise awareness of the dangers of continuing to avoid building toilets in India. If there is to be lasting success, the Indian government must prioritize shifting the public’s mindset away from believing that toilets are unclean as well as build an accompanying sewage system alongside the new toilets.

Akhil Reddy

Photo: Google

War On Poverty in India
On Saturday, Sep. 25, 2016, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed Pakistan for the first time. This address occurred in the wake of the Uri attacks, in which four terrorists snuck into an army camp and killed 18 soldiers. Modi confronted Pakistan on the attacks, saying, “We are ready to fight you if you have the courage.”

However, the war he declared was not one on the Pakistani people, but on poverty in India and in Pakistan. Modi, whose platform is buttressed with promises to uplift the poor, reiterated his pledge for the 21st century: freedom from poverty, injustice, unemployment, corruption and acts of violence against women. Modi’s war on poverty in India would work to not only make strides towards these goals in his country of India, but to neighboring countries like Pakistan.

Though Pakistan has made big strides toward reducing absolute poverty since 1991, unrest in the country and natural disasters have made many of its citizens vulnerable to falling below the poverty line. Pakistan is also behind other countries in terms of educational and health benefits for its citizens.

Keeping its citizens educated and healthy would provide Pakistan with a wealth of resources with which to bolster the country’s economy and the quality of life for its workers. India’s war on poverty, if Modi’s challenge is accepted, would be hugely beneficial not only to Pakistan but to the global community. Putting an end to poverty in Pakistan would not only help its people but its neighbors. Ending poverty is as important for peace and stability as it is for economic development.

So, India is ready for war — a war on poverty, a war on underemployment, a war on illiteracy and infant mortality and maternal deaths. According to Modi, “Let both countries fight to see who would eradicate poverty first.” Though Prime Minister Modi has challenged Pakistan to see who wins the war on poverty in India, this is a war nobody will lose.

Kayla Provencher

Photo: Flickr

India's GoodsPrime Minister Narendra Modi has seen the biggest marker of his reformation efforts take hold in the Indian Parliament: the upper house unanimously approved the creation of a countrywide sales tax entitled the Goods and Services Tax.

If passed, the new tax will replace over a dozen levies around the country currently making difficult barriers for trade and market share between the states of India. Goldman Sachs has called this move “one of the world’s most compelling” events in the global economy.

By the end of the year, India’s Goods and Services Tax will have been passed or denied. If passed, it will revolutionize the way Indian economics currently operate and how the national market will interact with the global market.

Experts in business are describing India as a “caged tiger” that will be unleashed on the world. This shift could make India’s emerging market wildly profitable.

Many in the nation are excited, proved by the unanimous decision in the upper house. Once the lower house and over half the states approve the bill, it will be written into law and implemented. However, this process may still be lengthy.

Among other barriers, a new council must be created to bring together experts to manage the new tax and how much will be taxed. The Prime Minister’s administration plans to train 60,000 tax officials to help the entire nation transition.

Modi sees India’s Goods and Services Tax as a victory for the entire country, exclusive of party alliance. He hopes this will be step in the right direction for all in the areas of democracy and dismantling “tax terrorism.”

Although Modi had to compromise in order to pass the bill, the most recent state elections secured him a majority of representatives in the upper house who supported the bill, creating a tide that yielded the unanimous vote.

With this landmark vote, Modi and his administration firmly believe the country is ready to make the change, and look forward to one of the most drastic moves in the country in the last couple decades.

Connor Borden

Photo: Flickr

Indian Poverty
There are quite a few economies around the globe that aren’t doing very well, but one country’s economy is beginning to emerge as a potential powerhouse: India.

India is well acquainted with poverty and has been for many years now, with a large portion of the country’s population living in slums and other unsanitary conditions. Approximately 33 percent of the population lives in poverty, with only 62 percent of adults being literate, and only 49 percent of girls attending secondary school largely due to economic reasons.

The recent change in India’s economy could alter this. India’s stock market has reached new highs in recent months with a stable rupee.

Politics have had a large effect on India’s recent success, with the election of new Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, or BFP, experienced its first win in 30 years. The result is a more optimistic India that hopes to heal a broken bureaucracy.

Nicholas Smithie, Chief Investment Strategist at Emerging Global Advisors, says Modi is more likely to tackle major obstacles, such as a poor infrastructure, than previous prime ministers. Modi and the BJP work on a pro-growth platform, focusing on government approvals and advances in labor and education.

India might only be getting lucky. Certain aspects of the global economy—slowdown in China, money printing in Japan, Russia’s recession, stagnation in the European zones and falling oil prices—aren’t hitting India quite as hard. The deflation around the world is proving helpful to India, which has suffered high inflation. India has a rare opportunity to capitalize on new political officials and economic reform. International corporations are growing eager to invest in India, now assured that India’s policies will foster economic expansion.

As India’s economy emerges with a strong, stable foundation, the future of poverty reduction looks a little brighter. As the economy improves, families are better able to afford food, clean water and sanitary conditions. Educational opportunities are allowed to expand as the economy grows, creating a more secure future for Indian children, particularly girls. The path to recovery and to reducing poverty in India is long, but with a stronger economy and a hopeful leader, India seems to be on the right track.

Alaina Grote

Sources: The Economist, UNICEF, U.S. News

Photo: Flickr

climate_change
The breakthrough collaborative announcement by the United States and China on curbing greenhouse gases has sparked a global movement on climate change. For many years, international climate talks have been ignored by those who caused the problem of climate change. The United States and China remain the two largest emitters of carbon dioxide, and have now pledged to reduce emissions by at least 40 percent by 2030. With India on board with the global change, the movement would spark continual momentum.

A critical question is whether India will join the United States and China’s side in climate talks. India has become the third world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases. The world needs India to join many other countries to help alleviate climate change; without India, efforts to tackle global climate change will be difficult. India must consider its investment in developing clean and renewable energies, and reconsider its investment on coal.

India and China share a common domestic problem; fossil fuels that cause climate change also create major air pollution. Over the years, air pollution has risen to harmful levels. The World Health Organization monitors for air pollution, and has stated that China and India’s cities failed the organization’s test for satisfactory levels of airborne particulate. This microscopic matter is believed to be one of the most deadly air pollutants for the human health. More than half of these cities also fail to uphold to their own specific standards.

The pollution shortens lives and is costly to China and India’s economic growth. As a result, many Chinese citizens have called for change. China’s leaders have responded by taking big actions on the global climate change, and should motivate India to do the same before the problem poses a bigger threat.

India could possibly follow China. India’s Prime Minster, Narendra Modi, has publicly acknowledged the recognition of the country’s severe pollution problem. Modi made a public announcement on his objectives to make air quality data accessible to the public. India has a reputation for investing huge amounts on coal. In the last five years, India has increased its coal power capacity by 73 percent. Moreover, India plants to double domestic coal production to one billion tons a year, by 2019, to fuel new plants and boost imports.

India’s air is among the world’s dirtiest, with largely unregulated and unmonitored coal plants. Unfortunately India’s decisions to invest big on coal plants kills up to 115,000 Indians a year, and costs the Indian people about $4.6 billion annually.

Many climate change advocates in India have expressed doubts following India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s, choice to not attend the United Nations Climate Summit to speak about the change.

The Green Climate Fund, which operates to redistribute money from the developed world to the developing world in order to assist developing nations in adapting to climate changes, have risen close to $10 billion in funds. Pledges to the fund come from the government of 22 countries; four developing countries were among the contributors.

If India makes amends to follow other nations in pledging towards helping the change, this will make its mark in history as one of the largest movements in confronting climate change.

Sandy Phan

Sources: WHO, UNFCCC, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions
Photo: LA Times

narendra modi
During a speech on India’s Independence Day, India’s recently elected Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, called for gender equality.

In the past year, India has been plagued with a string of highly publicized gang rapes and violence towards women. As the country has been criticized by domestic and foreign critics for its safety and equality, Modi’s comments come at an unsurprising time. His words reveal the legacy Modi wants to create during his term as India’s Prime Minister. Modi is not particularly well known for women’s rights advocacy, but he has begun to align himself with activism groups recently.

Tackling long-standing patriarchal attitudes, Modi has encouraged parents to raise their sons and daughters alike.

Additionally, directing his attention specifically towards boys, Modi encourages families to raise their sons to respect women.

Though Modi’s advice is promising, the attitudes of many generations will not change after one speech.

Compared to the rest of the world, India’s gender gap is among the largest. With many sexual assault cases being improperly handled and survivors being blamed, attitudes toward violence have reflected India’s patriarchal culture.

Modi has described the violence as “India’s shame,” and has underscored the double standard of female and male children. Parents rarely scrutinize their sons to the same extent as they do to their daughters. While the law convicts the criminals, Indian society can help prevent the attacks.

The hope of women’s rights advocates and sexual assault survivors is that Modi will pursue justice for women in India. With his first Independence Day speech including comment on the struggle for women’s rights, it will be interesting to see how Modi rectifies the situation.

– ­Kristin Ronzi

Sources: India Times, The Guardian
Photo: Forbes

india-trade-facilitation-hurts-poor
Due to lack of progress on food security to help India’s poor, India has refused to accept the World Trade Organization’s, or WTO, trade facilitation agreement. This deal was achieved in Bali in December 2013 and India’s refusal prevents the adoption of the Bali agreement.

India’s refusal has been criticized by trade officials around the world. Diplomats have noted that it may hamper the WTO’s Doha Round of trade negotiations.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party won a decisive victory in the spring election where they promised to develop the economy and tell the world that India is welcoming to business.

However, the new government is sticking by its previous position that the WTO is limiting their agricultural support programs.

Food security is important concern for India’s poor because 450 million people in India survive on less than $1.25 per day. The government has been arguing that the value of subsidies for food stockpiles has to be changed to more than 10 percent of a country’s total food production.

Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that the issue of food security is critical for the country’s small farmers. India’s position on the trade facilitation agreement is probably due to political pressure from India’s poor.

India’s government argues that wheat and rice are more expensive than market prices. Their agricultural programs protect farmers’ livelihoods and provide reasonably priced nutrition to India’s poor and vulnerable. However, WTO rules only allow governments to stockpile food if they acquire those stocks at market prices.

The Bali agreement will only take effect if it is approved by all 160 member governments. Unless the World Trade Organization relaxes restrictions on a countries’ ability to subsidize farmers, the agreement will not come into effect.

“India has a decision to make about where it fits in the global trading system,” John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State, said. “India’s willingness to support a rules-based trading order and fulfill its obligations will help to welcome greater investment from the United States and from elsewhere around the world.”

Colleen Moore

Sources: Gulf Today, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal
Photo: Washington Post

free vaccines
The Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi stated India will now provide four new vaccines in order to reduce child mortality. With these added four free vaccines, the country now has 13 vaccines that are a part of India’s Universal Immunization Program (UIP), provided to 27 million children annually.

The four vaccines are for rotavirus, which causes dehydration and severe diarrhea, killing nearly 80,000 children in India each year, rubella, which causes severe congenital defects in newborns like blindness, deafness and heart defects, polio–although India was declared polio free in March, this is to create long lasting protection against it and Japanese encephalitis, which kills hundreds of children each year.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “The introduction of four new life-saving vaccines will play a key role in reducing childhood and infant mortality and morbidity in the country. Many of these vaccines are already available through private practitioners to those who can afford them. The government will now ensure that the benefits of vaccination reach all sections of society, regardless of social and economic status.”

One of the most recent vaccines to be added to the UIP is the pentavalent vaccine, which protects against five different infections: diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, hepatitis B and Hib.

UIP has become one of the largest vaccination programs in the world in terms of number of vaccines used, amount of beneficiaries, number of immunization session organized, geographical spread and diversity of areas covered.

In 1978, the national policy of immunization adopted the distribution of DPT, OPV and BCG to children in their first year of life. In 1985, UIP was phased in, adding a measles vaccine and later Vitamin A supplements.

The UIP has a vaccination schedule, in which a child can be given certain vaccines during the appropriate time frame of their life (birth, six weeks, 10 weeks, 9-12 months, etc.).

Since the UIP’s launch in 1985, the country has seen more and more preventative vaccines added to secure the health of their citizens.

So far, they have still had issues with 100 percent vaccinations, one of the reasons being citizens not knowing the need or not knowing where to go for the vaccines, showing the lack of awareness has become one of the greatest barriers to universal immunizations.

India has future plans to combat this. One of the methods is to find ways to bring the immunization programs further into living areas rather than just in hospitals or clinics that many citizens do not know about. Immunization booths are to be placed from the center of urban areas to the middle of any slum where access would seem impossible otherwise.

India also plans on monitoring the program, giving accountability and oversight to ensure the quantity and quality of care is assured. The impact and output are to be recorded throughout each vaccination mission.

The programs implemented so far have helped India immensely, and with the future plans to make the universal immunizations more universal, it will only be a matter of time until everyone has full access to proper coverage.

– Courtney Prentice 

Sources: BBC, Hindustan Times, NHP, IAPCOI, Indian Pediatrics
Photo: BBC

adivasis
A great deal has already been written, discussed and predicted about India’s newly elected leader, Narendra Modi, and his Bahratiya Janata Party. A tremendous amount of implications arise from his election, but one that has slid under the radar has been his and his party’s policies toward the indigenous population — the Adivasi people.

Many of the laws currently in place in India already fall short of international standards regarding human rights and indigenous persons. This problem is only compounded by the nationalist platform adopted by the BJP, and has caused concern for people both inside and outside of India’s borders.

While on the campaign trail, Modi took several opportunities to debunk claims from the opposition Congress party that he would take advantage of the Uniform Civil code to take away rights of Adivasis. Furthermore, Modi went on to claim that BJP rule in states with prominent Adivasi populations has already helped protect their rights and increase their living standards. But as is natural with most political campaigns, what is said on the campaign trail does not always match up with reality.

The indigenous population of India has historically had a negative relationship with the state and companies based in the country. Amnesty International has already called for Modi to bring to justice those who have committed prior crimes against Adivasi population, referencing riots that took place in 2002 and 1984. While there have been acts of violence against the indigenous population, the most common crimes have been committed against the Adivasi’s rights to give businesses the free reign they need to make a profit. This information is particularly frightening considering that one of the central components of Modi’s platform was reinvigorating the Indian economy.

So the question remains — are the Adivasi people about to find themselves in the crosshairs yet again? Recent legislative efforts indicate this might not be the case. However, many of these need to be passed by Parliament in order to be ratified into law.

One recent draft bill proposes that in order to use land on constitutionally protected indigenous territories, you would need the consent of village assemblies. However, this draft bill still needs to get passed before becoming a law. The recent Parliament also passed a temporary law making wrongful possession of Adivasi land a criminal offense. But similar to the draft bill, this law will expire unless it gets passed within six weeks of Parliament reassembling.

While these laws and bills certainly are a step in the right direction, more work still needs to be done. One of the main criticisms lobbied at the bills is that while they protect the Adivasis from private companies, there is very little mention of intervention done on behalf of the state. But before more comprehensive bills can be written and laws can be passed, these important first steps need to survive the political process. It is now Parliament’s turn to take action. With any luck, they will make the right decision and protect India’s indigenous population.

— Andre Gobbo

Sources: Amnesty, Indian Express, The Guardian
Photo: Forbes