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Women in AngolaAccording to the World Bank, Angola has a ranking of 0.36 on the Human Capital Index, which is below the sub-Saharan average. This means that the earning potential of a child born in Angola today is 36% of what it “could have been with complete education and full health.” Research indicates that girls and women are often disproportionately affected by poverty. In April 2021, the World Bank agreed to a $250 million Investment Project Financing in order to support Angola. This project aims to empower girls and women in Angola and address educational poverty in order to increase Angola’s human capital.

Women and Poverty in Angola

Data indicates that more than 30% of Angolan women were married or in a union before the age of 18. Furthermore, in 2016, for women 15-49 years old, almost 26% reported violence by a current or previous intimate partner within the last year. In addition, less than half of impoverished women older than 15 are employed. Moreover, 4.8% more adult women than men are severely food insecure. While women have made some strides in politics, making up nearly 30% of the seats in national parliament, less than 30% of women hold managerial positions. The contribution made by the World Bank will assist Angola to rectify the gender disparities between male and female citizens and empower girls and women to rise out of poverty.

Action From Angola

The National Development Plan that Angola implemented in 2015 set out to ensure equality between men and women in economic, social, cultural and political aspects. Further, the primary goals of the plan focused on addressing occupational segregation and rectifying the lack of representation of women in positions of power. So far, several national campaigns have been launched to promote gender equality and women’s rights. These campaigns include violence prevention and breaking down misogynistic traditions like child marriages.

Angola also implemented several policies to achieve gender equality and empower women. The National Development Plan 2018-2022 continues these commitments, with a significant focus on raising awareness of the importance of gender equality and preventing gender-based violence. The support of the World Bank will help to further the work that has already begun.

The World Bank strongly believes in keeping young girls in school. The organization supports the empowerment of young women to improve health conditions and end cycles of poverty. By ensuring the education of girls, the likelihood of child marriages and adolescent pregnancies reduces. This is a critical goal during the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced many schools to shut down and accelerated the dropout rates of young girls.

Components of the Project

The project consists of three components. The first aspect centers on improving sexual and reproductive health services and increasing community knowledge in this regard in order to encourage the use of these services. The second component will finance 3,000 new classrooms and offer support “to improve teaching and learning outcomes.” Finally, the last component relates to “efficient monitoring and management of the project and supports research to inform education policy development.”

One of the keys to the success of any major project is proper financing and the World Bank has just helped Angola take a critical step in the right direction. The $250 million worth of financing will improve the lives of many women in Angola by focusing on education and empowerment.

Samantha Fazio
Photo: Flickr

Construction sector in Côte d'IvoireIvory Coast, also known as Côte d’Ivoire, is a country located in West Africa. Although it is mostly known as the largest producer and exporter of cocoa globally, another successful industry is emerging in the country. As of 2019, the construction sector in Côte d’Ivoire accounts for 10% of the workforce, making it the third-largest source of employment. This sector has contributed to economic expansion since 2012. The COVID-19 pandemic may have stunted the growth of this sector, but it is expected to grow at least 6% once the country resumes normal conditions.

5 Key Facts About the Construction Sector in Côte d’Ivoire

1. Growth of the Sector: In 2011, the transportation sector became a priority, increasing the need for the construction sector. Spurred by public investment in roads and urban areas, construction saw major growth in GDP from 2015-2018. Through the years, more local companies have gotten involved. An increase in funding will allow the sector to continue its growth before the COVID-19 pandemic.

2. Impact of COVID-19: Construction became more difficult due to the pandemic. An increase in health regulations, a decline in access to supplies and lockdown all stunted the construction sector’s growth. However, Ivory Coast was able to slow the economic impact of COVID-19. Not only did the International Monetary Fund (IMF) assist them with a financial package, but the country’s economic diversification and government’s effective emergency spending plan also helped them become one of the few Sub-Saharan African countries to continue to achieve economic growth.

3. Global Assistance: The growth of the construction sector in Côte d’Ivoire has resulted in much global interest. In fact, many businesses in China have funded construction projects in the Ivory Coast, such as a hydroelectric dam in Soubré and a motorway in Abidjan. There are many projects still in development, including three stadiums for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.

4. National Development Plan: The country’s new National Development Plan 2021-2025 intends to strengthen infrastructure development, which will help the construction sector’s growth. This agenda will also help increase exports and public investment.

5. Impact on Poverty: Ivory Coast has a high poverty rate despite its economic growth. As of 2020, the country’s poverty rate is at least 45%. If the construction sector continues its growth and increase in GDP, local construction projects will help develop an influx of jobs. As a result, the economy will continue to grow and help lower these rates of poverty.

Interweave Solutions

The nonprofit organization Interweave Solutions focuses on different sectors of a country. Their Masters of Business in the Streets, Literacy and Success Ambassador Programs allow for an increase in business understanding to improve homes and communities. By linking these three areas, this nonprofit works to increase self-reliance and lower poverty levels. This nonprofit wants citizens to have the ability to achieve a higher income by participating in these programs.

Ivory Coast’s construction sector will benefit from this nonprofit due to its unification of businesses and communities. The construction industry grew in GDP due to public investment, so Interweave Solutions’ focus on community involvement will continue to help the sector grow. The nonprofit’s focus on reducing poverty levels will help the country’s economy and help the GDP of the construction sector. The emerging construction sector of Ivory Coast has expanded over the years. Conclusively, The pandemic only serves as a roadblock for this construction’s economic growth.

– Mia Banuelos
Photo: Flickr

Healthcare Technology in South Africa

One of many struggles associated with living in poverty is the inaccessibility of health care. Just as health insurance coverage and the costs of health care are common topics of debate in the United States, other nations have their own difficulties with providing medical care to their citizens living in poverty.

In South Africa, ranked by the World Bank in 2018 as one of the most economically unequal countries in the world, 40 percent of the population lived in poverty in 2015. Poverty’s impact on the population is clear; in 2014, the life expectancy at birth in South Africa was 64.1 years, with the country ranking 190 out of 223 countries. Clearly, access to health care in South Africa is lacking. Recent innovations in health care technology in South Africa are helping to provide medical care to those living in poverty.

New Health Care Technology in South Africa

  • Health Information for New Mothers: Vodafone, a phone service provider, has launched a tool called the Mum & Baby. The service provides free health information to pregnant women and new mothers. The service, which launched in 2017 and has more than 1.4 million users, provides access to articles, videos and tutorials about prenatal health and caring for a new baby. Although this service is available only to Vodafone users and thus is not accessible to mothers who do not have access to a cell phone or who use a different provider, it is still a step toward educating women about their health.
  • Drones That Transport Blood: The South African National Blood Service (SANBS) collects and provides blood for transfusions in South Africa. Although SANBS reports that less than one percent of South Africans are active blood donors, the organization’s work makes a huge difference in South African health care by providing medical treatment to people undergoing surgeries, trauma victims and those with anemia. However, blood collection can only do so much; if the blood cannot be safely and quickly transported to where it is needed, it cannot be used. This is particularly problematic in rural areas. In the past, blood has been moved from place to place by helicopter. Recently, SANBS has reported that it will begin using drones to transport blood. This will be faster and less expensive than helicopters and are designed to ensure the blood is kept safe during the journey. This technology will assist SANBS in saving lives efficiently in South Africa.
  • An App Fighting The Stigma of HIV: As of 2016, an estimated 7.2 million South Africans were living with HIV/AIDS, more than in any other country. Like in many other places, there exists a stigma around HIV/AIDS which can prevent people from getting the care they need. Zoë-Life, a local South African development organization, and Keep A Child Alive, an organization which provides support to children affected by HIV/AIDS, have launched an app together with the aim of helping health care professionals provide HIV/AIDS education to children in a way that does not stigmatize their experiences. The KidzAlive Talk Tool App recently piloted with great success, uses animations and games to help children understand HIV/AIDS in an age-appropriate way. In an interview with IT News Africa, Zoë-Life Executive Director Dr. Stephanie Thomas reported that “primary caregivers participating in the pilot study were more willing to give consent for their children to receive HIV testing and counseling.”

As large swaths of the South African population continue to live in poverty, these health care technologies are saving lives in South Africa. The South African government has laid out a plan, called the National Development Plan, with the goal of eliminating poverty in South Africa by the year 2030. The results of this plan are yet to be seen, but in the meantime, these organizations are making strides using technology to make health care in South Africa more accessible.

– Meredith Charney
Photo: Pixabay

Rural Botswana
According to the Botswana Poverty Assessment released by the World Bank, thousands have risen out of poverty in rural Botswana as a result of government-supported programs that improved people’s livelihoods.

The report said increased agricultural income and improved welfare resulted in 158,000 people being removed from poverty in rural Botswana between 2002 and 2010.

Botswana was one of the 10 poorest countries in the world. However, it is now categorized among high middle-income countries. The World Bank said if this trend continues, less than 15 percent of the population will be living below the poverty line by 2018.

“Tackling poverty is at the heart of our National Development Plan. We are pleased to see that our welfare programs have improved the lives of many and made a dent in poverty levels,” said Olebile Gaborone, coordinator of Poverty Eradication.

The report accredits the 87 percent decrease in rural poverty to a drastic change in the demographic structure of the population and a decrease in household size and dependency rations.

Assistant Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Dikgang Makgalemele, said “the remarkable reduction in poverty was a result of sustained robust economic growth over the past few decades and sound government policies and programs that ensure the benefits of economic growth trickle down to the whole strata of the society.”

The study also predicts that with the help of education, social protection and employment, poverty levels in Botswana could fall below 12 percent by 2018, and below six percent by 2030.

The report advises investing in education so that more Botswanans have the skills to meet the labor demand, as well as creating a private sector that focuses on creating better jobs for the impoverished population.

“We see from our research that agricultural support programs were clearly a big part of the progress achieved during the period under review,” World Bank Senior Economist Victor Sulla said. “Going forward, investments in human capital and efficient safety-net targeting will be critical to accelerating poverty reduction and reducing inequality further.”

Marie Helene Ngom

Sources: AllAfrica, World Bank
Photo: Google Images