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Food Insecurity in IsraelIt is an indisputable fact that everyone needs food for survival. Even further, everyone needs enough nutritious food to truly thrive. That being true, the reality is that not everyone gets enough high-quality, nutritious food yet significant amounts of food are thrown away daily. This dilemma is present globally and Israel is no exception. Food waste and food insecurity in Israel is a growing problem, but one organization, Leket Israel, is working to address both.

Israel’s Food Dilemma

Food waste is an excess of food that usually gets thrown into landfills instead of being consumed. The amount of food wasted in Israel is striking, but possibly more striking is the economic impacts it has on individual and infrastructural levels.

The Environmental Protection Ministry in Israel cited that Israeli families throw away about $1,000 worth of food per year. This equates to $352 million in waste treatment and a month and a half of average household food expenses.

Food waste is present not only on the household level but also prominently in the restaurant and agricultural sectors. Remedying food waste would likely lift a considerable economic weight from the shoulders of many Israeli individuals and communities.

Remedying food insecurity in Israel would do the same. Food insecurity is widely considered as a lack of consistent access to balanced, nutritious food sources. Many in Israel suffer from food insecurity and the number continues to climb.

The Latet organization’s yearly Alternative Poverty Report revealed that the 20.1% of Israeli households in poverty grew to 29.3% in 2020 due to COVID-19.

So naturally, food insecurity has worsened because of the pandemic. The number of food-insecure households in Israel grew from 17.8% before the pandemic to 22.6% in December 2020. Further, the number of households in extreme food insecurity increased by 34,000 during the pandemic, per the National Insurance Institute of Israel.

There is a great need to address the dilemma of food waste and food insecurity in Israel.

Leket Israel

Leket Israel is an organization that recognizes the importance of addressing the increased need for more accessible food sources and reducing food waste. Joseph Gitler started an organization in 2003 that would become Leket Israel, a food bank and the largest food rescue chain in the country.

Specifically, Leket takes nutritional food excesses and distributes them to thousands of Israelis who need them. The food provided mostly consists of agricultural surpluses and gathered cooked meals that would become food waste, with special focus on the quality and nutritional value of the food distributed to beneficiaries across Israel.

Nutritional Education

Within food insecure populations that do not have access to reliable nutritious food, there can also be a lack of knowledge about balanced nutrition. For this reason, Leket Israel implements multiple nutrition workshops to make its impact and fight to promote food security more lasting. Nutritional workshops involve lessons on how to select and prepare diverse, healthy meals on a restricted budget. They are given in Hebrew, Amharic, Arabic and Russian to increase accessibility.

There is a greater demand for the work that Leket Israel is doing because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the increase in food insecurity across Israel. The organization’s affirmative response to this demand is undeniable. Take, for example, the experience of Natalie Digora. During the pandemic, Leket Israel is helping people like Natalie Digora in Ramat Gan, Israel, who turned to the organization after being sent home from her occupation as an opera singer in March 2020. They have continued serving her.

Turning Food Trash into Food Treasure

Digora’s story is one of thousands. To date, Leket Israel has served more than 2,300,000 cooked meals to more than 200,000 individuals. As it continues this, turning one person’s trash into another’s treasure, Leket gives hope to people struggling with food insecurity in Israel.

– Claire Kirchner
Photo: Flickr

Lentil as AnythingRecently, The Borgen Project spoke with Emilie Elzvik. She is a 21-year-old student at Northeastern University and former volunteer at Lentil as Anything. Elzvik never imagined herself serving gourmet vegan meals to a table filled with backpackers, refugees and homeless people in Newtown, Australia. But Lentil as Anything changed everything for her.

The Company

Lentil as Anything embodies a rare business model. The menu does not have any set prices. Everyone is welcome to “pay as they feel,” either through a financial donation or volunteering their skills. The founder, Shanaka Fernando, was born in Sri Lanka before becoming a restauranteur and world traveler. In 2000, Fernando began the first Lentil as Anything in St. Kilda to provide a space for local communities to come together and share a meal “disregarding any existing economic and social barriers.”

At the time, Fernando’s concept was a wild idea. Twenty years later, and it has become a booming success. The restaurant chain now claims four restaurants around Australia. Additionally, Lentil as Anything provides over 1000 free meals a week to those people most in need.

Elzvik’s Story

Elzvik began working for Lentil as Anything when she was studying abroad for a semester. “It’s like every hippie’s dream cafe, except customers are not just wealthy teenagers. They are from various socio-economic backgrounds. Some live on the street outside. Some are just traveling through.”

Elzvik points out that many of the volunteers were once customers themselves. “When they can’t pay, they offer their time,” said Elzvik. Lentil as Anything provides just as many employment opportunities as they do meals. Elzvik comments, “I think many people come to volunteer because it gives them a sense of purpose.”

According to Elzvik, there is no such thing as a boring day at Lentil as Anything. “It is no gloomy soup kitchen,” she states. Spices like nutmeg and cinnamon waft through the kitchen. Volunteers twist lemons and grate ginger. Servers dance around the floor, jotting orders down on their notepad. It is always noisy inside; laughter bounces across the walls. On some late nights, there is yoga or an open-mic night in the upstairs space.

So how exactly does this seemingly utopian cafe operate?

Sustainable Food Sourcing

Elvzik recalls that the kitchen being full of “bruised apples” and “funky looking eggplants” that would get thrown out by most restaurants or stores. “Lentil as Anything takes them and turns them into something beautiful,” says Elzvik.

The Department of Agriculture in Australia reports that food waste costs the economy around $20 billion each year. That amounts to about 300kg per person or one in five bags of groceries.

To stock their kitchen, Lentil as Anything takes in the unwanted leftovers from nearby stores. The chain stands by it’s all-vegan menu. The diet is both inclusive and nutrient rich. Elzvik mentions that many visitors would not be able to afford something as “dense and hearty” as a Lentil as Anything meal. Fast food is typically the most affordable option and Lentil as Anything aims to change that.

Volunteership

The restaurant relies heavily on volunteer servers and cooks, like Elzvik.  CNBC reports that around 60% of new restaurants fail within the first year. By a restaurant’s fifth year, that rate jumps
to 80%.

Lentil as Anything is not an exception. The restaurant can’t stay afloat on its own. The Daily Telegraph reports that “it costs Lentil as Anything up to $23,000 a week to keep their doors open – and customer contributions do not come close to covering costs.”

Before coming to Lentil as Anything, Elzvik had no prior customer service experience. She says that volunteering at the restaurant requires no experience at all. Volunteers attend an orientation and receive the necessary training. “What you learn at Lentil can be applied to any future job, especially working with people in a busy environment,” states Elzvik.

Location Matters

Restaurants like Lentil as Anything might not work anywhere. “You need the perfect equilibrium,” claims Elzvik. She explains that in order for this business model to work there has to be enough people donating above the requirement to cover those who cannot afford it.

One of Lentil as Anything’s strategic locations is Newton in Sydney. Newtown is a diverse neighborhood, socially and economically. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reveals that 67% of the Newtown population works full time, 24% part-time and only about 10% identify as unemployed for away from work.

Looking forward

Like many businesses, the pandemic hit Lentil as Anything deeply. On September 25, the restaurant reached out to their social media followers and asked for help to keep Lentil alive.

Lentil as Anything is facing its most significant financial challenge to date. The restaurant is working to raise $300,000 by the end of October. If they don’t reach their goal, they may face closing their doors forever. Donations can be made through their GoFundMe campaign.

The restaurant’s motto is that everyone deserves a seat at the table. Hopefully, Lentil as Anything can serve as a successful business model for many restaurants around the world to address food insecurities.

Miska Salemann
Photo: Unsplash

 Amref Health Africa
Amref Health Africa is a NGO based in Kenya that works to empower young Africans. They provide people with the skills necessary to become innovative and ethical leaders of Africa. The group created several leadership programs and research programs to renovate Africa. Their new program, LEAP, is a mobile phone training platform designed to train employees and students about health precautions and safety outside of the classroom setting.

Who is Amref Health Africa?

Amref Health Africa is an African led organization that works to train African workers. The NGO works to improve health care from the people in Africa while also strengthening health care systems. They partner with different organizations around the world to promote power and unity. Amref Health Africa currently collaborates with 22 global offices and 35 different programs in Africa to bolster health care efforts.

Through Amref Health Africa’s partnership with Accenture, Kentan Ministry of Health, M-Pesa Foundation, Safaricom and Mezzanine, LEAP — the mobile health learning application — was created. The application has allowed health care workers and students to work effectively outside of a classroom setting.

LEAP during the Pandemic

Recently, LEAP users employ the site to train in order to craft a COVID-19 response. The program instructs community health workers on how to raise awareness about the virus. LEAP also provides information on the best precaution methods for the community. Thanks to LEAP, health care workers have learned to take the necessary steps to promote safety and awareness in Africa. So far, over 78,000 community health workers and health workers have been trained and are using their education to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

In response to the pandemic, LEAP launched a two-month campaign in Kenya. Through the campaign,  health care workers were trained to identify, isolate and refer suspected COVID-19 cases. Participants were also taught how to identify high-risk areas and suppress the transmission of the disease.

Results

The app allows customization of the training content to fit the needs of the audience. It takes into consideration the skill level of the people using the app and modifications can be made to the language and audio section depending on user preference. LEAP allows personalization to ensure that the user has the best results with the program.

LEAP has strengthened the health care system in Africa by helping to stop the spread of the virus. The mobile training app also diminished the spread of misinformation on the virus. LEAP has provided Africa with the knowledge necessary to arm and defend themselves against COVID-19.

– Isha Bedi
Photo: Flickr

Native American reservationsLow qualities of life exist in developing countries as well as developed countries, including the United States. Within the 326 Native American reservations in the U.S., Indigenous peoples experience unequal life conditions. Those on reservations face discrimination, violence, poverty and inadequate education.

Here are 5 facts about the Native American population and reservations.

1. Native Americans are the poorest ethnic group in the United States.

According to a study done by Northwestern University, one-third of Native Americans live in poverty. The population has a median income of $23,000 per year, and 20% of households make under $5,000 a year.

Due to the oppression of Indigenous peoples, reservations cannot provide adequate economic opportunity. As a result, a majority of adults are unemployed. Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota has better numbers than most reservations — 43.2% of the population is under the poverty line. However, this rate still is nearly three times the national average

2. Native Americans have the highest risk for health complications.

Across the board, Native American health is disproportionately worse than other racial groups in the United States. This population is 177%  more likely to die of diabetes, 500% more likely to die from tuberculosis and have a 60% higher infant mortality rate when compared to Caucasians.

Most Native American reservations rely on the Indian Health Service. It is a severely underfunded federal program that can only provide for approximately 60% of the needs of the insured. That does not account for a majority of those on the reservations. Only about 36% of Native Americans have private health care, and one-third of the non-elderly remain uninsured.

3. Native Americans, especially women, are frequently victims of violence.

A study from the National Institute of Justice concluded nearly 84% of American Indian and Native Alaskan women have experienced violence in their lifetimes. These women more likely to be victim to interracial perpetrators and are significantly more likely to suffer at the hands of intimate partners. The numbers are similarly high for men of this population. Over 80% of men admit to experiencing violence in their lifetimes. Most victims report feeling the need to reach out to legal services, but many severely lack the tools to get the help they need.

A few law practicing organizations have dedicated their existence to ensure Native American voices are heard in the legal world. Native American Rights Fund (NARF), for example, is a non-profit organization that uses legal action to ensure the rights of Native Americans are being upheld. Since their inception in 1970, NARF has helped tens of thousands of Native Americans from over 250 tribes all over the country.

4. Native students hold the highest national dropout rate.

Conditions on reservations leave schools severely underfunded, and many children are unable to attend. This delay in education leaves early childhood skills undeveloped. According to Native Hope, “Simple skills that many five-year-olds possess like holding a crayon, looking at a book and counting to 10 have not been developed.” Inadequate education is highly reflective of Native American graduation rates. Native students have a 30% dropout rate before graduating high school, which is twice the rate of the national average. This number is worse in universities — 75% to 93% of Native American students drop out before completing their degrees.

Such disparity between Native American students and their colleagues has inspired the increase in scholarships for this community. Colorado University of Boulder, for example, offers a multitude of scholarships and campus tours specifically for those of Indigenous descent. Further, they founded the CU Upward Bound Program which is dedicated to inspiring and encouraging the success of their Native American students. Third party scholarships also come from a multitude of organizations such as the Native American College Fund and the Point Foundation.

5. Quality of Life on Reservations is Extremely Poor.

Federal programs dedicated to housing on Native Americans reservations are severely inadequate. Waiting lists for spaces are years long, and such a wait doesn’t guarantee adequate housing. Often, three generations of a single family live in one cramped dwelling space. The packed households frequently take in tribe members in need as well.  Additionally, most residences lack adequate plumbing, cooking facilities, and air conditioning. The state of these Native American reservations is receiving increased attention.

Some reservations are taking matters into their own hands. Native Hope is a volunteer-based organization working to address the injustices brought upon the Native American community. Their commitment to the tribes has not stopped during the pandemic. One woman from Illinois handmade over 2,500 face masks so Indigenous children could still go to school in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic. The organization also provided 33 households with necessary groceries and personal hygiene supplies.

How to Help

The marginalization of the Native American population has recently gained traction through the internet and social media. New and established charities alike are getting more attention, which allows them to have increased beneficial impacts on the Native American population.

Native American tribes have been around for hundreds of years and only recently have been getting the help and attention they require. With continued attention and advocacy, Native Americans can one day receive the justice and equality they deserve.

Amanda J Godfrey
Photo: Flickr

Nonprofits Helping Syrian Refugees

The Syrian civil war has been ongoing since 2011, making the Syrian refugee population the world’s largest group forcibly displaced from their country. At the end of 2018, there were 13 million refugees from Syria, accounting for more than half of the country’s total population. The vast majority of Syrian refugees in Lebanon (70 percent) and Jordan (90 percent) are living below the poverty line. Fortunately, a number of groups are stepping in to deliver humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees. Keep reading to learn more about these three nonprofits helping Syrian refugees.

3 Nonprofits Helping Syrian Refugees

  1. Sunrise USA – Founded in 2011, Sunrise USA is a nonprofit organization focused on providing humanitarian assistance for Syrians in need whether they still live in the country or not. The group is focused on sustainable development in areas including education and health care.
    • Health Care With help from donations, Sunrise USA built a full-time clinic in the Tayba camp in Syria, as well as a clinic in Istanbul and a polyclinic in Rihanli, Turkey. The organization has also established 22 trauma care facilities in Syria.
    • Education As of 2018, around 5.8 million children and youth in Syria were in need of education assistance. About 2.1 million of them were out of school completely. Sunrise USA has built four schools and provided books and supplies to students and families around refugee camps. In 2015, Sunrise USA was a lead sponsor in the creation of the Al-Salam School which had 1,200 students.
    • Care for Orphans The number of Syrian orphans, both in Syria and neighboring countries, has increased to more than 1 million since 2011. Through Sunrise USA’s orphan sponsorship, hundreds of orphans have been provided with food, clothing, education and medicine.
  2. Doctors Without Borders (DWB) – Officially founded in 1971, the organization’s core belief is that “all people have the right to medical care regardless of gender, race, religion, creed, or political affiliation, and that the needs of these people outweigh respect for national boundaries.” Here’s a look at DWB’s efforts to help Syrian refugees:
    • Jordan – In 2017, Jordan closed off the border connecting the country to Syria and in 2018 canceled all subsidized health care for Syrian refugees. Doctors Without Borders has three clinics in Irbid, Jordan that focus on non-communicable diseases, which are the leading causes of death in the region. In 2018, the organization provided 69,000 outpatient consultations, 11,900 individual mental health consultations and 2,690 assisted births.
    • Lebanon – Shatila refugee camp in South Beirut is home to Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese people living in poor and overcrowded conditions with minimal services. Doctors Without Borders has set up both a primary health care center and a women’s center inside the camp in 2013. The organization also launched a vaccination campaign around the camp, opened a mental health support branch in a clinic in Fneideq, offer family planning and mental health care services in the Burj-al-Barajneh refugee camp, and operate a care program in Ein-al-Hilweh refugee camp for patients with mobility issues.
  3. Concern Worldwide US – Founded in 1968, Concern Worldwide works in the world’s poorest countries to provide emergency response, education, water and sanitation, as well as help communities develop resilience to higher impacting climates. The organization works to help Syrian refugees in a few ways:
    • Lebanon – Concern Worldwide is not only focused on creating “collection centers,”–which are multi-family shelters–but also on improving water, sanitation and hygiene conditions in the highly concentrated refugee areas of the country. The organization has provided assistance for 56,000 refugees and is also helping hundreds of children get access to education.
    • Syria – Since 2014, Concern Worldwide has worked in Syria to tackle waterborne diseases by installing generators and chlorinated water sources and also providing hygiene supplies. The organization also provides basic necessities to Syrians by distributing food baskets and for families with access to markets, food vouchers.

– Jordan Miller
Photo: Flickr

Starkey Hearing Foundation
The Starkey Hearing Foundation is an organization that William F. Austin founded and it is on a mission to help people with hearing loss around the world. Its goal is to make hearing health care services more accessible for people worldwide, and thanks to the Minnesota Vikings, more people are aware of the cause.

Hearing Disadvantage Facts

Around 466 million people around the world have disabling hearing loss. According to the World Health Organization, of these 466 million people, less than 3 percent can actually afford hearing aids. They also lack the funds in order to pay for the care they need. Hearing aids can cost anywhere between $40 and $3,000, so developing countries will have a hard time paying for these if they are already having a hard time making ends meet.

Impoverished people in countries around the world receive poor treatment from uneducated doctors and can face preventable medical issues that can cause hearing loss. One of the most common issues is Otitis Media, which is a chronic ear infection in the middle ear that causes inflammation. This infection is most common within babies under 5 years old and can go undetected in foreign countries due to doctors being unable to give proper treatment.

Twenty-five percent of adults around the world who are over the age of 65 have hearing loss. Most of these people come from Asian and African countries. Lack of resources and awareness are the reason why so many Africans and Asians have a hearing impairment.

Pregnancy complications also contribute to hearing loss, not just for the unborn baby, but for the mother as well. Researchers have found that if a mother were to spend time in excess noise, the baby would likely be susceptible to being hearing impaired. Consumption of alcohol and smoking cigarettes also play a role in a baby possibly being deaf. Both cigarettes and alcohol have toxins and can cause malnutrition for an unborn child.

Starkey Hearing Foundation

The Starkey Hearing Foundation has a goal to make sure everyone around the world has access to health care services so they can get the proper care they need. Its goal is to also help people afford hearing aids. The organization teamed up with the government and other organization health leaders to make this possible. The Foundation has talked with global health professionals to advocate for hearing health and provide support to the government in developing hearing health policies.

Over the years, the Starkey Hearing Foundation has been to over 100 countries and has helped people receive the proper care they needed in order to hear again. Because of this, the organization now has the largest hearing health care database in the world. Many people from different countries have traveled to its headquarters in Minnesota to receive help.

The organization has helped different medical practices with research by figuring out the reason behind hearing loss within a specific country. It also supports other physicians who have worked on the hearing problem around the world.

The Foundation has shared different strategies with the government who are currently working on developing hearing policies in developing countries. It has also shared its knowledge on how hearing care could improve within the existing health systems.

Minnesota Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings, who are a national football team based in Minneapolis, are the biggest supporters of the Starkey Hearing Foundation because the organization is also based out of Minnesota.

In 2013, the Vikings partnered with the Starkey Hearing Foundation in order to help spread awareness to their fanbase about the issue. With over 2 million followers on Facebook, over 1 million followers on Twitter, over 800,000 followers on Instagram and drawing in roughly 66,000 people to games every year, at least 3 million people are aware of the Foundation and how to support it.

During every home game, radio and television stations would promote the campaign so even more people would become aware of the cause. Fans who attended the home games also received Starkey brand ear protection. The Vikings also made a commitment that for every touchdown the team scored, they would donate $500 to the Starkey Hearing Foundation.

– Reese Furlow
Photo: Flickr

Conflict in Venezuela
In January 2019, Nicolás Maduro won the Venezuelan presidential election, bringing him into his second term as president. Citizens and the international community met the election results with protests and backlash, which has only added to the conflict in Venezuela. The National Assembly of Venezuela went so far as to refuse to acknowledge President Maduro as such. Juan Guaidó, an opposition leader and president of the National Assembly, declared himself interim president almost immediately after the announcement of the election results, a declaration that U.S. President Donald Trump and leaders from more than 50 nations support. Russia and China, however, have remained in support of President Maduro.

During his first term as president and beginning in 2013, Maduro has allowed the downfall of the Venezuelan economy. His government, as well as his predecessor, Hugo Chávez’s government, face much of the anger regarding the current state of Venezuela. Continue reading to learn how the conflict in Venezuela is affecting the poor in particular.

How Conflict in Venezuela is Affecting the Poor

Maduro’s aim was to continue implementing Chávez’s policies with the goal of aiding the poor. However, with the price and foreign currency controls established, local businesses could not profit and many Venezuelans had to resort to the black market.

Hyperinflation has left prices doubling every two to three weeks on average as of late 2018. Venezuelan citizens from all socio-economic backgroundsbut particularly those from lower-income householdsare now finding it difficult to buy simple necessities like food and toiletries. In 2018, more than three million citizens fled Venezuela as a result of its economic status to go to fellow South American countries such as Colombia, Brazil, Panama, Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Argentina. However, nearly half a million Venezuelans combined also fled to the United States and Spain.

Venezuela is currently facing a humanitarian crisis that Maduro refuses to recognize. The opposition that is attempting to force Maduro out of power is simultaneously advocating for international aid. As a result, local charities attempting to provide for the poor are coming under fire from Maduro’s administration, as his government believes anything the opposition forces support is inherently anti-government.

In the northwestern city of Maracaibo, the Catholic Church runs a soup kitchen for impoverished citizens in need of food. It feeds up to 300 people per day, and while it used to provide full meals for the people, it must ration more strictly due to the economic turmoil. Today, the meals look more like a few scoops of rice with eggs and vegetables, and a bottle of milk. While the Church’s service is still incredibly beneficial, it is a stark contrast from the fuller meals it was able to provide just a few years prior.

The political and economic conflict in Venezuela is affecting the poor citizens of the country in the sense Maduro’s administration is ostracizing local soup kitchens and charities. A broader problem facing the poor is that because Maduro refuses to address the humanitarian crisis, international organizations like the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), UNICEF and the World Food Programme (WFP) are unable to intervene and provide aid.

Project HOPE

There are non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that are making an effort to help Venezuelans suffering as a result of this crisis. One of the easiest ways they can be of service is by providing aid and relief to citizens who have fled to other countries. Project HOPE is an organization that currently has workers on the ground in Colombia and Ecuador to offer food, medical care and other aid to those escaping the conflict in Venezuela. Project HOPE is also supporting the health care system in Colombia in order to accommodate the displaced Venezuelans there.

The current conflict in Venezuela is affecting the poor, but it is also affecting the entire structure of the nation. It is difficult to know what the outcome of this conflict will look like for Venezuelans and for the country as a whole. What is important now is to continue educating people about the ongoing crisis so that they can stay informed. Additionally, donating to Project HOPE and other NGOs working to provide aid to Venezuelans in neighboring countries would be of great help. With that, many Venezuelan citizens will know that people support them and are fighting to see progress.

– Emi Cormier
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Comoros
Comoros is a group of three volcanic islands located between Africa and Madagascar with a population of just over 800,000. Mount Karthala, which is located on the island of Ngazidja and the bigger of the two active volcanoes in Comoros, has frequent eruptions. The last largest eruption took place in 2005 and caused thousands of citizens to flee. Here are five facts about poverty in Comoros.

5 Facts About Poverty in Comoros

  1. Limited Economic and Trade Opportunities – Comoros relies heavily on its exported goods. The three main crops that are important to the country’s economy are vanilla, cloves and ylang-ylang, all of which people use for perfume essence and essential oils. Most of the earnings from these crops go towards natural disasters that occur regularly, primarily fires and severe weather.
  2. Rapid Population Growth – The population has steadily been growing since the 1970s. There are approximately four births to every one death. According to the World Population Review, the average adult woman has about 4.7 babies. The population should continue rising at an even pace.
  3. High Dropout Rates – Comoros has access to two different types of schools; the primary and secondary school system that France established and the traditional Islamic school system. Despite access to an education program, the dropout rate is continuing to steadily rise. Causes of this rate are teacher strikes from lack of proper pay, student strikes from the continuous school shutdowns and political instability. Students who do finish school and obtain a higher education typically do so in another country and do not return after.
  4. Inadequate Health Care Access – Comoros lacks a public health care system. Despite this, the country has been able to keep many of its illness rates low, including HIV and tuberculosis. Many believe that access to clean water that is available to over 90 percent of the country contributed to this. The highest cause of death in Comoros is malnutrition which caused nearly 45.1 percent of deaths between 2007 and 2017.
  5. Lack of Natural Resources – Deforestation is causing the natural forests to decrease due to the lack of re-growing trees. With the increase of population, agricultural lands have less time to regenerate and the food source to decline as a result. These factors and changing weather patterns are affecting natural resources in Comoros at a rapid pace leaving the country in a vulnerable state. Heavy rains and a decline in forest protection are causing floods and landslides, which causes more damage to already weakening agricultural fields. It also causes soil erosion to silt the coral reefs and disturbs the marine life ecosystem and the livelihood of fishing due to fish being Comoros’ main source of protein.

In studying poverty in Comoros, not everything is bad. An NGO called Dahari stemmed from the Engagement for Sustainable Development (ECDD) in 2013 and has since been working in the Comoros islands to provide sustainable agriculture, technology to farmers and increase environmental protection. It provides aid towards controlling the environmental factors and shaping landscapes for future generations and increase the economy. The organization also uses ecotourism to help manage marine life and natural terrestrial resources. Dahari works closely with local communities to achieve peaceful collaboration and help adapt locals to the new technologies and ways they can increase their agricultural development.

The Comoros government continues to work towards its country’s improvement. Despite its efforts, these five facts about poverty in Comoros show that the rapid rise in population and ecosystem decline that changing weather patterns caused continues to affect the country’s efforts to climb out of poverty. With much-needed help, Comoros can work towards rising out of poverty and work towards becoming a resilient and prosperous country.

– Chelsea Wolfe
Photo: Flickr

Fireless Cooker
In many developing countries, a lack of resources is the main reason why families struggle to survive. In Kenya, firewood for fuel is a huge burden to find and cut every day. Thus, the international NGO Practical Action created a solution to fight the issue of fuel: the fireless cooker.

A fireless cooker is an electricity-free and fuel-free device that helps families save time so they don’t have to sacrifice work to collect firewood.

Practical Action describes the purpose of the cooker as using “stored heat to cook food over a long period.” In a way, a fireless cooker is a simpler version of a crock-pot. It continues to cook the food after it is taken off of a heat source and keeps it warm for a long time, without wasting fuel.

To make one of these ingenious fuel-saving cookers is quite simple. Materials needed to operate the device include old clothing or banana leaves for insulation, rough cloth, heat-resistant polythene, two cushions (made from cloth stuffed with old clothes) and a basket big enough for cooking. Practical Action wanted to make it easy for families to use, so they chose materials that should be readily available in the communities in Kenya.

The first step in the creation process is to line the desired basket with old clothes or banana leaves. Then, a rough cloth is placed on top of the insulation materials to keep them in place. Next, the polythene is laid on top of the rough fabric to cover it like a bowl. The homemade cushions are then attached to both ends of the basket to store the heat inside.

The impact of this fireless cooker on the families and communities that use it are immense.  Practical Action stated that it can reduce fuel use by 40 percent, “preserving scarce food and saving people hours of precious time.”  One local of Kenya who is reaping the benefits of Practical Action’s invention said, “I am glad to know how to make a fireless cooker. It is going to be of great help to me since I’ll be preparing enough food before going to work on the farm.”

Not only is the fireless cooker environmentally friendly, but also it saves the stay-at-home mothers the tedious and arduous work of cutting and picking firewood every day. Now, the mothers in these households can focus on their children’s education and wellbeing of the family.

Sydney Missigman

Photo: Flickr


The Netherlands has various strategies in terms of accepting refugees. There is the Dutch Council for Refugees, which works to improve the lives of migrants in the country. Despite having an organized council, there are still problems that accompany taking in refugees and handling their living arrangements.

Close to 60,000 refugees were admitted into the Netherlands in 2015.

Refugees in the Netherlands are housed in former prisons. The country’s crime rate has dropped drastically over the last several years, causing many correctional facilities to close down. The Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) decided to use these empty prisons as temporary housing for refugees. Before they are granted asylum status, refugees are normally stuck in temporary housing for at least six months.

A report shows that the Netherlands approved 70 percent of refugee applications made in the first nine months of 2015. In comparison, EU approval averaged 47 percent.

There have been many difficult housing issues in small Dutch towns caused by an influx of refugees. Some refugees were housed in cramped cities or hastily built homes in the suburbs. Although many have been able to find temporary homes, there are many others who have struggled.

A group founded in 2012 called We Are Here helps refugees in the Netherlands find temporary shelter in unoccupied buildings in Amsterdam. The group has more than 200 members and helps those who have a hard time integrating into society.

Thankfully, there have been projects to help refugees in the Netherlands. For example, a project called A Home Away from Home allowed Dutch people to design temporary houses for refugees.

There has been some controversy regarding refugees in the Netherlands paying for their living situation. In total, refugees in the Netherlands have paid more than EUR 700,000 over the past four years. According to a regulation placed in 2008, working refugees have to pay 75 percent of their income toward food and housing.

Once they have been living in the Netherlands for six months, refugees are required to work at least 24 weeks per year.

Back in mid-2016, the Netherlands made an agreement with Germany. It pledged to return the last half of 900 refugees that were sent to the Netherlands after Germany could not grant them formal asylum.

The Dutch Council for Refugees works with 14,000 volunteers and a few hundred paid employees to support refugees with legal rights and the asylum process. The organization also used “NGO twinning projects,” which is a process used to facilitate work with other refugee-assisting organizations.

Emma Majewski

Photo: Flickr