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On October 17, International Day for the Eradication of Poverty was celebrated in honor of the goal to end world poverty by 2030. Declared by the UN General Assembly, this annual day serves as a reminder to promote the need to end poverty and destitution in all countries, specifically the developing nations.

In celebration of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, Interaction, the NGO alliance, highlighted global programs that are already making an impact. One of these programs, A World Vision program in Zambia, has made health care, education, and psycho-social support accessible for more than a quarter million children. The program has also trained nearly 40,000 volunteers to assist people living with HIV across the country. It is programs like these, indeed, that are helping us reach our goal.

In hope to get to zero percent by our lifetime, NGOs, like Interaction, are essential parts of the solution. “We cannot let over a billion people suffer in extreme poverty when we have the tools and the research to change their lives for the better. … We can do better. We have to do better,” said World Bank president Jim Yong Kim.

So far, the world has made significant progress in working toward this goal. While it is bold, it is undoubtedly achievable. Already, extreme poverty rates are half of what they were two decades ago. In 1990, nearly one in two people in the developing world lived in “extreme poverty” or on less than $1.25 a day. Today, this number is about one in five. Because of the help of many institutions, government and nongovernment organizations alike, we have been able to make immense developments. Still, it is not enough. The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty recognizes these groups that have made all the difference through these years and even further, motivates people to help take those next few steps forward.

– Sonia Aviv

Sources: UN, Global Dimension, Devex
Photo: Times Square

Charities That Fight Poverty
The Borgen Project’s quest to end extreme poverty is shared by countless people and organizations. A truly overwhelming number of non-profits are working to end poverty, and it can be hard to know where you should donate money. Here’s a list of 10 charities that fight poverty that all received 4-star overall ratings from Charity Navigator, a well-known charity watchdog organization.

 

Top Charities that Fight Poverty

 

1) K.I.D.S. (Kids in Distressed Situations): This large organization improves the lives of children living in poverty around the world. They provide new clothes, toys, books, and other products, as well as shelter and medical care. They’re also extremely well-run, spending 99.5% of their budget on programs, rather than fundraising or administrative overhead.

2) Concern Worldwide US: This non-governmental organization has been working towards the elimination of extreme poverty since its founding in 1968. Work, including emergency response and long-term development, is mostly focused on countries ranked in the bottom 40 according to the UN Human Development Report.

3) International Rescue Committee: This enormous organization directed over $350 million to those in need in 2011. They provide emergency aid in 42 countries, aiming to permanently improve life for victims of violence and oppression.

4) SIGN Fracture Care International: This non-profit works to provide orthopedic treatment to trauma victims in the developing world by training and equipping local surgeons. Proper treatment minimizes the financial burden placed on trauma victims and their families, giving them hope and fiscal security.

5) InterAction: This is a coalition of U.S. based NGOs that are aiming to eliminate poverty on an international scale. The partnerships allow each individual organization to multiply its impact by providing important connections, insight, and capital.

6) International Child Care: The Christian health development organization is working to alleviate many of the causes of poverty in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. By providing vital medical care for children and their families, ICC allows them to lead happier, healthier lives in less danger of falling into poverty.

7) Fistula Foundation: This organization funds the treatment of obstetric fistulas in the developing world. Obstetric fistulas occur when labor is obstructed during childbirth. They leave women incontinent, which can ruin her life. Her husband, family, and community often abandon her because of her smell. This injury is common when women give birth at home without access to trained medical help, and can be fixed with $450 surgery.

8) VillageReach: Since 2000, this organization has worked to improve the developing world’s access to healthcare by partnering with businesses, governments, nonprofits, and other organizations. They aim to strengthen local infrastructure in underserved rural areas, and facilitate the delivery of medical supplies. This effort specifically helps fight rural poverty by allowing remote communities to lead better, more fruitful lives.

9) Action Against Hunger (ACF-USA): This organization’s efforts are primarily aimed at ending global hunger. Their work saves lives by fighting malnutrition, especially in times of crisis or conflict. Programs are integrated with local and national systems to ensure long-term solutions that tackle the underlying causes of malnutrition.

10) Life In Abundance: This interdenominational Christian organization aspires to empower the local Church to end poverty in Africa’s developing areas. Their programs aim to create holistic community improvement by focusing on health, financial security, education, and social participation. By encouraging and enabling local Church leadership, long-term transformation is achieved and African families rise out of poverty.

– Katie Fullerton

Sources: Charity Navigator, Life in Abundance

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AHOPE is a life changing orphanage in Ethiopia that is helping to give children a second chance at life.

AHOPE was founded by Jennifer Olsen due to her being inspired by her mother-in-law Kathy Olsen. Kathy Olsen held a true passion for children, especially those who were in a vulnerable and unsafe state. Following in her mother in law’s footsteps, Jennifer Olsen wished to continue Kathy’s path by taking part in the same selfless dedication to helping children in need. By doing so, Jennifer Olsen established the AHOPE for children which is based within the heart of Ethiopia.

AHOPE currently cares for 205 homeless orphans, aiming to help them grow and prosper. AHOPE’s main goal is to help give these children a second chance in life, and to help them find loving homes where they may find happiness and success. Every staff member wishes to help these children find a loving opportunity where they will be cared for each day, and will help nurture each child into thriving adults.

The organization is now moving towards it’s tenth anniversary and is helping more children than ever before.

AHOPE was not always an orphanage, for the organization was once a hospice where children spent their final days before death due to horrible infections and diseases. Yet, because of recent advances in treatment for diseases like HIV and PEPFAR, the children of AHOPE are thriving. This is why AHOPE’s mission is to help these children continue to live healthfully, and feels that it is their core responsibility to help provide each child with a promising future.

Julie Wadler has explained that the AHOPE organization has “adapted from its early hospice days into so much more” and urges everyone who hears of this organization to help spread the word so the organization can move towards a better future. By asking others for support, the organization wishes that others will help make a difference in a child’s life by giving them a better future. In return for each individual’s love and support, the team members of AHOPE will continue to serve the children within this orphanage with the best of their abilities.

AHOPE is a non-profit orphanage which solely relies on the donations of others to continue their business of helping the children of Ethiopia find caring homes. This organization relies on every day heroes for donations, for they are the ones who help keep this orphanage a float. Not only can an individual make a personal donation to the organization, but can also hold personal fundraisers, can reach out to the community, or can even volunteer with the organization itself. It is easy to become involved, and it is very simple to spread awareness through the community through fundraisers and events.

AHOPE makes it very simple for individuals to become involved by offering fundraising tools and advertisements on their website. This organization’s goal is to raise fifty thousand dollars a month to support the children within their orphanage. Every dollar counts, for even a small donation will make a huge impact to this caring organization. Not only can an individual fund this organization, but can also donate supplies as well. AHOPE has an organizational base within Alexandria, Virginia where all donations can be sent. By sending necessary supplies and funds to their base within Virginia, it is guaranteed that the children will receive these wonderful gifts and donations.

Overall, AHOPE is a wonderful organization which is helping children every day. This organization is helping children within Ethiopia to find a better home and to establish a promising future. By helping this organization, each individual can make a difference in a child’s life and can help them establish a more promising future.

Grace Elizabeth Beal

Sources: AHOPE, AHOPE Ethiopia Video

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Many foreign aid organizations and donors provide temporary aid in the form of food, supplies, or direct cash donations. Heifer International is a different kind of organization; Heifer works to provide livestock for impoverished and hungry families so that they will be able to sustain themselves rather than depending on temporary aid. In order to help these people to help themselves, cows, goats, chickens, bees, llamas, and plenty of other options are given in terms of livestock to be donated. These animals help to provide both sustenance and stability to families in need. Agricultural products that the family does not put to use, such as milk, eggs, or honey can also be sold at market for extra income.

Heifer’s goal in this is to ultimately create sustainability for families to allow them to then further their opportunities in life such as provide for education and comfortable living. One of their hopes is also that as one family or group advances in the community that they will share their gift with others around them, allowing the community as a whole to become self-sufficient. With gifts of livestock comes training from Heifer employees, ensuring that the families will make the most of their new additions.

The organization’s projects span the globe, from Cambodia to China to India and Honduras. Their goals with specific projects vary, but include empowering and education of women, environmental conservation, and natural disaster response. A major success story involves a Filipino farmer, Rogelio Abes Jr., who took advantage of Heifer’s gifts and knowledge. Not only did he expand his own farm and income, he shared his livestock and farming techniques with others in the community, and inspired others to rise above poverty through hard work and generosity.

In terms of financials and accountability, Charity Navigator gives Heifer three out of four stars. The organization is entirely transparent with their records and policies, and more than 70% of their income goes to program expenses, while 20% goes to fundraising expenses. Only 6.4% goes toward administrative expenses while the CEO earns .03% of expenses. The only financial issue that arises is the disparity between revenue and program expenses in the past few years, where revenue is significantly higher than program expenses.

On the whole, however, Heifer is working hard against hunger and poverty in many different ways, from school education programs to their Read to Feed initiative that encourages children to read in order to fundraise money for the organization.  Their goals for sustainability seem to be the right direction for food aid to be headed in – while temporary aid can be helpful, it can also breed dependency, and the most important thing is to get people out of situations of poverty and hunger and allow them to be self-sufficient.

– Sarah Rybak

Sources: Heifer International, Charity Navigator
Photo: Heifer International

Poverty in Iraq
Poverty in Iraq? Many countries in the Middle East are dominated by oil production and exporting, and Iraq is no different. 95% of its exports are from oil. Like other resource-rich countries, however, this abundance of profit potential has not translated to a higher standard of living for the average Iraqi citizen. Furthermore, economic progress and social development has been hindered by ethnosectarian violence, severe setbacks in infrastructure, and poor educational quality. A number of complex challenges face Iraq today.

 

3 Main Causes of Poverty in Iraq

 

  1. Social and political instability by civil war. The occupation of Iraqi territory beginning in 2003 removed some of the barriers to outright sectarian violence by the institution of democracy. Iraq has traditionally been separated into three regions associated with people groups who took residency within: Kurds (15% of the population) in the north, Shia Arabs (45-55%) in the south, and Sunni Arabs (30%) in the region in between and to the west. Tens of thousands of Iraqis died in the five years following the invasion of Iraq, but sectarian violence — usually in the form of terrorist attacks — persists today. Not only has this endangered Iraqi civilians to the extent of displacing up to 2.2 million people since 2003, but it also makes trade and business incredibly dangerous. The simple act of moving goods about the country is disrupted by armed violence.
  2. Degradation and destruction of infrastructure. Both the ongoing civil war and the invasion of 2003 significantly damaged communication and transportation means. While the International Reconstruction Fund for Iraq asserts that Iraq’s infrastructure was among the best in the Middle East before the 1990s, today for most Iraqis there is limited access to electricity, sanitation, and clean water supply. An Oxfam briefing from 2007 reported that most homes in Baghdad and major cities receive only two hours of electricity per day. Furthermore, where there may be working roads and aid to be given, armed groups and Iraqi security forces may abruptly surround an area during military operations: “Sudden changes in access to towns and cities … pose major constraints on NGOs’ ability to deliver a humanitarian response.”
  3. Destabilized education system. Like infrastructure, the education system in Iraq was an example to other countries in the region before 1990s. However, with the displacement that followed the invasion, the state of education administration suffered. According to Oxfam, 92% of children surveyed had learning impediments “largely attributable to the current climate of fear.” Save the Children UK reported that over 800,000 children were not in school, an increase of 200,000 students in 2004. Displacement not only removed much-needed teachers from schools, but also brought large amounts of internally displaced refugees to seek shelter in school facilities in some communities. While the regime change has sparked an overhaul in curriculum and gender equality, the accompanying instability has undermined those improvements.

The situation in Iraq has been discussed by a number of NGOs, focusing on reform of programs already in place. For example, the Public Distribution System (PDS) is a universal ration program, but its main obstacle lies in targeting and distribution. It does not effectively target those who are at greatest risk for slipping into absolute poverty. A number of reports assert that if the Iraqi government used funds available to it from oil exports, these difficulties could be addressed. However, until ethnosectarian violence can be resolved and security restored, steps forward will be accompanied by backward steps as well.

– Naomi Doraisamy

Source: CIA World Factbook, Library of Congress, Oxfam/NCCI, World Bank,
Photo: AlTahreer News

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What Is the House Foreign Affairs Committee?

Generally, a congressional committee is a sub-organization of Congress that addresses issues related to a specified area of legislation or duty. In other words, a congressional committee is a legislative delegate to Congress. The House Foreign Affairs Committee is a sub-organization of the House of Representatives that considers legislation impacting the diplomatic community, which includes national and international governmental organizations, as well as non-governmental organizations. The Department of State, the Agency for International Development (USAID), the Peace Corps, and the United Nations, for example, are all members of the diplomatic community.

What Does the House Foreign Affairs Committee Do?

The House Foreign Affairs Committee is responsible for oversight and legislation relating to, among other areas, foreign assistance, military activity, enforcement of international sanctions, promotion of democracy abroad, and all other matters not specifically assigned to a subcommittee. As stated on the Committee’s website, “The Committee may conduct oversight with respect to any matter within the jurisdiction of the Committee as defined in the Rules of the House of Representatives.” Rule X, section (i) of the Rules specifically covers the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

How can the House Foreign Affairs Committee help alleviate Global Poverty?

As mentioned, the House Foreign Affairs Committee is responsible for oversight and legislation related to foreign assistance. Specifically, the Committee is charged with oversight and legislation regarding relations of the United States with foreign nations, foreign loans, diplomatic service, and measures to foster commercial intercourse with foreign nations and to safeguard American business interests abroad. As part of this unique mandate, the House Foreign Affairs Committee has not only the power to sponsor direct foreign aid programs to help fight global poverty in foreign countries, but also the responsibility to ensure such measures are taken because American investment in the relief of global poverty is an investment in the American economy.

Former Secretary of Homeland Security, Gov. Tom Ridge was quoted as saying, “By building new markets overseas for American products, the International Affairs budget creates jobs and boosts the economy here at home.” USAID is a clear example of how our assistance develops future markets, as “long-time aid recipients have become strong partners and are the fastest growing markets for American goods.” For exactly this reason and in line with it’s unique mandate, the House Foreign Affairs Committee has both the capacity and an obvious responsibility to help alleviate global poverty.

Contacting your congressperson to voice your opinion on investment in the relief of global poverty goes a long way in creating support for effective policy. To find out if your congressperson is on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, visit their website. You can follow the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Twitter: @HFACrepublicans.

– Herman Watson

Photo: Zimbio
Source: GovTrack, Ed Royce, The Hill, USDA Local & Regional Food Procurement, House Foreign Affairs Committee

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The city of Seattle has teamed up with the Seattle International Foundation (SIF) to launch the Seattle Ambassador program, a campaign intended to educate residents about how their community is making some pretty amazing strides in the global fight against poverty, and inspire even more locals to pitch in.

Seattle is a leader in international development efforts; over 300 local organizations are working in 144 developing countries. The Borgen Project has been headquartered in Seattle since 2003, and we are honored to be part of a community that cares so much about the rest of the world.

We have more than a few neighbors who are doing incredible things; Literacy Bridge develops and distributes Talking Books, so that illiteracy doesn’t prevent education. Ayni Education International began building schools for girls in rural Afghanistan after 9/11, in an effort to counteract growing prejudice on both sides. One By One fights to end Fistula, which is directly related to maternal mortality during child birth.

Residents who sign up for the Seattle Ambassador program will receive updates on the efforts of these organizations and others, and also learn ways that they can help. As a bonus, registering for the program automatically enters you for a chance to win an all-expense paid trip to Africa, Asia, or Latin America, too see up close how your home is improving the world.

The first winner will be announced in June, so visit Seattle Ambassador or text SEATTLE to 80088 to register. If you don’t live in Seattle, contact your government representatives about following Seattle’s lead. Just imagine what ten, twenty, fifty cities like Seattle could accomplish.

– Dana Johnson

Sources: Seattle Ambassador, Seattle Globalist
Photo: Global Journal

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UNICEF donated 73 motorbikes to nonprofit organizations to help them better and more effectively monitor and implement their water and sanitation projects in Sierra Leone. These projects are to build or revamp wells and sanitation spaces in communities, schools, and health centers.

By giving these nonprofit organizations access to motorbikes, UNICEF is hoping to help reach the UN’s Millennium Development Goals by 2015. The motorbikes are thought to help by accelerating the efforts being made to improve access to water and, thus, contribute to the push for anti-poverty that the Millennium Development Goals are in place for.

As of now, only 57 percent of people in Sierra Leone have access to clean drinkable water with access to such water in rural areas being much rarer than in more urban areas. Accordingly, only 48 percent of people have access to clean water sources in rural areas, whereas 76 percent of those living in urban households have access. A significant amount of the water consumed in rural areas are sourced to surface water, which is vulnerable to a multitude of waterborne diseases. This makes it imperative to improve water conditions and provisions and rural areas. The motorbikes will help make this possible by enabling NGOs to bring life-saving facilities to areas that are very remote and hard to access. They will also cut down on the amount of time necessary to get from local to local, allowing for NGO members to monitor their projects faster and easier.

Earnest Sesay, Director of Family Homes Movement, one of the NGOs that received motorbikes from UNICEF,  said “On behalf of the implementing partners of UNCEF WASH, I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation for this donation. With these motorbikes the hurdles of reaching out to remote communities will be a problem of the past.”

– Angela Hooks

Source: AllAfrica

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A group of 14 UK-based NGOs, The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), has made an “emergency appeal” to provide aid to Syria, which is struggling under the duress of a civil war. With recent news of chemical warfare being used against civilians and a death toll that has reached nearly 70,000, aid groups are struggling to keep up with the deteriorating humanitarian situation.

Recent estimates place at least 8,000 refugees  fleeing the country per day, compared to 1,000 per day a few months ago.  Because of mass displacement and intense fighting, NGOs and other aid groups are finding it extremely difficult to reach civilians who are in need. Members of the DEC have been able to extend aid to refugees who have fled to other surrounding countries, and a number of other groups have had success reaching people throughout Aleppo, Damascus, Homs, and other areas throughout northern Syria.

The UN asserted that although they have requested $1.5 billion in emergency aid, only a small portion of that need has been met. The DEC’s Chief Executive, Saleh Saeed, said that even though a number of agencies are attempting to work together in the region, there remain a high number of civilians in urgent need, and that “the greatest challenge to meeting those needs remains the barriers to delivering aid which are faced by impartial humanitarian agencies such as our members,” as well as financial pressures.

The total number of people who are in need of aid directly stemming from the situation in Syria has reached 5 million, as the DEC plans to appeal to public and government officials for additional help.

Christina Kindlon

Source: Guardian

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A Brookings Institution article by Lex Rieffel and James Fox (Former Chief, Economic Growth Evaluation at USAID/Policy & Program) analyses aid effectiveness in Myanmar. “The transition in Myanmar that began two years ago — from a military to a quasi-civilian government — is the largest and most encouraging turnaround in the developing world in years.”

They give significant credit to President Thein Sein and social activist Aung San Suu Kyi for collaborating to lift the country out of turmoil. Their three main obstacles or agendas were: ending the civil war, providing an institutional framework to increase the general standard of living, and sharing the wealth of the country’s natural resources with the whole population.

When other countries saw the progress being made, then the World Bank, USAID, and more than 100 other aid agencies and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) started to offer rapid assistance to Myanmar. This time, the aid agencies and government officials are intent on making sure aid is delivered effectively. All donors have committed to adhere to the 2005 Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, and all subsequent additions to it. And the Myanmar government held an all-donor meeting in January 2013, to get an agreement on ground rules for spending aid effectively.

However, here are five common ways aid can be ineffective:

• Senior government officials of Myanmar end up spending hours every day meeting with delegations from international NGO’s and donor countries – not just their aid agencies but also their government representatives, corporations, media, and more. The endless meetings divert the attention of the local officials, not allowing them to formulate and implement actual progress.

• Each aid organization has its own pressure to “make a difference,” to show results.  For instance, USAID has allocated millions of dollars for their own agriculture sector projects, but only committed $600,000 to the multi-donor LIFT Fund – which is a more effective way of delivering aid.

• Local staff from financial institutions are overwhelmed by the donor organizations’ need to “move the money.” Pressure to distribute project funds is ever-present.

• Donors are often non-transparent as each competes to gain the most favorable position within a region.

• Host countries engage in “donor shopping” to get the most money for the least change.

So, for Myanmar, here are the three ways to make aid more effective:

• Slow down and do more collaborative operations. This act does not overwhelm local officials. Donors should help control the pace, and commit at least 30 percent of their funding to joint operations.

• Provide “scholarships for foreign study.” It will take years for Myanmar to raise its standard of education to the level required for meeting its development objectives. The solution is education abroad, so the students can return home with knowledge to invest in the country. This form of aid also has the least potential for mis-use.

• “Be more innovative” – for instance “cash on delivery aid.” This reinforces good management within the local government, minimizes the administrative burden of the rapid aid influx, and ensures that every dollar of aid goes to support successful projects.

– Mary Purcell

Source: Brookings
Photo: USA Myanmar