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Child Poverty In Honduras
Honduras, a country home to nine million people, is crippled by poverty, gang violence and a lack of education. Roughly 60% of the population of Honduras lives below the poverty line. The country is also known for having one of the highest crime and violence rates of all time. In terms of child poverty in Honduras, poverty impacts children in multiple ways, including health, safety and education. Nearly 75% of children use outdoor bathroom systems or open fields and 69% of 9-10 year-olds are infected with parasites because of this. Furthermore, 23% of Honduran children suffer from malnutrition and stunting. This article will explore the consequences of child poverty as well as efforts to address it.

Children and Gang Violence

Children face many dangers from exposure to gangs and gang violence in Honduras. Many children are too afraid to go to school because of the prevalence of gang members on the streets. A report from the Norweigan Refugee Council highlights the risks that Honduran children face, including pressure, sexual harassment and abuse.

Gang members have also successfully infiltrated Honduran schools and now promote the distribution of drugs to minors and attempt to recruit them. Families are also faced with pressure from gangs, often in the form of war taxes, which prohibits their ability to buy school supplies and uniforms.

Children and Education

The Honduran government provides free schooling until the sixth grade. However, when children in Honduras graduate from the sixth grade, many of them stop their education to support their families. After receiving a partial education, boys will often go to work in the fields while girls will stay at home to care for their families until marrying around the ages of 12-14 years old.

The lack of education in Honduras increases involvement in gangs, drugs and other dangerous behaviors in order to survive and to support their families. One organization working to alleviate this problem is the Honduras Good Works Secondary Education Scholarship Fund. This fund provides school supplies, transportation and school uniforms to children in Honduras.

Changing the Future for the Children

Children International, an NGO aimed at protecting and aiding children, works to address many of the issues facing Honduran children. Among their current projects is the distribution of annual parasite treatments and workshops about hygiene, the Sport Development and Youth Leadership Training program to alleviate pressures of gang violence and the Youth Health Corps that ensures equal rights for girls and boys. Children International has five centers on the ground in Honduras and focuses on combatting child poverty in Honduras.

Save The Children is another organization working to better the futures of children in Honduras. With the support of generous donations, this organization was able to aid 141,000 children in Honduras just last year, and more specifically have raised 36,000 children from poverty. Save The Children is currently working to promote food security for families in coffee-producing areas, addressing causes of migration and training government officials on the prevention of trafficking.

Moving Forward

Child poverty in Honduras continues to impact millions of children across the country. Fortunately, organizations like Children International and Save The Children are stepping in to help. Moving forward, it is essential that these efforts and others continue to prioritize alleviating child poverty and ensuring better livelihoods for children in Honduras.

Caroline Pierce
Photo: Flickr

Homelessness in the Central African RepublicCurrent ethnic conflicts have resulted in the destruction of over 1.1 million people’s homes in the Central African Republic. Here are the causes and impacts of homelessness in the Central African Republic.

Causes of Homelessness

The causes of homelessness in the Central African Republic are poverty, a devastating Civil War and recent floods. In 2018, around 70% of the Central Africans lived in extreme poverty on less than $1.90 a day. Poverty makes it even more challenging to escape homelessness in a country full of conflict. Also, Over one million people are homeless in the Central African Republic as a result of their Civil War. Currently, more than 643,000 people are internally displaced in the Central African Republic while 500,000 people have become refugees in Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo and Cameroon. On top of that, recent 2019 floods have destroyed more than 10,000 homes. Of the 44,918 people affected 20,000 of those people were displaced from the capital city of Bangui. Homes and livelihoods were defenseless as major flooding occurred in over 16 cities.

Impacts of Homelessness

Homelessness has contributed to the fragility of the nation and child soldiers, and it has negatively affected certain religious groups as well. The Central African Republic is the 6th most fragile country in the world. A fragile nation is measured by the indicators of instability like homelessness, for example, in a country. The high numbers of refugees and displaced people without a home are examples of social indicators of the fragility of the Central African Republic. Political indicators include the amount of humanitarian aid needed and the violent conflicts civilians face.

Homelessness has also contributed to war resulting in child soldiers and the destruction of communities. The exploitation of homeless children occurred as 10,000 children were forced into joining army groups in the civil war. Additionally, the number of people who fall under displacement and homelessness is still on the rise. Expected attacks by armed groups force residents to find safety in other towns or in displacement camps with poor living conditions. Most recently, around 5,000 people became homeless from May 18 to May 20 of this year as a result of violence between army groups and government forces.

Muslims living in Bangui had to flee the city due to violence against them. Most of their empty homes were illegally sold and are now occupied. There is a complicated process when it comes to returning homes to owners since few people have title deeds; therefore, the number of cases that have been solved is only 18 out of 475. Muslims are afraid to return, and those who do return find other people living in their homes. The Norwegian Refugee Council in Bangui and local mayors are working to solve housing disputes and return stolen land to end homelessness.

The Future of the Central African Republic

The Central African Republic needs humanitarian aid more than ever. In 2018, there were 396 attacks against humanitarian workers. As fighting ensues, violence against humanitarian aid groups is causing them to leave areas that need their support the most. This places strains on the amount of help that Central Africans receive. Over 50% of the population needed humanitarian aid in 2019, but less than 30% of people received support.

The government of the Central African Republic has been successful in its creation and implementation of the Humanitarian Response Plan, which provides more aid to ensure internal security. In 2019, donors raised 300.3 million dollars to improve the living conditions of citizens and prevent conflict. This Humanitarian Response Plan supported 1.1 million people, including those facing homelessness in the Central African Republic.

Hannah Nelson

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Education in Syria
Syria
is a Middle Eastern country that has been independent since 1946. Civil unrest and war within the country have been major conflicts that have affected other countries worldwide since 2011. These crises have had many negative effects on the Syrian education system. Here are eight facts about education in Syria.

8 Facts About Education in Syria

  1. Mandatory Primary Education
    Primary Education in Syria is six years in length and is required by law for all children to attend. After this, children have the option – but are not obligated – to attend three years of lower-secondary education. Following this is an examination and for students who pass, the option to attend one of two types of three-year upper-secondary education, followed by another exam. Those who pass receive a Baccalaureate or a Technical Baccalaureate; at least one of these certificates is required to attend a university.
  2. Female Education Prejudice
    In Syria, despite the legal requirements to send children of both sexes to school, enrollment rates are dropping. Acts of violence, including sexual assault, are used to ensure girls do not attend school. Parents push for their boys to attend school when they can, but that encouragement is not extended to their daughters. More and more often, girls will stay at home until they are married and are then expected to take care of the household and children, fulfilling more traditional gender roles.
  3. Impact of the War
    With war a constant part of the daily lives of Syrians, violence is affecting the education process. Bombings and shootings have damaged an estimated 40% of school buildings. This makes it difficult for parents to send their children to school when a violent attack could happen at any time.
  4. Refugee Status
    Many Syrian refugee children are not enrolled in school or any type of education due to a variety of factors, despite attempts to increase their access to education. Some of these factors include language barriers, lack of transportation and child disabilities.
  5. Child Marriage and Child Labor
    Many children who do not have access to general education are forced into child labor. Some who do have access to education may still be pressured into child labor to help provide for the family. There is also the possibility that they will be forced into child marriages. Child marriage and labor are not uncommon in Syria and are major influences on the declining education rate.
  6. The Norwegian Refugee Council Aid
    In 2018, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s education program provided for children who did not have access to either education or a safe environment in which to learn. The organization has collaborated with parents and teachers to rebuild schools and re-enroll children who have been unable to attend. The goal is to recapture the education many children had lost raise them back up to appropriate education levels.
  7. UNICEF Education Programs
    The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund aims to protect and satisfy the needs of children. Recently, the organization provided over a hundred classrooms and over three-quarters of a million school bags filled with school supplies to children in Syria. This program helped to reach 2.4 million children both in the country and across borders with refugee status.
  8. 2019 Humanitarian Strategy
    The Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan is working to increase education access throughout 2020 to both children living in Syria and Syrian refugees. UNICEF will assist in providing educational services, as well as clean water and hygiene for school camps, food assistance and basic needs that are non-food related. This plan aims to reach Syria and the five main regions hosting Syrian refugees: Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

These eight facts about education in Syria show that while there are many factors preventing children from gaining an education, there are just as many aid programs determined to provide children with access to a stable learning environment. These programs help Syrians who reside in the home country as well as Syrian refugees who are fleeing to escape violence.

– Chelsea Wolfe
Photo: Flickr

AI to Meet the Sustainable Development Goals
Tech giants are using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to create innovative strategies to meet the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals and eradicate global poverty by 2030. A central barrier to development in third-world nations is in-access to high-quality, timely and accessible data.

Big data platforms like AI expand capabilities to acquire accurate, real-time, micro-level information, while ML allows pattern recognition at a macro-level. Combined, these data advances can make data more accessible, applicable and finely scalable while accelerating the speed and scale for private and public development actors to implement change. Companies are partnering across public, private and nonprofit sectors to broaden the collective impact.

Take a look at the innovative approaches tech giants are taking to help global poor communities with data and what the incorporation of AI technologies means for the future of global poverty initiatives. These approaches aim to employ AI to meet the SDGs within its allotted time frame.

Education and Digital Training

On June 19, 2019, the day preceding World Refugee Day, Microsoft announced the inception of two projects partnering with Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP) and Kids in Need of Defense (KIND). These projects supplement its AI for Humanitarian Action group to help incorporate AI to meet the SDGs.

The AI for Humanitarian Action group is a $40 million, five-year program part of Microsoft’s larger AI for Good suite (a $115 million, five-year project). The projects will provide AI tools to help staff track court dates, prioritize emergency cases and translate for families with AI speech-to-text. Microsoft also has continuing partnerships to incorporate AI/ML into educational services for refugees with the following groups:

  1. International Rescue Committee (IRC): This committee works to provide humanitarian aid through the creation of sustainable programming for refugees, displaced populations and crisis-affected communities. This includes career development programming and digital skills training to empower refugees and make them relevant for the job markets in each affected country. Microsoft and IRC’s Technology for Livelihoods in Crisis project in Jordan is an example of this.
  2. United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF): Together with the University of Cambridge, the UNICEF is developing The Learning Passport. The digital platform will ensure better access to education and facilitate learning opportunities for youth displaced by conflict and natural disasters. It creates scalable learning solutions tailored to each child. Crises have affected the quality of education for 75 million youth.
  3. Norwegian Refugee Council: This council is providing an AI chatbot service that uses language understanding, machine translation and language recognition to deliver high-quality education and digital skills training to refugees. This helps to close the education gap for the millions of youth affected by conflict. It will also help humanitarian workers communicate with migrants who speak other languages, which will help them best provide the best service.
  4. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR): UNHCR plans to provide 25,000 refugees in Kakuma with access to high-quality, accredited, context-appropriate digital learning and training by 2020 for development in Kakuma markets. UNHCR intends this project to expand across multiple countries.

Food Security and Agricultural Development

The fact that farms do not always have power or internet security limits technological developments that address food security and agricultural development. Here are some efforts that consider the capabilities of farmers and the respective developing regions:

  1. Microsoft FarmBeats: It aims to enable data-driven farming compatible with both the capabilities of the farmer and the region. FarmBeats is employing AI and IoT (Information of Things) solutions using low-cost sensors, drones and vision and ML algorithms. This combined AI and IoT approach enables data-driven improvements in agriculture yield, lowered costs and reduced environmental impacts of agricultural production, and is a significant contribution to help AI to meet the SDGs.
  2. Apollo: Apollo uses agronomic machine learning, remote sensing and mobile phones to help farmers maximize profits in developing markets. Apollo delivers scalable financing, farm products and customized advice to farmers while assessing the farmers’ credit risk. Apollo customizes each product in order to double farm yields and improve credit. The beta project is starting in Kenya.
  3. The International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)/CGIAR research group: It aims to implement preemptive solutions rather than reactive solutions to end hunger and malnutrition by 2030. CIAT has developed a Nutrition Early Warning System (NEWS), which uses machine learning to make predictions on malnutrition patterns based on current and future estimates of crop failures, droughts and rising food prices. This approach is able to detect an impending nutrition crisis and take action instead of responding after the crisis has taken hold.

Socioeconomic Data Collection

According to a report by The Brookings Institute as a part of its “A Blueprint for the Future of AI series,” data providing national averages “conceal more than they reveal” and inaccurately estimate and map patterns of poverty. Survey data is often entirely unavailable or otherwise low in quality in many of the poorest countries where development needs are greatest. 39 of the 59 countries in Africa conducted less than two surveys between 2000 and 2010.

Even in large countries with sophisticated statistical systems, such as India, survey results remain inaccurate, with the gap between personal reporting and national accounts amounting to as much as a 60 percent difference in some countries. Companies are addressing this by utilizing big data from remote sensing satellites.

The Group on Earth Observations (GEO) is using Earth Observations (EO) to provide finely-tuned and near-real-time data on economic activity and population distribution by measuring nighttime luminosity. Researchers have noted a correlation between luminosity and GDP as well as subnational economic output. Collecting socioeconomic data in this way can ensure higher quality data important to policy implementation and direction to countries with the greatest development needs.

Timothy Burke and Stan Larimer launched Sovereign Sky in 2018, putting satellite data into action. Sovereign Sky is the world’s first space-based blockchain which provides secure private internet networks and powers a new Free World Currency to redistribute the world’s wealth with a goal of eradicating poverty by 2032.

The eight current satellites cover Africa and India and the organization will send boxes of StealthCrypto phones, digital wallets, smart cards and modems to people in need. Sovereign Sky will deploy 36 satellites within three to 10 years to cover the entire world in a secure blockchain internet connection, closing the gap on technological interactions between all nations and including the world’s remotest and poorest areas in internet connectivity.

Pitfalls of AI-Driven Global Development Initiatives, and Moving Forward

AI and ML have crucial capabilities in reshaping education, agriculture and data collection in the developing world. However, these technologies have a history of producing unethical racial profiling, surveillance and perpetuating stereotypes, especially in areas with a history of ethnic conflict or inequality. AI and ML applications have to adapt in ways to ensure effective, inclusive and fair distribution of big data resources in the developing world. Development experts need to be in close collaboration with technologists to prevent unethical allocations.

This diversification is why it is important that tech giants like Microsoft, and projects like those by the ICAT/CGIAR, are created in collaboration with various nonprofit, public and private sector groups to ensure interdisciplinary ethical liability for big data applications in sustainable development contexts. Ensuring the use of AI technologies is context-specific to the affected regions and populations will help prevent misappropriation of the technology and increase quality and effectiveness.

Working with local companies and sectors can create long-lasting engagement and grow permanent technology sectors in the developing areas thus contributing to the local economy. These strategies can put forth effective, ethical and productive applications of AI to meet the SDGs.

– Julia Kemner
Photo: Flickr

five NGOs are petitioning the government to end the war in Yemen
The war in Yemen between Houthi rebels and the Saudi led coalition has created the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Despite the dire situation, there is reason to hope. On November 26, five NGOs petitioned the U.S. Government to call an end to the war. Two days later, the U.S. Government announced it would add an additional $24 million to USAID’s Office of Food for Peace. On December 13, the Senate voted to end the United States support of the Saudi coalition. These are the five NGOs that are petitioning to end the war in Yemen.

Since 2015, there have been more than 16,000 civilians casualties, 22.2 million people, including 11 million children, are in need of aid and eight million are at risk of famine. The war has led to a host of other problems as well, including a cholera outbreak and a lack of access to clean water. Many organizations are trying to stop the conflict in Yemen. These are 5 nonprofit organizations working hard to protect the people of Yemen.

These are the 5 NGOs that are petitioning to end the war in Yemen

  1. International Rescue Committee (IRC): The International Rescue Committee, headed by David Miliband, a former U.K. Secretary of Foreign Affairs, is focused on humanitarian relief operations in war-affected areas. Right now it operates in more than 40 countries, and its refugee resettlement program operates in 28 U.S. cities. The IRC has been providing aid to Yemen since 2012, working to protect women and children as well as provide access to healthcare and education.
  2. Oxfam: Oxfam is a global organization working in more than 90 countries to end poverty. Led by Abby Maxman, the former Deputy Secretary General of CARE International, Oxfam believes in identifying and changing the root causes of poverty rather than just sending material aid. Through fighting and eliminating injustice, Oxfam feels that poverty can finally be eliminated. The organization has been working in Yemen since 2015 to prevent diseases by providing sanitation, hygiene assistance and clean water to those affected by the war.
  3. CARE: CARE is active in 93 countries around the globe working to combat social injustice and poverty. The organization is headed by Michelle Nunn, who previously ran the organization Points of Light and had been a candidate for the U.S. Senate. CARE current goal is to reach 200 million of the world’s most vulnerable people by 2020. CARE has been working in Yemen since 1992 and is currently providing food, water and sanitation to one million Yemenis people each month.
  4. Save the Children: Save the Children is an organization that works in the U.S. and around the world to provide for underprivileged children. It is headed by Carolyn Miles, who has been with the organization since 1998. Save the Children is active in 120 countries worldwide promoting nutrition, health and education programs. Save the Children is doing just that in Yemen by treating almost 100,000 Yemenis children for malnutrition through mobile health clinics.
  5. Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC): The Norwegian Refugee Council started its relief efforts after World War II and continues its mission to this day. The organization is active in 32 countries across the world to provide clean water, education, camp management, legal aid, food assistance and shelter to refugees. The Norwegian Refugee Council is headed by Jan Egeland, who has been with the organization since 2013 and was appointed in 2015 by the U.N. as special envoy to Syria. In 2017, the NRC has provided food for more than 300,000 Yemenis and shelter to more than 50,000.

These 5 NGOs that are petitioning to end the war in Yemen are all fighting for a better world for the world’s poor. Through their work, they were able to spur the government into action. Since the petition, millions of dollars have been added to the aid package for Yemen, and the U.S. has voted to end its military involvement in the conflict.

Peter Zimmerman
Photo: Flickr

Crisis in FallujahWeeks of combat in Fallujah, initiated by Iraqi military forces in an attempt to eradicate ISIS militants from the city, have left tens of thousands of civilians displaced. The Wall Street Journal reports that upwards of 80,000 men, women and children have been forced to flee their homes, in what has become the largest refugee crisis in Iraq.

The Islamic State invaded Fallujah in 2014 and has been in control of it since. In an interview with NPR, Karl Schembri, a member of the Norwegian Refugee Council working in Fallujah, stated that it has been “a nightmare” for those in the city.

Schembri noted that individuals were living on “animal feed, on expired dates and drinking the river water, which is undrinkable.” He went on to say that ISIS soldiers shot any civilians attempting to escape from the city.

Although Fallujah has officially been liberated by the Iraqi military, civilians cannot return to their homes. Fighting has left buildings destroyed and, according to the Chicago Tribune, “only a third of the city has been cleared of the militants”. Civilians must travel for miles to reach refugee camps, only to find that they are running out of food, water, toilets, shelter and funds.

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) has been leading the fight against the refugee crisis in Fallujah. The NRC is a humanitarian organization comprised of about 5,000 people focused on providing “food assistance, clean water, shelter, legal aid and education” to refugees across the world.

As more and more refugees flood to the camps the NRC, United Nations and International Organization for Migration have become desperate for additional aid. These organizations can no longer accommodate all the refugees. Often they are forced to disclose that there is no more room in the tent cities.

Iraq’s budget for aid is stretched thin as ISIS has displaced people across the entire country and, according to The Wall Street Journal, “foreign governments have only provided one third of the financial assistance the U.N. has said it needs to cover humanitarian needs in Iraq this year.”

However, the U.N. and other countries recently appealed for $298 million in emergency aid and it has been answered. The U.S. Department of State announced on June 21st that it was donating an additional $20 million to the U.N. for relief in Fallujah. The U.S. challenged other governments to answer the U.N.’s appeal so that the refugee crisis in Fallujah can be properly handled by organizations such as the Norwegian Refugee Council.

Liam Travers

Photo: Flickr