Posts

Pineapples Against Poverty in Rwanda
Poverty plagues many residents in the East African country of Rwanda. As a result of the deadly 1994 genocide, many female-led households are struggling. To provide for their families, these women are using their small parcels of land for agricultural cultivation. However, it was not until a group of residents in the district of Kirehe founded the Tuzamurane Cooperative in Eastern Rwanda that things changed. Through these efforts, profitable gain could now occur. Tuzamurane has worked to boost incomes by cultivating pineapples, a practice that has supplemented the community and helped combat poverty. By using pineapples against poverty in Rwanda, there is potential for improved quality of life for thousands.

What is the Tuzamurane Cooperative?

Established more than 10 years ago, the Tuzamurane Cooperative emerged to educate women on horticulture and financial literacy. Workers identified pineapples, a locally grown and climate-suitable fruit, as an ideal agricultural crop for local cooperative members to cultivate.

After some members visited a Belgian export convention, inspiration struck to collect community pineapple harvests and market them for both local and foreign sale. After this collection process, the initiative sells these fresh pineapples to locals and exports the dried fruits. Unfortunately, however, local markets pay very little just 6 cents for a single pineapple.

Community Success and Support

Oxfam, an Irish organization focused on mobilizing people against poverty, joined this cooperative’s efforts in 2015 and helped turn its pineapple production into profit. With Oxfam, Tuzamurane could attain proper facilities like processing equipment, a more thorough supplier base and adequate organic certification. Cooperative members now have access to a broader market with a higher profit margin, which can directly fight poverty in Rwanda.

Tuzamurane, meaning “lift up one another,” is a fitting name for the organization’s mission. For instance, the educational opportunities and market accessibility Tuzamurane provides its members are profound on their own. Yet, its support goes beyond these areas. If a co-op member needs monetary assistance to make ends meet, Tuzamurane readily provides financing. Members pay for this financing interest-free by supplying an equivalent amount of produce. Furthermore, Tuzamurane covers the cost of employees’ health insurance. In these ways, the cooperative protects the social well-being of its members and their families.

The positive impacts of Tuzamurane Cooperative within the community and region are profound. The pineapple farming income has provided members, particularly women, with funds to pay for their children’s schooling and household expenses. They can also invest in their futures by purchasing livestock and more land for cultivation. Additionally, they can hire more labor to help during busy times. Notably, members of the cooperative are no longer part of the lowest income groups. Tuzamurane has made incredible progress in using pineapples against poverty in Rwanda.

Social and Economic Impact

With Oxfam’s support, Tuzamurane finds great success in providing for Kirehe and Rwanda’s greater community. While pineapples may seem like a simple crop, their ability to grow on small land plots makes them easier for women to manage. In this way, the cooperative’s support empowers male and female heads of households alike. Facilitating their escape from poverty and the ability to adequately provide for their families.

With juicy pineapples in tow, the Tuzamurane Cooperative has addressed several needs of those facing poverty in Rwanda. By educating locals on introductory horticulture, providing essential equipment and offering more business opportunities, more than 300 people and their families have escaped dire poverty in Rwanda. With its lucrative business model, this co-op will undoubtedly continue to inspire thousands throughout the region to use pineapples against poverty in Rwanda.

– Eliza Cochran
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in Poland
In 2016, child poverty in Poland was at a rate of 24.2%. The next year, the percentage of child poverty in Poland dropped to 17.9.

The Family 500+ Program

Although child poverty in Poland is declining, the country ranks in the middle among other E.U. countries. In large part, the country can thank the social policies that the Polish government has adopted, especially the Family 500+ program. This program benefits children where families with two or more children under the age of 18 receive PLN 500 per child monthly, regardless of income. Families with lower incomes receive the benefit for their first child as well. The program boosted additional financial support to about 12% of the average gross wage in 2016. The program shows a great increase in transfers to households living in poverty, as by design, it emerged to be supplementary to other social assistance programs and family benefits.

How the Program Helps

Although the World Bank has argued that the Family 500+ program could create undesirable outcomes, like female labor force participation, which would inhibit fertility rates within the country, the Family 500+ program is a tremendous aid to children in poverty in Poland. For instance, the Family 500+ program covers an estimated 55% of all children in Poland who fulfill the age requirement of being under the age of 18. Meanwhile, by the end of February 2017, the Family 500+ program covered more than 3.82 million children under the age of 18, totaling PLN 21 billion. This shows the Polish government’s commitment to alleviating child poverty in Poland, as the program has contributed to a dramatic increase in the government’s spending on children.

In addition to Poland’s new family benefits program that it launched in order to alleviate child poverty in Poland, the country has also increased efforts to boost birth rates through the program. According to a Eurostat report in 2015, Poland had one of the lowest fertility rates in Europe at a rate of 1.32 children per woman, placing Poland at the second-lowest, right after Portugal.

Success at Reducing Child Poverty in Poland

In a recent Oxfam report, which is an international charity based in Oxford, Poland placed 26th in the world for fighting inequality. In spite of this, Oxfam ranked Poland the best at utilizing social spending to fight poverty and alleviating child poverty in Poland. In fact, estimates have determined that Poland’s child poverty rate will reduce by 76%, because of the program’s cash transfers. Statistics Office shows a 13% to 15% increase in childbirth, as recorded in December 2016 and January 2017. Not only that, after the program’s introduction, rates of consumption and saving have increased and debt levels have decreased. This shows an increase in income which could, in effect, help to alleviate poverty in Poland as a whole.

The Family 500+ program proves to be a significant tool in eliminating child poverty in Poland.

– Danielle Lindenbaum
Photo: Flickr

COVID-19 in the Dominican RepublicLike many developing nations, the Dominican Republic suffered massively in several communities, due to COVID-19. While the virus’s impact does not discriminate against social class — the homeless and impoverished are inevitably the most vulnerable. Given that more than 40% of the country’s population lives below the poverty line, the severity of COVID-19 in the Dominican Republic is alarming.

The Statistics: Cases, Deaths and Hospitalizations

As of August 27, 2020, the Dominican Republic has approximately 92,964 confirmed cases and 1,630 deaths. In the nation, “the fatality rate for COVID-19 is 1.79% while positivity is around 29.64%.” Recent reports suggest about 7,000 hospitalizations and 19,600 patients requiring self-isolation. To date, roughly 64,347 patients have recovered.

The World Bank Assists

At the beginning of April 2020, the World Bank responded to a request from the government of the Dominican Republic. This agreement released $150 million to provide funds to help manage and contain the spread of COVID-19 in the Dominican Republic. Despite this financial supplementation, the nation’s cases eventually reached a peak in late July, days after declaring a second state of emergency. On August 18, 2020, the government held a conference called “Plan Para Enfrentar la Emergencia del COVID-19” or “The Plan to Deal with the COVID-19 Emergency.”

Here, the Ministry of Public Health announced that they are supplementing an additional 15,000 million pesos (totaling 66,000 from the original 51,000) toward the public health budget for the months of September–December 2020. The goal of this funding is to prevent an increase in contractions while providing sufficient healthcare attention to those already infected. They have also granted 2,000 previously uncovered Dominicans with health insurance. This statement was further elaborated; supporting that, if they test positive, any Dominican will receive the required medical assistance as needed. To track the spread and provide ample medical care, hospitals will perform 7,000 tests daily, instead of the regularly completed 3,000. They also plan to properly equip ten separate laboratories with PCR testing around the country.

More Governmental Initiatives

Additionally, the Ministry of Public Health has hired and trained 1,000 unemployed medical experts to facilitate treatment in hospitals. Also, they are planning to provide a 20% increase in available hospital beds by August 30, 2020. At the conference, president Luis Abinader urged for cooperation among the entire nation. Besides the school closures, mask requirements and level four travel advisory, the strength of the country against the virus depends on the collaboration of all individuals following mandated protocols.

However, the lack of adherence to guidelines has been noted frequently. Namely, in the less affluent communities, many are not following the strict curfews put in place. Instead, this disobedience leads to overcrowding in police stations; eliminating safe social distancing practices.

Oxfam’s Efforts

Oxfam International, a nonprofit organization committed to aiding developing nations in times of humanitarian crisis, has contributed greatly to alleviate the impact of COVID-19 in the Dominican Republic. Their main effort is to grant financial assistance to those that have been temporarily unemployed due to the pandemic. They are prioritizing this aspect of the crisis because 50% of the population has experienced a cut or complete loss of income. Based on donations, they have been able to provide over 4,000 families with money transfers — enabling them to cover the costs of fundamental needs.

Camila Minerva Rodriguez, the Oxfam program director in the Dominican Republic, explains the additional installment of food voucher initiatives. During one day in northern Santo Domingo, she was able to provide 58 families with food vouchers, helping them afford grocery expenses.

In all, Oxfam’s efforts are aiding one specific, yet essential part of the daily struggles faced by Dominicans, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Samantha Acevedo-Hernandez
Photo: Flickr

jewelry rebuilds economy in cambodiaCambodian artisans are turning the same brass once used to murder into a symbol of peace and resilience, a stand against the violence that once overtook their country. Artisanry and design have deep roots in Cambodian history. However, the Khmer Rouge destroyed centuries of creative artifacts and left Cambodia’s economy in shambles. Cambodia is now littered with bombshell casings from the Khmer Rouge-led Cambodian genocide, the Vietnam War and a bombing ordered by former U.S. president Richard Nixon. But jewelers are reclaiming their nation through craft, turning these casings into beautiful pieces of jewelry as a stand against the violence that overtook their country. Their jewelry rebuilds the economy in Cambodia and reduces poverty along with it.

What Was the Cambodian Genocide?

April 17, 1975 marks the dark day that Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge began destroying the Cambodian people. Pot’s goal was to rebuild Cambodia in the image of Mao’s communist model in China. However, this led to the murder of an estimated two to three million people in the historic Killing Fields. Between the murders and thousands of starvation deaths, 25% of the Cambodian population died in three years.

This loss devastated the country’s creativity culture, leaving a mere 10% of artists alive. The Khmer Rouge also banned all creative art forms that did not politically benefit them. In addition, the regime destroyed all of Cambodia’s cultural traditions. In order to rebuild the country, its people have looked to the arts.

Rajana Association of Cambodia: Jewelry Rebuilds the Economy in Cambodia

Local jewelers collect pieces of mines, bombs and bullets and upcycle them into beautifully cut brass rings, necklaces and bracelets. They also work with a Cambodian organization that trains people how to properly remove old landmines so that the jewelers can use the material. Rajana jewelers pride themselves on preserving Cambodian style and culture by staying away from Western designs. This not only demonstrates the artisans’ pride in their country’s culture but also their attempt to replenish the art destroyed by the Khmer Rouge.

The Rajana Association of Cambodia began in 1995 as a project under a UK-based NGO, Cambodia Action, which employed young Cambodian refugees at a camp in Thailand. It became its own independent company in 2003 and has since grown into a prominent and successful organization in Cambodia and worldwide. As such, its jewelry rebuilds the economy in Cambodia while preserving its culture.

By successfully expanding their company, the leaders of Rajana have also transformed the lives of their jeweler partners. With an outlet to work from home, the artisans make a living wage while caring for their families. Rajana also established several shops across the country solely run by Cambodian staff in order to sell the products. This income has helped send children to school, provide food for their families and purchase transportation.

Artisans Help Economies Grow

Artisan work has played a crucial role in opening the economy in post-conflict Cambodia to the global market. This rise in jewelry work has not only helped revive Cambodian tradition but also promoted commerce, trade and employment. Cambodia’s GDP has grown to $27 billion in 2019 from $588 million just before in the genocide in 1974. Jewelry manufacturing has contributed $4.8 million to the country’s GDP and employed over 3,500 people, making it a leading factor in the economy’s sustainable development. What began as a way to revive cultural traditions after the genocide has proven to be a driving component in changing the course of Cambodia’s history: the country’s poverty rate has continued to fall as employment rates rise, and is now at about 13% as of 2014 compared to almost 50% in 2007. Thus, jewelry both rebuilds the economy in Cambodia and reduces the poverty its citizens face.

Beautiful Jewelry Reduces Poverty

Several fair trade shops sell Rajana products online, including Ten Thousand Villages and Oxfam. These shops pay their artisans fair prices for their products, thus helping them establish better lives for themselves and their families. It is incredibly important to support international artisans. This fair trade keeps not only their economies alive but also their culture and history. In all, this jewelry rebuilds the economy in Cambodia through cultural preservation, resilience and creativity.

– Stephanie Russo
Photo: Flickr

Yemen's Healthcare System
For people across the globe, the battle against COVID-19 can feel hopeless. Developed countries like the U.S. have struggled to contain the virus; COVID-19 has infected over 5 million Americans since March 2020. However, extensive healthcare resources have helped developed immensely. Ventilators and ICU beds, access to proper sanitation, and the technology to work from home have left many unscathed and have allowed many to make a full recovery. Therefore, it is important to remember the countries that do not have these resources. For example, COVID-19 has been particularly devastating in Yemen, in part, due to Yemen’s healthcare system. 

Conflict, Cholera and COVID-19

Yemen has been enduring a civil war for over five years. The main conflicts are between Houthi rebels and the government of President Hadi. In addition to claiming over 100,000 lives, the violence has exacerbated already daunting public health statistics. Currently, about 50% of the country’s medical facilities are nonfunctional. The U.N. has reported that Yemen is enduring the world’s worst humanitarian crisis with about 80% of the population (or 24.1 million people) in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. In addition, the country is enduring the worst modern-day cholera crisis, reporting approximately 110,000 cases in April 2020.

With the backdrop of the ongoing civil war, Yemen’s healthcare system is unable to support the country. Yemen has 500 ventilators and 700 ICU beds for a population of over 28 million. The Associated Press reported that there are no doctors in 18% of 333 Yemeni districts. Although the country has reported one of the lowest transmission rates in the Middle East, this is largely due to an inability to test. In fact, the country has processed fewer than 1,000 tests; this is about 31 tests per 1 million citizens. There is also evidence of purposeful under testing. The Houthi Ministry of Public Health and Population stated that reporting statistics have negative effects on the psychological health and immune systems of citizens.

Hospitals have seen a 40% mortality rate and have resorted to admitting patients based on age and odds of survival, reported Marc Schakal, Doctors Without Borders’ Deputy Operations Manager for Yemen. The country’s health system has “collapsed” according to the UNHCR. Lise Grande, the U.N. head of humanitarian operations in Yemen reported that the COVID-19 death toll could “exceed the combined toll of war, disease, and hunger over the last five years.”

COVID-19’s Impact Beyond the Healthcare System

The virus has also driven up the prices of food necessities, adding to the high toll of families that rely on aid to survive day-to-day. The U.N. has been attempting to help, but with a lack of funds, it is only possible to provide half-rations for the 8 million-plus hungry people. Hunger has hit women and children the hardest; over 2 million children under the age of 5 are suffering from acute malnutrition.

The lack of international aid in the face of such a tragedy is saddening. Millions of people are essentially being left to die. The United States cut $73 million of aid towards Yemen in March 2020, just as the virus was becoming a global issue. The statistics clearly show it will take a greater effort from the global community to improve Yemen’s outlook.

How to Help

As Sara Beysolow Nyant, UNICEF’s representative to Yemen, expressed, without urgent funding, “The international community will be sending a message that the lives of children in a nation devastated by conflict, disease, and economic collapse, simply do not matter.” Unfortunately, most countries have focused on containing the virus internally. Hopefully, some of the international community will turn its attention to the countries in the greatest need.

For individuals looking to help, donations to groups like UNICEF, Doctors Without Borders and Oxfam will provide aid. Additionally, calling and emailing Congress can also have a profound impact.

Abigail Wilson
Photo: Flickr

Brands Addressing Global Poverty
Cosmetics is a booming industry, with an estimated value of $532 billion, it continues to grow. However, for a long time, many beauty brands have been associated with unconscionable practices as a means to drive profits and sales — such as the use of child labor and unethical sourcing of materials. However, brands addressing global poverty may have an impact not only on worldwide poverty but also on themselves.

Business Structure & Social Impact

In a joint study by The Donor Committee for Enterprise Development and Oxfam, researchers concluded that “business structure can influence the social impact of a company…,” meaning that how a business is operated, keeping the supply chain in mind, can have either positive or negative effects on the social environment that the business engages with.

Inclusive businesses aim to incorporate impoverished people into the supply chain — as suppliers, manufacturers, retailers and customers which encourages economic growth. For a beauty brand addressing global poverty, working with an inclusive business model in mind and working towards more ethical and sustainable practices in the industry — are crucial steps in uplifting and collaborating with emerging markets. Here are five beauty brands addressing global poverty, today.

5 Beauty Brands Addressing Global Poverty

  1. Human Nature: A beauty brand based in the Philippines with compassion at its core. Human Nature creates products with raw materials from community-based suppliers. Working with fair trade principles in mind, the brand ensures that it pays appropriate (sometimes above-market) prices for suppliers’ goods. Human Nature also pays its employees fair living wages to combat poverty in the region.
  2. The Body Shop: The Body Shop believes that business can be a force for good with the motto “Enrich Not Exploit.” The brand engages in ethical trade practices, where retailers and suppliers are accountable for the conditions of their workers. Part of The Body Shop’s global commitment is to help economically, vulnerable people find work. The brand also pledges to invest 250,000 hours of skill-building in the communities where it operates.
  3. L’Occitane: L’Occitane is an eco-friendly, beauty brand addressing global poverty through its philanthropic efforts. The brand maintains a key partnership with women in Burkina Faso who produce shea butter for certain products. L’Occitane provides literacy programs, business training and microcredit opportunities to support women’s leadership and economic empowerment. Since 2006, more than 26,000 women have benefited from the brand’s support.
  4. Karité: Founded by three sisters from Ghana — Karité specializes in ethically sourced shea butter, palm oil and coconut oil from Ghana. Manufacturing is located in New Jersey. This international partnership works with women-run, co-ops supporting economic activity in both Ghana and the U.S. The brand has developed various projects (e.g., the Shea for Soles Initiative) that benefit Ghanan communities. Karité observed the needs of the women who work on the co-ops, noticing that many only wore flip-flops. Subsequently, the brand launched a campaign to provide shoes to the workers.
  5. Conscious Coconut: Conscious Coconut is another international, beauty brand addressing poverty through its fair trade and sustainable sourcing practices. Working globally — growers and workers are paid fair wages, ensuring that employees in poor communities can meet their basic needs. Conscious Coconut advocates against the use of child labor and human rights abuse. Moreover, the brand cultivates close relationships with its suppliers to make certain that they have dignified working conditions. Packaging for the company occurs in Florida at the MacDonald Training Center — which gives work opportunities to adults with disabilities.

An Admirable Business Model

While not all brands follow the same principles that guide these five previously mentioned — each additional brand that joins the cause represents progress. As the world becomes more connected, the global economy plays an increasingly significant role in fighting global poverty. Brands like the five mentioned here are taking an admirable, active role in addressing their business objectives and global poverty, simultaneously.

Melanie McCrackin
Photo: Pixabay

Social Activism by Musicians
Music continues to unite people all around the world despite social distance. With cities urging self-isolation, celebrities are stepping up through charity donations and virtual concert performances. Here are several ways social activism by musicians is making a difference.

Online Concert Streaming

Musician friends Lucius and Courtney Barnett, joined together to raise money for Oxfam’s COVID-19 Relief Fund. Their 4-hour live performance streamed via Instagram was packed with new song debuts and famous cover remixes. Accompanied by individual performances from singers like Sheryl Crow and Lukas Nelson, the event raised more than $38,000.

Through his “Living Room Concert for America,” Elton John joined with musicians such as Alicia Keys and Lady Gaga to raise more than $10 million for Feeding America and the First Responders Children’s Foundation. The Lumineers also raised over $600,000 for MusiCares and the Colorado Restaurant Association through their live stream concert on May 8th.

Relief Efforts to Fight COVID-19

Through the Clara Lionel Foundation, Rihanna has given $5 million in grants to organizations such as Direct Relief, the International Rescue Committee and the World Health Organization to help underprivileged communities fight COVID-19. Musician Dierks Bentley has also demonstrated interest in alleviating pain from the vulnerable communities. In 2019, Dierks Bentley performed at a benefit for the Troy Gentry Foundation, which works with families in need. Bentley has also worked with WE Day, Stand Up to Cancer, Amnesty International and the Children’s Miracle Network to raise awareness and provide financial support.

Donations Given to MusiCares

On June 29th, The Weeknd announced a $1,000,000 donation to support relief efforts. The donation will be split in half with $500,000 for MusiCares and the other half for the Scarborough Health Network, which aids front-line healthcare workers.

Dolly Parton, widely recognized for her philanthropic efforts, was named the MusiCares Person of the Year. She founded the Imagination Library in 1995, which gives kids one book per month until they reach kindergarten. To date, more than 100 million books have been provided through her literacy program. In 2016, she put together the Smoky Mountains Rise telethon, which raised more than $13 million to be given to victims of the wildfires in Gatlinburg. Parton continued her strides in 2020, when she gave $1 million to fund research by Vanderbilt University Medical Center on a cure for COVID-19.

Taylor Swift is also known to lend a hand when she can, and in the face of the Coronavirus, she did just that. Swift supported her favorite record shop in Nashville by making a disclosed donation and giving three months of paid health insurance to the staffers. She has also donated to her fans in need and to Feeding America.

Looking Forward

While much still needs to be done in regards to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, social activism by musicians like these is bringing about change by providing relief to organizations and underserved communities. Through music, these musicians are making change by giving hope and comfort to the world in light of the pandemic.

Erica Fealtman
Photo: Flickr

COVID-19 in Yemen
“Over the past five years, I can’t count the number of times I’ve thought that surely things can’t get more desperate in Hodeidah, [Yemen,]” writes Salem Jaffer Baobaid for The New Humanitarian. Fortunately, fighting and airstrikes have ceased in the city, but the Yemeni Civil War still rages on in other parts of the nation. Now, however, COVID-19 promises to further complicate the situation in Yemen. According to UNICEF, approximately 80% of the Yemeni people require humanitarian aid, which is around 24 million people nationwide. Amid the terror and destruction, hospitals are shutting down, leaving people more vulnerable than ever to the biological dangers of COVID-19 in Yemen. To understand the state of addressing the pandemic in Yemen, one must be aware of the conflict unfolding, how COVID-19 affects the conflict and what assistance is being provided to the Yemeni people.

Where Did This Violence Come From?

After the Arab Spring demonstrations in 2011, former President Ali Abdullah Saleh is replaced through a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) deal placing Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, his deputy, into power. Houthis, the other major group in the conflict, are pushing against Hadi’s power and Saudi influence in the region. In 2014, the Houthis took control over the capital, Sanaa, Yemen, which led to more violence and airstrikes led by Saudi Arabian forces. However, the Houthis are known to be supported by Iran informally, though there are rumors of financial and military support as well.

COVID-19 in Yemen Amid Conflict

Amid airstrikes, city-wide takeovers and alleged coups, the Yemeni people have been largely forgotten. Hospitals all over the nation have shut down due to physical damage and shortages of fuel and medical resources. Only 51% of hospitals and clinics were functioning as of 2015. Meanwhile, over 300 districts in Yemen do not have a single doctor operating within their borders. Due to hospital shutdowns, there are 675 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds and only 309 ventilators available. These numbers demonstrate the very real threat posed by COVID-19. Lack of reliable reporting and economic struggles have only deepened the struggle to contain COVID-19 in Yemen.

On April 2, 2020, a Houthi news organization reported the first case of COVID-19 in Yemen, but this was retracted only for another news release to be published around a week later. As of June 2020, the nation reports 1,100 cases and over 300 deaths, placing the startling mortality rate near 25%.

COVID-19 is also creating economic troubles for Yemen’s citizens. Many people in Yemen are reliant on remittances, or money being sent to them from a relative outside of the country. However, COVID-19 has led to economic recessions and copious layoffs all over the world. As a result, people who have lost jobs are unable to send money back to Yemen.

As the nation struggled to grapple with the loss of remittances and a surge in COVID-19 cases, Yemen also lost international aid that it relied on. The United States alone cut $73 million of aid to Yemen in April 2020 as a response to its own COVID-19 crisis, according to Oxfam.

Assisting the Yemeni People

Amid such chaos, nonprofit groups are moving in to fight for the underdog. Oxfam stands out as one of the most effective groups. Oxfam is currently working to help families in small refugee settlements throughout the nation. There Oxfam digs wells to increase accessibility to clean water in addition to passing out “hygiene kits” that include mosquito nets, wash bins, water jugs and more.

Oxfam is also heavily involved in educating people on how to avoid contracting diseases such as COVID-19 in Yemen. Meanwhile, there are groups working in the United States government to stop its halt on funding for the crisis in Yemen.

– Allison Moss
Photo: Flickr

Sanitation in Burkina Faso




















Over the past decade, Burkina Faso has seen a decrease in poverty from 57.3% in 2003 to 43.7% in 2014. However, sanitation services in the country are still out of reach for many people. Since the 1990s, the government, along with its partners, has been working to improve sanitation in Burkina Faso.

10 Facts about Sanitation in Burkina Faso

  1. People in Burkina Faso face a lack of access to sanitation.  In Burkina Faso, approximately 22% of its 19.77 million people, have access to a toilet. In rural communities, 88% of people are lacking sanitation. In addition, 62.91% of rural people lack access to an adequate supply of safe water which can affect the hygiene of the community.
  2. Health problems result from a lack of sanitation access. Burkina Faso’s under-five child mortality rate in 2018 was 76.4 for every 1,000 live births. One of the leading causes of death for both children and adults in the country is diarrhea-related illnesses. One of the ways to prevent diarrheal disease is with good hygiene and improved water quality. According to the CDC, 88% of diarrhea-related deaths are due to unsafe water, bad sanitation and lack of good hygiene. In 2017, for every 100,000 individuals, 52 people died in Burkina Faso from unsafe sanitation. In many developed countries, deaths linked to unsafe sanitation is less than 0.01.
  3. Inadequate sanitation is costing the country. According to the World Bank, the lack of good sanitation costs the country approximately 154 million dollars each year. This is caused by lost productivity and the cost of health care.
  4. Basic hygiene is lacking in schools. In 2016, 70% of schools in Burkina Faso had access to basic sanitation but only 18% of schools had basic hygiene service. The term “basic hygiene service” refers to schools that give students access to facilities that allow them to wash their hands with soap.  For girls, the lack of adequate sanitary protection materials and gender-segregated latrines for privacy can reduce their willingness to go to school.
  5. There is a lack of sanitation in rural communities in Burkina Faso. The lack of sanitation in rural communities results in a high percentage of open defecation in some areas. Smart Development Networks, a Netherlands-based NGO, is working to change that. The organization partners with local leaders and members of the community to talk about the dangers of open defecation. The organization has reached 50,000 people. In addition, 5,000 latrines have been built by community members.
  6. Burkina Faso is facing a water crisis. Like many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa,  Burkina Faso’s urban population is growing rapidly with an annual growth rate of approximately 5.2%. When it comes to water supply, Burkina Faso is at a disadvantage. It is a landlocked country with limited water resources. To improve the country’s water quality and sanitation, the government of Burkina Faso partnered with the World Bank in implementing an urban water sector project from 2009-2018. Towards the end of 2016, approximately 610,000 people received access to water as a result of this project. In addition, the project gave approximately 440,000 people access to better sanitation. The project also provided more schools with access to better sanitation.
  7. The ONEA is working to address the water crisis. After facing a water shortage in the 1990s, Burkina Faso created L’Office National de l’Eau et de l’Assainissement (ONEA), a state-owned national utility company. The ONEA provides 54 towns in Burkina Faso with water supply, wastewater and human waste treatment.  As Burkina Faso’s urban population grew in cities like the capital Ouagadougou, the company has managed to keep up with the growing demand for its service. In 2003, only 37% of the people who lived in Ouagadougou pumped water that was available to them where they live. Within 7 years that number grew to 48%. The ONEA hopes to increase water coverage to 80% in places where the company works by 2030. The company’s focus is to first increase the number of public taps before moving to provide water to each household.
  8. To improve sanitation in Burkina Faso, the government partnered with the World Bank. The partnership’s goal is to provide more people in the country with better access to sanitation and water quality. In 2018, the World Bank pumped $300 million into Burkina Faso’s “Water Supply and Sanitation Program for Results.” The project is expected to help 1.1 million people by giving them access to better water supply, as well as improve sanitation for 1.3 million people. In addition, the program will fund trainings, strengthen human capital and encourage partnerships within universities, government agencies, municipalities and research centers to improve the management and service delivery of sanitation services.
  9. Burkina Faso is receiving aid from Germany. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development partnered with Burkina Faso’s government to improve the country’s sanitary services. The results are promising. In 2019, this partnership drilled 302 boreholes, repaired 172 boreholes and rehabilitated 10 simplified drinking water supply systems. Furthermore, this project has built 6,095 family latrines and constructed 2,352 domestic cesspools.
  10. In Burkina Faso, violence has broken out due to militia and jihadist groups. This has forced 800,000 people to flee their homes. According to Oxfam, poor communities have taken in a lot of incoming refugees which has stressed their water and food resources. Currently, 1.9 million people in the country need water. To help with the crisis, Oxfam is working to install water tanks, improve hand pumps and create water supply points. Oxfam is also supplying latrines, showers, washing areas, waste pits and bins.

While Burkina Faso faces problems with access to sanitation, the situation is improving. Organizations, such as the World Bank, as well as other countries are working with Burkina Faso’s government to improve the situation. However, the current conflict in the country may stall some of its plans for improving the quality of sanitation. 

– Joshua Meribole
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Sierra Leone
Since establishing independence in 1961, Sierra Leone, a country located in West Africa, has suffered from various conflicts and injustices including a civil war that lasted from 1991 to 2002. As a result, Sierra Leone lacks significant development as a country, ranking 181 out of 189 on the 2019 Human Development Index. The nation remains impoverished. In fact, according to the United Nations Development Programme, approximately 60% of people live in poverty in Sierra Leone.

Factors Contributing to Poverty

Experts believe that four primary factors contribute to Sierra Leone’s overwhelming levels of poverty: government corruption, a lack of an established education system, absence of civil rights and poor infrastructure. These factors make poverty difficult to beat. With the unestablished infrastructure for roads and electricity, high transportation costs pose barriers to trade and limit economic growth.

Additionally, an absence of funding for educational programs leaves Sierra Leone behind in terms of gaining knowledge about civil rights or responsibilities. This contributes to gender inequality and the marginalization of women. The effects of gender inequality include women’s inability to join the workforce and a cultural view of women as servants for men. These ideas inhibit Sierra Leone’s development in a world that values education and women’s rights.

Reducing Poverty in Sierra Leone

Despite these ongoing issues, there have been various efforts to reduce poverty in Sierra Leone. The Free Healthcare Initiative (FHCI) launched in 2010 in Sierra Leone. This initiative provides pregnant women, new mothers and young children with access to basic healthcare in order to reduce infant mortality rates. Although the FHCI is not a solution to poverty in Sierra Leone, it led to several healthcare reforms, including adequate pay for healthcare workers. Robert B. Zoellick, former president of The World Bank Group, expressed his support for such efforts in a press release in 2010, explaining that addressing poverty in Sierra Leone would help lead to peace.

The Work of Oxfam

Various organizations from the United States have also made efforts to reduce poverty in Sierra Leone. One such organization is Oxfam, which has headquarters in Boston. This global organization aims to provide assistance to people experiencing injustices related to poverty. In Sierra Leone, Oxfam focuses on solving infrastructure-related problems, such as access to water, sanitation and hygiene. Additionally, the organization holds the government and other powerful beings in the country accountable by advocating for gender equality and food security. Oxfam also provides assistance in times of emergency, including during past outbreaks of cholera and Ebola in Sierra Leone.

The Tiger Worms Toilet Project is one of Oxfam’s notable successes in Sierra Leone. This project helped prevent communicable diseases by addressing sewage concerns through enhanced sanitation practices. It also helped prevent diseases by educating those in Sierra Leone about their spread. These actions enable Oxfam to make strides toward accomplishing its vision for Sierra Leone: “A just, inclusive and resilient Sierra Leone without poverty, in which citizens, particularly women and youth demand and acquire access to their rights and live a life of dignity.”

Although poverty remains a persistent problem in this West African country, aid from U.S.-based organizations like Oxfam is a small step toward eliminating poverty in Sierra Leone.

Hannah Carroll
Photo: Flickr