Fragility and Rule of Law in KashmirKashmir is a region in South Asia with disputed territories in India, Pakistan and China. It is known for its diverse and vibrant culture, delicious cuisine, rich music and a wide range of clothing. Located in the Himalayas, Kashmir now stands as a symbol of fragility and the fight for the rule of law due to political disputes.


The Jammu and Kashmir territories have been under dispute since the Partition in 1947 when the British Raj withdrew and India and Pakistan separated based on religious divisions. With a Muslim majority, Kashmir had the choice to join either country. Initially planning for independence, the Hindu ruler Maharaja Hari Singh later acceded to India after a tribal invasion, setting the stage for the fragility and ongoing struggles for the rule of law in Kashmir.

However, the Maharaja’s agreement to join India was based on terms outlined in Article 370 and Article 35A. Article 370 granted Kashmir autonomy to create its own Constitution, make laws and have its flag, while Article 35A ensured equal opportunities for Kashmiris in land ownership, employment and assistance. The Indian government deployed its army to counter the tribal invasion and although the United Nations (U.N.) established a ceasefire, both Indian and Pakistani troops remain in the region as of July 2023.

Political System in Kashmir

On August 5th, 2019, the Indian government revoked Articles 370 and 35A. The revocation undermined the rule of law in Kashmir and deprived citizens of the same rights and liberties they once had legal entitlements to. Jammu and Kashmir lost their state status and became Union Territories (UT), regions administered entirely by the central government, further contributing to the political fragility of the region.

Citizens of Jammu and Kashmir have had limited political participation since the last state assembly elections in 2014. While India prides itself on being one of the world’s largest democracies, the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s state status raises concerns about the fragility and the rule of law in Kashmir. With the new UT status, both executive and legislative power rests with the central government and the State Assembly of Kashmir has been dissolved. This lack of representation has led to calls for the restoration of statehood for Jammu and Kashmir.

Human Rights Violations

In addition to the ever-changing and fragile system of government, arrests and enforced disappearances of activists and journalists have become increasingly common, undermining the fundamental principle of the rule of law in Kashmir. Notably, journalist Irfan Mehraj was arrested by the National Investigation Agency for exposing human rights abuses. 

According to the Free Speech Collective, the arrest of Irfan Mehraj is “an alarming indication of how far the authorities will go to clamp down on independent journalism.” The organization emphasizes the need to stop targeting independent journalists in Kashmir, allowing them to practice their profession without fear or favor.

Furthermore, the government has imposed numerous internet shutdowns, restricting communication and preventing the flow of information. In 2021 alone, Jammu and Kashmir experienced 85 internet shutdowns, violating the constitutional rights of freedom of speech and expression, as ruled by the Indian Supreme Court. This demonstrates the fragility of Kashmir, where the government perceives freedom of the press as a threat. 

Additionally, the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act grants the military broad powers in Jammu and Kashmir, leading to further human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, torture and rape. These violations often go unpunished, fueling controversy and perpetuating human rights abuses.

Political instability and human rights violations directly contribute to poverty in Kashmir. The region’s militarization, as seen through policies like the Armed Forces Act, is a leading cause. Additionally, 73% of people lack access to health care and 43% of children are out of school. The forced disappearances, violence and arrests have caused distress and instability within family structures, hindering socioeconomic success. Political instability has worsened inflation, with no state government creating opportunities for Kashmiris.

Take Action

Kashmir Action provides a variety of resources to educate individuals about the crisis in Kashmir. The website is run by the organization, Justice For All, which addresses issues and politically mobilizes for causes that have not garnered sufficient international support. For instance, Justice for All advocates for independent Kashmiri media, creates petitions for specific issues in Kashmir, organizes protests and provides educational material. In 2020, the organization reached more than 6 million social media interactions and distributed 75,000 educational brochures. A few ways to support Justice for All include signing petitions, making awareness posts and reading their reports.

Helping Hand for Relief and Development is another organization dedicated to providing direct humanitarian aid to Kashmiris on both sides of the border. It offers resources to those in need through its campaigns across the world. For example, in 2021, the organization provided in-kind gifts to 4,718,872 containing food, furniture, hygiene items, school supplies, medical equipment and clothes. The essential items in the relief kits assist people across the globe living in poverty while alleviating their suffering. Moreover, Helping Hand’s Kashmir Relief Campaign goes to projects such as Winter Relief, Ramadan Food, Water for Life and the Medical In-Kind Gifts Program. These campaigns are especially important for global poverty alleviation as they provide necessities to vulnerable populations in Kashmir. 

Looking Ahead

The people of Kashmir continue to show resilience under the unstable political system and the ongoing human rights violations that undermine the rule of law. Raising awareness of the attacks on human rights is pivotal to garnering international support. While political instability and human rights violations contribute to socio-economic disparities in Kashmir, taking both political actions and donating to humanitarian aid play a crucial role in shaping a brighter future for Kashmir. 

– Mehreen Syed
Photo: Unsplash

Central African RepublicOne year after repatriation efforts began, refugees from the Central African Republic are returning home. Although repatriation operations began in November 2019, the return of refugees from the Central African Republic was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Enhanced health and safety precautions made their return possible. The United Nations Refugee Agency, a U.N. agency responsible for protecting refugees, organized the implementation of health and safety precautions. Measures included the use of masks and temperature screening. Handwashing stations were also installed to prevent the spread of disease.

Central African Republic Refugees

Repatriation efforts began after security conditions in the Central African Republic improved. Stability in the country has developed at a slow pace. Less violence in regions of the Central African Republic known for volatile shifts prompted the voluntary return of refugees.

Beginning in 2012, violent confrontations between armed factions throughout the Central African Republic forced more than 500,000 people to flee. Thousands more went into hiding, often in the wilderness, where access to food and clean water is scarce. A staggering rate of poverty among citizens of the Central African Republic reflects years of political instability.

Poverty in the Central African Republic

Both domestically and abroad, refugees from the Central African Republic experience rates of extreme poverty and hunger. The Central African Republic was one of the last two countries on the 2018 Human Development Index ranking. Combined with the political instability of the nation, the Central African Republic’s low development score contributes to the nation’s high rate of poverty.

With a population of a little less than five million people, almost 80% of the country’s people live in poverty. While political instability is a major factor that contributes to the high rate of poverty in the country, meager production rates, insufficient markets and pronounced gender inequality also contribute to the high rate of poverty. Additionally, it is estimated that nearly half of the population of the country experiences food insecurity.

Alarmingly, almost 90% of food insecure individuals in the country are classed as severely food insecure, which is nearly two million people. This has particularly devastating effects for children aged between 6 months and 5 years old. More than one-third of all children within that age range are stunted due to lack of appropriate dietary nutrition.

The World Food Programme Alliance

In partnership with the government of the Central African Republic and other humanitarian organizations, the World Food Programme (WFP) provided emergency food and nutritional assistance to nearly 100,000 people, in 2018. This assistance was delivered to individuals who were affected by the violence that resulted from the coup in 2013, the civil violence that was unleashed by competing factions after the coup and the violence that continued through 2017, as hostility between armed groups was reignited. This method of the WFP’s humanitarian aid involves the distribution of food packages and the implementation of nutrition activities for children and pregnant mothers.

Time will tell whether refugees are returning to a country that will eventually provide for them. Through various initiatives, including Food Assistance for Assets and Purchase for Progress, the WFP hopes to turn civic, humanitarian functions over to the country’s government.

Food Assistance for Assets and Purchase for Progress

Both the Food Assistance for Assets and Purchase for Progress initiatives were designed by the United Nations to help partner nations achieve objectives set by the ‘Zero Hunger’ Sustainable Development Goal. Food Assistance for Assets “addresses immediate food needs through cash, voucher or food transfers.” Its response to immediate needs is paired with a long-term approach. Food Assistance for Assets “promotes the building or rehabilitation of assets that will improve long-term food security and resilience.”

Purchase for Progress works in tandem with Food Assistance for Assets. It is a food purchase initiative, whereby the WFP purchases more than $1 billion worth of staple food annually from smallholder farms. This food is used by the WFP in its global humanitarian efforts. Meanwhile, its ongoing investment in smallholder farms contributes to national economies.

Through the initiatives of the World Food Programme and its dedicated efforts for humanitarian assistance and hunger eradication, the Central African Republic will hopefully reach a point where its citizens never again have to flee the country they call home.

– Taylor Pangman
Photo: Flickr

Venezuelan Crisis
For decades Venezuela’s government and economy have struggled significantly. Entering Venezuela into a search engine will generate links to a multitude of foundations attempting to relieve the Venezuelan Crisis. What is the Venezuelan Crisis and how is the U.S. reacting?

The South American country’s history is full of political and social inequity. Venezuelan leadership has been rocky at best since Simon Bolivar led the country to independence more than 200 years ago. Despite his original constitutional implementations of extremely strict rules such as capital punishment for any public officer guilty of stealing 10 pesos or more from the government, the country quickly fell into corruption.

History of Corruption

The disorder apparent in Venezuela’s contemporary governmental and social climates stems from centuries ago when inefficient leadership set the precedent. The country did not institute a democratic election until 1945. That is more than 130 years after its founding and establishment of the civilian government. Turmoil ensued as Marcos Perez Jimenez, a military figure, overthrew the first elected President Romulo Gallegos within eight months. Admiral Wolfgang Larrazabel, in turn, ousted Jiminez and leftist Romulo Betancourt subsequently took power. This period of rapid regime change defined by government instability and disorganization instilled a distrust that still resonates in the hearts of Venezuelans today.

The trend of unreliable leaders continued until the late 1960s and 1970s when a beacon of light emerged. This age saw much-needed transparency in public assets, contrasting with previous leaders who were heavily corrupt. During this time, other South American countries even began to restructure their governments after the Venezuelan model. However, Venezuela lived this era of tranquility for only a short time because of one man: President Jaime Lusinchi.

Lusinchi served as President from 1984 to 1994. Even in the era of Nicolas Maduro, he stands as the epitome of Venezuelan corruption. In his 10 years as the country’s leader, a corrupt security exchange program stole an alleged $36 billion from the government. Additionally, many accused Lusinchi of stealing from the National Horse Racing Institute to promote the campaign of his successor, Carlos Andres Perez.

Venezuela’s economy functions almost solely on oil exports. The volatility of international oil demands, a market characterized by consistent inconsistency, historically parallels with the state of the Venezuelan market. A booming oil stock in an oil-dependent country naturally creates extraordinary temptation, a temptation that Lusinchi gravely fell into.

Making the national situation worse, the money Lusinchi stole from the government came from a temporary oil surge. Therefore, when oil prices normalized, the economy faced a much more difficult catching up than it would have otherwise.

For many Venezuelans, Lusinchi reopened recent wounds concerning government distrust. This fueled a wave of anger that the famous populist Hugo Chavez harnessed. Lower-class Venezuelans blamed government corruption and greed of the elite for the country’s extreme economic and social issues. The support of this large base played an important role in electing Chavez as President in 1998.

Today’s Dictatorship

To understand the current state of affairs under Maduro, it is vital to understand Chavez’s impact on the Venezuelan Crisis. Chavez’s policies raised (and still raise) enormous controversy as he led using traditionally socialist policies. Under these policies, Venezuela saw a 50 percent reduction in poverty and a dramatic reduction in the unemployment rate.

These policies were only achievable because of a 2004 soar in oil prices in the middle of Chavez’s presidency. His excessive spending on categories like food subsidies, education and health care was only possible through this boom. To get the Venezuelan people to reelect him, Chavez did not scale back these programs to match declining oil prices and set up his country to fail.

In 2014 Venezuelan oil prices crashed, leaving the economy in shambles as Chavez’s programs quickly racked up an enormous deficit. This also started the massive inflation of the Venezuelan bolivar that the country still struggles with today. Following Chavez’s death, Nicolas Maduro gained power in 2014, taking on the responsibility for the economy and deficit. Maduro failed to diversify the oil-rigged economy. This caused the petrostate to fall back into extreme poverty, currently wielding a poverty rate of around 90 percent, double what it was in 2014.

The Council on Foreign Relations quotes Venezuela as “the archetype of a failed petrostate,” describing it as a sufferer of the infamous Dutch disease. The transition to this began back in 1976 when then-President, Carlos Andres Perez, nationalized the oil industry creating the state-owned ‘Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA). Chavez’s mismanagement of this company led it to render weak profits. Internal issues such as insider business practices and drug-trafficking also littered the business with corruption. Chavez then sanctioned a series of other national businesses and foreign-owned assets tilting the country towards extreme socialism.

This progression of increased nationalization slowly opened the doors for Maduro to initiate authoritative rule. He abused this power in multiple facets which had devastating consequences on the well-being of the country and its people.

Early in his rule, Maduro placed his supporters in the Venezuelan Supreme Court and replaced the National Assembly with his own Constituent Assembly. Through this cunning, undemocratic move, he essentially eliminated all political opposition and erased any check on his power. This allowed him to pass extremely contentious policy such as the abuse of food importation. Because of Maduro’s extremely poor operation of a socialist economy, hyperbolic inflation rates currently plague the country. While the political elites operate on a 10:1 rate, the rest of the country uses around a 12,000:1.

To make matters worse, Maduro delegated food commerce to the military which has access to the significantly decreased exchange rate. To make enormous profits, it buys food at the 10:1 rate and then sells it domestically at a 12:000:1 rate. The 2017 statistic shows that Venezuelans lost an average of 27 pounds, highlighting the horror of Maduro’s corruption.

What is the US’s position in all of this?

As expected, the U.S. with its long history of an anti-socialist stance disapproves greatly of the Maduro suppressive regime. There is historical friction between the two, which emerged again during Chavez’s time in a battle between capitalist and socialist ideals.

After Maduro’s reelection, the Trump administration grew furious and decided to use aid as a tool against the dictator. In an act of defiance against the U.S., Maduro rejected all supplies from the capitalist power. The U.S. decided to use this move to its advantage, pledging to send copious amounts of humanitarian aid and urging Venezuela’s officials to defy their President’s orders.

As Dylan Baddour states in his article for The Atlantic, “Those who support the mission say that soldiers will be motivated by the impact Venezuela’s crisis is having on their families to switch sides and affect a peaceful transfer of power.” However, not everyone supports this mission because of the U.S.’s bittersweet past regarding Latin American intervention.

Citizens in countries like Chile, Nicaragua and Panama certainly are in living memory of times when American involvement only made matters worse. But as Baddour writes, in a situation as dire as Venezuela’s during the Venezuelan Crisis, “the world’s most powerful country showing up at Venezuela’s border with truckloads of food and medicine is much better than what it has done in the past.”

There is, of course, a concern that Venezuela could transform into the next Syria — where the majority of the population suffers because of one belligerent leader. But if the U.S. takes a proper humanitarian route with its aid, unlike previous attempts, it could do more help than harm. Hopefully, Venezuela will accept aid and transfer power peacefully and efficiently to someone that does not endorse such heinous policies. Until then, the U.S. simply providing its current amount of humanitarian aid is a positive step in the right direction to relive some of the effects of the Venezuelan Crisis.

Liam Manion
Photo: Flickr

Food Insecurity in the Central African RepublicOn July 19, 2017, the United Nations World Food Programme announced that it would donate $11 million, which was contributed by the United States government, in order to help feed approximately 500,000 people in the Central African Republic. The country has experienced many hunger-related problems which makes this donation a positive first step to begin combatting food insecurity in the Central African Republic.

It was reported that the 500,000 people being assisted by the World Food Programme will include displaced people, refugees and students. These groups are considered to be the most disadvantaged groups in the country.

The donation will partly help fund meals in schools in order to help students achieve their educational goals more efficiently and effectively. The relationship between academic success and hunger has been widely studied, and it is often reported that students tend to perform worse in school when they are hungry.

For instance, according to the Global Citizen, it is important that students eat healthy meals in order to succeed, because the brain needs energy to understand information and solve problems. Thus, the World Food Programme’s donation to the Central African Republic will help students focus better on their studies in order to learn the skills that are necessary to thrive as adults.

Furthermore, the Central African Republic has experienced a lot of political instability throughout its history. According to the World Food Programme, “the Central African Republic has the second-to-lowest level of human development in the world.” Many of the people that have been displaced throughout the country have been affected by the violence that has been incited by various rebel groups. Furthermore, there are heightened religious tensions between such groups, which has caused approximately 600,000 people to be displaced.

However, the government of the United States is making an important effort to assist the most disadvantaged groups through the World Food Programme so that food insecurity in the Central African Republic will be addressed and solved. Then, perhaps, other issues can be solved, too.

Emily Santora

Photo: Flickr

Why Are Palestinian Territories PoorIn recent years, the struggle of the Palestinian Territories has become increasingly publicized. The territories, located in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, are the center of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The increase in attention given to this conflict and related issues often raises the question “why are Palestinian territories poor?”

The Palestinian territory poverty rate is said to be 25 percent of the total population, with an unemployment rate of 27 percent. After the recession in 2014, the World Bank reported in 2015 that the region was becoming poorer for the third consecutive year. Currently, there are three main causes of poverty in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

The long-standing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian territories has created political instability and has been a cause of economic turmoil in the region. One example of this is the Gaza Blockade that Israel instated in the 1990s and intensified in 2007. This blockade severely reduced the mobility of Palestinians in the area and their ability to find work. The trickle-down effect of the blockade (as well as other results of the conflict) is that aid is less accessible for the impoverished in the community.

A secondary, but major, cause of poverty is an increasing unemployment rate, which also stems from the political and economic instability. The May 2017 issue of This Week in Palestine reports that over 400,000 people are unemployed in the two regions of the territory. Most of the unemployed are youths, many of whom are recent graduates. The Palestinian Ministry of Labor is unable to effectively create jobs to solve this unemployment crisis affecting the population.

Issues with infrastructure can be crippling. BBC reported in 2014 that issues with electricity and other infrastructure perpetuate the struggles those in the territories face and can lead to further hardships. A survey from the ADBI Institute, “The Impacts of Infrastructure on Development: A Selective Survey,” stated that “development economists have considered physical infrastructure to be a precondition for industrialization and economic development…” Therefore, with inconsistent electricity comes unreliable healthcare and water supply. The BBC report outlines this by stating “[electricity power cuts] will disturb electricity for the whole population of Gaza; almost two million people will suffer.”

The solution to the question at hand, “why are Palestinian territories poor?”, is not a simple one, nor is it one without political complications. However, the chief of the United Nations, António Guterres, believes that the solution to these causes of poverty in the Palestinian territories lies with the United Nations resolution 1860, which refers to the Security Council resolution from 2009 which called for an immediate end to the fighting between Israel and Hamas and lifting of blockades for food, fuel and medicines. He also believes that immediate and increased humanitarian aid can help uplift and stabilize the region, which in turn gives the people opportunities to create and fill jobs, especially reconstruction-based jobs. The solutions posed by the United Nations could eradicate these causes and alleviate poverty in the Palestinean territories.

Gabriella Paez

Photo: Flickr

Liberia is a country in West Africa and is one of the poorest countries in the world. Although Liberia is the oldest republic in Africa and has a long running relationship with the U.S., the alarming poverty rate in Liberia cripples growth and exacerbates other issues.

The World Bank’s most recent information on the poverty rate in Liberia, collected in 2007, indicates that around 63 percent of the country lives on less than $1.90 per day (the daily income rate considered the threshold for extreme poverty). Also, as of 2009 the World Bank reported that a colossal 89.6 percent of the population lives on less than $3.10 a day.

These statistics show that a significant majority of Liberia suffers from the absolute worst poverty possible, and nearly everyone in the country struggles from slightly less severe yet punishing conditions of scarcity and desperation.

Unsurprisingly, the alarming poverty rate in Liberia stymies the country’s overall development. The country lacks the infrastructure to reliably provide water and electricity, and sorely lacks the resources or opportunities for widespread education or employment. Overall, these deficiencies stifle the creation of new institutions as well as human and economic development, contributing to other problems such as corruption and instability.

Like many other poverty-stricken countries in Africa, Liberia also contends with frequent political instability and violence. Following a military coup d’etat in 1980, the government of Liberia has been plagued by corruption, irresponsibility and political persecution. Two civil wars in Liberia claimed the lives of 250,000 people between 1989 and 2003.

The country’s political instability may seem surprising considering that Liberia was founded by freed American and Caribbean slaves and has a democratic system of government modeled after the U.S. Unfortunately, the relationship between poverty and corruption creates a seemingly endless cycle that prevents the Liberian government from functioning effectively when the deprived people need it most.

Fortunately, Liberia’s current president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, seems determined to rid the government of corruption and truly help the country. With a long history of opposing unethical behavior and experience working for the World Bank and U.N. President Sirleaf is particularly well qualified to pull Liberia out of hopelessness.

President Sirleaf possesses the strong negotiation skills and political and financial knowledge to tackle the alarming poverty rate in Liberia as well as the corruption it feeds. If President Sirleaf succeeds in revamping Liberia’s economy and rooting out government-level corruption, Liberia may one day live up to the principles of liberty and opportunity that its founders originally sought.

Isidro Rafael Santa Maria
Photo: Flickr

Why Is the Democratic Republic of Congo Poor
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of natural resources. It sits on an estimated $24 trillion worth of natural resources, including 3.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, large deposits of iron ore, platinum, diamonds, gold and uranium, as well as 106270 square kilometers of arable land. Despite all this, its citizens make, on average, only $800 per year, and 63% live under the poverty line. Given its vast mineral wealth and natural resources, why is the Democratic Republic of the Congo poor?


Colonization, Political Instability, and the Resource Curse: Why is the Democratic Republic of the Congo Poor?


Due to the DRC’s great wealth of natural resources, it has consistently been exploited by imperial European powers throughout its history. When first discovered by the Western world in the sixteenth century, millions of Congolese men and women were stolen from their homeland and shipped around the globe to act as slaves for European industry.

Later, when slavery was eventually abolished throughout most of the developed world, the Congo was still not safe from pillage. When tires became a staple due to the rise of cars and bicycles, the rubber was taken from the Congo. When World War I was fought, 75% of the copper used in bullet casings were mined in the Congo. And when the United States dropped two nuclear bombs on Japan in World War II, you can bet the uranium came from the Congo too.

During this period, which lasted from 1879 to 1959, the Congo region was controlled by the Belgian empire. However, colonial exploitation alone cannot be the only answer to the question “why is the Democratic Republic of the Congo poor?” Due to the abundance of uranium in the region, the Soviet Union and the United States carried out proxy wars in the Congo by supporting vying factions during the Cold War.

Since then, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been subject to a slew of dictatorial rulers, often with foreign support. After the Rwandan genocide of 1994, over a million Hutu took refuge in the Congo (then called Zaire), bringing with them both disease and rebellion.

After more than a decade of war, the Democratic Republic of the Congo gained enough stability to attempt a democratic government, though the election itself was rife with violence and conflict. There still remains a large faction of Rwandan rebels, and more than 800,000 people were displaced from their homes because of military operations meant to stop the rebel groups.

Another answer to the question “why is the Democratic Republic of the Congo poor?” can be found in the current president, Joseph Kabila. Not only is he suspected of stealing large portions of foreign aid, but he also provides those who do give aid access to the mineral resources of the DRC, at great expense to his own people, a repetition of the history of the country, which has been exploited by powers both foreign and domestic for centuries. These powers have worked hard to make sure the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo remain poor, unhealthy and disenfranchised; unable to take control of their own country and the incredible resources it possesses.

Connor Keowen
Photo: Flickr

Guinea-Bissau is a country in West Africa with an estimated population of 1.8 million. The country gained independence from Portugal in 1974 and has since been marred by high levels of political unrest with repeated changes in government. No elected president in the country’s history has successfully served a full five-year term. The political instability and poverty in Guinea-Bissau has resulted in a lack of development throughout the country.

Guinea-Bissau is one of the poorest countries in the world with a gross domestic product (GDP) based on purchasing-power-parity (PPP) per capita of 1,568 dollars. The country’s economy is highly reliant on subsistence farming, foreign assistance and the export of cashew nuts. International aid to the country has been suspended on several occasions due to concern over governance and the rule of law. Guinea-Bissau has become a way station for drugs bound for Europe due to lack of strong governance, poor economy and its geographical location. There are fears that Guinea-Bissau is becoming the first narco-state in Africa.

Guinea-Bissau has a Human Development Index (HDI) value of 0.42, which puts the country in the low human development category, ranking 178 out of 188 countries. Life expectancy in the country has increased somewhat but is still around 55 years. The adult literacy rate is 56%. In addition, the average number of years that people go to school in Guinea is only 2.8 years. Nearly 70% of the population lives below the poverty line.

A major contributing factor to poverty in Guinea-Bissau is the fact that almost 85% of the population depends on agriculture as the main source of income. This is not a stable form of income due to several factors, such as political instability, irregular rainfall and volatile prices of imports and exports. As a result, 11% of households in Guinea-Bissau are classified as food insecure and in some regions, this figure is as high as 51%.

While Guinea-Bissau has one of the slowest growing economies in Africa, there is potential for growth in several untapped sectors. This includes adding value to raw exports like cashew nuts and timber, as well as exploring untapped mineral deposits of bauxite and phosphates.

However, effectively addressing poverty in Guinea-Bissau and reaching sustainable economic growth will require long-term political stability.

Helena Kamper

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Chad
Through its history, the African country of Chad has fallen victim to instability, corruption and devastating climatic variation.

Since the country gained its independence from France in 1960, it has struggled with controversial elections and an allegedly corrupt president, Idriss Denby Itno. Tensions between religious groups and ethnic factions have furthered instability despite several peace agreements that have been reached.

Equally as damaging as Chad’s instability is its unpredictable climate. The country relies heavily on oil and agricultural exports, yet soil erosion, drought and plague locust can destroy crops and make it impossible to collect oil and other natural resources.

Factors like political and social instability, as well as an unforgiving climate, make poverty in Chad very real and very challenging to fight.

According to the World Bank over 45 percent of Chad’s population lives at or below the national poverty line. The poverty line is the amount of income needed to afford the necessities of life like food, water and shelter. Living at or below a poverty line can put immense pressure on people and often causes children to miss school. Unfortunately, uneducated communities often lack the skills and knowledge to help lift themselves out of poverty and in turn become even more impoverished.

Exemplifying what can come with living under the national poverty line is Chad’s slum population. As of 2014, nearly 90 percent of the Chadian population resided in slum housing. A slum is defined as housing that lacks access to clean water, sanitation, proper living space or structural durability. These living conditions can lead to higher rates of illness and crime within the community.

Overall, poverty in Chad has a devastating effect on the country. By looking at how long a country’s population lives, how educated they are and what standards of living they endure, one can determine how developed the country is. Every year the U.N. collects this data to look at each country’s development progress. The result is  the Human Development Index (HDI) which uses life expectancy, an education index and Gross National Income as key dimensions of human development.

In 2015, the U.N. ranked Chad 185 out of 188 countries measured in terms of HDI. This low score means that on average, Chad is not only less developed than most other countries, but it’s people live shorter lives, are undereducated and are relatively unproductive in terms of GNI.

This statistic is undoubtedly linked with high rates of poverty in Chad. And, though investments in Chad are risky, there are organizations reaching out to Chad.

One organization, Aid for Africa empowers especially vulnerable populations like women and children in hopes that they may one day escape poverty. This is done through community-based self-help programs, education programs, business help and ecological protection.

Weston Northrop

Photo: Flickr

what causes global poverty
As governments, aid workers and activists search for solutions to the urgent problem of widespread poverty and seek to combat its many negative effects, there is a need to identify the causes of poverty in order to create sustainable change. Understanding what causes global poverty is a crucial part of the process of devising and implementing effective solutions.

Most analysts would agree that there is no single root cause of all poverty everywhere throughout human history. However, even taking into account the individual histories and circumstances of particular countries and regions, there are significant trends in the causes of poverty.


Top 5 Causes of Poverty


  1. History
    Many of the poorest nations in the world were former colonies from which slaves and resources had been systematically extracted for the benefit of colonizing countries. Although there are notable exceptions (Australia, Canada and the U.S. being perhaps the most prominent), for most of these former colonies, colonialism and its legacies have helped create the conditions that prevent many people from accessing land, capital, education and other resources that allow people to support themselves adequately. In these nations, poverty is one legacy of a troubled history involving conquest.
  2. War & political instability
    Whatever the causes of war and political upheaval, it is clear that safety, stability and security are essential for subsistence and, beyond that, economic prosperity and growth. Without these basics, natural resources cannot be harnessed individually or collectively, and no amount of education, talent or technological know-how will allow people to work and reap the benefits of their labor. Laws are needed to protect rights, property and investments, and without legal protections, farmers, would-be entrepreneurs and business owners cannot safely invest in a country’s economy. It is a telling sign that the poorest countries in the world have all experienced civil war and serious political upheaval at some point in the 20th century, and many of them have weak governments that cannot or do not protect people against violence.
  3. National Debt
    Many poor countries carry significant debt due to loans from wealthier nations and international financial institutions. Poorer nations owe an average of $2.30 in debt for every $1 received in grant aid. In addition, structural adjustment policies by organizations like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund often require poorer nations to open their markets to outside business and investors, thereby increasing competition with local businesses and, many argue, undermining the potential development of local economies. In recent years, calls for debt reduction and forgiveness have been increasing, as activists see this as a key means of reducing poverty. The United Nations has also made it a priority to examine how economic structural adjustment policies can be designed to place less pressure on vulnerable populations.
  4. Discrimination and social inequality
    Poverty and inequality are two different things, but inequality can feed widespread poverty by barring groups with lower social status from accessing the tools and resources to support themselves. According to the United Nations Social Policy and Development Division, “inequalities in income distribution and access to productive resources, basic social services, opportunities, markets, and information have been on the rise worldwide, often causing and exacerbating poverty.” The U.N. and many aid groups also point out that gender discrimination has been a significant factor in holding many women and children around the world in poverty.
  5. Vulnerability to natural disasters
    In regions of the world that are already less wealthy, recurrent or occasional catastrophic natural disasters can pose a significant obstacle to eradicating poverty. The effects of flooding in Bangladesh, drought in the Horn of Africa and the 2005 earthquake in Haiti are examples of the ways in which vulnerability to natural disasters can be devastating to affected countries. In each of these cases, already impoverished people became refugees within their own countries, losing whatever little they had, being forced out of their living spaces and becoming almost completely dependent on others for survival. According to the World Bank, two years after Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar in 2008, the debt burden of local fishermen had doubled. The Solomon Islands experienced an earthquake and tsunami in 2007 and the losses from that disaster equaled 95 percent of the national budget. Without foreign aid, governments in these countries would have been unable to meet the needs of their people.

These are only five causes of poverty. They are both external and internal causes; both man-made and natural. Just as there is no single cause of poverty, there is no single solution. Nevertheless, understanding the ways in which complex forces like these interact to create and sustain the conditions of widespread global poverty is a vital step toward combating poverty around the world.

– Délice Williams

Source: Global Issues, USCCB, World Bank