Child Poverty in BurundiThe East African country of Burundi is one of the poorest in the world. Its meager economy relies heavily on rainfed agriculture, which employs approximately 90% of the people there. Burundi is Africa’s most population-dense country and nearly three out of every four people live below the poverty line. One of the lamentable realities of Burundi’s poverty is the effects it has on children. Child poverty is a serious issue in Burundi and the country has a current score of 5.46/10 on Humanium’s “Realization of Children’s Rights Index.”  Burundi is deemed a black level country by Humanium, meaning that the issue of children’s rights is very serious.

The State of Child Poverty in Burundi

In Burundi, 78% of children live in poverty. Poverty especially affects children in the rural parts of the country. Poverty also disproportionately affects children of the indigenous Batwa people. Additionally, child poverty in Burundi has seen an unfortunate and notable increase since 2015, when violent unrest occurred following President Pierre Nkurunziza’s announcement of a third term, which was unconstitutional. The roots of the poverty problem in Burundi stem from a few different factors, the most predominant one being hunger.

Chronic Hunger in Burundi

Despite having an agriculture-centric economy, more than half of Burundians are chronically hungry.  The lack of food in the country is due to the fact that even at the peak of the harvesting season, food production is too low to sustain the population. Food production in Burundi can only cover a person for 55 days of the year. The lack of food also means prices are much higher. As a result, it is not uncommon for households to spend up to two-thirds of their incomes on food, even during harvesting season. One reason for Burundi’s difficulties in growing enough food has been frequent natural disasters that destroy crops and yields.

Hunger and Education

Hunger is so prevalent and intense in Burundi that despite having free and compulsory school for children between the ages of 7 and 13, the country faces growing dropout rates due to hunger. Another problematic issue for Burundian children facing poverty is schooling after the age of 13. After 13, school is neither free nor compulsory, making it exponentially less accessible and thus reducing opportunities for upward mobility. Much of Burundi’s education system has been negatively affected by Burundi’s civil war, as schools were destroyed and teachers were unable to teach.

Street Children in Burundi

Burundi has many “street children.” As the name suggests, these children live on the streets and are incredibly poor, left to fend for themselves. Street children have no humanitarian assistance from the government and consistently face police brutality, theft and arrests. Kids in Burundi become street children because families are sometimes too poor and hungry to stay together or they have to flee from child abuse or family conflict.

Organizations Addressing Child Poverty in Burundi

Although the reality of the child poverty situation in Burundi is dire, there are good things being done to improve the situation. While the government in Burundi is not providing adequate help, there are several humanitarian organizations providing assistance to those in need.

The NGO, Humanium, works on raising awareness, partnering with local projects to help children and providing legal assistance to victims of children’s rights abuses. The World Food Programme (WFP) has also been working in Burundi since 1968 by providing food such as school meals, malnutrition rehabilitation to starved children and helping to improve food production. Additionally, organizations like Street Child are working to build schools and eliminate as many barriers to education as possible for children in Burundi and elsewhere. Groups like the WFP, Humanarium and Street Child do substantial work to help children in Burundi. It is vital that the work continues and that more organizations participate in alleviating child poverty in Burundi.

– Sean Kenney
Photo: Flickr

Many organizations that work towards ending global poverty focus on the effects that occur due to poverty, such as housing and food insecurity. However, the organization War on Want targets the causes of poverty such as human rights violations, conflict, and worker’s rights.

Defining The War on Want

The War on Want proclaims “We’re different!” and states, “We are a charity, but we aren’t an aid agency and we don’t impose solutions to poverty.” The organization fosters cooperation between its partners, long-term solutions and combatting the root of poverty: “wealthy elites…governments, wealthy corporations and others.”

This organization has three main objectives in making their goal possible:

  • Global partnerships to target the root causes of global poverty
  • Campaigns against causes of poverty
  • Efforts to raise public awareness about the causes and effects of poverty

Healing Political Turmoil

With War on Want’s multiple focus areas, the organization is constantly in the news for various actions relating to their organization. Staff for the organization writes news articles about grassroots campaigns taking place in the U.K., and the latest article written by War on Want’s executive director focused on the grassroots marches around the United Kingdom.

These marches — and the subsequent article — address xenophobia in the country, and how inequality and injustice need to be addressed because xenophobia and other political concerns “threaten us all.”

Such writings relate to War on Want’s mission of addressing the root causes of global poverty by focusing on political turmoil and human rights violations.

Fighting the Patriarchy

The War on Want’s press officer, Marienna Pope-Weidemann writes how “women are the hardest hit by poverty and human rights abuses.” She addresses how empowering women and noticing how women are taking the charge in social justice movements helps resolve poverty around the world.

By empowering women to take agency in their lives, even in very patriarchal societies, the globe can better work together on the root causes of poverty revolving around underrepresented groups of people.

Addressing Conflict

War on Want Militarism and Security Campaigns officer Ryvka Barnard wrote on Israel’s ban list and the organizations work for justice in Palestine. During the transition of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, there was upheaval, protests and violence.

Due to this, Israel created a ban list of organizations that are not allowed to enter the borders that revolve around human rights violations. As Barnard states, “Banning entry to those who stand up for human rights is a way Israel tries to isolate Palestinians and to keep others from supporting them.”

Combatting Poverty

Poverty has erupted in occupied territories as a result of these measures of Palestinian segregation. Conflict and land isolation led to food insecurity and loss of homes. Now, with this ban list, the Palestinians are even more separated and have little ability of support from charities and solidarity groups that support their needs for basic human rights.

Overall, the War on Want addresses the root causes of global poverty by fighting for the basic needs of the individual, and addressing politics, conflict, land issues, women rights and many other tactics to break down why poverty occurs.

– Jenna Walmer
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in CuracaoCuracao, comprised of one main island and one smaller, uninhabited island in the Caribbean, is best known for its pristine coral reefs, brightly painted houses, arid climate and ocean colored liquor named after the islands. However, the beauty of the country often disguises distressing poverty in Curacao.

The Netherlands Antilles were dissolved in 2010, but within a few years, the country soon turned to chaos due to political turmoil and corruption. A string of unsuccessful leaders, violence and increased taxes plagued the country.

According to the most recent census, more than 25 percent of households in the country lived below the poverty line as of 2011. In some areas, more than 50 percent of families were living below the poverty line. One larger area, Fortuna, had 52.4 percent of around 1,000 households living in poverty in 2011.

In 2014, the unemployment rate was 12.6 percent but dropped to 11.7 percent the following year. The economy in Curacao is mainly dependent on the petroleum industry. The country relies heavily on imports and a recent decline in phosphate mining and the oil industry in Curacao contributes to the lack of job openings available.

However, there is hope for the job market as the capital of Willemstad also serves as a major Caribbean banking hub. More importantly, a growing tourism industry provides hope for the future job market. More than 400,000 tourists visited the country in 2012 alone.

As Curacao becomes a more popular cruise ship stop, the numbers have increased even more since then, with almost 470,000 visitors last year. Curacao is expectantly the most popular among Dutch tourists.

After gaining autonomy in 2010, Curacao struggled to achieve a stable government and economy. Recently the country seems to have taken a positive turn by reducing unemployment and increasing tourism. At this rate, the next census could potentially show a decrease of poverty in Curacao.

Carrie Robinson

Photo: Flickr

5 Facts about Poverty In Burundi
From 1993 to 2006 a catastrophic civil war engulfed Burundi, amassing a death toll of over 300,000, leaving the country in shambles. 10 years after the official end of the war, Burundi is still trying to get back up on its feet. Following the war, poverty in Burundi increased from 48 to 67 percent of the population. Being ranked as the second most impoverished country in the world, Burundians face a tremendous amount of hardships day after day. Here are five crucial facts to better understand poverty in Burundi:

  1. Burundi is both landlocked and resource-poor with an underdeveloped manufacturing sector which makes it very difficult to survive, thus making the country heavily dependent on foreign aid. In 2014, 42 percent of Burundi’s national income came from foreign aid; this is the second-highest national income to foreign aid rate in all of Sub-Saharan Africa.
  2. Burundi’s civil war forced over 48,000 refugees into Tanzania and displaced 140,000 others internally. Fortunately, after the war, political stability, aid flows and economic activity increased. Unfortunately, however, the war also led to a high poverty rate, poor education, weak legal system, poor transportation network, overstrained utilities and low administrative capacity. Government corruption is also a huge burden Burundians are forced to live with.
  3. In 2015, Burundi faced another hardship with political turmoil over President Nkurunziza’s heavily debated third term. This drama strained Burundi’s economy and caused blocks in transportation routes which disrupted the flow of agricultural goods. To make matters worse, many donors also withdrew their aid, raising tensions throughout the country.
  4. As a result of Burundi’s poverty situation, the median age in Burundi is 17 years old with about 46 percent of the population being 14 years of age or younger. With that being said, Burundi’s infant and maternal mortality rates are among the highest in all of Africa with 16,000 infant deaths per year. Along with infant and maternal mortality, malaria, diarrhea, which accounts for 88 percent of diarrhea-related deaths are attributed to unsafe drinking water and lack of sanitation, respiratory infections and the effects of malnutrition are the leading causes of death in Burundi. In 2005, about 53 percent of children under the age of five suffered from growth stunting due to malnutrition.
  5. Burundi’s government aims to provide free basic education, but a lack of funds makes it difficult to acquire the number of teachers and tools necessary for the cause. Drop-out rates of students are also exceedingly high due to hunger.

It is easy to look away from the struggles Burundians face in their day-to-day lives, but they should not continue to suffer while the world turns a blind eye. The civil war may have happened 10 years ago, but this does not mean Burundi is a lost cause. If anything, this country’s situation should open the eyes of individuals throughout the world and spur them into action in order to properly assist and guide Burundians into a much brighter future. With the outside assistance, poverty in Burundi is something that can be overcome.

Bella Chaffey

Photo: Flickr

Over the past years, famine and food insecurity have threatened the lives of thousands of people in Somalia. These threats were, and are, some of the worst in decades. The famine in 2011 was the first famine in the Horn of Africa in over 30 years—it killed 250,000 people. Currently, about 1 million people in Somalia are food insecure and are in desperate need of assistance. There are around 236,000 children under 5 who are malnourished.

What makes Somalia so prone to these famines and to having high malnutrition rates?

For 20 years, Somalia has been in conflict. Civil war destroyed the nation. It affects how much food can be grown and destroys crops. People have to flee and cannot tend to their crops and livestock.

The conflict left the country in a state of political turmoil. So, when the drought hit in 2011, Somalia was unable to deal with the disaster. People did not receive aid from the government and foreign aid had difficulty reaching its people.

Droughts, as well as floods, continue to plague Somalia. Having crops destroyed every so many years makes it difficult to make progress in decreasing the malnutrition rate. Additionally, with a still unstable government, aid was not there. In 2014, the country once again had a threat of another famine, with up to 3 million people in need of aid.

Also contributing to the cause of high malnutrition rates is the lack of development in the younger generations. Only 42 percent of children are enrolled in school, with less than half of them being girls. Young people make up 42 percent of the population, with 67 percent of them unemployed because of a lack of education.

Without an education, these youths cannot get jobs to earn a steady income, one that would be enough to provide food for their children. The children are raised in poverty, with little food. Unlikely to escape poverty, the next generation will most likely fall in the same category. It is a difficult cycle to break, one that can contribute to the high malnutrition rates in Somalia.

Despite the hardship in Somalia, the World Food Program continues to work in Somalia to lower malnutrition rates. They provide job vocational trainings so that youths can get a job. They hand out food rations to attract parents to send their children, especially daughters to school. The WFP continues to provide nutritional and health aid in Somalia.

– Katherine Hewitt

Sources: Action Against Hunger, BBC, Huffington Post, WFP, UNICEF
Photo: Global Giving

Poverty in Madagascar

Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world and has a population of over 22 million. It has an incredible amount of biodiversity, a great potential for sustainable tourism, and boasts a deep, rich heritage. However, before the mid-1990s Madagascar was in a downward economic spiral. Poverty in Madagascar is rampant. Even though slow improvements have been made, a 2004 CIA Factbook estimate places 50% of the population below the poverty line — the World Bank’s estimate is that 70% of Malagasy live on less than $1 a day. Some of the biggest obstacles to poverty eradication in Madagascar are as follows.

1. Geography. Its placement in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Eastern Africa exposes it to a large amount of intense tropical cyclones. Floods caused by torrential rains are contributing to humanitarian crises the country faces relatively often. Furthermore, the area that Madagascar takes up is slightly less than twice the size of Arizona with a square kilometrage of approximately 587,000 km. Because of the island’s relatively prohibitive size, deforestation and erosion are grave environmental concerns.

2. Political turmoil both past and present. Deep roots of unrest persisted after French colonial rule ended in 1960; in the early 1970s, the military seized the newly independent government and imposed strict socialist economic practices. By 1982 the country needed external aid through the International Monetary Fund. Improvements were made, especially with Madagascar’s inclusion in the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which allowed Madagascar duty-free access and access to aid funding. However, in 2009 then-president Marc Ravolomanana was deposed in a coup. Andry Rajoelina replaced Ravolomanana; the coup marked Madagascar’s exclusion from the AGOA due to human rights concerns, and donors all but suspended aid to the country. Today the political turmoil and threat of conflict also have driven many tourists from considering Madagascar a destination, halting the already-stunted tourism sector.

3. Disintegrating infrastructure. According to Euromonitor International, the capital city of Antananarivo is the only city on the entire island to provide good road infrastructure. Most railway transport along the island is on the eastern side, where the principal cargo port city of Toamasina is situated to the northeast of the capital city. The country is therefore heavily isolated even between major cities; the lack of ability to move goods and workers is severely detrimental. Furthermore, even transport out of the country by air is tenuous due to air safety and security concerns, according to Euromonitor International.

4. Severe water safety, sanitation and hygiene concerns. According to WaterAid Madagascar, over 18 million people do not have access to adequate sanitation in the country; 89% of Malagasy do not have access to improved toilets. As a result, Index Mundi asserts that the degree of risk is very high for major infectious diseases; waterborne diseases are common, such as bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever. Ultimately, the biggest obstacle that Madagascar faces now is its political instability. President Rajoelina’s government — and the way he acquired his power — has caused international aid to come to a halt. Until then, the burden for domestic development, strengthening the economy, and addressing public safety issues falls squarely on the shoulders of the already-financially strained government of Madagascar.

– Naomi Doraisamy

Sources: BBC, CIA World Factbook, Euromonitor International, Index Mundi, Water Aid
Photo: Wild Madagascar