Why Is Azerbaijan Poor
Though it is a higher middle-income country with a booming oil industry, Azerbaijan is overcome by poverty and corruption. Its emerging energy sector could change the economic landscape by answering the question: why is Azerbaijan poor?

Despite economic growth in recent years, 80 to 85 percent of Azerbaijan’s population makes low wages and lives in poor conditions. However, the upper class makes up only two to four percent of its population.

Agriculture is a major source of employment, as 48 percent of the population lives in rural areas. Unfortunately, agriculture only makes up 6.7 percent of the GDP. In Azerbaijan’s rural areas, people suffer from poor infrastructure and limited agricultural production. This is due to inadequate access to services and equipment and rising food prices. Farmers struggle to compete in domestic markets and develop beyond subsistence levels of production. The rising competition in products from increased foreign exchange in oil revenue and liberalization policies also limit agricultural output.

Azerbaijan hopes to promote social equity by creating a sustainable and thriving economy. According to a report submitted by Azerbaijan’s National Coordination Council for Sustainable Development July 3, poverty has already decreased from 49 percent in 2001 to 4.9 percent in 2015.

The International Institute for Sustainable Development and the United Nations Environment Program are discerning why is Azerbaijan poor by studying Azerbaijan’s challenges. The organizations conclude that for Azerbaijan to sustain a thriving economy, it should shift to a green economy. This will improve human wellbeing and reduce environmental risks and ecological scarcities.

Azerbaijan foresees introducing green economic strategies in agriculture in 2018 to continue economic development and reduce poverty. To grow its agricultural production, Azerbaijan must promote stronger supply chains; enhance public-private partnerships with agri-business; promote education and capacity building and enforce stronger regulation on agricultural inputs and outputs. Prioritizing the energy sector to protect soil and water quality is also crucial. Finally, increasing microfinance to benefit the poor in terms of jobs and livelihoods will help grow the economy.

Since agriculture is the main source of employment in Azerbaijan, developing the agriculture sector alongside the energy sector will help alleviate the country’s poverty. Creating progress in the most unfortunate areas improves not only the country’s economy but the individual lives within it.

Sarah Dunlap

Photo: Flickr

Free Smartphones to the Poor
Chhattisgarh, a state in central India, has always lacked decent mobile connectivity. Smartphones would be useless in poor communities where there is no wireless coverage. So Chief Minister Raman Singh has been working alongside mobile and electrical companies to expand Chhattisgarh’s network.

In March 2017, Singh announced, while presenting the state budget, a plan to distribute 4.5 million free smartphones to the poor citizens of the state. The annual budget for 2017-18 is up 7.6% from the previous year, providing the state with enough funds to execute its generous plan.

In June 2016, Singh met with state-run telecom operator Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd and urged it to install 1,600 mobile towers throughout the state to increase telecom connectivity. The company agreed to install more than 2,000 towers in two years. These new towers will extend the state’s 27 wifi spots with 220 more.

Singh also began the Bastar Net project last year. Singh wishes to increase mobile and Internet access across the Bastar region, an area that has been hit by recent rebellions. The project will include laying an 832-kilometer optical fiber cable, making a ring-network mechanism. Singh believes that this project will enhance government services in the area along with developing a knowledge-based society in Bastar.

Homegrown technology company Smartron signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chhattisgarh government this month to change the state’s technological infrastructure by manufacturing smart technology. The company is looking to become India’s first original equipment manufacturer, which will bring a boost in manufacturing and jobs in the country. Smartron’s understanding with the Chhattisgarh government will allow it to expand its services in the areas of health, home, education, energy and more.

With an expanded wireless network and an increase in smart technology manufacturing, Chhattisgarh’s goal of providing free smartphones to the poor can be achieved. With new smart technology, the poor could have unlimited internet access and connectivity with the world around them.

Hannah Kaiser

Photo: Flickr

Why is Syria Poor
In 2007, 35 percent of Syrians lived at or below the international poverty line. As of 2017, that number lies above 80 percent. Why is Syria poor so suddenly? A large reason for this rise is the Syrian civil war, which started in 2011 sparked by pro-democracy protests and rebel forces that formed to fight the government forces led by Syria’s president. Discussed are there reasons for the rapid acceleration of poverty in Syria.

Top 6 Explanations for Syrian Poverty

  1. Inflation: Currency inflation in Syria was at 51.1 percent in August 2016 after reaching an all-time high of 121.29 percent in August 2014. When the Syrian government began running out of money due to the high cost of war, it printed more and more money to pay their debt. When asking, “Why is Syria poor?” inflation is an inevitable answer. It makes cash lose much of its value, and, as a result, millions of people in Syria have lost their life savings. Businesses have had to close because it is impossible to trade with foreign markets, and food prices have become unaffordable. This means less overall economic security for the Syrian people.
  2. Healthcare: The civil war has decimated healthcare infrastructure in Syria over the past six years. In 2016 alone there were almost 200 attacks on healthcare providers, and forces on both sides have prevented citizens from accessing healthcare as a war tactic. Because of this, diseases such as typhoid, tuberculosis and cholera are becoming endemic again in Syria. Poverty is inextricably tied to healthcare access, and, when a country’s public health system begins to fail, it is much more difficult for people to escape poverty.
  3. Unemployment: Largely due to inflation, many Syrian businesses and industries have closed. Over 50 percent of the labor force is currently unemployed. This creates massive economic insecurity for millions of Syrians Without money, most are unable to access basic human needs such as food, water and shelter. Why is Syria poor? A large reason is a lack of employment opportunities.
  4. Infrastructure: Much of Syria’s basic infrastructure has been lost because of the war. According to the United Nations Development Program, “the supply of electricity and water [in Syria] is unpredictable and major roads are impassable due to destruction or fighting…All of this has aggravated the socio-economic plight of the population.” This lack of infrastructure in Syria greatly increases the vulnerability of the poor.
  5. Education: Fifty percent of Syrian children no longer attend school, and almost half have lost up to three years of schooling. In addition, many school buildings have been destroyed. Education is one of the surest ways out of poverty, so without reliable access to education, many Syrian children are becoming a “lost generation” trapped in a cycle of poverty.
  6. Fleeing Refugees: There are nearly five million Syrians officially registered as refugees. This hurts Syria’s economy as labor flows out of the country, which in turn hurts people in Syria who are already impoverished. The unwillingness of many countries to welcome Syrian refugees further hurts people who are still in Syria because it means refugees are unable to send money to their families.

While it can be easy to get swept up in the ugliness of war, it is important to remember the human stories underneath it and recognize that the answers to the question “why is Syria poor?” present solutions. Organizations such as the UNDP currently have boots on the ground in Syria and are working to eradicate poverty and reduce inequality. In 201,6 UNDP implemented 199 local projects that helped more than 2.5 million Syrians. The World Food Programme provides emergency food assistance to 4.5 million people each month. One person can make a difference and help fight poverty in Syria, simply by calling his or her representatives and encouraging them to support legislation that accepts more refugees or provides more funding for international aid. All of these things are steps towards a less poor Syria. And so perhaps the true question is not “why is Syria poor?” but “how can I help?”

Adesuwa Agbonile

Photo: Flickr

Help the Poor
More than half the world’s population lives on less than $2.50 per day, and more than 1.3 billion people live in extreme poverty. Many people wish they could do something to help but often feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin. Below are three easy steps you can take to help the poor and be a part of fighting the various crises created by global poverty.

3 Ways Everyone Can Begin to Help the Poor

  1. Get informed. It is very difficult to help anyone without facts; doing adequate research is a great way to get started with helping the poor. According to a study done in 2016, most Americans believe that the United States gives much more in foreign aid than it does in reality. While people often assume the number is around 26 percent, the actual figure is 0.7 percent. The U.S. spends $30 billion annually on programs that assist the world’s needy. In comparison, $663 billion goes toward military spending. UNICEF, the World Bank and USAID are all great organizations with which to use when researching global poverty and aid.
  2. Contact your representatives. Once you get a feel for the issues and find specific areas of poverty about which you are most passionate, call, write and set up meetings with your representatives to lobby for acts of legislation that will increase foreign aid and improve education and health care around the world. A common misconception is that these calls don’t matter. That just isn’t the case. Representatives’ staff members tally each phone call based on what issue is being called about, and those numbers can make a big difference when it comes to voting time.
  3. Find what works for you. Whether it’s spending time raising money that can be directly sent to build wells in Africa or lobbying for bills in Congress that can make a change, it doesn’t matter. Both strategies are necessary and effective in making a difference. Try a few different methods of volunteering your time to see what works best for you. Every bit of help is important and necessary to make change.

The World Bank has set a Millennium Goal to end global poverty by 2030 and, with these three steps, every person can assist in meeting the goal of helping the poor. They are simple ways to help the poor and may seem small, but will have an incredible long-term impact.

Emily Trosclair

Photo: Flickr

According to reports by the World Bank, climate change could send 100 million more people into poverty by 2030. Although climate change impacts people regardless of their socioeconomic status, people living in poverty are hit the hardest. Here are five ways climate change impacts the poor.

5 Ways Climate Change Impacts the Poor

  1. Natural resources. The World Wildlife Fund estimated in 2014 that over-exploitation of natural resources created a global decline of 60 percent of many vital natural resources, such as arable land, fish, water and wood. Marine and forest ecosystems, which provide jobs, food and resources for some of the world’s poorest people, are expected to experience significant losses as a result of pollution and over-exploitation of resources like fish and wood.
  2. Water. Already a key topic of discussion surrounding global poverty, water scarcity and pollution is expected to increase as a result of climate change. UNICEF estimates that around 175 million children each year over the next 10 years will be affected by water extremes caused by climate change. Accessibility to clean water is tied to health, sanitation and food security, especially for people living in developing countries. All of these are expected to worsen as a result of climate change.
  3. Food. Food prices are expected to rise by 17 percent on a world scale by the year 2080, with the greatest impacts in poor regions. A 77 percent increase in food prices is expected in Sub-Saharan Africa, compared to only a three percent increase in Europe and Central Asia. Rising food prices hit people living in poverty the hardest. Poor households spend nearly 60 percent of income on food, compared to wealthy households which can spend less than 10 percent. Food scarcity issues caused by climate change are projected to create a 20 percent increase in the risk of hunger and malnutrition across the world by 2050.
  4. Health. The World Health Organization estimates that climate change will account for 250,000 deaths per year by malnutrition, malaria, heat stress and diarrhea between 2030 and 2050. This will generate $2-4 billion in climate change related costs each year by 2030. Globally, 20 percent of health care costs are paid out of pocket, but this number grows to 47 percent in low-income countries and to 55 percent in lower middle-income countries. This means that climate change increases health risks of those living in poverty and decreases the ability to recover from them.
  5. Natural disasters. An overall increase in natural disaster frequency can be expected as a result of climate change. The World Food Program estimates that 90 percent of all natural disasters are droughts, floods and storms. All of these calamities will increase in frequency, along with other out-of-the-ordinary disasters. Natural disasters hit poor people the hardest, as they live more exposed to the elements and experience greater losses as a result of such disasters.

The most important fact about how climate change impacts the poor may be the preventability of these issues. Tools such as heat-resistant crops, improved warning systems for disasters, emissions reductions plans, international aid, carbon pricing and universal health coverage are only a few of the many ways to fight climate change. With policies such as the Paris Climate Agreement and what the World Bank calls “rapid, inclusive, climate-smart development,” informed decisions about climate change today can decrease sources of poverty in the near future.

Cleo Krejci

Photo: Flickr

Brazil approved a new sugarcane genetically engineered to resist the most devastating plague in the country. The major sugar exporter is the first to approve commercial use of genetically modified (GM) sugarcane. The developer CTC created the cane with the commonly-used gene Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis). This allows the sugarcane to resist the insect Diatraea saccharides, which causes an annual loss of $1.52 billion to sugar producers.

Since most agriculture-based countries are in the developing world, insect-resistant crops such as Brazil’s new sugarcane can be especially helpful to poor farmers. Brazil will be the first to start utilizing the new sugarcane, but many other genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are already at work throughout developing nations.

While they remain a controversial topic in the U.S., GMOs like Brazil’s new sugarcane help feed the world’s poor.

Scientists, like the developers at CTC, possess the ability to engineer crops that solve manifold problems in developing countries. One example is Bangladesh’s Bt Eggplant, which resists a fruit and shoots borer pest. The eggplant’s genetic resistance decreases pesticide use and required labor while increasing crop yield, crop size and farmer profits.

Bangladeshi farmer Md. Milon Mia reported that pests used to ruin up to 40 percent of his crop yield before using Bt Eggplant. The GM eggplant now helps Bangladesh’s largely rural population, as the country climbs out of its position as one of the poorest in the world.

In a “Letter to the Editor” of The New York Times, a farmer from a village in India details his similar experience with GMOs. Like the farmers in Brazil and Bangladesh, Sudhindra Kulkarni uses a GMO designed to resist pests. With this GM cotton, his yields have increased four times, his crops have been healthier and his farm has been more sustainable.

Before the transgenic crop, bollworm pests were so damaging that he thought he “would barely scrape by.” But now, GM cotton has “transformed” the lives of his family. The impoverished Indian population has been cut in half in the past two decades, and developments such as GM farming are key to this progress.

Two billion people across the globe face food insecurity. 896 million people live on less than $2 a day. But GMOs like Brazil’s new sugarcane can improve this situation through the creation of more resilient crops.

With modern technologies, scientists can engineer crops that require less labor, cost less to produce and yield more product. With continued support for these lifesaving inventions, biologists can continue to develop solutions for the developing world.

Bret Serbin

Photo: Flickr

Typically, when people deny climate change, they tend to assert the idea that climate change could not possibly affect them, or anyone, by the foreseeable future. Recent studies show how global warming affects the poor, and the studies predict an impact on the world’s poor as early as 13 years from now.

It has been known for some time that climate change will disproportionately affect the poor. First of all, most of the world’s poor live in tropical regions while wealthier people live in temperate regions, such as the Indonesian Islands compared to the United Kingdom.

The world’s poorest countries also have the most to lose from global warming and the least leeway for resolutions for these predicted losses. Most of the world’s poorest countries have citizens who depend heavily on agriculture – be it self-sustaining agriculture or agriculture for profit.

As recurring floods, heatwaves, higher-intensity storms, and droughts occur because of the increase in overall temperature, countries that depend on agriculture will suffer the most.

Consequently, deniers tend to think these problems will occur in a future era – if they occur at all. Unbeknownst to them, these problems may occur as soon as the year 2030, according to the World Bank.

A warming world will send an additional 100 million people into extreme poverty ($1.90 per day budget or less), of which nearly half will reside in India. Food prices in Sub-Saharan Africa will spike by 12 percent. One in every 25 people, in the poorest (tropical) regions of the world, will be in extreme poverty by 2030. That is an alarming amount of tragedy in 13 years.

Now that we know how global warming affects the poor, we must act.

James Hardison

Photo: Flickr

Many people have heard about bitcoin, the cryptocurrency that has more than doubled in value over the past year. However, few are familiar with blockchain, the technology behind bitcoin. Blockchain creates a tamperproof public ledger of transactions, thus removing the need for a trusted third party between strangers. Because it is public and contains multiple nodes, the blockchain is practically impossible to corrupt. The potential applications for blockchain are promising and diverse. Blockchain could revolutionize the financial industry, as well as the healthcare sector. There are at least three ways blockchain can help the poor.

  1. Blockchain can be used to establish identity. According to UNICEF, there are more than 200 million children under the age of 5 that are unregistered. More than 80 million of these belong to the least developed countries. Lack of identification can perpetuate the cycle of poverty and increase the risk of exploitation. Children without birth certificates can be denied access to education and healthcare. Later in life, lack of identity can hinder employment or access to assistance programs. In some countries, failure to register is due to governmental red tape. Thankfully, groups like ID2020, BitNation and OneName are already working to use blockchain to help the unidentified poor.
  2. Blockchain can improve healthcare for the poor. Paper-based medical records are onerous, but especially so in developing countries where people frequently relocate due to economic or political instability. Also, it can be difficult to keep track of vaccination history, particularly during the early years of life. Pediatric vaccines often require multiple administrations along a specified timeline. Blockchain technology would help maintain a more accurate record of which vaccines have been administered and are still due to be administered to a child.
  3. One of the ways blockchain can help the poor is by altering the flow of money. Most of the money pouring into developing nations is not from foreign aid, but rather from remittances. On average, more than eight percent of the more than $400 billion of remittances sent to developing countries each year is lost to fees. Because blockchain removes the middle man, the cost of sending remittances would drop significantly. Since more funds would be reaching their target recipient, senders would be motivated to send even more, thus further increasing the cash flow into developing nations. Just as blockchain would help to ensure that remittances make it to their intended recipient, it would also help to ensure foreign aid is used appropriately. Since donations would be part of a public ledger, they would not be susceptible to diversion by corrupt individuals.

These are just a few of the many ways blockchain can help the poor. The technology also holds promise for improving access to credit and establishing land ownership, among a myriad of other applications. It’s no wonder that more and more people are expressing interest in the blockchain.

Rebecca Yu

Photo: Flickr

Longer Life Expectancy in Rich Communities Compared to Poor
Life expectancy is a reliable parameter of development that reflects a country’s state of healthcare, population structure and development of treatment alternatives. Recently, researchers have revealed that inequality in incomes can result in a large divide in life expectancy between rich and poor societies.

The study investigated the life expectancy of several counties within the United States. The obtained values were compared to the life expectancy for 222 countries globally. The comparison revealed that more than half of the countries in the world performed better in terms of life expectancy in comparison to the poorest counties within the United States.

While this particular study was conducted in the United States, several other countries show similar results. For instance, an article published in The Lancet compared life expectancy for several districts belonging to England and Wales. The results revealed that the more economically prosperous districts in London had better life expectancy compared to districts in North-West England such as Liverpool and Blackpool.

So what creates the disparity between richer and poorer societies? An important causative factor is the level of healthcare in different countries. Poorer societies are likely to have access to a limited array of healthcare facilities, and may not be able to afford these services. As a result, individuals in poorer communities are excluded from access to life-prolonging treatment which can not only enhance life expectancy but also improve the quality of life.

An improvement in life expectancy is likely to benefit older population groups proportionately more. Thus, efforts to narrow the life expectancy difference should focus on improving health outcomes in the aging population. This can be achieved through an improvement in pension schemes. It is important to ensure that retired individuals receive sufficient stipend that will comfortably grant them access to healthcare resources.

Statistics published by the World Health Organization suggest that a boy born in 2012 in an economically developed country can expect to live approximately 16 years more compared to a boy born in a developing country. A larger difference of 19 years is expected for women, who typically have longer life spans in developed countries worldwide.

The WHO attributes the better life expectancy of economically flourishing countries to greater control over non-communicable conditions such as heart disease. This is done through timely monitoring of blood pressure, cholesterol levels and other aspects that help optimize management and reduce a risk of life-threatening crises.

By setting up regular health screening programs in rural communities, chronic conditions can be detected at a stage where they can be managed appropriately, without adverse side effects. Individuals can be encouraged to acquire control over their own health by implementing lifestyle alterations and becoming compliant with recommended treatment.

Tanvi Ambulkar

Photo: Flickr

poverty in haiti poor
In 2010, Haiti was struck by what has been called the strongest earthquake since 1770. The 7.0 mW quake with aftershocks ranging from 4.2 to 5.9 affected at least three million people and increased poverty in Haiti. But in the last three years, the world at large has turned away from the struggle of the Haitian people to focus on newer problems. The fact remains, though, that aid is still needed. Below are leading facts you should know about poverty in Haiti.


Top 5 Facts About Poverty in Haiti


  1. Even before the earthquake hit, 1.9 million people were in need of food assistance. Around 60 percent of the population lives on less than $1.00 a day. As a result, malnutrition and anemia run rampant. Haiti is the third hungriest country in the world.
  2. Only 50 percent of the people have access to an improved water source, such as a hand pump or a well. This means that most of the population depends on lakes, streams and rivers for their water, regardless of the cleanliness. Even if some people can get to better water than others, a total of 80 percent do not have adequate sanitation available. So even if they run less risk of becoming ill from bad water, they are unable to clean themselves and are susceptible to disease and infection.
  3. Only fifty percent of children living in Haiti are able to go to school. Furthermore, only 30 percent of those progress to the fifth grade. As a result, half of Haitians are illiterate. Without a proper education, the people are unable to break free of the cycle of poverty.
  4. Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas, with 59 percent of the population living below the national poverty line. The World Bank estimates that the earthquake caused about $7.8 billion in damage.
  5. There is a large population of orphaned children in Haiti, many of whom are living on the streets. There were an estimated 380,000 prior to the earthquake and untold thousands added to that number after it. There are also about 250,000 restaveks, or children working as servants and often treated as slaves.

It is easy to put the continued suffering of Haiti out of one’s mind when other world disasters have since risen to the forefront, but that does not mean that Haiti stopped warranting the world’s attention. The earthquake may have happened almost four years ago, but the people there are still greatly in need of assistance and guidance.

Chelsea Evans

Sources: Fox News, P81 Haiti Relief, Fox Business

Photo: Flickr