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Overpopulation and Poverty
There has been a longstanding notion that overpopulation and poverty are related. The belief is that overpopulation causes poverty. While it is true that many of the poor nations around the world are overpopulated, research has shown that overpopulation is not the prime reason for poverty.

Experts believe that blaming overpopulation for the financial struggle of a nation could be an oversimplification of the problem. Here are the three main myths when it comes to overpopulation and poverty.

Three Myths About OverPopulation and Poverty

  1. Improving healthcare in poor nations contributes to overpopulation: Couples in poor nations on an average have four children, double the average of their counterparts in a developed nation. It is not a coincidence that the same nations also have the highest infant mortality rate and the worst healthcare facilities in the world. The reason for this is that parents are hoping to make sure that at least two of their children live long enough to take care of them when they are old.When medical facilities are improved, the infant mortality rate drops. As a result, children are less affected by fatal diseases and live longer healthier lives. Gradually, parents start to have smaller families due to a confidence that their existing offspring shall live and thrive and the overall population growth rate starts to drop.Therefore, poor health care conditions are actually what contribute to overpopulation and poverty. Conversely, improving healthcare facilities helps reduce the population.
  2. Foreign aid to poor countries leads to overpopulation: The U.S. contributes less than one percent of its GDP toward foreign aid. The funding reaches the poorest of nations around the world, helping them fulfill the basic needs of their populations like providing grains at subsidized rates, providing clean drinking water and building toilets, among others. This, in turn, reduces the risk of fatal diseases like typhoid and diarrhoea.Foreign aid also supports education, specifically girls’ education. Educating a female child is still considered an unnecessary financial burden or even taboo in many societies. Girls’ education is often discontinued to fund their brothers’ education.Girls’ education is a key factor to resolve overpopulation and poverty. Research and data in the past decades have shown that improving girls’ education has a direct and profound impact on population control. Therefore, foreign aid does not cause overpopulation; rather, it helps uplift nations out of poverty, giving them basic amenities and education.
  3. Overpopulation cannot be solved in this lifetime: Controlling the constantly rising population is a daunting task. Based on the current population growth rate, the world population is projected to swell to 11 billion people in the year 2100. Nevertheless, by reaping the benefits of persistent efforts toward improving global medical facilities, equality in education and birth control awareness overpopulation and poverty can be resolved. More importantly, it is possible in this lifetime.By bringing down the average number of children per couple to 1.5, total world population would decline to about six billion by 2100–less than half the projected rise! Fewer people means more resources, subsequently leading to a greater number of self-sufficient and prosperous nations.

These myths about overpopulation and poverty have persisted for years and still continue to stand in the way of poverty eradication. If the world is to move toward a brighter, healthier, more equal future for all, these myths must be eradicated as well.

– Himja Sethi
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Mumbai
Mumbai is a city with a massive population but, like most of India, it struggles with poverty. Poverty has long been a major concern for the Indian government, but with a consistently growing population, it is becoming increasingly harder to create effective change. Regardless, having all the facts about the city is a good first step to understanding what can be done to improve living standards. The following are 10 important facts about poverty in Mumbai.

10 Facts About Poverty in Mumbai

  1. According to the 2011 census, the population of Mumbai was 12,478,447. Estimates for 2018 put the population around 22 million; however, the next official census is not scheduled until 2021.
  2. In 2016, an estimated 55 percent of Mumbai’s population lived in slums. A slum is an area of dense population typically characterized by poverty, deteriorated housing and buildings and poor living conditions. 
  3. Not all slums are recognized, or “notified,” by the Indian government, meaning residents of “non-notified” slums are not entitled to piped water, toilets, electricity or public transportation. This also allows the government to de-prioritize them in slum improvement schemes.
  4. Almost half of Mumbai’s slums are non-notified, and Mumbai is estimated to have the largest slum population of any city in the world. 
  5. Lack of access to clean water causes various bacterial infections. These can cause mild to severe diarrheal illnesses and, in some cases, mortality through the ingestion of harmful chemicals, toxins and bacteria. These illnesses are particularly prevalent in non-notified slums. 
  6. The Indian government created the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) in 1971. Since then, the SRA has been implementing projects and policies to try and improve the lives of people living in poverty. The SRA website has a record of 1,513 total projects that have been run in cities and villages across India, including many in Mumbai. 
  7. Mumbai also has a large homeless population that is unable to access any housing or places to settle in. According to the 2011 census, over 54,500 people are homeless in Mumbai. 
  8. Mumbai had a 33.4 percent secondary education drop out rate in early 2017. However, there has also been a 20 percent increase in enrollment since 2010. 
  9. The income gap in Mumbai and other parts of India is widening. According to a Maharashtra survey, people in the poorest districts earn only 25 percent of what people in the wealthiest districts do. 
  10. The largest slum in Mumbai is called Dharavi. It is home to about one million people, however many of them are not below the poverty line. While still densely packed, Dharavi is home to middle-class, well-educated residents, and many of them have satisfactory living conditions.

These are the top 10 facts about poverty in Mumbai. While many of them depict poverty and issues that need to be addressed, others point out positive aspects of the city that may not always receive as much visibility. It is important to look at the city’s strengths in addition to its weaknesses in order to gain a fuller understanding of the issue at hand.

– Liyanga de Silva

Photo: Flickr

Rapid Transit System in LagosNigeria has been the center of an African population boom, with its population doubling to nearly 200 million in the last 30 years. Lagos is in the center of this boom, recently hitting a population of 21 million people. In 2010 at a United Nations Forum, the director of the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) proposed the idea of a rapid transit system to be built in Lagos. The goals of the rapid transit system in Lagos were to:

  • Spur economic growth
  • Decrease pollution
  • Decrease congestion and increase connections

Lagos is considered a megacity, meaning a city with a population of over 10 million. The population growth in Lagos is faster than that of London and New York put together, with an estimated increase of 500,000 people a year. This boom has placed a major strain on the city’s public transportation system. Traffic congestion is a massive problem in Lagos, as it can take hours to travel just a few kilometers. This gridlocked traffic also contributes heavily to air pollution.

As Lagos grows, so does the demand for more land for housing, industry and social services. This has caused Lagos to spread outward into rural areas. As the rural areas become more populated, more people will need reliable transit to get to work or into the city for commerce and other services.

In 2010, the director of LAMATA proposed the idea for a rapid transit system in Lagos. This system consists of various buses that can fit approximately 30 people, running day in and day out to ensure residents can get to work, shops and back. The buses are often overcrowded and the roads are in poor condition and unable to handle the sheer volume of public transit. While the introduction of a rapid bus transit system in 2010 made great strides toward increasing economic opportunity and increasing connections, the rapid population growth makes it inadequate in addressing congestion and air pollution.

Since 2014, Lagos has been undergoing a massive project to expand its rapid transit system, providing more options for the unique situation of a rapidly growing megacity. In addition to the multitude of busses, Lagos is constructing a light rail system to be developed by LAMATA. LAMATA has proposed seven light rail lines in the new network: red, blue, green, yellow, purple, brown and orange.

The trains Lagos will use in its rapid transit system are known as Electric Multiple Units (EMUs) and are free of carbon emissions. This will continue to aid Lagos in its efforts to reduce air pollution. Furthermore, the EMUs are much easier and more cost-effective to maintain than diesel locomotives. A plan to construct 35 pedestrian bridges over roads and high traffic areas will also work to decrease congestion.

Not only does this plan include the production of light rails and pedestrian bridges, but it also addresses other growing infrastructure needs in the megacity. Other infrastructure improvements as part of the project are stations, control and communication systems, workshop training facilities for train drivers and a drainage system.

Originally, the rapid transit system in Lagos was only capable of transporting 220,000 people both ways in a day. With this new project, a single line is projected to carry 400,000 passengers daily, with a total capacity of 700,000 passengers upon the completion of the light rail system. The interconnectedness of the rapid transit light rail system will work to spur economic growth.

Along with the construction of the EMU trains and stations, many jobs will need to be filled to maintain a stellar experience that continues to attract current private transportation users as well as meet the needs of Lagos residents relying on the rapid transit system. Jobs to be created include working for station operations, station maintenance, ticketing, cleaning, information services kiosks and centers for other public transit needs.

Lagos, Nigeria and the continent of Africa will continue to experience rapid population growth as nations continue to develop. The rapid transit system in Lagos has worked to connect rural areas to centers of commerce, decrease road congestion and decrease growing air pollution. With the addition of EMU train light rails to the rapid transit system, these advancements will only continue increasing the appeal of the megacity to the rest of the world.

– Kelilani Johnson

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in Asia

Asia is the largest and moust populous continent on earth and is notable for its fast-growing economy. However, it is also the continent in which over 40 percent of the 766 million people living on less than $1.90 a day reside, making it the second poorest continent after Africa.

Asia is a place of extreme poverty as well as top business ventures. While all Asian countries are not poor, the wide gap in economic condition of the eastern continent’s people in its different parts drives one to explore the causes of poverty in Asia.

  1. Population
    The first and the foremost reason is Asia’s huge population. Almost 60 percent of the world’s population is in Asia. While density of population is not the same everywhere, the monumental growth of population compared to the scarcity of resources is one of the major causes of poverty in Asia.
  2. Food Security
    According to a report by the Asian Development Bank, 67 percent of the world’s hungry lives in Asia. Since 2000, there has been an increase in basic food prices, causing food insecurity for the poor, who designate a large amount of their income for food. Various factors like urbanization, population growth, a decrease in agricultural land and poor policy making are responsible for the increasing food insecurity in Asia.
  3. Education
    Lack of proper education also causes poverty. According to UNESCO, about 30 percent of adults in South and West Asia are illiterate, and about one-third of students in primary schools lack basic numeric and literary skills which are essential for further education. There is also a wide gender gap in education in South Asia, as only 62 percent of young women are literate compared to 77 percent of young men.
  4. Health
    Malnutrition in women and children is also another factor. Almost 69 percent of children with acute malnutrition live in Asia, which causes low weight and stunted growth. Women are also vulnerable to the situation, as almost 80 percent of adolescent women have anemia. Poor health prevents them from having proper education and a normal life, ultimately increasing the impoverished situation.
  5. Administration
    According to the corruption perception index of 2015, 60 percent of Asian countries scored below 50, indicating a serious corruption problem. Poor governance and corruption in administration make financial power available only to the fortunate few, fueling poverty for the mass population.
  6. Natural Disasters
    Asian countries are mostly dependent upon agriculture, forestry and tourism, which can all be affected by natural disasters. In 2015, half of the world’s natural disasters took place in the Asia-Pacific region like earthquakes, droughts, wild fires, storms, extreme temperatures and floods, causing significant economic losses.
  7. Global Recession
    With a recession in the global market, a vast section of Asian workers or laborers working in America or Western Europe have lost their jobs, negatively affecting the economic conditions of their families.
  8. Social Discrimination
    In some countries of South Asia, caste discrimination is prominent in different levels of the society. This prohibits equal opportunities among the mass population, making certain sections of the population poorer than others.

Most of the above causes of poverty in Asia are interrelated. An increase in population leads to a corrupt administration which, in turn, fails to provide quality education to all people, giving rise to unemployment, discrimination and food insecurity. Poor governance also fails to provide sufficient health and medical facilities, causing health issues and making people unfit for progress. It is clear that, before the people of Asia can rise up out of poverty, the lack of fair and uncorrupted governments throughout the continent must be addressed.

– Mahua Mitra

Photo: Flickr


A high population density may, in some instances, lead to inconveniences. Some of these inconveniences, like traffic and crowded sidewalks, are frustrating while others, such as a lack of resources, may be dangerous. Ethologist John B. Calhoun studied the effects of increased population density on the behavior of mice and concluded his studies with the theory of the behavioral sink. The theory is still largely contested and influences studies of human behavior, and this article will seek to answer the questions: what is a behavioral sink and how valid is the theory?

The Experiment

At the start of the study, Calhoun crafted a utopia where the mice could thrive in a secluded space and reproduce without a fear of predators or a lack of resources.

The mice utopia quickly spiraled into chaos once overcrowding commenced. In the worst instances of overpopulation, pregnant female mice experienced a higher number of miscarriages and mothers were losing track of their children. Other mice resorted to fighting when in direct contact with other mice for prolonged periods.

The strange actions of the group of mice are assumedly correlated with the heightened population; this relationship is then referred to as “behavioral sinks.” Calhoun reported the results of his mice experiment in the 1962 issue of Scientific American, and the concept of the behavioral sink soon garnered the attention of the public.

The Controversies

The work eventually proved controversial for a few reasons: first, the behavior of mice cannot be used independently to understand the behavior of humans; second, when scientists tried to study the behavioral sink theory in humans, they had to decide which human behaviors they would consider similar to the unusual behavior of the mice. For instance, some mice exhibited different sexual behaviors ranging from asexuality to bisexuality; and third, in order to detect this behavior in human beings, some researchers used STDs and illegitimacy as equivalents, an obviously offensive comparison.

The other controversy involved further experiments that proved the theory of behavioral sink did not hold up in human populations. Psychologist Jonathan Freedman conducted a similar, but significantly more humane, experiment with students to observe their behavior in situations of overcrowding in which he found no negative effects of overcrowding, but instead of over-socialization.

The Results

“Rats may suffer from crowding; human beings can cope,” stated Freedman in regards to Calhoun’s findings.

The theory played on the anxieties of those who disliked crowded areas, which were often people of low-income. Many felt that there was not only a higher rate of general crime  in the low-income areas, but that there was also a higher chance that a crime would be committed against them. These classist conclusions led some to ask: what are the positive contributions of the behavioral sink theory?

Calhoun began to explore the importance of “spiritual space” as well as physical space, a concept that aligned pretty directly with Freedman’s theory of coping strategies. Calhoun cited creativity and art as giving people the ability to create distance between others in order to cope with overcrowding. This concept of stress related to over-socialization was a part of Calhoun’s experiments that positively influenced thought and research well after the 1970s.

– Danielle Poindexter

Photo: Flickr

Tongan Emigrants
Tonga is an archipelago in the South Pacific and the last surviving Polynesian kingdom. While isolation, limited markets, frequent earthquakes and cyclones pose a threat to native Tongans, emigration has had a positive economic impact both on Tongan emigrants and native Tongans. Here are nine facts about Tongan emigrants you should know:

  1. Tonga has retained much of its heritage despite 70 years of British colonial rule. The country gained independence and became a member of the British Commonwealth in 1970. Immigration patterns have helped maintain Tongan culture overseas: Emigrants have brought their families abroad, resulting in high concentrations of Tongans in cities like Auckland, New Zealand or Oahu, Hawaii where Tongan language and customs are preserved.
  2. One of the first motivations for Tongans to emigrate was population growth. In 1976, Tonga’s population tripled what it had been in the 1930s. The country’s relatively little land combined with a potential food shortage and greater educational opportunity abroad drove most Tongan emigrants to New Zealand, Australia and the U.S.
  3. Many early Tongan emigrants converted to Mormonism. The Church of Latter Day Saints conducted extensive missionary efforts in Tonga, and converts were offered free plane tickets to the U.S. This led to the creation of one of the first Tongan-American communities in Salt Lake City, Utah.
  4. Today, half of roughly 216,000 Tongans live abroad.
  5. Thirty percent of Tonga’s GDP comes from remittances, or sums of money sent from Tongans abroad to their families at home. Remittances come in the form of cash as well as material goods such as appliances and clothing. They are essential to the Tongan economy as Tonga has few exports, there are few salaried jobs available to young adults and unemployment is common in rural areas.
  6. However, remittances do have their drawbacks—money flowing into the country has caused a spike in material consumption, which has in turn caused inflation.
  7. Even Tonga’s tourism industry is bolstered by Tongan emigrants. Large families who have moved away visit Tonga frequently and support the country’s economy by spending money at local businesses.
  8. The longevity of remittances as the basis of Tonga’s economy currently lies in doubt. As more Tongans are born abroad, some fear that young Tongans’ connections to their home country could be weaker and that remittances could diminish.
  9. Another factor that contributes to economic instability in Tonga is the common occurrence of natural disasters. Tonga is part of the “Ring of Fire,” an area prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions near the basin of the Pacific Ocean. In addition, Tonga’s tropical cyclone season takes place November through April, though cyclones can occur at any point during the year. The variety and frequency of natural disasters in Tonga could threaten Tonga’s agricultural export infrastructure.

While Tonga’s economy faces some challenges, the Tongan population has been steadily increasing for decades. Notably, the rate of population increase spiked from 0.35 percent in 2013 to 0.82 percent in 2017. Tongans born abroad will have complex and varied relationships to their native country as time goes on, but the fact their numbers are increasing suggests that Tonga will be able to count on its emigrants for remittances for years to come.

Caroline Meyers
Photo: Flickr

Food_Security
Approximately 805 million people around the world are starving. Extreme poverty, rapid population growth, climate change and shrinking resources are a few of the crucial factors threatening global food security.

It is estimated that by 2050 the world’s population will have grown to more than nine billion people, meaning food production will have to increase by as much as 70 percent in order to feed the world.

Big businesses recognize the importance of fighting global hunger. As a result, a few major companies are leading efforts to improve global food security.

Amway

Amway, a leader in the nutrition and vitamin market, launched the Nutrilite Power of 5 Campaign to raise awareness of childhood malnutrition.

The company developed Nutrilite Little Bits, a micronutrient supplement that provides impoverished children with the key nutrients and vitamins often missing from their diets.

The Nutrilite Power of 5 Campaign has provided Nutrilite Little Bits to thousands of children in 11 countries since its inception in 2014.

Amway has committed to providing five million Nutrilite Little Bits by the end of 2016. This act has the potential to benefit more than 14,000 malnourished children.

General Mills

Food giant, General Mills, pledged to work closely with smallholder farmers in developing economies to sustainably source 100 percent of their top ten priority ingredients by 2020.

“We know that when farmers have the knowledge and resources for their farms and families to thrive, the benefits accrue well beyond the individual and extend to the community and societal levels,” said General Mills Foundation Associate Director Nicola Dixon.

General Mills wants their farmers to produce enough to feed their families and generate an income while raising the living standards in their communities. Millions have already benefited from the company’s work.

Cargill

Cargill, one of world’s largest food and agriculture businesses, committed to providing more than $13 million in grants through a broad set of programs focused on food security, sustainability and nutrition.

The grants will be focused on promoting sustainable agricultural practices, improving market access and productivity for farmers, supporting childhood nutrition and education and advancing healthy diets and preventing diet-related health issues in low-income communities.

“The private sector can be a catalyst for lasting change by jumpstarting innovation and economic development,” said Ruth Rawling, Cargill’s vice president of corporate affairs.

One of the grant recipients is CARE USA, which has partnered with Cargill for over 25 years to combat poverty and long-term hunger among some of the world’s most vulnerable communities.

Cargill’s grants are expected to benefit more than one million people in 15 countries.

Global food security is one of the most dire issues facing the world. One’s ability to feed themselves is directly correlated to their productivity and ability to earn a living.

There is great potential to vastly reduce poverty, increase incomes for the world’s poor and expand the world’s consumer base as big businesses further their investment in global food security.

Sara Christensen

Photo: Flickr

smart cities
Last year, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced his plans to revitalize Indian cities through the creation of 100 “Smart Cities” in India. More recently, Mr. Modi has announced that he will be giving annual federal grants of 15 million for the next five years to a list of 98 cities to help them become ‘smart.’

Modi, who has faced critique over the vague nature of his ‘smart city’ concept, has himself argued that “there is no universally accepted definition of a smart city.” Nevertheless, experts argue that the idea of a smart city generally refers to a city with criteria such as good roads, power, access to water, and livable homes–which many Indian cities currently fail to meet.

Mr. Modi’s Smart City project has also more specifically toyed with the idea of promoting mixed land use in area based developments, creating walkable areas in cities, and creating a variety of clean and safe transport options.

According to Mr. Modi, the Indian Smart City initiative is only one among many urban development projects aimed at keeping up with the pace of economic and population growth within India. Indeed, India, which has a burgeoning population boom that will overtake China’s by 2028, also has the world’s third largest growing economy, according to the World Bank.

India has also experienced an enormous influx in rural to urban migration in recent years, with more than 30% of India’s once mostly urban population now living in cities. This figure is also expected to rise, as many Indians move to urban areas in search of better job opportunities and diminished caste-based persecution.

In light of the demographic changes occurring in India, many experts have argued that Mr. Modi’s ‘Smart City’ initiative is an enlightened plan that will serve to bring relief to millions of Indians migrating to larger cities.

By focusing on issues in Indian cities–such as poor sanitation and access to water–the ‘Smart City’ initiative is thus not only a retroactive plan that serves to correct the poor state of many cities, but also a proactive plan, that takes into account the strain that a burgeoning urban population will pose to Indian cities in the future.

As Mr. Modi’s plan regarding his list of 98 Indian cities begins to be finalized, the Prime Minister also hopes that the somewhat paltry funds currently allocated to the project will be able to be bolstered by private donations.

Other government officials, such as Home Minister Rajnath Singh, have also proposed ways in which the ‘Smart City’ concept could be further improved. Mr. Singh, for instance, just recently proposed the idea that ‘Smart Cities’ could also be built as ‘Safe Cities’, which would require the installment of security equipment such as CCTV, aerial surveillance, and an increase in female cops.

Other officials have also begun to float ideas for how Indian cities can be better improved–making them overall smarter, safer, and more livable for the millions of Indians who currently live in sub par urban conditions.

Ana Powell

Sources: BBC, Forbes, India Times, NY Times, Smart Cities Challenge
Photo: KadvaCorp

poverty in ghana
Overall poverty in Ghana has declined and Ghana has positioned itself as one of the more developed nations in Sub-Saharan Africa. The proportion of Ghanaians described as poor in 2005/06 was 28.5%, falling from 39.5% in 1998/99. Those described as extremely poor declined from 26.8% to 18.2%.Ghana is on track to meeting the Millennium Development Goals for income poverty, hunger, primary school completion, gender parity at school and access to water.

However challenges still exist. Rural, subsistence agricultural farmers are among the poorest socio-economic groups in Ghana. Most of these farmers reside in the northern region of Ghana and do not have access to the same infrastructure and services as do their urban southerners. At present, agriculture constitutes the dominant sector of the economy, although the developing oil industry shows promise in the near future.

Ghana’s Human Development Index stood at 0.558 in 2012. On a scale between 0 and 1, with 1 being the best possible HDI and 0 the worst. The HDI is a composite measure of health, education, and income which helps assess the standard of living. The 2012 average HDI in Sub-Saharan Africa stood at 0.475. Ghana may have the best HDI in the region, but on a global scale, it falls far behind most countries. Out of 186 countries surveyed in the 2012 HDI, Ghana placed 135th.

Ghana still aspires to reach a middle-income country status. It has one of the most stable governments in the region and one of the fastest growing economies thanks to the recent discovery of offshore oil in 2007. Per capita income is projected to reach at least US$1,035 by the end of 2013 with a projected average real GDP growth rate of 7-9%, annually.

 

Rate of Poverty in Ghana

At this rate, Ghanaians could achieve and sustain per capita income levels of at least $3,000 USD by the year 2020. Oil, gold, and cocoa are Ghana’s main industries. Ghana is Africa’s biggest gold miner after South Africa and is the world’s second largest cocoa producer after Côte d’Ivoire. The challenge is to make sure the wealth generated from these industries trickle-down to every Ghanaian.

One important factor to eradicating poverty in Ghana is to control population growth. As of the 2000 census, 44% of the population consists of children below 15 years of age with those above 65 accounting for only 5%. This presents a very large dependent population requiring huge investments in education and health care. Underemployment and unemployment is a concern among many young adults as well.

While the oil industry develops, agriculture still remains a major part of the economy.  Ghana’s agriculture is dominated by subsistence small holder production units with weak linkages, low-level technology and productivity, and un-competitiveness. The small-scale farmer who practices rain-fed agriculture, applies little or no fertilizer, and uses little technology is vulnerable to the unpredictable changes in the weather. Lack of land ownership rights also undermines the small farmer’s ability to invest in land improvements and farm expansion. Unless these issues are remedied, smallholder farmers will remain in a poverty trap.

In general, a broad-based human development strategy is recommended in order to keep Ghana on track for reducing its poverty. This includes improving the quality and access of education and healthcare for the young and the old. It requires providing micro-credits and financing to farmers and small businesses.

The development of the oil industry should translate to better infrastructure and more jobs for the average Ghanaian – and not be exclusively held in an enclave of the rich. Further, more women should be empowered to become leaders and entrepreneurs. And considering that Ghana’s current pattern of development puts a lot of stress on the environment – resulting in an economic cost of over 10% of Ghana’s GDP – Ghana needs to fix their environmental and sanitation management. More importantly, the disparities between those that live in the poorer north of the country and those that live in the privileged south should be bridged in order to eradicate extreme poverty out of Ghana once and for all.

– Maria Caluag

Sources: IMF, UNDP, BBC News

youth_population
Of the 7.3 billion people on earth, 1.8 billion are between the ages of 10 and 24. Ninety percent of that 1.8 billion, or about 1.6 billion, live in developing countries. A new report from the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, said that such a demographic has never before existed. What does it mean for global poverty? According to the UNFPA report, “Never again is there likely to be such potential for economic and social progress. How we meet the needs and aspirations of young people will define our common future.”

Half of the populations of Chad, Niger and Uganda are under the age of 16. The UNFPA report notes that Asian economic juggernauts like China and South Korea experienced a similar surge in the youth population prior to their economic upsurge in the 1970s and 1980s.  “In the 1970s, east Asia invested in its young people’s human capital, it enabled the region to realize its demographic dividend, contributing to a 6% surge in GDP and a quadrupling of per capita income in some countries,” noted the UNFPA report.

Similarly, a timely investment will be required if the developing world’s ‘demographic dividend’ is to be fully realized.

In several developing countries, youth population growth is exceeding the capacities of health and education institutions. Preventable and treatable diseases claimed 1.3 million adolescent lives in 2012, and according to the report, more than two million 10- to 19-year-olds are living with HIV.

Youth population growth is exceeding not only the capacities of health and education institutions, but also the capacity of the economy to provide enough jobs. Youths aged 15 to 24 account for 36 percent of global unemployment, and 500 million young people live on less than $2 a day.

According to the UNFPA report, sustained economic growth will depend on the improvement of access to credit and community banking systems, the expansion of formal sector employment and the creation of sound legal and regulatory environments. The report also advocates the promotion of gender equity and universal access to education.

Many of the developing countries experiencing a youth population surge depend heavily on foreign aid. If the developing world’s “demographic dividend” is to be realized to its full potential, it will require the investment of wealthier nations like the United States. According to the UNFPA report, if the challenge is met, the results could be extraordinary: “With the right policies and investments and the engagement of young people in nurturing their own potential, the largest generation of young people in human history can become the problem-solving producers, creators, entrepreneurs, change agents and leaders of the coming decades.”

Parker Carroll

Sources: Forbes, The Guardian, Reuters, UNFPA
Photo: Flickr