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Solve Rural PovertyThe head of the United Nations International Labor Organization, Guy Ryder, praised China’s efforts to meet its goal to solve rural poverty by the end of 2020 despite the socioeconomic complications brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. He further highlighted the importance of China’s work toward achieving the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development goal of eradicating extreme poverty worldwide.

Transitional Monitoring Period

The relief campaign, which began in 2013, will remain in place after achieving the intended poverty reduction goals. Officials plan to institute a transitional period to monitor economic progress and prevent backsliding among those most recently lifted out of rural poverty. The transition period is also meant to introduce a shift from addressing absolute poverty to the wider goal of assisting poor agricultural regions.

Access for All: Digital Transformation

Advances in digital infrastructure have transformed internet access nationwide. In 2018, China’s Information Technology Ministry announced its goal to expand internet access to 98% of underprivileged areas. China achieved this goal in August 2019, resulting in an 8% increase in the number of internet users. Moreover, rural and urban regions enjoy the same internet quality and speed. This improvement in internet access has spurred new technological development projects, including 5G, blockchain and advanced logistics systems in rural areas.

E-commerce for the Rural Poor

As a result of this trend, consumption through e-commerce has been a key tool in aiding the rural poor. The China E-commerce Poverty Alleviation Alliance consists of 29 e-commerce platforms that allow Chinese farmers, who otherwise struggle to turn a profit, to list their products for sale online. E-commerce tools with the alliance have resulted in nearly $300 million USD worth of sales of agricultural products from underprivileged regions. Live streaming platforms are another increasingly effective method for rural farmers to increase the visibility of their products and reach out to new customers nationwide.

Rural Resettlements

Another prominent program to solve rural poverty is the rural resettlement program. This system relocates populations who live in ecologically dangerous or remote areas closer to urban regions to grant them access to better job opportunities, quality healthcare and formal education in cities.

One example is the resettlement of the Yi ethnic minority in Liangshan Yi autonomous prefecture in Sichuan province. Atule’er, also known as Cliff Village, is the mountainous and underdeveloped home of the Yi people, fostering little tourist attention or economic activity. The local government has resettled a large portion of the village to the more developed Zhaojue province and given villagers subsidized apartments.

Relocation Program Flaws

This relocation program and the rural poverty alleviation campaign as a whole, are not without flaws. Some relocated residents are unable to find work opportunities in their new city and must move back to their village since they can not afford the high cost of living. Even if some do gain access to economic opportunity in the city, many are concerned about what these relocations mean for minority cultures. Forced industrialization and urbanization is seen as a tool for the state to force non-Han ethnic minorities to assimilate and leave behind their traditional customs.

National-level disorganization has also drawn criticism. About 60% of citizens who should qualify for poverty-stricken status based on their income to receive welfare payments and subsidized housing from the state were not given the designation. Many other citizens were incorrectly recorded as poverty-stricken as a result of bureaucratic errors, misdirecting the benefits away from the millions of unaided rural poor.

China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation

Aside from state-led initiatives, which tend to draw the most controversy, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have also committed to solve rural poverty in China. The China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation (CFPA) is one such NGO that aided 4.19 million people and raised over 580 million yuan, about $91 million, in 2017 alone. One notable project is the “New Great Wall” Program which promoted increased access to education by providing scholarships and financial assistance to students from underprivileged backgrounds. The CFPA also engaged in the “Beautiful Countryside” Program to repair damaged houses, roads and infrastructure, both improve living conditions and promoting tourism in otherwise economically underdeveloped regions.

The Road Ahead

Despite China’s extensive steps, there is much room for improvement regarding respecting minority cultures and ensuring that the progress achieved thus far will be lasting. Thus, NGOs that build relationships with the local communities themselves are proving to be essential in the fight toward eradicating rural poverty.

– Neval Mulaomerovic
Photo: Flickr

Urban Farming Can Help Reduce Poverty

The United Nations reports that over 2.5 billion people live in urban areas today and the rate of urbanization is only accelerating. By 2025, it is estimated that 3.5 billion people will live in urban areas, nearly half of the world’s population. People’s way of life is changing and the way people access their food also needs to adapt, which is where urban farming comes in. Urban farming can help reduce poverty in addition to an array of other benefits.

Challenges of Urbanization

Historically, moving to a city has been associated with increased opportunity and wealth, driven by more and better jobs and the promise of upward momentum and a better life. Today, the reality of urbanization is much different. Urbanization in low-income countries is growing exponentially and marked by poverty, unemployment and food insecurity. Many people move to the city from rural areas to escape over-population, violence, disease and hunger. As a direct result of this, about one billion people live in urban slums without access to sanitization, clean water or enough food or work. To survive, many people have resorted to growing their own food wherever they can. This is known as urban agriculture or urban farming and in many places, it is becoming the front line of food production.

What is Urban Farming?

Urban farming is a local food system of growing plants and raising livestock in and around cities, as opposed to traditional rural areas. Today, 800 million people around the world rely on urban agriculture for access to fresh, healthy foods. Urban agriculture is versatile, allowing for different crops to be grown. This provides urban communities with direct access and control over nutritious and locally-produced food, which creates jobs and boosts the local economy. Urban farming is also good for the environment and positively impacts household food security. All of these factors result in poverty reduction, which helps quickly developing urban areas.

Financial Incentives

Urban agriculture requires workers to harvest, care for, sell and maintain crops and animals. This has a huge impact on families struggling to find employment by creating jobs and supporting livelihoods. Additionally, it makes fresh food cheaper, allowing people in low-income areas access to affordable produce. Urban farming can help reduce poverty because when more people have jobs and are able to buy, it fuels the economy, creating even more opportunities. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) sees how important urban agriculture is in poverty reduction efforts and has helped over 20 city governments implement multidisciplinary actions to optimize policies, financial incentives and training programs to low-income farmers in order to “improve horticultural production systems.”

Environmental Benefits

Cities, especially highly populated ones, face many environmental challenges. These may include lack of greenspace, heat capture, pollution, lack of biodiversity and poor air quality. Urban farming can reduce the negative effects of these concerns. By decreasing carbon dioxide in the air, providing environments for different species to thrive and decreasing the environmentally costly process of importing food from other places, urban agriculture is environmentally beneficial.

Success Stories

Across the world, urban farming is helping people and seeing success in many communities. RotterZwam, located in Rotterdam, Netherlands, is a “circular system” mushroom farming operation that uses coffee grounds used by local businesses to fertilize the plants. The facility itself is solar-powered and delivers products with electric cars. Another organization based out of London, England, uses the same circular system method. Called GrowUp Urban Farms, the farm grows crops and farms fish simultaneously by utilizing their symbiotic relationship. Both farms are good for the environment and jobs and are also booming local businesses.

Overall, urban farming can help reduce poverty in a number of important ways. It improves local economies by stimulating commerce and creating jobs, helps the environment and provides healthy, affordable food to local communities.

– Noelle Nelson
Photo: Flickr

SDG Goal 1The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of 17 U.N. goals aiming to achieve global sustainability through smaller subgoals like eradicating poverty and moving toward clean energy. Member states of the U.N. aim to achieve all of the SDGs by 2030. Goal 1, in particular, hopes to “end poverty in all its forms everywhere.” In recent times, achieving the SDGs by the target date has become uncertain due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Canada has shown progress in meeting SDG Goal 1.

Poverty Overview

Canada is the second-largest country in the world by land area. The country has a universal healthcare system and a high standard of living. Despite this, the country is not immune to poverty. In 2018, 5.4% of Canadians were experiencing deep income poverty, which means having an income below 75% of Canada’s official poverty threshold. In addition, Canada’s indigenous population, which make up around 5% of the population, are often subject to extreme political and societal marginalization, making them more susceptible to poverty and homelessness.

Poverty remains a reality in Canada, in spite of its reputable presence on the global stage. The country has not yet met SDG Goal 1 but continues to make efforts toward it. The Canadian Government has developed several initiatives and allocated resources to attempt to meet these goals. In 2018, a budget of $49.4 million spread over 13 years was approved to help meet the SDGs.

Tracking Canada’s Poverty Progress

The Canadian Government has been funding and supporting numerous initiatives to alleviate poverty in the country. In total, since 2015, the Canadian Government has invested $22 billion in efforts to alleviate poverty and grow the middle-class. The results have been positive. In 2015, the Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy resolved to reduce poverty by 20% before 2020. The 2015 poverty rate was 12% and this strategy aimed to achieve a 10% poverty rate by 2020. Canada achieved this goal in 2017 when the Canadian Income Report reported that the country had reached its lowest poverty rate in history.

These improvements are due to several poverty reduction initiatives. Canada’s Guaranteed Income Supplement, for example, provides monetary assistance to senior citizens with low incomes, preventing them from falling into poverty. The reforms also introduced the Canada Child Benefit, granting families with young children more financial assistance. Additionally, the Canada Workers Benefit was introduced with an aim to lift 74,000 people out of poverty.

The Canadian Government has also resolved to aid its indigenous populations. In 2010, just over 7% of individuals who identified as indigenous were found to make less than $10,000 annually. Recent government initiatives have attempted to remedy these poverty gaps, including the National Housing Strategy’s promise to help indigenous populations.

Looking Forward

While Canada is yet to meet SDG Goal 1, the country has made substantial progress in reducing poverty. As of 2018, the poverty rate was measured to be 8.7%, a decrease from the 12% poverty rate in 2015. Increased poverty-related challenges are apparent as the COVID-19 pandemic threatens people’s economic security. Still, however, the data on Canada’s progress shows just how much the country has done in the fight against poverty and the positive impact of its poverty reduction initiatives.

Maggie Sun
Photo: Flickr

Fighting poverty in EswatiniEswatini, formerly Swaziland, is a landlocked African country positioned between South Africa and Mozambique. As of 2017, it was estimated that almost 60% of Eswatini’s estimated 1.2 million residents lived below the poverty line. Eswatini depends heavily on the economy of South Africa. It derives the bulk of both its imports and exports from this neighboring, middle-income country. Though the lilangeni, Eswatini’s currency, is considered on par with the South African rand, Eswatini’s economic dependency on the South African economy places it in a weaker trade position. Unemployment, heavy dependence on agriculture despite unpredictable weather, HIV/AIDS and high rates of inequality contribute to Eswatini’s struggle to develop economic independence. An increased focus on fighting poverty in Eswatini is imperative.

Eswatini’s Wealth Gap Problem

Efforts to develop Eswatini’s economy have resulted in a widening gap between the wealthy and the poor; as the portion of wealthy people in Eswatini increases, there is a subsequent increase in the poor population. Moreover, policies for economic development often bypass the poor, contributing to worsening inequality. The policies tend to increase business in urban areas, which does not help much in fighting poverty in Eswatini because far more people in rural areas suffer from poverty than their urban counterparts.

The economic insecurity of impoverished people in Eswatini is in large part due to unpredictable weather patterns as the rural economy is highly reliant on agricultural yield. Additionally, a system of land allocation which provides each man with a small plot of land, through a practice called khonta, can contribute to land degradation. Though khonta seems beneficial, often the land becomes overworked and rendered useless in farmers’ desperation to make ends meet. Also, owning a plot of land might discourage farmers from journeying into cities to seek education or other ventures.

A Consequence of Eswatini’s Colonization

Eswatini’s history as a colonized country contributes to its present-day living conditions. The colonization of Eswatini by the British in the 1930s resulted in a disparity between the colonizers and the colonized. The colonizers perceived those who assimilated as modern and enterprising. Therefore, those people tended to flock to cities. The rest, the colonizers considered backward and remained in neglected rural areas. Therefore, the post-colonial line of thought was that the solution to fighting poverty in Eswatini was to develop or modernize the lives of those living in rural areas.

Fighting Poverty with Education

However, Ackson M. Kanduza, a modern scholar, has argued for more holistic approaches to fighting poverty in Eswatini. In his opinion, Eswatini should focus on enriching the lives of children under 15, who make up just under 50% of the Sub-African population.

Children are one of the groups most vulnerable to disease and are frequently subjected to child labor. Kanduza advocates for enriching children’s education, skills and quality of life, which could decrease poverty because children are points of integration in society. The statistics support this theory. In illiterate households, the poverty rate was 71%, whereas that rate dropped to 30% in houses with primary school education.

Fighting poverty in Eswatini will require the reallocation of resources to close the gap between the wealthy and the poor. This means increasing access to education, healthcare, clean drinking water and job prospects for people living in rural areas. It will also involve integration between cities and the surrounding rural areas. One method that could help is direct investment from foreign aid so that Eswatini can develop the strength of its own economy. Finally, focusing on enriching the lives of the Eswatini youth through education could provide new opportunities for generations to come.

Elise Ghitman
Photo: Wikimedi

Homelessness in MoroccoMorocco, a country bordering both Algeria and Western Sahara, has faced increased conflicts with the rising issue of homelessness. In the country, there are thousands without proper shelter as the problem worsens. However, newly implemented organizations are seeing rapid improvements in homelessness in Morocco.

More than 700,000 Moroccan citizens are currently battling homelessness. In addition, it must be noted that the youth has been severely impacted as well. There are more than 30,000 children roaming the streets in search of basic resources, as many escape abusive home situations. Under a prevalent gap between the wealthy and poor, it is reported that more than 15% of the population lives on $3 a day. With the poverty rate increasing, many turn towards the streets. Approximately four million Moroccan citizens live below the poverty line.

Causes of Homelessness in Morocco

The main contributor to the rise of homelessness in Morocco is the Structural Adjustment Policy that was launched in 1963. Since then, the homeless rate has rapidly increased, leading to its large population in present day. The policy aimed to improve the finance and social sectors. However, due to underfunding and a misallocated budget, thousands of families lost funding. For this reason, many lost their homes to the government.

Another cause of homelessness in Morocco is the shift in values in Moroccan society. As mentioned earlier, the wealth gap between the ones in poverty and the wealthy have led to resentment against the homeless. With the focus on the upper class, the poor population of Morocco is not given any aid. In certain cases, the plight of the poor is simply ignored.

Consequences of Homelessness in Morocco

With the youth making up a large portion of the homeless population, various consequences have arisen. A major problem is the overall safety of the children on the streets. With tens of thousands of children without a home, many are subject to sexual assault and abuse. The streets of Morocco have been subject to numerous crimes against the youth.

Another consequence of the homelessness problem is the lack of education. In the rural parts of Morocco, only 36% of girls pursue an education. With the issue of homelessness, the youth prioritize survival over schooling. It is also reported that only one in seven children attend school in Morocco. Homelessness plays a primary role in these low statistics as children do not have the resources to pursue an education.

The Road to Change

Despite the rising numbers, there have been numerous efforts to combat homelessness in Morocco. For example, the Moroccan government has stepped up to help those in need. Jamila El Moussali, the Moroccan Minister of Solidarity, Social Development and Family, has recently called for the largest shelter operation in Moroccan history. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the ministry has helped accommodate more than 6,300 homeless people and assisted 2,000 others in reuniting with their families. The government is looking to increase its involvement with the homeless in the coming years and boost social work to aid those in need. After completing one of the largest shelter operations, Morocco has seen a massive decline in the homeless population.

Even with the government’s newfound aid to help combat homelessness in Morocco, additional intervention is the key to make dramatic and long-lasting progress. For Morocco’s government to see a bright future and a reduced homeless count, it must act in a consistent manner to aid those in need. If the government can further boost the number of shelter operations, hundreds of thousands of homeless Moroccans would benefit.

Aditya Padmaraj
Photo: Flickr

poverty in argentinaArgentina is a presidential republic that achieved its independence from Spain in 1816. Starting with the election of President Mauricio Macri in November of 2015, a promise of reform and international reintegration was on the minds of many Argentinians. The current president, Alberto Fernandez promised further reform and economic improvement in Argentina. However, poverty is an issue that the country must overcome in order to realize the dream of a better country. The current state of poverty in Argentina is of question as well as the measures taken to alleviate the issue.

Poverty Levels in Argentina

The poverty rate in Argentina is on the rise. In 2017, the CIA estimated that 25.7% of Argentina’s population lived below the poverty line. This poverty rate increased to 35.4% in 2019 and in the same year, it rose again to 40.8%. This is also reflected in Argentina’s GDP which declined from $642.7 billion in 2017 to $450 billion in 2019.

Many attribute the current state of poverty in Argentina to the unregulated spending of the Argentinian government. Additionally, many critics of the government’s economic policies claim that by spending more than what they have, the government created a public deficit. This increasing fiscal deficit led to inflation which is at the root of Argentina’s poverty.

Reasons for Poverty in Argentina

As mentioned, inflation resulted from the increasing fiscal deficit of the Argentinian government. However, this was also a consequence of the continuous printing of pesos to pay off debts. Consequently,  Argentina’s consumer prices rose 53.8% in 2019. The lack of affordability of food, for example, had drastic effects on Argentinian citizens’ lives. In addition, the Central Bank of Argentina rapidly sold its reserve of foreign currency in order to counterbalance the rapid depreciation of the peso. During the same time period, the Central Bank also increased interest rates to 45%. All of these factors further contributed to the additional inflation in the Argentinian economy.

How Poverty in Argentina is Being Alleviated

There are many people and organizations who are trying to alleviate poverty in Argentina. One aspect of poverty is homelessness. In 2019, there were an estimated 198,000 homeless in Buenos Aires alone. Tadeo Donegana, an 18-year-old Argentinian student, developed a map app called Ayumapp to help the homeless of Argentina. Ayumapp allows its users to add locations of the homeless in their respective cities. Users can also add comments about what kind of specific help the homeless need.

The UNDP is also working with the Argentinian government to reduce poverty in the country. By furthering their Sustainable Development Goals, the UNDP has made progress in alleviating poverty. Some of UNDP’s outcomes include guaranteed food security for 198,000 people, providing healthcare to 15 million people without health insurance and training 7,500 youth to join the labor market.

Poverty in Argentina has its roots in the Argentinian government’s unrestrained spending. The huge fiscal deficit that resulted from this government spending and failed attempts to revitalize the Argentinian economy led to massive inflation. This inflation resulted in a lack of food affordability and homelessness in Argentina. However, there are those who are working tirelessly to better the current situation in Argentina. With this continuous support, many hope that a brighter future lies ahead for the country.

YongJin Yi
Photo: Flickr

Scuba Diving Can Alleviate Poverty
Scuba diving is the practice of underwater diving with a SCUBA, an acronym for self-contained underwater breathing apparatus. The United States Special Force’s frogmen initially used this during the Second World War. Through this technology, divers can go underwater without connecting to a surface oxygen supply. The main aim for many scuba divers today is dive tourism, with marine conservation trailing closely behind. It is through these conservation efforts and tourism businesses in coastal areas that plenty of communities have found themselves being alleviated from poverty. Scuba diving can alleviate poverty due to the new employment opportunities that arise through environmental efforts, as well as the work scuba diving training businesses provide.

Although the Earth’s equatorial belt possesses 75 percent of the world’s most productive and beautiful coral reefs, this area is home to over 275 million individuals living under poverty. These are individuals who depend directly on coral reefs, fish and marine resources for their food, security and income.

According to Judi Lowe, Ph.D. in Dive Tourism, these incredible bio-diverse coral reefs have immense potential for dive tourism. However, conflicts are currently present between dive operators and local communities due to a limited supply of essential resources. If businesses in the diving industry turned to greener practices and focused on indigenous local communities, they could achieve marine conservation, along with poverty alleviation.

Integrated Framework Coastal Management and Poverty Alleviation

Without a doubt, efforts to preserve the marine environment must include local communities to preserve the marine environment. By including people whose livelihoods are dependent on fisheries and aquaculture into recreational scuba diving, there will be greater benefits for the community and the environment. One of the pre-existing frameworks that ensure this mutual symbiosis is the integrated framework of coastal management.

Integrated framework coastal management is a tool that ensures a successful and profitable outcome for all parties involved in the use and conservation of marine resources. Through this model, locals integrate into the administration and the use of natural resources in several water-based industries. Supplemental payments and employment within other businesses create employment opportunities, should fish bans or similar legislative actions displace primary jobs. This has occurred in Northern Mozambique and Kenya.

Scuba Diving and Poverty Alleviation in Mozambique

Mozambique is a country with a history of the slave trade, colonization and 15 years of civil war. Nevertheless, it is a nation in the equatorial belt that has significant tourism potential. After the civil war, tourism was its quickest growing industry. Forty-five percent of the country’s population participates in the tourism industry.

Poverty is lowest in the province of Ponta do Ouro, located in the southern-most area of Mozambique. Ponta do Ouro is home to the greatest levels of marine tourism, where tourists and locals collaborate to participate in water-based activities such as scuba diving. The area particularly favors scuba diving due to the presence of bull sharks, tiger sharks and hammerheads. It also has year-round warm water and is home to humpback whales from August through November. As it holds pristine marine biodiversity, the area is a marine protected area (MPA).

Scuba activities in Ponta do Ouro mainly happen within scuba diving management areas that follow the diver code of conduct. Most diving in the area is done to maintain the biophysical environment through the monitoring and assessment of ecosystem health and management of marine pollution by maintaining low levels of plastic pollution that accumulates in the bays along the coastline.

Not only can scuba diving alleviate poverty through dive tourism, but MPAs have also been influential. For example, MPAs have helped promote and facilitate the involvement of Mozambicans to monitor their fisheries, map different user groups that can overlay with physical and biological data and conduct research. All of these actions help locals find employment and elevate their living standards.

In the future, a greater exploration of the Mozambican Indian Ocean should be explored and strategic planning to maintain the attractiveness of the area and avoid loss of biodiversity is imperative. This will open up greater possibilities for locals to set up dive sites and cultivate diving enterprises, conserve the biological species and obtain greater income.

SPACES, Diving and Poverty Alleviation in Kenya

The Sustainable Poverty Alleviation from Coastal Ecosystem Services (SPACES) Project is a collaborative initiative funded by the U.K. Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) and SwedBio. The project aims to uncover the scientific knowledge on the complex relationship between ecosystem services, poverty and human wellbeing. The project studies sites in Mozambique and Kenya.

The concept of ecosystem services (ES) that the project uses determined that humans derive great benefits from ecosystems. People can apply these benefits to environmental conservation, human well-being and poverty alleviation. People can also use them to inform and develop interventions. If people implement the integrated framework coastal management, there is a large possibility for ecosystem services to inform the development of ES interventions that contribute to poverty alleviation through entrepreneurial activities. If locals cultivate diving enterprises, these communities would reap the benefits of the cash-based livelihood that many diving businesses currently possess.

Lobster Diving in Honduras

In Honduras, diving has been a primary livelihood. In the Central American country that shares its borders with Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua, lobster diving serves as a way of living, particularly in the indigenous community of Miskito. Mosquita is one of the most impoverished areas of Latin America.

Despite the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) setting safe standard diving techniques, one that calls for a gradual ascent to the surface and a limit to the number of dives a person can make in one day, the divers of Mosquita dive deeply, surface quickly and go back for more. They race to collect as much lobster as possible, fishing to take their families and themselves out of poverty. These conditions make them prone to nitrogen decompression sickness, a sickness that disabled over 1,200 Miskitos since 1980.

Nevertheless, a diver receives $3 for every pound of lobster they get and 28 cents for every sea cucumber. This is a significant amount of money for the area and for that reason, many take the risk. The boats where the divers spend their time between dives also only have rudimentary safety equipment, using aging tanks and masks. These divers need to do their jobs to raise themselves out of poverty. Until the government implements necessary training to divers, as well as health insurance provisions, divers will remain at risk. Lobster diving has great potential for promoting marine biodiversity, poverty alleviation and sustainable coastal development; however, health precautions must be a priority as well in order for lobster diving to be a truly sustainable solution.  

Looking Forward

Scuba diving can alleviate poverty with its safety practices and dedication for marine conservation, which opens up many opportunities for technological and economic advances through educational, conservation and entrepreneurship potential. Aside from igniting passion and dedication to fighting for the underwater environment, scuba diving urges divers to fight for their survival, their protection and their businesses as well. It is therefore understandable why many have come to value scuba diving as one of the most potent ways to educate society about environmental conservation, and with it, help increase living standards for coastal communities.

– Monique Santoso
Photo: Flickr

 

top ten facts about poverty in sierra leone
Poverty has held a tight grip on Sierra Leone for as long as most people can remember. Sierra Leone remains one of the least developed low-income countries in the world. With a population of around six million people, the level of poverty is vast. The poverty status is well-known, although not many people know its extent or how it became this way. To clarify, here are the top 10 facts about poverty in Sierra Leone.

Key Facts About Poverty in Sierra Leone

  1. Sierra Leone’s social, economic and political unrest began around the time they gained independence from the British in 1961. This led to many economic and political challenges.
  2. In 1991, the state of Sierra Leone was devastated by extreme brutality when a civil war broke out as a result of a rebel group’s attempt to overthrow the government in power. Over 50,000 civilians were killed and an estimated two million were displaced.
  3. Since the end of the civil war in 2002, poverty alleviation has been a priority for the region; however, the level of poverty still remains high at its impact on 50-60 percent of the population.
  4. Most of Sierra Leone is rural communities with a few urban exceptions like the capitol, Freetown. Poverty levels in the rural areas have been gradually declining but remain relatively stagnant in the more urban communities.
  5. Sierra Leone has made considerable progress in the economy as a result of poverty alleviation efforts. The growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased from 4.5 percent to 5.3 percent in 2010. It has been projected that the economy will grow 6 percent on average every year.
  6. The impoverished conditions are also not always the people’s fault. The region is prone to natural disasters, climate change and epidemics. Climate change alone can cause an annual loss between $600 million and one billion. It also leads to heightened pollution and the devastation of critical crops.
  7. Another one of the top ten facts about poverty in Sierra Leone is that it is heavily dependent on aid. An estimated 50 percent of public investment programs are being financed by foreign sources.
  8. The progress of poverty alleviation was halted by the Ebola outbreak of 2014. The outbreak ravaged the area and hit the economy with a decrease of almost 3 percent in average growth rate.
  9. USAID, since the civil war, has been aiding Sierra Leone specifically in gaining political stability and strengthening democratic governance. Maintaining stability will help ensure the proper development of the region as well as maintain peace and security.
  10. The educational completion levels are low in the region with more than half of the people over the age of fifteen having never attended school. In general, the access to public services such as education is very low.

Projected Progress

Sierra Leone, while being underdeveloped, is still a very young country. There is progress each year that will only continue from here. Many foreign aid agencies are invested in the progression of poverty alleviation in Sierra Leone and wish to assure peace and security.

– Samantha Harward
Photo: Flickr

Mandela
Nelson Mandela is known internationally for his great activism for equal rights for all. Mandela was a South African political leader, beginning his career as a lawyer determined to free his fellow black Africans.

July of 2018 marked his centennial, and though he may no longer be alive, his legacy continues on. His anti-apartheid revolution improved levels of poverty in Africa, and his words of inspiration will forever impact others: “Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings.”

The Nelson Mandela Foundation

Today, many people still celebrate Nelson Mandela’s work through the Nelson Mandela Foundation. Barack Obama recently gave a speech in celebration of Mandela, encouraging philanthropists everywhere to honor his work. Celebrities like Oprah, Jay-Z, Usher, Ed Sheeran and others are coming together to put on a concert for the Mandela 100 Fest in South Africa.

For those interested in celebrating Mandela, there are several ways to get involved. Action occurs at three levels:

  • Having the humanitarian mindset to care for supporting poverty in Africa
  • Being willing to communicate that concern and the need for aid
  • Finally jumping into action to provide the hands-on work.

Here are the most impactful ways to follow in Nelson Mandela’s legacy and help alleviate poverty in Africa.

6 Ways to Alleviate Poverty in Africa

  1. Believe in Humanity. Before one can bring about change and support for equality and basic human rights for all, the mindset has to exist. It is crucial to truly believe that all humans are deserving of the same dignity and respect. No cultural group is less human than another. Find commonality in humanity and advocate for justice in all corners of the Earth.
  2. Support Democracy. Democracy is the form of government that is ruled by elected officials in which members of the political boundary or state have been given the power to elect. Democracy means that everyone has a voice; thus, less oppression is allowed to take place. Though Africa as a continent is moving toward democracy, some countries remain oppressed, especially those in extreme poverty in rural areas. By supporting democracy in Africa, corruption and widespread violence can be eliminated.
  3. Empowerment. Being oppressed means that your voice isn’t being heard and that you are part of a marginalized, automatically disadvantaged group. The situation often seems hopeless when you are treated as insignificant. Any support for poverty in Africa is helpful, but when individuals feel empowered, minds expand and spirits rise. Be a part of lifting people up to feel empowered to seek out basic human rights — health, education, equality and social justice.
  4. Educate Yourself. With so many ways to access current events, it is fairly simple to stay current on global news. In developed nations, internet access is readily available to almost all persons. Take it upon yourself to seek out the facts and stay informed. Read the newspapers, subscribe to newsletters through your email or on your smartphone, or even search the internet for international happenings. It is important to be aware of credible sources versus not, so that you don’t fall victim to unnecessary hysteria. Another part of being informed about foreign affairs is to know who your public officials are as well as what policies exist for poverty in Africa — both pending in status and already in place.
  5. Dialogue. Don’t underestimate the power of communication. Poverty is a gruesome reality in Africa and many other underdeveloped nations. In a busy day-to-day life, there are many social interactions with people in social and professional circles. Many of these people will be aware of what is going on, and many will not. If people are having the conversations about poverty in Africa, its ramifications and how the U.S. as a leading global country can help, then the more likely it is for social action to ensue.
  6. Volunteer Your Time. Individuals in America and other developed nations can help alleviate poverty in foreign lands without having to travel or donate money. You can make a difference by taking action. Simple acts like calling your representative or sending an email can help bring attention to foreign aid. If time allows, meet with that representative to discuss the importance of supporting poverty in Africa. Contribute to an organization by organizing or volunteering for a fundraiser.

Leave a Mark

Nelson Mandela advocated for citizens of Africa to have the right to education, health, hunger, gender equality, literacy, peace and poverty while also supporting many charities. He has left his mark by not only his influence on political change but also his passionate and relentless motivation of people around the globe.

– Heather Benton

Photo: Flickr

poverty alleviation through technology

Although breaking the cycle of poverty is difficult, poverty rates around the world have been improving. According to a report issued by the World Bank, 35 percent of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty 1990. In 2013, that number was down to 10.7 percent, which means the U.N.’s first Millenium Development Goal, to cut poverty in half by 2015, has been accomplished.

However, while many have moved out of extreme poverty, statistics show that the end of poverty is far from over. As a potential way to help speed up the process even more, many companies are helping with poverty alleviation through technology programs.

Companies Tackling Poverty Alleviation Through Technology

  1. Microsoft 365: Microsoft teamed up with the United Nations Development Programme on Jan. 23, 2004, to help with poverty alleviation through technology in Africa. It strongly believes that technology is a crucial aspect that can bridge the gap between schools in urban and rural areas, eventually eliminating world hunger and poverty. Co-founder of Microsoft Bill Gates hopes to end poverty by 2030 by launching his software in more developing countries around the world.Microsoft set up a three-pillar model in order to make sure the technology was applied correctly in schools. The first pillar provided the appropriate service for the individual based on their technological ability or age group. The second pillar equipped more than 200,000 teachers with the software in order to make sure the teachers were trained and familiar with the technology before it was introduced to students. The third pillar encouraged participation and creativity. The students were introduced to programs such as Skype or OneNote.
  2. GeoPoll: GeoPoll is a company that is taking advantage of mobile phones becoming more common in developing countries. Since 2012, it has partnered with more than 85 mobile network operations and has had connectivity in 64 countries of the world. Its purpose is to send a survey text through those living in the developing countries. Once citizens fill out the survey, the results are sent to the government and NGOs, allowing them to help with poverty alleviation.An example of when a GeoPoll survey was used was during the outbreak of Ebola in 2014. GeoPoll conducted food security surveys in countries that were affected and helped gather data on food prices and wages. From these results, it was able to decipher which areas needed more aid and which areas should continue to be monitored.
  3. Humanitarian Accelerators: Humanitarian Accelerators was launched in 2016 by the Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. It is meant to help with cultural, social and environmental issues in the region by connecting businesses all around the globe to United Arab Emirate’s humanitarian sector. Humanitarian Accelerators has set up its technology in over 116 different countries with the hopes of improving the lives of those in developing countries.In the past, the company has worked to provide educational technology to refugee students in order to ensure they receive the same level of education as other children. One of the company’s current initiatives is to employ technology in order to provide job opportunities to refugees.
  4. Poverty Spotlight: Poverty Spotlight is a program that is currently working in 18 countries and is most advanced in South Africa. It is meant to help with poverty alleviation through a mobile app that enables those in poverty to self-diagnose their own level of poverty. Its mission is to help individuals and families in poverty discover innovative solutions to lift themselves out of their situations.Individuals complete a survey about what they are in need of, then their neighbors fill out the same assessment and together they work on achieving them. The app allows individuals to become aware of their situation and build motivation and support from others to overcome it. The staff behind Poverty Spotlight also creates a personalized plan for every family.

Technology allows for many things today that were impossible in the past. The more technology advances, the more opportunities it gives us to learn, educate and help poverty alleviation through technology around the world.

– Negin Nia