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China's Contribution to Global Poverty Reduction
China has lifted 82.39 million rural poor out of poverty over the past six years. Additionally, recent data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed that the proportion of people living below the poverty line dropped from 10.2 to 1.7 percent in the same period. The population living below the current poverty line in the rural areas was 16.6 million by the end of 2018, down 13.86 million from the previous year. The poverty rate in 2018 was also down by 1.4 percent points from 2017. A lot has happened on the way for China‘s contribution to global poverty reduction, though.

China’s History

In 1958, Mao’s Communist Party introduced the Great Leap Forward, a failed effort to achieve rapid industrialization, and which, by its end in 1962, left as many as 45 million people dead as food output plunged and a famine wreaked havoc. The decade-long Cultural Revolution, which brought disaster to the country, only ended with Mao’s death in 1976. Because of such campaigns, China basically stood still as the rest of the world moved ahead.

Today, China’s huge strides over 70 years seem impressive but those gains occurred in the 40 years after Mr. Deng launched China on the road to economic reform after taking over from Mao’s chosen successor. Deng Xiaoping paved the way for how China contributes to global poverty reduction.

Poverty Alleviation in China

According to statistics that the World Bank released, over the past 40 years, the number of people in China living below the international poverty line has dropped by more than 850 million. This represents 70 percent of the total world figure. With the highest number of people moving out of poverty, China was the first developing country to realize the UN Millennium Development Goal for poverty reduction.

Indeed, poverty across the globe has seriously hindered the fulfillment and enjoyment of human rights for many. As such, many see reducing and eliminating poverty as the major element of human rights protection for governments across the world. It is really encouraging that, over the years, poverty eradication has always remained a goal for the Chinese government in its pursuit of a happy life for its people.

China’s Efforts to Alleviate Poverty Around the World

In the meantime, China’s poverty alleviation results are benefiting other countries and their peoples. China, with an aim to build a community with a shared future for humanity, is actively responding to the UN Millennium Development Goal and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is conducting broad international collaboration on poverty reduction. Some examples of China contributing to global poverty reduction are the implementation of the China-Africa cooperation plan for poverty reduction and people’s livelihood and the 200 initiatives of the Happy Life Project.

Over the past 70 years, China provided financial aid of over 400 billion yuan to nearly 170 countries and international organizations, and carried out over 5,000 assistance projects overseas and helped over 120 developing countries to realize the Millennium Development Goal, a glorious example of how China’s contribution to global poverty reduction.

China plans to eliminate absolute poverty by 2020. The plan is not only a key step for the country to realize the Chinese Dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, but also a significant and glorious cause in the human history of poverty reduction.

Andrea Viera
Photo: Flickr

 

Best Poverty Reduction Programs
In the global fight against poverty, there have been countless programs to effectively downsize this issue. Poverty reduction programs are an important part of the fight against poverty and because of this, countries should be able to cooperate and learn from one another. Thankfully, with the help of the U.N., the world has been making progress in terms of cooperating to implement good poverty reduction programs. In no particular order, these are the five countries with some of the best poverty reduction programs.

Five Countries with the Best Poverty Reduction Programs

1. China

For the Middle Kingdom, poverty reduction is a key contributing factor to its rapidly growing economy. China has helped reduce the global rate of poverty by over 70 percent, and according to the $1.90 poverty line, China has lifted a total of 850 million people out of poverty between 1981 and 2013. With this, the percentage of people living under $1.90 in China dropped from 88 percent to less than 2 percent in 32 years. China’s poverty reduction programs have also benefitted people on a global scale by setting up assistance funds for developing countries and providing thousands of opportunities and scholarships for people in developing countries to receive an education in China.

2. Brazil

Brazil has taken great steps in reducing poverty and income inequality. Brazil has implemented programs such as the Bolsa Familia Program (Family Grant Program) and Continuous Cash Benefit. Researchers have said that the Family Grant Program has greatly reduced income disparity and poverty, thanks to its efforts of ensuring that more children go to school. They have also said that beneficiaries of this program are less likely to repeat a school year. Meanwhile, the Continuous Cash Benefit involves an income transfer that targets the elderly and the disabled.

3. Canada

Canada has implemented poverty reduction programs such as the Guaranteed Income Supplement and the National Housing Strategy. The Guaranteed Income Supplement is a monthly benefit for low-income senior citizens. This program helped nearly 2 million people in 2017 alone. Meanwhile, the National Housing Strategy in an investment plan for affordable housing that intends to help the elderly, people fleeing from domestic violence and Indigenous people. With its poverty reduction programs in place, Canada reportedly hopes to cut poverty in half by 2030.

4. United States

Although the United States has a long way to go when it comes to battling poverty, it does still have its poverty reduction programs that have proven to be effective. According to the Los Angeles Times, programs such as Social Security, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the Earned Income Tax Credit and food stamps have all helped to reduce deep poverty. In particular, people consider the Earned Income Tax Credit to be helpful for families that earn roughly 150 percent of the poverty line, approximately $25,100 for a four-person family. Social Security could help reduce poverty among the elderly by 75 percent.

5. Denmark

Denmark has a social welfare system that provides benefits to the unemployed, the disabled and the elderly, among others. People in Denmark are generally in good health and have low infant mortality rates. Denmark also has public access to free education, with most of its adult population being literate.

It should be stressed that none of these countries are completely devoid of poverty, but they do provide some good examples of how governments can go about reducing this issue. With the help of organizations like the USAID, it is clear that this is an issue many take seriously.

Adam Abuelheiga
Photo: Flickr

Technology to promote literacy

Papua New Guinea (PNG) is an independent state comprised of about 600 small islands, that also shares a land border with Indonesia. PNG uses technology to promote literacy in a number of ways. PNG broke off from Australia in 1975 but still receives substantial economic, geographical and educational gains from the country. However, the Australian government reports that in spite of their economic growth and middle-income country status (due to agricultural and mineral wealth), “PNG’s social indicators are among the worst in the Asia Pacific. Approximately 85 percent of PNG’s mainly rural population is poor and an estimated 18 percent of people are extremely poor.”

The World Bank details that PNG also faces a “vexing” situation regarding their remoteness and number of languages. Communities in PNG are very closed off from one another and land travel is strenuous. PNG has 563 airports and air travel has proven to be the common way to get from one place to another. At over 800 languages, PNG is recognized as “the most linguistically diverse country in the world.” As a result of these two factors, PNG’s education system faces a variety of challenges. PNG was ranked 153 on the Human Development Index in 2017, and its adult literacy rate was reported to be 63.4 percent in 2015. Australian Aid and the Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) cooperated to produce The SMS Story research project, a way to use technology to promote literacy.

The goal of the SMS Story Research Project was to ascertain whether daily text message stories and lessons would improve the reading ability of children in grades 1 and 2 in Papua New Guinea. The text messages were sent to elementary school teachers in the Madang Province and Simbu Province using a free, open-source software program called Frontline SMS. The project was a controlled trial with two groups, one group of teachers received the message and the other did not. About 2500 students were evaluated before and after the trial. Using statistical testing, it was determined that the reading ability of the group who received text messages was higher than that of the group that did not.

It was found that the schools participating in the study had little to no reading books in the classroom and that students in groups without an SMS story were “twice as likely to be unable to read a single word of three sub-tests (decodable words, sight words and oral reading).” It seemed that many classrooms in PNG did not provide easy access to reading materials or proper reading lessons.

Amanda Watson, a researcher involved with the project stated that the SMS stories were helpful to the teachers as well. She says, “The teachers actually received almost like a reminder to teach, a bit of a motivator to keep teaching and they received that every single day and we think that really helped them to realize that they’re supposed to be teaching reading every single day, five days a week.” This suggests that before the trial, some of the teachers may not have promoted reading as much as they should have, either due to lack of access to materials or not realizing its importance.

Daniel A. Wagner, of the University of Pennsylvania and his colleagues, detail the importance of using technology to promote literacy in countries with minimal access to education or educational materials in their paper, “Mobiles for Literacy in Developing Countries: An Effectiveness Framework”. He underlines the importance of promoting literacy through information and communications technologies (ICTs) in today’s world where there are “more connected mobile devices than people” and provides several examples of organizations that are working towards increasing literacy through ICTs.

The Bridges to the Future Initiative (BFI) is run in South Africa by the Molteno Institute for Language and Literacy. They aim to “improve literacy through interactive, computer-based lessons” created by the University of Pennsylvania’s International Literacy Institute (ILI). They provide access to educational materials and issue students with “mother-tongue resources” in regions where computer sources or books are mostly in English. Comparably, Ustad Mobile is an application in Afghanistan that runs offline on phones. They center around instructing reading comprehension, listening, and numeracy. Teachers and students can download and share lessons; the app also includes exercises, videos and interactive quizzes in order to “mobilize education for all”.

BBC Janala is another project using technology to promote literacy in Bangladesh. It is a multi-platform service and can be accessed through TV, internet, print and mobile phones. BBC Janala concentrates on teaching English through three-minute audio lessons, quizzes, TV shows, newspapers, textbooks and CDs.

Illiteracy is an issue in Papua New Guinea; most likely due to the lack of reading materials and importance placed on literacy. However projects like, “The SMS Story” are all over the world and are working towards using technology to promote literacy one step at a time.

Jade Thompson
Photo: Flickr

ADB Helps Pakistan to Fight Poverty

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) helps Pakistan to fight poverty by pledging  $10 billion to Pakistan over the next 5 years for the purpose of infrastructure development, with the goal of improving important economic sectors that could revitalize regional trade. Two central areas of investment for the ADB will be water resource development and transportation infrastructure. Transportation infrastructure is an especially important focus area, as it undergirds the possibility of developing trade in other sectors of Pakistan’s economy. Water resource development will be crucial in continuing to sustain the agriculture sector and in ensuring that citizens have access to water. Here are some ways ADB helps Pakistan to fight poverty by addressing some major issues.

Trade and Transportation

While trade and poverty may appear to be separate, the economic growth prospects offered by expanding trade programs often spill over to effect poverty reduction. The positive gains in GDP growth result in increased capital coming into a country, which creates more opportunities for employment and access to markets. Since 2001, consistent yearly GDP growth in Pakistan, ranging from 1.7 percent to 7.5 percent has come alongside a 24.7 percent reduction in the number of Pakistanis living in extreme (less than $1.90 a day) poverty.

However, the poor transit system could have negative effects on the future of economic growth in Pakistan. Most of the nation’s railway system is over 100 years old and was built during the British colonial period. This has severely hampered the possibility of ramping up trade and industrial production, as only 4 percent of commerce can be shipped via rail. This has had a while GDP growth has been consistent, the share of growth caused by trade has declined, as the service industry, at 58.6 percent of GDP and agriculture sector at 24 percent both outpace the contributions of industrial production, which has declined from 22 percent of GDP to 19.3 percent. Moreover, the ADB estimates that 2 percent of GDP is lost annually due to poor transportation infrastructure.

In response to this, the ADB has announced plans to invest in providing more locomotives, increasing the overall prospects for shipping capabilities by rail, and has also invested in updating railway lines, as well as improving north-south highways for travel via motor vehicles.

Water Resource Development

Water resource development is another way ADB helps Pakistan fight poverty. This is not to suggest that agriculture is unimportant, as in some cases, agricultural development is integral to the maintenance of local economic growth, offering a means of mitigating the worst impacts of poverty. This is especially true of Balochistan, a province that faces severe water scarcity, impacting both the living standards of the population and the local economy. Agricultural production requires massive levels of water to operate successfully, and with 60 percent of the population employed in agriculture, the impact of water scarcity on poverty is compounded by pressing economic concerns.

As a result of water scarcity in Quetta, the provincial headquarters of Balochistan, many tube-wells were installed in order to redirect water from rural areas to provide water to the urban areas. This program has produced a massive strain on the population of Balochistan, eliminating access for water for both drinking and for use in agricultural production, with poor water resource management producing a scenario in which one portion of the population is only able to access the water by depriving another.

However, the ADB is seeking to combat this water scarcity by protecting watersheds and building 276 kilometers of new irrigation channels, to support agricultural production. Watersheds will prevent soil erosion, and increase water storage capabilities in the region, while irrigation channels will assist in combating the scarcity brought on by tube-wells. Beyond its use for irrigation, these programs will also be important for developing methods of helping increase access to water in the region, which some estimate could have a profound impact on increasing women’s access to water.

Conclusion

Water scarcity and poor transportation infrastructure have hindered effective economic development in Pakistan, limiting the prospects for sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction. The influx of capital offered by expanding networks for regional trade promises to offer new avenues for employment and sustainable income for Pakistanis living in poverty. Water resource management will provide new avenues for managing agricultural development, ensuring stable irrigation routes and providing overall water security.

Alexander Sherman
Photo: Flickr

Fair Trade ProductsIn 2015, there were 783 million people living in poverty. Although there has been some progress in reducing this number in the past few years, poverty continues to be a serious issue. Fairtrade is one simple yet impactful approach to alleviate this problem. The purchase of fair trade products supports gender equality, children’s and workers’ rights, and sustainable farming. Unfortunately, consumers are often unaware of the availability of fair trade products. This is mainly because they haven’t been generally accessible. The fair trade market is showing signs of growth, however, and the purchase of fair trade products can become a key to promote the reduction of poverty.

The Morning Pick-Me-Up

Starbucks, one of the most popular coffee companies in the world, has been promoting fairtrade globally since 2000. The company is attempting to improve the lives of more than 1 million people who live in communities that revolve around the coffee industry. Toward that end, Starbucks now purchases 99 percent ethically grown coffee through Conservation International and has committed to 100 percent by 2020. The company has also launched a Global Farmer Fund Program which is committing $50 million to finance the renovation of coffee farms.

The goal is to develop more sustainable farming practices with improved employment conditions. More than 29,000 Starbucks stores around the world are having a substantial impact.

The Fashion Industry

The fashion industry is often guilty of using problematic and unethical labor practices, particularly child labor. This is because the industry embeds children in the supply chain to handle low-skilled tasks such as cotton-picking for extremely low wages. For this reason, it is very difficult to pay fair wages and still compete in the industry. Nevertheless, some fair trade products are starting to become competitive.

Athleta and Aventura are two companies that are offering sustainable fair trade clothing. Athleta is an activewear brand that has created more than 40 fair trade styles. They have committed to creating up to 230 by the end of the year.

Aventura sells fashionable, everyday clothing items for women and men that are made using fair trade practices. They use low-impact, sustainable materials for over 75 percent of their styles. The company also partners with Fair Trade USA to give back to the workers who produce their clothing. These fair trade companies provide good alternatives to clothing from brands like Urban Outfitters or Free People.

Scrubs and Suds

Lush is making the acquisition of ethically produced cosmetic products easier. Organizations like Fairtrade International have fair trade certified many Lush products. In some cases where ingredients have not been fair trade certified, Lush forms a direct relationship with the supplier to ensure that workers are treated and paid fairly. Lush also supports sustainable practices by its suppliers. Consumers are supporting improved working conditions in the cosmetics industry by purchasing products from Lush.

For the Occasional Sweet Tooth

Small family farms, the majority of which are located in West Africa, produce 90 percent of the world’s cocoa. Tony’s Chocolonely buys fair-trade chocolate to ensure that farmworkers are treated well and paid fairly. Tony’s is fair trade certified, producing 100 percent slave-free chocolate.

Tony’s works with 5,021 farmers and is committed to providing all of them with a living wage. The company pays its farmers a Fairtrade premium as well as their own premium. With this structure, the farmers get more than 9.6 percent of the retail price. Grocery stores throughout West Africa are making Tony’s chocolate bars easily accessible.

And So Much More…

Fairtrade shopping is one of the simplest yet most impactful ways to benefit the world’s poor. Fortunately, quality fair trade products are becoming easier to find than people might assume. Organizations like Fairtrade America and Fair Trade Certified have validated many ethical companies. It is important to seek out and support companies that sell fair trade products because purchasing fair trade products is a great alternative that facilitates poverty reduction.

– Ryley Bright
Photo: Flickr

Nepal escape poverty

It is common for countries around the world to experience rapid growth instead of modest poverty reduction, as income is increasingly concentrated in the hands of the wealthy. Nepal, however, leans toward the opposite. The country has reduced the poverty rate by half in just seven years and witnessed an equally significant decline in income inequality. Yet, Nepal remains one of the poorest and slowest-growing economies in Asia. Nonetheless, a few groundbreaking innovations are helping Nepal escape poverty.

Even without poverty as a factor, Nepal faces challenging obstacles to overcome. Since Nepal is a landlocked country it creates a natural barrier to its development. Nepal’s history of extractive political regimes left Nepal with extremely low levels of physical and human capital and illiteracy rates of 90 percent in 1951. A propensity for natural disasters also contributes to continuous setbacks.

Getting to the root of poverty requires solving many of these additional issues along the way. Poverty isn’t just inadequate access to income. It manifests itself in health services and education, often allowing sexism and racism to flourish. In spite of that, numerous solutions are being drafted every day with the world’s poor in mind. Here are three innovations helping Nepal escape poverty:

Suaahara Nutrition Project

Suaahara translates to “good nutrition,” and is a comprehensive nutrition program that teaches skills for nutrient-rich backyard vegetable farming, raising poultry, improving sanitation and hygiene, and controlling pests through demonstration farms and new mothers’ discussion groups.

Though about two-thirds of Nepalese workers worked in agriculture in recent years, the country’s agricultural sector has suffered dramatic losses since a devastating earthquake in 2015. Against a backdrop of food price volatility, the percent of households relying on food assistance increased from less than one-tenth of a percent before the earthquake to 35 percent after. Suaahara will ensure the health of future generations and guarantee budgets prioritize not just the amount of food people eat, but also the nutritional quality.

The Rani Jamara Kulariya Irrigation Project

Before 2012, Nepal’s rural population was primarily made up of smallholder farmers whose level of income was low by international standards. Farmers often experienced rainfalls and droughts that threatened their crop yields. Before project implementation, the Rani Jamara Kulariya Irrigation Scheme regularly suffered from either a shortage of water or severe flood damage. Furthermore, the government was unable to manage the water equitability which hindered the water distribution. The Rani Jamara Kulariya Irrigation Project put an emphasis on providing more efficient, reliable and flexible water services to farmers and households to mitigate agricultural losses due to water hazards and improve economic gains.

Modernizing the irrigation scheme allowed it to be resilient to water-induced hazards, proven after torrential rain in August of 2017. The project’s inclusive approach increased the number of women working in the Water User Association from 19 percent to 33 percent between 2012 and 2017. Moreover, about 40 percent of the command area saw an increase in irrigated crop yields; 117 kilometers of village roads were upgraded to gravel roads, bridges and culverts, and nearly 16,000 water users have benefitted from this project so far.

Promotion of Early Grade Reading

Nepal has made remarkable progress in expanding learning opportunities for children and adults. Since 1990, primary school enrollment rates have increased from 64 to 96 percent. However, the quality of education remains low and the overall literacy rate is around 65 percent.

A USAID-supported early grade reading assessment in 2014 showed that 19 percent of third-graders could not read a single word of Nepali. Together with the Ministry of Education, USAID plans to help one million young children acquire strong reading skills in grades one to three across 16 districts of Nepal.

Beyond just improving reading and literacy skills, these focused education efforts are strengthening curriculum and training teachers, school committee members, parents and technical support staff across the country. Just a 10 percent increase in basic literacy skills can boost a country’s economic growth by 0.3 percent and create a foundation for future learning.

These kinds of innovations are crucial in helping bend the curve toward increased child survival, lower malnutrition, greater literacy skills, and ultimately, the end of extreme poverty. Solutions like these will help Nepal escape poverty, drive broader development progress and elevate transformative efforts toward change.

– GiGi Hogan
Photo: Flickr

 

The Brightness of The Arts
The room is dark with a spotlight and hard bleachers. One young person enters from stage left juggling three red balls. Another performer helps the juggler onto a cylinder. Barefoot, the juggler is now balancing and juggling. Soon they add another cylinder at a 90-degree angle to the first, followed by another cylinder and another. The juggler is now five feet off the ground, still balancing and juggling. Phare Battambang Circus is a human-only circus in Battambang, Cambodia with goals well beyond entertainment that involves its idea of The Brightness of the Arts.  It strives to fight poverty in Cambodia through the arts.

The Phare Battambang Circus

The Phare Battambang Circus runs through a Cambodian nonprofit, Phare Ponleu Selpak (PPS) or The Brightness of the Arts, which provides a “nurturing and creative environment where young people access quality arts training, education and social support.” Sparked in 1986 in a refugee camp on the Thai/Cambodian border, Phare Ponleu Selpak uses a whole child approach through arts, education and social support to break intergenerational patterns of poverty steeped in the long history of state-sponsored violence. While the violence of the Khmer Rouge has retreated, children in Cambodia still struggle with extensive social problems such as poor school retention, drug abuse, poor working conditions, domestic violence, illegal migration and exploitation.

Now a must-do for visiting tourists, high season at the Phare Battambang Circus means at least 150 visitors a night. About 40 percent of nightly circus revenue goes to the youth performers themselves. This income supports families around Battambang and keeps youth out of more destructive industries like human trafficking in Thailand. PPS estimates that over 1,000 lives should positively change every year through its free-of-charge artistic, general education and personalized social support. Its arts education and artistic performances are changing the lives of families living in poverty in Cambodia.

The Khmer Rouge Regime

Under the Khmer Rouge from 1975 to 1979, the party’s radical Maoist and Marxist-Leninist agenda governed all aspects of everyday life in Cambodia. In its effort to render the country a classless agricultural utopia, the Khmer Rouge asserted that only the culturally pure could participate in the revolution. As such, the Khmer Rouge “executed hundreds of thousands of intellectuals; city residents; minority people such as the Cham, Vietnamese and Chinese and many of their own soldiers and party members, who were accused of being traitors.” Recent estimates place the death toll between 1.2 and 2.8 million.

The people the Khmer Rouge found to be nonconforming went to prison camps, the most notorious being S-21 where the regime imprisoned over 12,000 people and only 15 survived. Such widespread violence forced millions into refugee camps for years after the fall of the Khmer Rouge.

At Site II, a refugee camp on the Thai/Cambodian border, a French artist and humanitarian worker named Véronique Decrop started offering informal drawing classes for the children at the camp orphanage.

How Site II Grew into PHARE

Classes at Site II grew into PHARE, a French association and acronym meaning Patrimoine Humain et Artistique des Réfugiés et de leurs Enfants (Human and Artistic Heritage of the Refugees and their Children). Communications and Marketing Coordinator for Phare Ponleu Selpak Morgane Darrasse said, “The original idea was to develop a form of art therapy for them to escape and overcome the traumas of war.” Over time PHARE grew into Phare Ponleu Selpak or The Brightness of the Arts.

When Site II closed in 1992, Veronique and nine of her students moved to Battambang to create a sustainable school for the most affected children from the surrounding area. By 1995, the school accepted its first students and to this day, four of the original founders are still active in PPS.

Thanks to state-wide violence, all founders of PPS grew up in refugee camps segregated from their own cultural traditions. When it came time to implement music and dance programs at PPS, the founders chose to spotlight Cambodian traditional music. Derasse said, “They felt it their duty to revive the dying Cambodian arts” while fighting poverty in Cambodia.

Phare Ponleu Selpak Supports Its Students

Even though drawing classes with PHARE were the first seed, Phare Ponleu Selpak now has a thriving visual and performing arts curriculum as well as a strong outreach and social work foundation to support students find job placements and networking opportunities through and after their education. In its efforts to create a sustainable arts community, PPS ensures that 100 percent of students who complete their secondary or vocational training with it achieve employment within three months of graduation. This sustainable long-term approach lessens the intergenerational hold of poverty in Cambodia.

One student, Monisovanya RY, studied visual arts and graphic design through PPS. Upon graduation, PPS hired her into the PPS communications team to coordinate product design and production. In her free time, she creates performances in local galleries to cultivate an understanding of the environmental dangers of plastic waste.

Morgane Darrasse for PPS boasts, “We provide our students with communication and life skills, and also a complete set of technical skills, a strong fundamental and cultural knowledge of the arts, and the ability to understand, analyze and respond to a given problem with professionalism and creativity.”

The organization’s graphic and animation graduates work in advertising, marketing and animation production, and all local circus instructors are graduates of the program itself. Its goal is the creation of a sustainable arts community.

PPS’s Child Protection Program

In addition to pursuing arts programming, PPS’s Child Protection Program (CPP) asserts the inherent value of children’s rights. It wants communities to be safe and to provide families with the tools to care for their children. These programs extend into the three communes surrounding Battambang.

In collaboration with 32 NGOs based in Battambang and generous international donors, CPP follows, tracks and supports students and their families through a family needs assessment process and a monthly student sponsorship program. Most PPS participants come from these local communes because of the intense time commitment their programs require. PPS established a scholarship program for its visual arts program recently, which has made it accessible to young people from other parts of Cambodia.

Phare Ponleu Selpak or The Brightness of the Arts saves lives and combats poverty in Cambodia. In 2013, PPS received a royal award of $31,000 from the Netherlands. The Dutch Ambassador said PPS gets at the heart of their award requirements “to promote the use of culture as a means of development.”

Sarah Boyer
Photo: Flickr

EARTH University
Escuela de Agricultura de la Región Tropical Húmeda, otherwise known by its acronym EARTH University,
is located in the Limon province of Costa Rica. Situated in the middle of beautiful, sprawling jungles, the university focuses on teaching sustainable development and entrepreneurship for students to apply in their communities. EARTH University’s vision statement reads: “Our actions are mission-driven to alleviate poverty, promote social justice and build a future where our communities achieve sustainable and shared prosperity.” Their aim is to alleviate global poverty one person at a time. Below are 5 facts about EARTH University, the work they do and the innovative students changing the world.

5 Facts About EARTH University

  1. The university offers a large selection of scholarship opportunities for students from rural communities across the world. The student body is composed of less than 500 students, and 70 percent of the students have received full scholarships. This allows their outreach to impact and lay the groundwork in disadvantaged communities, as well as create ways to alleviate poverty without relying on charity and donations. This leads to a more independent way of sustainability.
  2. Due to their focus on agriculture, location amidst fertile jungle soil and the inheritance of a banana plantation, EARTH University is able to sustain development through profits from these sources. Grown in eco-friendly and sustainable ways, the university’s bananas are known as some of the best in the world and are distributed in Whole Food locations across the United States and Canada. 
  3. EARTH focuses on a hands-on education backed by the notion of “learning by doing.” Students are encouraged to work with their hands and are all responsible for the continued thriving of the university and its resources. For example, the student cafeteria is stocked with sustainable meat and produce grown by students on EARTH University farms.
  4. Due to the level of dedication committed by each student and faculty member, students are able to pinpoint where the agricultural sector is lacking and how to improve upon its structures. More importantly, students are able to apply this skill in their home communities and create a more efficient type of agriculture suited to their environment.
  5. The structure of EARTH University is one that is unique and efficient. Universities around the world are beginning to create similar structures that place a higher focus on social and environmental sustainability. Furthermore, study abroad and internship opportunities are offered to anyone interested in the field. Students and interns who take advantage of such an experience will be able to apply new ideas to the world of environmental entrepreneurship.

EARTH University is responsible for creating a new generation of environmental entrepreneurs who are able to apply their new skills where needed. When students are able to implement their skills in their own communities, whether these communities are disadvantaged or not, prosperity is created. Through their students, EARTH University is contributing to the downsizing of poverty. This type of structure has been proven time and again as students’ innovative ideas and skills spread, decreasing poverty.  

– Trelawny Robinson
Photo: Flickr

poverty reduction
Almost half of the world’s population lives in poverty, defined as having under $2.50 per day. Even more striking, more than 1.3 billion people live in extreme poverty, which means having under $1.25 per day on disposal. Most concerning, there are over 1 billion children exposed to substandard living conditions.

Several international organizations, such as the IMF, World Bank, and UN, work with governments and other organizations in the world’s poorest countries on daily basis. Their common mission is poverty reduction in poor countries and, ultimately, to end all forms of poverty once and for all.

However, what are the actions currently being implemented? Where can further attention and action be allocated to effectively alleviate poverty?

International Organizations and Governments

The weakest links are evidently countries that lack abundant natural resources, such as sub-Saharan African countries. These countries, such as Cameroon, Benin, and Angola, are home to the poorest people and their governments are unable to raise tax revenues or foster financial resource mobilization. Development of these countries could be achieved through a set of resources such as private investments and development financing.

Coordination with governments to address issues directly linked to the poorest of their population is vital. The Bolsa Familia program in Brazil exemplifies this notion, as the program has established a direct cash transfer to the poorest families. Over 48 million families are enrolled and this has led to extreme poverty dropping from 20.4 million in 2003 to 11.9 million in 2009. That is a staggering 8.5 million people who have been lifted from the severe poverty.

Facets of Poverty – Basic Needs

Typically, poverty is associated with one’s financial situation. Nonetheless, there are several other facets to poverty that must be addressed if extreme poverty, and eventually poverty altogether, is to be eradicated. Of these basic needs, five stand out in poverty reduction in poor countries:

  1. Quality education
  2. Access to healthcare
  3. Water and sanitation
  4. Economic/financial security
  5. Child participation

Improving the well-being of the world’s poor enables them to break the cycle of poverty. Providing a greater home environment and adequate nutrition fosters the success of children in school and of adults in training, which boosts their economic position. One example is Colombia, where education can be the gate key to breaking the cycle of violence and poverty and promoting economic growth on all cylinders.

On Data

In an increasingly data-driven world, developing countries can greatly improve their data on poverty, and by doing so, clearly identify where the poorest citizens live and what their exact needs are. In this way, they can allocate their resources effectively. Crucial improvements include the monitoring of different facets of poverty other than income, while encompassing more dimensions to the problem (social, economic, etc.).

There is much work to be done to resolve the unfortunate effects of poverty. However, solving the persistent problem requires striking straight to the roots.

Collaboration between international organizations, governments and other groups, updating and improving data as well as providing basic needs are all must-do’s in the fight against poverty reduction in poor countries.

– Roberto Carlos Ventura

Photo: Google

10 Facts About Poverty in Rwanda

Small, landlocked and with a densely packed population of approximately 11.9 million people, Rwanda has become one of the fastest growing economies in Central Africa. Since the 1994 genocide that left 800,000 dead, Rwanda has seen over two decades of uninterrupted economic growth and social progress.

However, even with these great strides, more than 60 percent of the population continues to live on less than $1.25 a day. The government has guarded its political stability since the genocide and has prioritized long-term developmental goals to assure that its economy continues to grow and poverty falls. Here are 10 important facts about poverty in Rwanda.

10 Facts About Poverty in Rwanda

  1. Rwanda’s global income ranking has improved from the seventh poorest in 2000 to the twentieth in 2015. This is due to the government’s commitment to strong governance and the principles of market economy and openness.
  2. Although more than 60 percent still live in extreme poverty, Rwanda has reduced the percentage of people living below the poverty line from 57 percent in 2005 to 45 percent in 2010.
  3. The decline in poverty can be attributed to three main reasons: an increase in farm productivity, an increase in non-farm employment and an “increase in the number of livelihood activities in which an individual engages, such as running small businesses,” according to United Nations Rwanda.
  4. The country’s Vision 2020 is a strategy that aims to “transform the country from a low-income, agriculture-based economy to a knowledge-based, service-oriented economy with middle-income country status by 2020,” the World Bank reports.
  5. To achieve Vision 2020’s goals, the government has developed a medium-term strategy, the second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS 2). This showcases its overarching goal of growth and poverty reduction through four areas: rural development, economic transformation, government accountability, productivity and youth employment.
  6. Inequality measured by the Gini coefficient fell from 0.49 in 2011 to 0.45 in 2014.
  7. Almost 64 percent of parliamentarians are women in Rwanda, compared to just 22 percent worldwide. This has enabled women to advance economically.
  8. As it continues to rebuild after the genocide, foreign aid still contributes to 30-40 percent of the Rwandan government’s revenues.
  9. Economic growth fell by 4.7 percent in 2013 after some donors withheld aid over a 2012 U.N. report that alleged the government was backing rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
  10. At the end of 2015, Rwanda had met most of the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). With a two-thirds drop in child mortality and near-universal primary school enrollment, the country saw strong economic growth accompanied by substantial improvements in living standards.

These facts about poverty in Rwanda demonstrate the current programs and priorities. With a strong focus on homegrown policies and governmental initiatives like Vision 2020 and EDPRS 2, Rwanda has contributed to significant improvements in access to services and human development. The country’s Growth Domestic Product (GDP) grew eight percent each year from 2001 to 2014 and continues to see improvements in life expectancy, primary school enrollment, literacy and healthcare spending.

However, economic growth has been slowing down recently and remained subdued in 2017. Although the country still has some ways to go, these 10 facts about poverty in Rwanda are meant to show a glimpse into the remarkable growth the country has seen already.

– Aaron Stein
Photo: Google