Poverty FreeEmerge Poverty Free is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to break the cycle of poverty by enabling communities to take control of their own needs.

In partnership with a local organization, Sustainable Investments and Development Initiatives (SIDI), Emerge Poverty Free has begun a project in Mwanza, Tanzania to empower hundreds of fisher-women through economic and environmental conservation projects.

Tanzania is known as one of the world’s least developed rural countries, where 40 percent of the adult population earns less than 1.25 USD per day.

The goals of the Sustainable Fisheries in Mwanza project are to enable women to become self-sustainable while also improving the environment of Lake Victoria that is threatened by pollution and excessive fishing.

To reach these goals, 250 women from the Kabusuli village of the Sengerema District in Mwanza have been trained in fish farming and healthcare. The group hopes to plant 10,000 trees along the Lake Victoria shore at the end of the project.

These trees will eventually be used to provide local families with wood for cooking and building materials to reduce deforestation.

Though a fairly new project, Emerge Poverty Free reports that women involved in the group have already doubled their daily incomes by selling fish within their communities during the past 10 months.

According to Aneta Dodo, secretary of the Sustainable Fisheries in Mwanza, the group has planted 6,000 trees, created five fish ponds for domestic use and local sale that have brought high profits — and a portion of the money earned by these women funded school tuition for 30 local children.

“We have gained a lot of expertise in finance issues, fishing, environmental conservation and we are able to do most things by ourselves without having to depend on men,” she said.

Dodo reports that the group was able to secure low-interest rate loans after the group started a saving and credit facility in their village of Kabusuli.

Despite these successes, the women of Tanzania still face many economic challenges — girls have higher education drop-out rates than young men and have limited access to medical care and employment, according to Emerge Poverty Free.

Group member Asha Malando does not see these statistics as an end-all and believes that women are still capable of empowering themselves by becoming involved in community projects.

“The government cannot do everything for us. We just have to use some of these organizations well so we can develop ourselves.”

Coleta Masesla, a female fisher in Tanzania, is now able to run her own food kiosk that provides income for her children’s education and home essentials like food and clothing.

“These women have become great role models in their community as they have proved that everything is possible. Most of them had lost hope but right now they are the ones running their families. We at Emerge Poverty Free are pleased by the attitude they have shown toward lifting themselves out of poverty,” stated Jeremey Horner, Emerge Poverty Free CEO.

Kelsey Lay

Sources: Emerge Poverty Free 1, Emerge Poverty Free 2, IPP Media, The Daily News
Photo: Flickr

Millennium Challenge Corporation
The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is seeking approval from Congress to expand its operations over the coming years via the Millennium Compacts for Regional Economic Integration (M-CORE) Act.

In a recent testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, MCC CEO Dana Hyde argued that the organization would be more effective if given the authority to make regional investments, in addition to the single-country investments it is currently authorized to make.

“By making coordinated regional investments across multiple eligible countries, MCC can help countries work together to build and grow regional markets…and help generate new business and market opportunities for U.S. and other companies,” Hyde said.

The MCC has a singular mandate: reduce poverty through economic growth. The organization does this by initiating joint public-private investment projects in countries working toward democratic governance, open markets and human development.

Since its creation in 2004 by President Bush, the Millennium Challenge Corporation has committed $10 billion in over 58 projects in 25 countries. Around 70 percent of this investment has gone into infrastructure projects like highways and ports and an increasing percentage is being invested in energy.

The organization is currently only allowed to initiate projects within single countries, which, according to Hyde and other experts, is an impractical development strategy.

According to Hyde, countries cannot develop economically if they are unable to trade with their neighbors. Regional projects like cross-border highways and railways could make a bigger impact – especially among groups of small states.

“It’s easy to think about how regional engagement might be beneficial in the context of electricity,” said Center for Global Development President Dr. Nancy Birdsall. “The logic of a shared grid across borders is clear. To work, countries involved need to commit to a strong regulatory and financial structure outside the auspices of a single government for power trading and pricing.

However, initiating projects across multiple countries also poses a number of challenges. One such challenge occurs because neighboring countries are often not at the same level of development. For example, if the MCC wanted to begin a project across two countries, one may meet the required indicators for open governance and human development while the other might not.

The organization currently bridges this gap by undertaking threshold programs designed to assist near-eligible countries to become ready for investment.

Now, it wants the additional authority to conduct threshold programs at the same time it begins investment projects – meaning countries can begin projects before they are fully eligible to do so.

It may seem counter to MCC’s mandate, but Hyde argued that it is a necessary.

In her testimony, Hyde said the Millennium Challenge Corporation has a proven record of implementing successful country projects and is well equipped to take on the challenges of regional investments without straying from its mandate.

Ron Minard

Sources: American Progress, 1, 2, MCC
Photo: Wikipedia

According to the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), four out of five people in Africa depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. However, it remains the only region in the developing world to have low and declining agricultural development, with a per capita output totaling 56 percent of the world average.

In addition, according to a study conducted by the ECA, Africa’s per capita agricultural output has declined by five percent over the last twenty years while other developing nations have seen a 40 percent increase.

However, given that the region is home to about 60 percent of the world’s arable land, the expansion of new markets and sustainable technologies proposed by the ECA can help alleviate poverty in Africa and reduce income inequality.

Many of those who depend on agriculture to survive live in rural areas with little access to research and technology. This means that outside investment is often necessary in order for a country to maintain sustainable farming rituals.

Adam Elhiraika, Director of the Macroeconomic Policy Division at the ECA, suggests that agricultural productivity must be increased and combined with practical agribusiness in order to add value to crops and improve access to markets for farmers.

This value broadens economic growth and can ultimately lead to food security throughout Africa. According to the World Bank, China’s agricultural development was responsible for the 45 percent decline in rural poverty between the years of 1981 and 2001.

The same study shows that within Africa, Ghana was able to reduce poverty rates by 24 percent over the last 15 years due to promising agricultural output.

In order for agriculture to play a larger part in poverty reduction throughout Africa, sustainable farming methods must be adapted in order to raise farm incomes. Public investments could provide the access to land and irrigation systems that are otherwise unavailable in rural parts of the country.

Once resources are more readily available, productivity and market access can also increase. Innovations in biotechnology that can make crops more productive lead to a more secure food supply that in turn lowers prices. Smallholder farmers can make a comfortable living and feed other farming families within their communities.

According to the World Bank, education in rural areas is vital for agricultural development and for new farmers to learn skills relevant to emerging job markets. Investing in agricultural development education is a vital step toward ending rural poverty in Africa.

Kelsey Lay

Sources: Star Africa, World Bank
Photo: Flickr

According to the World Bank, as of 2012, 896 million people are living in extreme poverty or less than $1.90 a day. A staggering 77.8 percent of people in extreme poverty currently reside in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

Holiday Christmas shoppers can find ways to help those living in poverty. According to the National Philanthropic Trust, the average American donation was $2,974 last year. For an average family of four, that number breaks down to about $743 per person.

Here are 12 charitable ideas for Christmas:

  1. Sign up for a site that gives part of the proceeds to charity. AmazonSmile is a great example. The e-commerce giant will donate 0.5 percent of eligible purchases to the customer’s chosen charity. The best part? There’s no extra charge to the customer.
  2. Enroll in a rewards credit card that “gives back.” Capital One offers a rewards donation option when a customer enrolls in their “No Hassle Giving” site. Customers can choose from up to 1.2 million charities and use their reward points to donate to their chosen charity.
  3. Do a one-time donation. Give a one-time donation without being obligated to contribute on a monthly basis. Many charities provide this option for contributors, like The Borgen Project.
  4. Donate shoes sitting in your closet. Have old shoes that are sitting in the closet? Donate them to Soles4Souls. Since 2006, the organization has “collected and distributed 26 million pairs of shoes to those in need in 127 countries around the world and all 50 states in the U.S.” Coats, shirts and pants are also important donations that can help those in need.
  5. Shop consciously. There are many charities that donate some, if not all of the proceeds to a certain charity or cause. A prime example is (RED) a campaign that is sponsored by ONE, an international advocacy organization started by Bono. ONE (RED) pairs with iconic brands such as Apple, Coca-Cola and Starbucks to create one-of-a-kind items that support HIV/AIDS grants in countries such as Ghana, Kenya and Rwanda. The companies involved contribute 50 percent of the profits earned to the ONE (RED) campaign.Charitable_Ideas_for_Christmas
  6. Look for donation “widgets” or “buttons.” On some sites, donating is as simple as clicking a button. For example, The Hunger Site advertises a free “Click to Give” button. Notably, last year the organization’s “click button” funded 52.8 million cups of food.
  7. Volunteer. Options range from participating in a soup kitchen, donating professional resources such as writing or marketing skills or assisting in a project such as building a community school.
  8. Email congressional leaders. Writing to Congressional leadership is another way to get involved in helping out those in need. Since each and every email is tallied, a simple email addressed will help get key global poverty legislation on leaders’ radars.
  9. Give up coffee or snacks for a week and donate the money. A $5 drink every day during a normal workweek can set you back $25. Giving up that Grande Peppermint Mocha with soy milk, no whip may be hard at first, but that money can be put towards something like a mosquito net, life-saving medication or clean drinking water.
  10. Share on social media. Facebook and Twitter have become increasingly popular ways for people to share raise awareness about global poverty issues.
  11. Select “Charity Gift Cards”. TisBet capitalizes on the gift card model, but gives it a charity twist. The recipients of these gift cards get to choose which one of the 250 listed charities to spend the designated amount.
  12. Make use of matching donations. Some employers match employee donations, up to a certain dollar amount. Others even match volunteer hours or gifts from retirees, board members and even spouses.

Alyson Atondo

Sources: World Bank, National Philanthropic Trust, Amazon, Capital One, Soles 4 Souls, One, Greater Good, Chicago Tribune, TisBest, World Vision
Picture: Pixabay, Flickr

75 percent of the world’s poor make a living in rural areas and most people depend on agriculture for survival. The recently-implemented Sustainable Development Goals aim to “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture” by 2030.

Alleviating poverty in rural areas is the mission of Heifer International. The organization furthers agriculture by helping small-scale farms achieve empowerment and financial security.

When founder Dan West arrived in Spain to provide relief for refugees of the Spanish Civil War, he found families living off of a single cup of milk per day. West realized that in order for people to recover from the war, they needed more than a cup of milk. They needed the entire cow.

With the help of donors, Heifer International delivers livestock to rural areas, along with a team of volunteers to provide guidance and training. Animals such as cows, chickens and bees do double duty in the fight against global poverty because they provide both food and reliable income through agricultural products.

In less than 70 years, Heifer International has achieved widespread success. Participants give the first female offspring of their livestock to the next family in need, as well as share the training they received. Entire communities transform into thriving, self-sufficient farms within a few seasons.

Furthermore, reducing poverty in rural areas positively impacts education and women’s empowerment, which further reduces hunger. Educated farmers produce twice as many consumer goods as their non-educated counterparts, according to Farming First.

Likewise, if women had equal access to education and resources, malnutrition would decrease by as much as 17 percent.

With the holidays around the corner, now is the perfect time to donate in honor of a friend or loved one. In 2011, 79 percent of Americans reported that they would rather have a charitable donation in their name than receive a gift they probably won’t use. Why not consider donating a cow?

Sarah Prellwitz

Sources: World Bank, Farming First, Heifer, Red Cross
Photo: Flickr

The end of 2015 has proven to be the time to shift focus. Worldwide, countries have shifted from the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). On a smaller scale, Australia is shifting focus in its aid programs.

Aid for Trade was launched in 2014 with a two-year budget of $823 million. Its main agenda is based on the idea that “no country has achieved high and lasting growth without participating in international trade.”

According to the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), “aid for trade supports the aid program’s key objectives of reducing poverty and lifting living standards through sustainable economic growth.”

The Aid for Trade investment from 2014-15 was used to build productive capacity in agriculture, economic infrastructure and trade policy and regulations.

According to the EUROPA, through continued innovations in how aid is tackled, various governments and organizations have found that trade is able to:

  • Boost development and reduce poverty
  • Enhance competition
  • Open access to new markets and new materials
  • Encourage innovation
  • Expand business opportunities and removes barriers to new markets
  • Expand choice and lowers prices for consumers
  • Cut government spending
  • Strengthen ties between nations
  • Create new jobs

As 2015 comes to an end, Australia’s Aid for Trade program moves into a new year of helping developing countries boost their economies through trade. DFAT estimates its budget to be $698 million for 2016.

When considering what to expect from the new year, one must look to the past. Over the few years of the aid for trade program, more women have been empowered, trade has been increased, infrastructure and finances have been improved, along with health and agriculture.

One example of an Australia Aid for Trade success story from DFAT states that, “Australia worked with the World Bank and other donors to help Lao PDR undertake the necessary trade reforms to join and benefit from WTO membership. As part of the reforms, Laos reduced the clearance times for goods by non-customs agencies by 42 percent.”

According to DFAT, “Aid for Trade supports developing countries’ efforts to better integrate into and benefit from the global rules-based trading system, implement domestic reform, and make a real economic impact on the lives of their citizens.”

Katherine Martin

Sources: 1, Europa, 2
Photo: Wikimedia