Relief, Investment and Infrastructure: 10 Ways to Stop Poverty
Though there are many ways to combat global inequity, this list of 10 ways to stop poverty addresses several primary concerns, including providing relief, investing in communities, and setting up the infrastructure necessary to further development.

  1. Improve national and international responses to natural disasters. Though just 26 percent of storms take place in lower income countries, these same countries account for 89 percent of storm-related deaths. The World Bank estimates that 26 million people are forced into poverty as a result of natural disasters, each year. Early warning systems, improved building codes and emergency preparedness strategies can save lives and help save $100 million in damages each year.
  2. Address water quality and improve sanitation. The entire workforce in France works 40 billion hours per year — the same number of hours spent just collecting water in sub-Saharan Africa. In addition to the value of work and school time lost to water collection efforts, an adequate supply of clean water is essential for agriculture and basic sanitation.
  3. Address hunger and nutrition. Malnutrition early in life can make children more susceptible to lasting physical and mental disabilities, preventing them from fully participating in the social and economic spheres as adults. The U.N. Development Program (UNDP) aims to end hunger and malnutrition by 2030 through supporting small farmers with land, technology and market access.
  4. Provide access to healthcare. Every day, 16,000 children die from preventable diseases like measles and tuberculosis, and in Sub-Saharan Africa, AIDS is the leading cause of death among teenagers. Healthcare services including immunizations, disease prevention and treatment are essential to UNDP sustainable development goals.
  5. Improve gender equality. Combating gender-based discrimination improves agricultural productivity and school attendance, and leads to increases in income. In the long run, gender equality contributes to the family, community and nation-wide development, and is vital to the effort to stop poverty.
  6. Invest in transportation infrastructure. The availability of transportation is important for access to jobs, education and healthcare. Better transportation infrastructure can also prevent traffic accidents. Worldwide, 90 percent of traffic accidents and resulting fatalities occur in low and middle-income countries, and constitute a larger health risk than malaria or tuberculosis.
  7. Make microfinance options available. Microfinance provides banking services to people with minimal access to such services. Loans, bank accounts, insurance and help with financial literacy may all be offered by microfinance companies. This allows people living in poverty to participate in economic activities like opening businesses. Currently, microfinance is available to only 20 percent of the world’s three billion people living in poverty.
  8. Make education accessible. In many countries, students may not be required to pay tuition, but other costs are still associated with school. The cost of textbooks and transportation, plus the money that children might otherwise earn from working, can all keep children out of school. The benefits of education are huge: Child Fund International says that “Education can be the catalyst needed to pull families and communities out of the cycle of poverty.”
  9. Combat climate change. Life and livelihood are on the line with changing precipitation patterns, rising sea levels, higher temperatures and extreme weather threatening agriculture, food supplies and water quality. UNDP argues that “It is still possible, with the political will and a wide array of technological measures, to limit the increase in global mean temperature to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. This requires urgent collective action.”
  10. Gather more information. Individual communities’ development goals must be a part of the effort to stop poverty. To this end, information must be collected regarding the location, necessities and priorities of people living in poverty to correct old or inadequate data and provide meaningful assistance.

Madeline Reding

Photo: Flickr

UN introduces 'Humanitarian Data Exchange' Platform
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA, has developed an open digital platform for data sharing, called the Humanitarian Data Exchange, or HDX. In collaboration with Frog Design, the new system combines state of the art data collection with data dispersal to provide current data access to crisis zones.

In rapid response to any humanitarian crisis, whether it is violence or a natural disaster, it is imperative to have instant availability to any relevant data sets. Frog Design created the technology with the intention of universal usage. Optimal viewing capabilities and premium user interface technology are also key components for rapid mass data absorption. Everyone from ordinary public citizens to data scientists to relief workers in the field are able to gather and analyze the HDX’s information.

The HDX provides easy access to a profile breakdown of almost every country in the world. Important information such as population density, total land area and GDP is provided. There are three key components that enable this data platform, data standardization, analytics and repository.

Revolutionizing data access provides an invaluable resource for relief and aid efforts to handle any disaster or crisis. Relief workers are able to make informed decisions instantly thanks to the new platform. The new technology also helps NGOs and governments to adapt to any evolving requirements or necessities that may occur.

The HDX was first utilized during the apex of the West African Ebola epidemic. The World Health Organization was able to share crucial information. Data sets, such as the total number of West African cases, cumulative deaths, treatment centers and countries experiencing outbreaks were quickly made available. The World Food Programme was able to share its data of food market prices in West African countries as well. This data helped the people properly predict their rations and assess their finances to cope during the crisis.

“It is of paramount importance that food security and food assistance information is regularly collected and widely disseminated..this partnership with OCHA on HDX is an important aspect of WFP’s broader initiative on Open Data and transparency,” says Arif Husain the Chief Economist of the WFP and the Head of Food Security Analysis Service.

Husain goes on to say, “We believe that our partnership with OCHA HDX is a major milestone in improving peoples’ access to credible and timely information for the design and implementation of national food security programs, policies and projects.”

Such a monumental breakthrough in technological usability and exchange has already proven effective through the health crisis in West Africa. It appears HDX is set to revolutionize data sharing and humanitarian relief efforts worldwide.

– The Borgen Project

Sources: World Food Programme, Frog Design

From the West Bank, to Syria, the Balkans and to Uganda, International Orthodox Christian Charities has worked to provide over $488 million in emergency disaster relief, development aid and supplies around the world since its establishment in 1992. Implicit in its mission, IOCC derives its inspiration from Matthew 25:35-36, “For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was naked and you clothed me…”

IOCC is the humanitarian relief organization of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the United States  – 1 of 13 geographical Orthodox bishop assemblies around the world. It is also a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 140 churches and agencies that engage in development work, humanitarian assistance and advocacy.

Active in several regions around the world today, IOCC is on the front lines addressing the needs of refugees affected by violence in Syria and most recently, displaced Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

While Orthodox communities in the Middle East have dwindled in recent years, historically, communities have existed in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Gaza and Southern Turkey for centuries. As a result, IOCC is able to work closely with the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch to address the needs of all affected by the violence and disasters in the region.

Since 2012, 1.5 million displaced people inside Syrian as well as the populations in neighboring Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Armenia have all benefited from the support and relief work that IOCC provides.

IOCC, with one of the largest established humanitarian relief networks inside of Syria, is currently working with local relief partners to provide basic supplies such as bedding and hygiene kits to more than 2,800 refugee families. In addition, they have been able to gather and distribute school supplies to more than 3,000 children whose education was interrupted due to conflict.

Most recently, IOCC has begun to gather emergency aid for families affected by violence in the Gaza Strip. With over 240,000 seeking shelter, people have turned to schools, churches, mosques and other facilities to escape from the bombardment of rockets into communities.

Since it first began operations in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza in 1997, IOCC has been able to provide assistance to over 30,000 families. With a well-established network in the region they have been able to make sure that basic supplies are reaching the more than 700 displaced Palestinians who sought refuge at the St. Porphyrius Greek Orthodox Church, as well as the more than 12,000 displaced people in northern Gaza communities of Gaza City, Beit Hanoun, Shuj’iyeh, Al Zeitoun and At Tuffah.

IOCC is just one of many faith-based organizations that provides vital aid, supplies and support to people affected by violent conflict and natural disasters around the world. Faith-based organizations play important roles because they often have deep ties to the people they serve and therefore have a unique insight into the needs of communities and countries in which they work. By addressing the needs of the most vulnerable, IOCC is contributing not only to the immediate needs of people affected by disaster and conflict, but also their longer term prospects of achieving peace and building sustainable livelihoods.

– Andrea Blinkhorn 

Sources: Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America, IOCC 1, ReliefWeb, IOCC 2
Photo: IOCC

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop recently announced Australia’s plans for its foreign assistant budget in 2014 to the tune of over AUD$5 billion, which will be implemented through foreign aid expenditures. Unfortunately, Australia will be making $107 million in cuts in comparison to last year’s budget, which will ultimately affect many ongoing programs, particularly in Africa.

It was also confirmed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) that Australia’s share of the latest round of funding towards the International Development Association (IDA,) will be cut to AUD$735 million. Bishop spoke openly about the cuts in funding recently and defended them by saying it is an effort to move away from a “hand out culture” and improve Australian foreign assistance efficiency.

“In this way, we have an aid budget that the Australian people will be proud of. We believe that this refocus of our aid budget will deliver effective outcomes. Under Labor’s last budget, they were to receive 2.5 percent of overseas development assistance (ODA.) Under this revised budget they will receive 2.7 percent of ODA- [which] is four times what these non-government organizations received from 2007 and 2008,” said Bishop.

Other organizations also spoke about the cuts, but more critically. Archie Law, the executive director of ActionAid, which operates in 40 countries internationally, said, “But what it hasn’t done until now is given a little bit more detail of where those cuts are coming from. Particularly concerning is the fact that it looks like the Africa program will be cut in half. The region which has more people living in poverty per capita than anywhere else in the world will receive half the assistance from Australia when they receive pretty little in the first place.”

While there is valid support for both sides of the situation, what is universally agreed upon is that there needs to be a healthy level of accountability overseeing how Australian aid money is spent. Australia will continue to meet many of its prior obligations such as the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative and will focus its efforts in the 2014 year specifically in the Indo-Pacific area.

Jeffrey Scott Haley
Feature Writer

Sources: The Australian
Photo: The Guardian


The American Refugee Committee (ARC) is an international nonprofit organization that has provided humanitarian assistance and training to millions of beneficiaries over the past 35 years. The ARC works with refugee communities in eight countries around the world – Haiti, Liberia, Pakistan, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Thailand, and Uganda. The people ARC serve have experienced devastating circumstances leaving many of them with nothing. ARC provides them with a number of resources including shelter, clean water, sanitation, healthcare, skills training, education, protection and whatever additional support needed for new beginning.

The Mission
The ARC works hand in hand with its partners and constituencies to provide unique opportunities to refugees, displaced people, and host communities. The goal is to help these people survive conflict and crisis and rebuild lives of dignity, health, security and self-sufficiency.

Programs and Services
Conflict and disaster have devastated numerous countries throughout the world, forcing many innocent victims to flee for safety, sometimes with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. ARC programs are formed by listening to the people they serve, understanding existing problems, designing practical responses, and training survivors to endure the work even after the peace is restored. The ARC also provides a number of beneficial services including gender-based violence prevention and response, economic opportunity development services, and reproductive healthcare services.

What is ARC Doing?
Recently many of ARC’s aid workers have been helping Syrian refugees who have fled the civil war. The camp, located in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, is currently sheltering more than 100,000 people. The camp only represents a small portion of refugees who have been forced out of their homes by the Syrian conflict that has been taking place for more than two years. ARC officials expect the organization will remain in Jordan for while to help provide water and sanitation for another refugee camp that is being planned there. The new camp will potentially handle as many Syrian refugees as the original camp.

How You Can Help
The smallest act of kindness can make a huge difference. Any amount of effort or support can be helpful to people with nowhere to go. There are a number of ways to get involved:

  1. Send an E-Card: Email a family member an ARC E-Card on a birthday or holiday. The E-Card includes a photo of a refugee and their story.
  2. Volunteer: Help raise awareness of the circumstances of refugees. Reach beyond your community by volunteering or interning at an ARC overseas location.
  3. ARC Events: Attend an event and learn more about the work of ARC and the global refugee crisis.
  4. Introduce ARC: Tell people you know about the work of ARC. Introduce them friends, family, peers, everyone!
  5. Make a Donation: Even a small donation can save lives.

– Scarlet Shelton

Sources: ARC Relief Twin Cities
Photo: Global Impact

World Vision 101
World Vision is Evangelical Christian advocacy, development, and relief organization. The organization is committed to working with families, children and communities to fight poverty and global injustice. Inspired by Christian values, and disregarding race, ethnicity or religious background, the organization seeks to reach out to the most vulnerable people.

World Vision has offices in approximately 100 countries. Each division exists under the umbrella of the Covenant of Partnership, which is a biblically based agreement that unites offices and allows them to serve together. Thus, the staff is made up of people from all different fields. Workers have skills that range from the technological fields such as hydrology, to business with a focus on microfinance and development. World Vision currently employs about 40,000 staff members with 97% of those workers working in their home nations.

Since the organization was founded by Bob Pierce in 1950, it has grown into one of the largest development and humanitarian aid organizations in the world. It has total revenue of around $2.79 billion that comes from grants, products and donations. In its earliest days, the organization cared for children of the Korean War through developing a child sponsorship program. As the children involved in the program began to improve and flourish, Pierce expanded his relief agency into other Asian countries, and then across the globe.

World Vision International was founded later in 1977. By then, the organization was focused on training families to build small farms through teaching agricultural skills. In doing so, World Vision began to construct long-term benefits in communities by promoting self-reliance.

Since the beginning of the decade, the organization has established food programs for 1 million Afghanis, waged a war against sex tourism in various countries, and helped stop the flow of conflict diamonds that fuel civil wars in Africa. In 2004, following the massive Tsunami that struck the Indian Ocean, World Vision and 3700 local staff responded with life-saving aid from donors all around the world. The aid enabled the construction of new homes, schools, and access to clean water, economic opportunities, and healthcare.

Today World Vision has turned its focus to the HIV/AIDS epidemic with the launch of the Hope Initiative in 2000. By sponsoring orphans and children in aids affected areas, the organization has been able to care for thousands of vulnerable individuals. Monthly contributions from various sponsors enable this organization to keep doing its work.

World Vision offers people 4 opportunities to get involved in the work they do. The first is to sponsor a child. The second is to give a meaningful gift. The organization provides dollar values for donating items such livestock, clothes and medicine. The third way would be to simply make a dollar donation. And the fourth method of helping World Vision is to make a micro-loan in order to sponsor new entrepreneurs.

– Grace Zhao

Sources: World Vision, Charity Navigator


Foreign aid organizations are often thought of as those that provide supplies of food, water, and medicine to those around the world who need it. The HALO Trust, however, was set up to improve the process of relief as well as defend civilians. The HALO Trust was formed in March 1988 in order to provide assistance to those in areas of war (Pakistan and the Horn of Africa) that were scattered with anti-personnel landmines.

Since 1988, the HALO staff in Afghanistan has grown to over 3,600, and has cleared over 700,000 mines from fields and stockpiles. HALO’s programs have reached many other countries as well such as Cambodia, Mozambique, Chechnya, Georgia, and more recently Sri Lanka and Colombia. As the “world’s oldest and largest humanitarian landmine clearance organization”, HALO is leading the way in making war zones safe for civilians and for transport of goods and services through trade. Their policy of “Road Threat Reduction” has since cleared 5,196 km of anti-tank mines off of roads in Angola.

HALO Trust also supports links between their usual mine clearance and development initiatives. Because these mines make it more difficult for development actors to visit and aid them, they are especially in need of help rebuilding their villages. First, however, mines need to be cleared in order to have safe ways to raise livestock and prevent killing or maiming of civilians. Their policy is to link development to demining, rather than demining to development.

While demining is their major effort, they also train their promoted staff as paramedics in order to make comprehensive medical knowledge a part of every team. Their funds are allocated to certain teams for a certain period of time as well as being spent on equipment and other expenses. Each donor ends up knowing exactly what they funded in terms of mines destroyed, amount of land cleared, and number of people that have benefited. Administration salaries are paid with an extra administration charge given to institutional donors.

Overall, the organization is a great help to those living in war zones, and continues to clear mines and work across the world to ensure the safety of civilians.

– Sarah Rybak

Sources: HALO Trust
Photo: Telegraph