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Solutions to Pollution
The solution to pollution is not an easy fix and many industrializing countries in the Global South are facing the challenge of mitigating pollution while continuing to sustain economic growth. Because of this, environmental degradation and pollution are common in developing countries, both of which have adverse effects on health and the economy. Environmental degradation is near-inevitable for developing countries, due to industrialization, agricultural herbicides and groundwater dumping. This leaves developing countries with the challenge of finding solutions to all of this pollution. Finding solutions to pollution has brought sustainable industry and trade to developing countries. Here are 5 examples of innovative ideas that are creating jobs and reducing pollution in industrializing countries.

Five Solutions to Pollution and Poverty

  1. Ghana’s Climate Innovation Centre: Ghana’s Climate Innovation Centre (GCIC) holds an annual competition that rewards entrepreneurs who develop products that counteract pollution. Since its launch in 2015, GCIC has supported 53 businesses, had 12 partnerships with entrepreneurs, awarded $772,435 in grants and created 117 jobs. The products sponsored by the GCIC are available to 170,000 households. The 2019 recipient of the Launchpad Competition was Sabon Sake, whose team invented soil supplements that will counter mineral erosion from pollution and increase the fertility of the soil.
  2. Alternative Energy Sources in India: Indoor and outdoor air pollution are the largest environmental health risk in the world. In India alone, indoor and outdoor air pollution was responsible for the death of 1.24 million individuals. The World Health Organization is proposing solutions to minimize health problems caused by air pollution. These changes are not large scale economic changes, but rather small changes — the WHO proposed a switch to non-coal stoves, a reduction in diesel transportation and a limitation on the burning of biofuels. Professor Ramanathan stated that such changes have empirically created jobs and increased the number of individuals eligible to work, thus bolstering the economy.
  3. International Trade and Access to Global Markets: When developing countries prioritize environmental protection, developed nations often increase trade in order to encourage sustainable economic growth. The green industry in developing countries not only provides a solution to pollution by decreasing non-renewable energy but also by increasing efficiency. The adoption of greener markets in developing countries created 3.5 million new jobs, increased access for developing countries to global markets and decreased annual energy costs.
  4. Clean Water Drives Growth: Water pollution due to chemical dumping, feces and trash is responsible for the death of 3.2 million children in developing countries annually. Clean water is an investment that affects not only mortality rates but also the economy. UNESCO estimates that investment in cleaning and sanitizing water in Africa — even on a small scale — would increase the GDP of Africa by 5 percent. A 5 percent increase in GDP would create jobs, trading opportunities and create new markets. Additionally, the investment in clean water would increase the number of jobs by opening water treatment facilities.
  5. Solar Market in Tunisia: In 2018, Tunisia began to transition to solar energy through its Plan Solaire Tunisien (PST), which is funded by the National Agency for Energy Management through various global investors, including the German Investment Bank. This project, which has decreased the need for dirty forms of energy, will contribute 10,000 jobs to the Tunisian economy. There has been resistance to the development of solar alternative powers, however, increasing the time-frame of power outage occurrences.

Although the perfect balance between economic development and environmental protection is difficult to achieve, industrializing countries are successfully transitioning their economies to accommodate environmentally friendly business practices. This has increased job availability, prevented deaths and directly benefited the poor in the Global South. Private markets, Foreign Direct Investment and government initiatives have all alleviated pollution in developing countries and successfully created jobs. These solutions to pollution have the ability to drive the Global South to a cleaner and more economically viable model for industrialization while reducing poverty.

– Denise Sprimont
Photo: USAID

Development of India

Thirty years ago, India was considered by many to be the poster child for global poverty, with what the CIA World Factbook described as “environmental degradation, extensive poverty and widespread corruption.” However, in the decades since, India has grown tremendously, threatening to eclipse existing global superpowers, in fact, the country is projected to become the world’s third-largest economy by 2025. Here are five reasons for the rapid pace of development in India:

5 Reasons for the Rapid Pace Development of India

  1. Risk Management in Farming – Farmers are the backbone of a thriving society. However, the field of agriculture is full of risks, as bad crops, bad weather and other unexpected circumstances can lead to ruin for a would-be farmer, particularly in a country like India, which experiences ongoing monsoons that can completely ruin a farmer’s crops. This is why India has begun to implement risk management programs that insure farmers’ crops against monsoons and other disasters, a practice common in developed countries. When the Indian government implemented the PMFBY risk management scheme in 2016, the country saw the market premiums for agricultural goods increase by 300 percent.
  2. Quickly Growing Cities – A large part of India’s development has taken place in its cities. Two-thirds of the economic growth of the country comes from its cities, which are projected to have economies the size of small countries by 2030. This is largely due to the large influx of new citizens to the cities, which is projected to add 300 million residents by 2050. This comes at the cost of tremendous overcrowding in the cities, but India is working to develop new methods of urban sustainability that will keep the growth provided by its massive cities going.
  3. Investing in Renewable Energy – When India began to take off as a world power, the country was able to quickly develop its energy systems due to a rapid and early adoption of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind energy. This is because, due to the lack of preexisting infrastructure and the country’s sunny climate, it is cheaper for the Indian energy industry to harness solar energy than to harness energy from coal and gas. Today, solar energy alone makes up 30 percent of the energy produced in India and has the capacity to produce 30 GW of power in 2019. This access to cheap and reliable energy has helped India’s development by allowing the country to power its cities and even export energy to other countries. With that said, many households in India still lack access to electricity, which has caused many in the country to criticize the government’s export policies.
  4. Increased Focus on Breastfeeding – Although this point may seem oddly specific, it is vital to India’s development. The ability of children to breastfeed has been shown to improve their overall nutrition and reduce child mortality. Over the last 10 years, the percentage of babies who are breastfed in India has increased from 46.4 to 54.9 percent. This is partly due to a government program called Mother’s Absolute Affection, which works to make mothers and health care providers more aware of the benefits of breastfeeding and the nutritional needs of a developing baby.
  5. Thriving Tech Industry – In recent years, India has become almost ubiquitously known for being one of the largest tech powerhouses in the world. Most of this growth has been concentrated in start-up companies, turning India into a gigantic Silicon Valley. Of note, Bangalore, India’s biggest tech city, is considered by experts to be the second-fastest growing startup city in the world (behind Berlin) and the country has been rated the world’s top exporter of IT services.

Overall, India is one of the world’s fastest-growing countries and it is because of smart government policies, targeted economic development and stronger social services that help ensure that people aren’t left behind.

Kelton Holsen
Photo: Flickr

 

 

Combating Poverty with Renewable EnergyIn the modern era, more than a billion people around the world live without power. Energy poverty is an ongoing problem in nations like Liberia where only about 2 percent of the population has regular access to electricity. The World Bank explains that “poor people are the least likely to have access to power, and they are more likely to remain poor if they stay unconnected.”

With the new global threat of climate change, ending poverty means developing renewable energy that will power the world without harming it. Here are five countries combating poverty with renewable energy.

5 Countries Combating Poverty with Renewable Energy

  1. India plans to generate 160 gigawatts of power using solar panels by 2022. According to the Council on Energy, Environment and Water and the Natural Resources Defense Council India must create an estimated 330,000 jobs to achieve this goal. With this new effort to expand access to renewable energy, East Asia is now responsible for 42 percent of the new renewable energy generated throughout the world.
  2. Rwanda is another nation combating poverty with renewable energy. The country received a Strategic Climate Fund Scaling Up Renewable Energy Program Grant of $21.4 million in 2017 to bring off-grid electricity to villages across the country. Mzee Vedaste Hagiriryayo, 62, is one of the many residents who have already benefited from this initiative. While previously the only energy Hagiriryayo knew was wood and kerosene, he gained access to solar power in June of 2017. He told the New Times, “Police brought the sun to my house and my village; the sun that shines at night.” Other residents say it has allowed children to do their homework at night and entrepreneurs to build grocery stores for the village.
  3. Malawi’s relationship with windmills started in 2002 when William Kamkwamba, famous for the book and Netflix film “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind,” built his first windmill from scrap materials following a drought that killed his family’s crops for the season. Kamkwamba founded the Moving Windmill Project in 2008 with the motto, “African Solutions to African Problems.” Today the organization has provided solar water pumps to power water taps that save residents the time they had once spent gathering water. Additionally, it has added solar power internet and electricity to local high schools in order to combat poverty with renewable energy.
  4. Brazil has turned to an energy auction system for converting their energy sources over to renewable energy. Contracts are distributed to the lowest bidders with a goal of operation by the end of six years. Brazilian agency Empresa de Pesquisa Energetica (EPE) auctioned off 100.8 GW worth of energy on September 26, 2019. EPE accepted 1,829 solar, wind, hydro and biomass projects to be auctioned off at the lowest prices yet.
  5. Bangladesh is turning to small-scale solar power in order to drastically improve their access to energy. These low-cost home systems are bringing electricity to low-income families who would otherwise be living in the dark. The nation now has the largest off-grid energy program in the world, connecting about 5.2 million households to solar power every year, roughly 12 percent of the population.

With one in seven people living without electricity around the world, ending energy poverty could be the key to ending world poverty. The story of renewable energy around the world is one that is not only tackling climate change but also thirst, hunger and the income gap. According to Jordan’s Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Imad Najib Fakhoury, “Our story is one of resilience and turning challenges into opportunities. With all honesty it was a question of survival, almost of life and death.” With lower costs and larger access, renewable energy is not only the future of environmental solutions but the future of development for countries all around the world.

Maura Byrne
Photo: Flickr

Making Solar Power BetterSolar energy gives the old adage “make hay while the sun shines” a whole new meaning. Solar panels generate 227 gigawatts of energy world-wide. For reference, one single gigawatt can realistically power 300,000 first-world homes.

While a great option for anyone, alternative energy sources are especially important for people in poverty. In undeveloped areas, electricity is up to five times more expensive per kilowatt hour. The cost is higher due to infrastructure problems. The price of expanding the electrical grid in largely remote areas is often limiting, which encourages people to use fossil fuels instead. Kerosene, diesel and coal, the most common fuel sources, pose serious health and environmental risks.

Solar power is easier to install and is safer to use. Unlike wind and geothermal power, it is fit for use in essentially every climate that humans can inhabit. Reliable electricity allows impoverished areas to leap closer towards development. People can power cellphones, radios and televisions; refrigerate food, medicines and vaccines; turn on the lights; pump and clean drinking water; cook; irrigate crops and more.

While the safety and convenience of solar power are wonderful, its contributions to peoples’ lifestyles are what truly make the difference against poverty. Students who can study at night with the help of lightbulbs learn more and perform better in school. People with electronic devices can access the internet and its infinite resources. Refrigeration allows for food to keep longer and can help preserve medications for easier dispersal when they are needed.

Current Problems with Solar Power

For all of solar power’s benefits, there are still some glaring inefficiencies. While this renewable energy is cheaper in the long-run, upfront costs can be staggeringly high for people living in poverty. While dozens of outreach groups are working hard to provide help where it is needed most, it is still a hard technology to access.

Additionally, solar panels don’t always work at maximum efficiency. They generally use one of three types of semiconducting materials: monocrystalline, polycrystalline or thin-film. Their compositions differ, and though there are nuances to the use of each type, the options simplify to this: higher efficiency panels use the more expensive materials.

Lastly, traditional solar panels simply can’t work at night. With no radiation from the sun, there is nothing to convert into useful electricity. That means that individuals who use solar power at night must ration what they could generate during the day. Multiple days with little sunlight could also make a negative impact on overall energy stores.

Ways to Improve Solar Power

Fortunately, there are many people who continue to see the benefits of this technology and who are making solar power better.

A study released in early 2019 outlined a “material defect” in solar cells’ silicon that they named “Light Induced Degradation.” Solar cells used to have a 2 percent drop in efficiency from the first hours of use, no matter what the circumstances. Scientists identified the defect, caused by an interruption in the flow of electrons and are now working to fix it. Other researchers are seeking brand-new materials for use in solar cells, including “perovskites,” which are man-made crystalline structures.

Other scientists are striving to do the improbable: make solar panels that work in darkness. Researchers at Curtin University conceptualized a “thermal battery” made of a metal carbonate and gas storage vessel. When solar radiation stops, at night or in cloudy conditions, the gas is released from storage. It gets absorbed by the carbonate, producing more heat, which is then generated into electricity.

There are also changes on a societal level. For families that can’t afford to install their own solar panels, some communities offer alternative programs. Students can charge a battery using their school’s equipment during the school day, which is used to power lanterns when they get home.

More than 12 percent of the world still has no access to electricity. With the help of this complex technology and all of the people who are making solar power better, those without electricity can soon have a brighter tomorrow.

– Molly Power
Photo: Flickr

wave power
Rising standards of living and increased populations mean one thing; developing countries will need to greatly increase their capacity to produce energy. Electrical grids are inefficient in most impoverished nations. This creates an opportunity for countries and local communities to adopt renewable sources to meet growing electricity demands.

Interest is increasing in renewable energy and the positive impact it can have on developing nations. The excitement surrounding renewables emphasizes the growing efficiency and effectiveness of solar, wind and, to a lesser extent, hydroelectric power. There is another renewable energy option—wave power—which offers a consistent source of power with relatively high efficiency.

Over 40 percent of the World’s population lives on a coastline. Widespread coastal access translates to a vast reserve of untapped energy. New technology can harness this energy. On a local scale, wave power could support micro-grids that generate and distribute electricity for small communities. Additionally, developing countries stand to benefit, as ocean-produced hydro-energy is remarkably cost-effective.

Small-Scale Energy

Historically, wave and tidal power appeared too fickle to approach as an energy source.  However, as wave technology progressed in recent years, the prospect of extracting energy from ocean waves became increasingly enticing. Unlike solar panels and wind turbines, which may shut down from too much cloud cover or a lack of wind, wave power generators consistently generate electricity at a higher average availability.

Companies have begun to engineer wave generators that can be installed on shorelines to further improve affordability and efficiency in energy production. This convenience factor means that once the generator is installed, it can be largely left alone to generate electricity at a more consistent rate than wind and solar power.

Additionally, many poor rural communities still wait for access to large government power grids. In these cases, smaller micro-grids provide the opportunity for communities to distribute power to local households. These micro-grids could act as the most cost-effective solution to small-scale energy delivery to 70 percent of unconnected houses. Wave power stations hold the potential to provide consistent energy to newly constructed micro-grids.

Wave Power and Poverty

However, the wide-spread implementation of wave power is not quite here yet. Even still, companies are rapidly developing technologies that can be installed and maintained close to shore. These companies are building prototypes all over the world. One company, in particular, Yam Pro Energy, installed a large wave power generator on the coastline near Accra, Ghana.

Yam Pro Energy’s wave power generator will generate up to 180 megawatts of power and serve over 10,000 households.

This station will operate around the clock and can generate a thousand times more kinetic energy than local winds. The power station can fill 65 percent of local yearly energy demands, whereas wind turbines and solar panels could only generate between 22 to 24 percent annually.

Looking Forward

The potential benefits of wave power are immense. With the increasing durability of energy stations, the positive impact of a wave power generator on an impoverished community could be enduring. The case of Ghana illustrates how effective wave power can be. The renewable energy source offers a small part of the solution to the cycle of poverty in many countries.

Peter Trousdale
Photo: Flickr

Renewable Energy in Developing Countries
In the modern world having efficient energy infrastructure is vital for a country to find social and economic success. Lack of a proper energy infrastructure is one of the major factors that can hinder a developing country’s economic development. Many countries in the developing world at this moment are suffering from frequent power outages and insufficient power supply access, which are having negative consequences for their populations.

There is a misconception around the cost-effectiveness of renewable energy sources. The erroneous view contends that renewable energy sources are an expensive luxury only affordable to developed countries. In reality, the proper implementation of renewable energy sources in developing countries could reduce their dependence on natural gas and oil, and investments in renewable energy technologies would be more cost-effective than fossil fuels.

The Effects of Energy Poverty

Lack of access to a reliable energy source and energy services is commonly known as energy poverty, which affects more than 1 billion people in the world. Energy provides all of the basic necessities for human beings. Energy is utilized to provide human needs such as lighting, heat and proper water services. Indeed, there is a proven link between many of the markers of poverty, such as illiteracy, infant mortality, lower life expectancy and higher fertility rates, and only having access to inadequate energy services. This doesn’t surprise politicians, as modern public services and businesses, such as health care, education and communications are dependent on energy to properly function. Doctors need proper lighting to operate, vaccinations and blood cannot be properly stored without a cooling system, and medical equipment, such as X-rays need power to operate.

Benefits of Alternative Power Sources

Adoption and installation of renewable energy sources can offer numerous benefits for a country. Most forms of renewable energy are usually more cost-effective than fossil fuels. Renewable energy in most circumstances comes from a domestic source and therefore reduces the cost of foreign imports. Typically, the fuel for the energy usually comes in an abundance. In recent years, as the globe is seeing a major increase in renewable energy usage, a large number of jobs are being created by renewable energy advances.

Advances in technology related to solar power are becoming increasingly efficient in function. Solar technology is seeing a persistent increase in energy output efficiency and is easily capable of functioning in a variety of locales. Solar energy is viable because many developing countries are located in regions where access to the sun’s rays is optimal and are applicable to both homes and villages. Solar power can also help countries gain energy independence, meaning countries can reduce or eliminate dependence on energy imports. A reduction of energy imports can be extremely cost-effective as demonstrated by the Ukraine which has saved $3 billion on energy imports from Russia by going solar.

Wind power is one of the most cost-effective power sources available because it is sold at a fixed price and its fuel is free, making it vital for developing countries. Wind is a local source of energy with an abundant supply that is inexhaustible. In the developed world wind energy is creating an abundance of jobs with 100,000 people being employed in the United States by the U.S. wind sector. With unemployment being a major cause of poverty in many developing countries, the adoption of wind power could create a large number of jobs for these countries.

New Renewable Technology

As the market for renewable energy continues to grow, innovation has lead to the birth of new technology that generates energy through alternative means.

In the 21st century, smart grids are becoming increasingly common in the developing world. They are of vital use because of their cost efficiency, reliability and ability to manage energy consumption. Currently, developing countries such as China, India and Brazil have been world leaders in smart grid design and usage. Over the past 20 years, the number of photovoltaics (PV) installed has increased so significantly that it is now the third most important renewable energy source behind hydro and wind power. Solar PV systems are viable because they can operate for long periods of time with minimal maintenance making operating costs low after the initial installment.

Current Implementation of Renewable Energy and Future Progress

Renewable energy is already making a positive mark in the developing world with many developing countries already using renewable energy sources. As of now, Kenya is the world’s leader in the number of solar energy systems per capita with more than 30,000 PVs sold in Kenya each year. Countries such as Costa Rica and Brazil use renewable energy as their primary energy sources. Renewable energy accounts for 85 percent of Brazil’s energy supply and 90 percent of Costa Rica’s energy supply.

Proper investment in renewable energy can assist countries in providing adequate energy services to their populations. With the jobs it creates and the positive contributions renewable energy has to a nation’s energy infrastructure, developing countries could utilize it to alleviate poverty within their societies.

– Randall Costa
Photo: Flickr

Energy Poverty in BangladeshBangladesh was recently promoted from a lower income country to a lower middle-income country as per the World Bank’s GDP per capita benchmark. Bangladesh’s economic growth rate remained around 6.5 percent in 2012 to 7.3 percent in 2017.

The demand for electricity rose, as a result, thrusting the government into focusing on eradicating energy poverty in Bangladesh. However, misuse and improper management of energy contributed to the shortage of electricity and load shedding became a daily phenomenon.

Here are some additional facts about energy poverty in the country:

Only around 59.60 percent of the people in Bangladesh have access to electricity with 180 kilowatt-hours of energy per capita in use, which is very low compared to other countries. Rural areas tend to suffer more as they face more load shedding than urban areas.

Bangladesh heavily relies on natural gas and furnace oil, followed by coal, for electricity generation. As of February 2017, the installed power capacity shows the reliance on natural gas is of 62 percent.

This raises concerns over energy security due to the increasing fuel imports and high dependence on coal and gas for electricity generation. Yet, the country has been failing to meet its electricity demand. Therefore, it is trying to focus on meeting its energy needs and providing access to electricity all over the country.

Progress in Eradicating Energy Poverty in Bangladesh

In September 2018, there was significant progress in eradicating energy poverty in Bangladesh when the country managed to meet its energy production target of 20,000 MW. Bangladesh also set a new target of generating 24,000 MW of electricity by 2021, 40,000 MW by 2030 and 60,000 MW by 2041.

As of 2018, the number of power plants amounted to 108, a significant increase from the 27 power plants in 2009. Bangladesh ranked 90th among 115 nations on the global Energy Transition Index (ETI) which benchmarks countries on how well they balance their energy security and access with environmental sustainability and affordability.

Bangladesh made progress due to a strong political commitment, a stable policy regime, the use of grid expansion and generation sources and an investment-friendly environment in the infrastructure sector.

Some Upcoming Projects for Eradicating Energy Poverty in Bangladesh

  • Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant – Bangladesh’s first nuclear power plant, the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (RNPP) project, is being constructed in Rooppur, a remote village on the western side of Bangladesh in the Pabna District. The Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) implemented the project under the Ministry of Science & Technology. The project is apart of an intergovernmental agreement between Bangladesh and Russia. The nuclear power plant of 2,400 MW capacity, with two reactors of 1,200 MW each, is one of the major efforts in eradicating energy poverty in Bangladesh. The project’s expected completion is by 2024.
  • Matarbari Coal Power Plant – The 1,200 MW Matarbari coal-fired power plant project, implemented by the Coal Power Generation Company Bangladesh Ltd (CPGCBL) and assisted by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency, will use imported coal to generate power. The plant will have two units, each having a production capacity of 600 MW. The project will also include a deep sea-port.
  • Rampal Thermal Power Plant – This 1,320 MW coal-fired power plant in Bagerhat district of Khulna is a joint venture between India’s National Thermal Power Corporation and Bangladesh Power Development Board. It is expected to be the country’s largest power plant.

Expansion of Renewable Energy

On March 1, 2019, the World Bank approved $185 million to add up to 310 MW renewable energy generation capacity and also to mobilize around $212 million from the private sector, commercial banks, and other sources to meet the increasing demand for electricity. The Scaling-up Renewable Energy Project in Bangladesh by the World Bank will build the first 50 MW segment of a large solar panel energy park in the Feni district. This project should provide better access to clean energy and cut emissions by an equivalent of 377,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year.

With the rapid economic growth in the country, Bangladesh has made some notable progress in addressing its growing electricity demand. Through increased diversification of its energy mix and more ambitious projects on the way, major accomplishments are expected in eradicating energy poverty in Bangladesh.

Farihah Tasneem
Photo: Creative Commons

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in Honduras
Honduras, a small country between Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala, is home to 9 million people, some of whom are direct descendants of the Mayan civilization.

Both rural and metropolitan regions of Honduras have enormous hurdles to overcome, but in recent years, they have made considerable strides toward ensuring long-term prosperity and security.

In the article below, top 10 facts about living conditions in Honduras that detail the successes and setbacks of the country are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Honduras

  1. In 2016, the Honduran government declared a national emergency regarding the Zika virus. In response to the emergency, cooperation with various humanitarian aid organizations, such as UNICEF and the national child protection institution called Direccion de Infancia, Adolescencia y Familia (DINAF), resulted in a 99 percent decrease in newly reported cases in 2017. While this reduction is a massive improvement, especially in the span of one year, there are still around 191 cases of Zika that require proper education and care.
  2. In recent years, the homicide rate in Honduras has fallen significantly. While the homicide rate decreased by approximately 30 percent between 2012 and 2016, it is still one of the highest in the world with 59.1 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants per year. Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala form a particularly violent region plagued by political corruption, drug trafficking and post-war instability known as Central America’s Northern Triangle.
  3. A large portion of Honduras is part of the Dry Corridor. The Dry Corridor is an area of Central America that has been experiencing prolonged and more frequent droughts in recent history. This area covers the central-southern region of Honduras that are often hit by water shortages and dwindling agricultural yields. In years of extreme weather conditions, crop losses are reported to be as high as 60 percent in areas of maize production and 80 percent in regions of beans.
  4. Food insecurity remains a serious problem, especially in rural areas. In the past four years, ceaseless drought has amplified this issue. Twenty-three percent of children under the age of 5 across the country experience stunted growth. The rate of stunting jumps up to 40 percent in areas of the Dry Corridor.
  5. The poverty rate in Honduras is among the highest in Central America. Data from 2016 show that more than 66 percent of the total population is living in poverty, with higher concentrations along the southern, western and eastern borders. These are rural areas that overlap significantly with the Dry Corridor, creating a region where roughly 20 percent of the people experience extreme poverty, defined as living on less than $1.90 a day.
  6. Honduras relies heavily on the production of renewable energy. Out of the total electricity produced in Honduras, 32 percent comes from a combination of different renewables, and in addition, 25 percent comes from hydroelectric alone. This positions Honduras above the United States, Japan and Spain in global rankings measuring a country’s percentage of total electricity produced from renewable sources. One plant in Nacaome has created more than 300 jobs since it’s development and more similar projects are underway all across Honduras.
  7. The city of San Pedro Sula in northwestern Honduras was once known as the most violent city in the world. Pervasive drug cartel presence in the area fuels much of the violence. In 2013, the murder rate was at staggering 168 homicides per 100,000 people. In 2015, the city was able to rid itself of this undesirable title after local government partnered with UNICEF Honduras, Asociacion Colaboracion y Esuerzo, the Ministry of Education and many other organizations to develop programs focused on providing educational resources for young people and families who are victims of the violence.
  8. Sanitation and clean drinking water are nowhere near ubiquitous for the most vulnerable populations in Honduras. More than 630,000 people lack access to clean drinking water and one million lack access to sanitary human waste management facilities. In 2004, the World Bank funded Honduras Water and Sanitation Sector Modernization Project that decentralized water and sanitation utilities, giving more control to small municipalities. The project has improved water services for 108,000 families and sanitation services for almost 4,000 families.
  9. The distribution of wealth and resources is among the worst in the world. According to the most recent World Bank data on income disparity, Honduras is the second most inequitable country in Central America. Urban areas possess the vast majority of wealth and resources. More than half of the population that is considered to be living in extreme poverty resides in rural areas, many of whom are indigenous peoples.
  10. Access to reliable sources of credit is limited but improving. For the most susceptible parts of Honduras, micro-lending programs are providing solutions outside of traditional banks. In addition to proving more than 400,000 Hondurans living in rural areas with financial education and services, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has created a microcredit program in the form of 77 local investment projects that are facilitating entrepreneurship in 26 municipalities in western Honduras.

The urban centers of Honduras are making significant advances in the face of extreme economic instability, sociopolitical strife and rampant crime.

In rural regions, a harsh, ever-changing climate looms while international aid programs focused on infrastructure, food security and financial independence provide crucial assistance.

These top 10 facts about living conditions in Honduras help illustrate that the country has the potential to drastically transform itself to better serve its people, as well as the global community.

– John Chapman
Photo: Flickr

solar power to help eliminate povertyWhen extreme poverty is closely examined, a lack of resources is often found as the underlying catalyst. According to the International Energy Agency, 1.2 billion people worldwide lack access to a power grid. In developing countries, finding and utilizing renewable resources is essential.

By using solar power to help eliminate poverty, developing countries inch closer to a sustainable solution. By expanding the number of people who have access to power, fewer cases of water deprivation, disease outbreaks and even education deprivation would result.

 

Refrigerators in South Sudan

South Sudan, the least electrified country in the world, has endured constant conflict and disease outbreaks for more than four years, according to UNICEF. With rampant malnutrition and a lack of immunizations in the war-torn nation, diseases like measles, polio and tetanus have contributed to about one in 17 children dying from a preventable cause before their first birthday.

UNICEF has begun to use solar power to help eliminate poverty through its distribution of solar-powered refrigerators. Manufactured in Germany and transported via airlift, the refrigerators are used to keep vaccines at a safe temperature while being transported to isolated locations. The funding for the transportation and installation of the solar-powered refrigerators was provided by organizations like ECHO, the World Bank, GAVI and CERF.

By using solar power to maintain vaccines, UNICEF began immunizing South Sudanese who previously had no access to electricity. According to UNICEF, approximately 1.7 million children were vaccinated for measles.

 

Water Pump in Malawi

A scarcity of clean drinking water in Malawi villages impacts all aspects of everyday life for Malawi villagers. According to UNICEF, 13-year-old Lucy Chalire has been affected by the lack of clean water in multiple areas of her life. Chalire often suffered from diarrhea because of dirty drinking water. She also walked about five kilometers to collect the nearest water, leaving her exhausted and creating another roadblock to her education.

“I had diarrhea so many times. I would stay at home for around two weeks until I got better,” Chalire told UNICEF.  “I missed a lot of lessons, but I always tried to catch up by copying notes from my friends.”

After installing a solar-powered water pump in Chalire’s village, people were able to access nearby water that hand-powered pumps could not reach. The solar power alternative not only increases the amount of clean water available, it provides water during the drought season, allowing farmers to increase their crop yield.

UNICEF Malawi’s Chief of Water Sanitation and Hygiene Paulos Workneh said, “It’s low maintenance and should last for at least 10 years. And solar power is cheaper, environment-friendly and more sustainable than relying on expensive diesel generators.”

By using solar power to help eliminate poverty, Malawi is taking steps toward a sustainable future.

 

Education in the Solomon Islands

The Solar Power Pilot Project in the Solomon Islands aimed to improve the current situation in the average classroom, which has led to only about 17 percent of adults being literate. Today, students in the Solomon Islands lack lights, air conditioning and even fans. With classrooms reaching high temperatures, students’ ability to learn can be hindered, according to UNICEF.

The Solar Power Pilot Project supplied classrooms with fans, and electric lights by installing solar panels in schools. In UNICEF’s review of the project, it was decided that a more effective way to use solar power is the installation at the homes of students. Since students live far from their school, afterschool activities are nonexistent and solar energy is not used to its full potential.

Using solar power to help eliminate poverty around the world is a reliable and renewable option that grants people never before seen resources.

– Austin Stoltzfus

Photo: Flickr

Solar Power in the Fight Against PovertyHunger, lack of education, conflict, disease, war; these human calamities have a common factor: poverty. One word to define a worldwide phenomenon which unfortunately hits 2.8 billion people on earth, or near half of the total entire population.

So, what are the solutions to fight this burden? Investment, innovation, technology and education are all viable options. But more and more multinational companies, associations and even simple citizens are now engaged in the fight against poverty, using a very special tool: solar power. As a source of renewable energy that is good for the environment, solar power can also help people get out of poverty by giving them access to electricity.

Today, most inhabitants of developing countries rely more on kerosene than on electricity for their basic needs such as household lighting. This is not only because the cost of electricity is extremely high, as the poorest people in the world pay 40 times more for the same energy services, but also because, most of the time, the nearest outlets are located miles away from where poverty is striking.

Because of this poor resource distribution, 15 percent of the global population still lives without access to electricity, and it is this inequality that solar power is attempting to balance by giving people easier access to electricity, information and education. For example, in Bangalore in India, families using solar panels can save $100 a year, money they tend to invest in their children’s education.

According to Simon Bransfield-Garth, Azuri’s CEO, a leading company in solar power in emerging markets in Africa, “a child spends an extra [two] hours per day doing homework if he has electricity.” But giving people access to electricity, and thus to information and education, is only one advantage this form of energy has to offer developing countries.

First, using solar power requires only one natural resource: the sun. This free, nonpolluting and unlimited
generator makes solar power one of the most environmentally friendly energies in the world. Furthermore, green energy is reliable and cheaper in the long run than kerosene or generators. It is also safer and easier to preserve in case of natural disasters, as solar panels are detachable and can be put indoors.

Helping in both the fight against poverty and climate change, solar power seems to be the perfect solution for those who still don’t have access to electricity. But there is much more at stake here: every year, more than four million people are killed by indoor air pollution, more than AIDS and malaria combined. Developing clean energy is, now, a matter of life or death.

As concluded Justin Guay, associate director of Sierra Club’s International Climate Program, “Just providing a few hours of solar lighting alone improves the human condition.”

– Léa Gorius

Photo: Flickr