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Poverty in TogoPoverty in Togo is a widespread issue. The nation is one of the world’s top five producers of phosphates, which are widely used in making fertilizers. However, Togo remains poor. Although Togo’s overall economy and GDP have improved in recent years, many worry that the rate of poverty in Togo is not declining fast enough. The disparity is especially notable in Togo’s agricultural sector, in which the majority of Togo’s population are employed. These issues leave many wondering, “What can be done to aid the people of Togo?”

Poverty in Rural Areas

Togo is a presidential republic in West Africa. Formerly known as French Togoland, Togo achieved its independence from France in 1960. A few years later, in 1967 General Gnassingbe Eyadema installed a military rule. After President Gnassingbe’s nearly four-decade-long rule, the military placed Faure Gnassignbe, the son of the former president, into office. Since then, Togo has been moving toward gradual reform to its democratic system. However, the Togolese’s frustration with the slow pace of this reform sometimes results in violent outbursts of political demonstrations.

According to the CIA World Facebook, 55.1% of Togo’s population lived below the poverty line in 2015. Rural poverty is especially concerning as more than half of Togo’s population resides in rural areas. In the World Bank’s estimation, the 2015 rate of poverty was worse for Togo’s rural areas, where 69% of the households lived below the poverty line.

These rural residents, the majority of whom are farmers, make up 65% of the Togolese workforce. Recognizing the vital role that the agricultural sector plays in Togo’s economy, many organizations and experts are focusing on revitalizing Togo’s agricultural sector. According to the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), a multi-donor trust fund provides food security in the world’s poorest countries, Togo’s food yields from agriculture have been consistently low.

The Link Between Rural Poverty and Agriculture

The yields of Togo’s major export crops, such as cotton, coffee and cocoa, have been declining for some time. In order to make up for the food deficit, Togo still relies on foreign imports for some basic food items. Upon closer inspection, industry experts stated that some of the barriers to agriculture improvement in rural Togo include:

  • A lack of effective policies that assure provisions of inputs (seeds and fertilizers)
  • Underdeveloped markets for agricultural goods
  • The absence of farming and transportation infrastructure

To address Togo’s rural poverty, GAFSA and the World Bank implemented the Togo Agriculture Sector Support Project (PASA) in 2017. PASA, a $19 million project, aimed to improve Togo’s agricultural output and foster an institutional environment that can encourage agricultural investment. According to GAFSA’s report, PASA brought numerous changes to Togo’s agricultural sector. Under PASA, Togo’s rice yields increased by 30%, farm employment opportunities in rural areas for the youth rose and numerous coffee farms and cocoa farms were rehabilitated. PASA rehabilitated 17,174 hectares of coffee farms and 11,578 hectares of cocoa plantations by implementing improved planting materials and improving coffee and cocoa value chains. PASA is reported to have helped 877,191 Togolese citizens.

Poverty in Togo has a close relationship with the performance of Togo’s agricultural sector. As the greatest source of employment for Togolese workers, the improvement of Togo’s agricultural sector is paramount to ensure a more stable economic future for Togo. While Togo’s economic potential is becoming a reality through steady improvement, there is still a long road ahead for Togo. The Togolese government and many other international experts recognize the importance of bolstering the country’s economy through the improvement of the agricultural sector. Organizations such as the World Bank and GAFSA are already implementing measures to alleviate poverty in Togo.

 

Although there are still many improvements to be made from agriculture to political stability, Togo has the ability to lift itself from poverty in the near future.

– YongJin Yi
Photo: Flickr

poverty in TajikistanNestled in between Afghanistan, China, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, Tajikistan sits in Central Asia among its sprawling mountain range. In the past decade, major oil and natural gas reserves have been found in Tajikistan which has kindled the hope of stimulating the nation’s struggling economy and of shifting their economic power back to them. As of 2018, around 27.4% of the population in Tajikistan lived below the national poverty line. Here are 10 facts about poverty in Tajikistan:

10 facts about poverty in Tajikistan

  1. Not all regions of the country are grappling with poverty to the same extent. In the northwest region of Sugd, the poverty rate was 17.5% in 2018. In the region just below, the Districts of Republican Subordination, that rate was almost doubled at 33.2%.
  2. Poverty seems to affect rural areas of Tajikistan more severely than urban areas. Farming cotton, one of Tajikistan’s main cash crops, has been shown to do very little for mitigating poverty levels or maneuvering individuals out of poverty. Those with non-agricultural jobs, however, in urban areas like the capital, Dushanbe, can go to Russia to find work. This is a common occurrence. As of 2018, the poverty rate in urban Tajikistan stood at about 21.5%, whereas the rate for rural Tajikistan was at 30.2%.
  3. The rate of poverty reduction in Tajikistan has decreased. From 2000 to 2015, the rate of poverty dropped from 83% to 31%. Since 2014, the national poverty rate has slowed to dropping by 1% each year.
  4. This slowing rate of poverty reduction can be attributed to a lack of job creation and stagnating wage growth. With a lack of new and improved jobs to stimulate the economy, much of the workforce turns to employment in Russia; this does little to stimulate Tajikistan’s own economy.
  5. A reported 75% of households have concerns about meeting their family’s basic necessities over the next year. Tajikistan is the poorest and most distant of the independent former Soviet Union states. In the first nationally conducted survey since the war ceased and Tajikistan gained its independence, studies found that more than 95% of households failed to meet the minimum amount of food consumption to be considered appropriately sustained.
  6. Tajikistan has a prevalence of child malnutrition and stunting; this has been attributed to inconsistent access to clean water and food. Many households spend more than they can truly afford to obtain drinking water. For the 64% of people in Tajikistan living below the national poverty line, this means incurring extra expenses while already making under $2 a day.
  7. For every 1000 inhabitants, there are only 163 places to live. Tajikistan has the lowest housing stock in the Europe and Central Asia regions at 1.23 million units. This can largely be attributed to the government no longer being able to provide public housing, while private owners have no extra money to invest in or maintain the upkeep of properties.
  8. 35% of Tajikistan’s population is under the age of 15. In the world’s wealthier nations, this number hovers at about 17%. A disproportionate amount of youth in the population means more problems for the burgeoning workforce as they struggle to earn an income: especially in a place where the economy may not be ready to respond. This could further the stagnation of Tajikistan’s economy, with frustrated young workers leaving to find work in other nations, as many are already doing.
  9. As many as 40% of Tajiks in Russia may be working illegally. Tajikistan relies on remittances from Russia. This is paired with Russia’s increasingly strict administrative processes for foreigners seeking work. Due to these two conditions, The Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs’ reported number of one million Tajiks working in Russia per year is questionably low. Between 30% and 40% of households in Tajikistan have at least one member of the family working abroad.
  10. The literacy rate in Tajikistan is 99.8% as of 2015. Primary education is compulsory and literacy is high, though the skill level in youths has been decreasing. This is due to economic needs calling the younger population away from their education in search of an income to help meet their daily needs.

Tajikistan has been climbing its way out of poverty since it has gained its independence in 1991. However, the nation’s over-reliance on remittances has allowed for its own economy to stagnate. This has resulted in a hungry workforce and few jobs to supply them. Groups like Gurdofarid work to try and empower the Tajik workforce; they teach women vocational skills that are needed for them to become employed in their own country.

-Catherine Lin
Photo: Flickr

roads in Zimbabwe

In developing countries like Zimbabwe where more than 67 percent of the population lives in rural areas, adequate roadways are essential for communities in the countryside to have access to education, jobs and health care. However, even those city roads in Zimbabwe that are paved, are filled with potholes while others have totally washed away. Rural areas have largely remained unlinked by asphalt roads, and the Zimbabwean government has historically lacked the necessary funds to launch an infrastructure overhaul that would not only maintain urban roads but also expand the transportation network to rural areas as well.

Road Improvements

However, improvements for roads in Zimbabwe are now underway. Extensive infrastructure developments have begun as of February 2019 to create more adequate highways to facilitate increases in traffic and create a safer environment for drivers. These developments will help ensure the quicker movement of goods and people across the region and are expected to help spur further economic development in the country. Regional connectivity will also improve, as the project has been planned in conjunction with Mozambique and South Africa. Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has already opened the newly-refurbished Tanganda-Ngundu Highway that connects the eastern part of Zimbabwe to South Africa.

The revamping of these roads is in line with Vision 2030 — a development initiative launched by the Zimbabwean government to upgrade the country to an upper-middle-class economy by 2030. The project has already created a spike in employment due to the rapid infrastructure overhaul construction operations, reflected in the Zimbabwe National Road Administration (ZINARA) minister’s statement calling everyone who wants money to come help build the roads, “Those who are ready to work on the roads come and get your money.”

While the renovation of highways and other essential roads in Zimbabwe is of utmost importance, rural communities are seeing significantly less attention. But that does not mean they are forgotten. In January 2019, the Zimbabwean government expressed interest with local officials of Kanyemba to expand updated roads to the rural province. Kanyemba is a largely underdeveloped province in northern Zimbabwe, and under the new infrastructure developments, the province officially received township status.

Looking Forward

With the expected economic growth after the road infrastructure improvements have been completed, rural areas are likely to develop as well. Once the government has more capital to put into its infrastructure services, it will be able to implement more extensive road network programs to reach beyond its main cities and highways to regions like Kanyemba. Zimbabwe’s future development, once rural roads are improved and/or created, will likely bring adequate jobs, health care and education to the more remote corners of the country. If all these expectations come to light, Zimbabwe has a great chance at realizing its goal of becoming an upper-middle-income country by 2030 in accordance with Vision 2030.

– Graham Gordon
Photo: Flickr

Regional Inequality
China’s regional inequality has historically been an issue. It is common for developed countries to have regional wealth and income disparity between rural and urban areas. Enormous wealth inequality exists between rural and urban regions of China with 90 percent of all poverty being rural poverty.

The Current State of Regional Inequality in China

Along with China’s regional poverty, an educational disparity has widened within China. The government has supported and subsidized education in urban centers but neglected to invest in opportunities for rural education. Since the 1950s, rural attendance at the Universities of Tsinghua and Peking has declined from over 50 percent to less than 20 percent in 2005 despite the rural population making up the majority of China’s population at that time. The lack of educational opportunities in rural communities in China has fed into the downward spiral of stagnation for such regions, as an educated populace is a crucial asset for creating economic growth.

Previous Efforts to Combat Regional Inequality in China

Recently, the Chinese government has recognized the need to address the growing problem of China’s regional inequality and has enacted a series of relatively new but ambitious policies to tackle the crisis.

China proposed the first of these in 1999. The Great Western Development Strategy is a $1 trillion (Chinese Yuan) development plan that aims at investing in development and growth in the inland Western Regions of the country. The plan slowly began in the early 2000s with spending on infrastructure projects in the west.

One of the most major projects was the construction of the West-East gas pipeline which began in 2002 and ended in 2005. This was a very ambitious project that created numerous jobs and revenue for the west while also benefitting the east coast. Other energy initiatives focused largely on the creation of hydropower plants throughout the region. Other infrastructure projects have focused on transportation. The Qinghai-Tibet Railway and the Southern Xinjiang Railway finished in the mid-2000s as a part of the strategy. These new railways employed many people and improved transportation substantially in their respective regions.

The Great Western Development Strategy also hopes to entice foreign investments in the region. The primary strategies for this objective are environmental conservation and improvement in educational opportunities. The plan has waived tuition fees for compulsory education in west China in hopes of improving the overall education of its citizens. Huge ecological conservation policies, such as Returning Grazing Land to Grassland seek to convert vast swaths of farmland into natural grasslands, as well as protect and expand forestry.

Recent Efforts to Combat Regional Inequality in China

The Northeast Revitalization Plan aims to rebuild traditional industries in the northeast, but with added economic and environmental regulations. The plan has also abolished taxes on agricultural workers and farmers, hoping this policy will be favorable towards the regions declining agricultural industry.

The new proposal, the Rise of Central China Plan, focusses on improving China’s agricultural heartland. Many often refer to Central China as “China’s Breadbasket.” The region has experienced only a fraction of the growth that coastal regions have undergone. As of 2002, the region’s real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was only 75 percent the national average. The Rise of Central China Plan will promote investment in advancements in agricultural techniques and technology with the hopes of increasing farming efficiency and creating larger yields in the region.

This is especially important for China as the issue of food security has risen for the highly populated nation. The Rise of Central China Plan also focuses on the development of transportation infrastructure in central China. A huge reason for central China’s economic stagnation has been lack of sufficient transportation, which has stifled its growth despite the region’s abundance of natural resources such as coal and its massive population.

Regional inequality in China has deep roots in past policies. The rural-urban divide has prompted a wave of bold new reforms aimed at combatting rural poverty and though the effort has just begun, these programs are showing promising results.

Karl Haider
Photo: Flickr

Women in Tajikistan
For a small country in Central Asia, Tajikistan makes U.S. news relatively frequently, often because the lives of women there differ from the U.S. norm. Those living in the area have suffered from political turmoil and poverty. While the news often focuses on the modern oppression of women, the mistreatment of women in Tajikistan stems from a larger injustice, centuries of poverty in the country that has affected women more than men.

Religious Oppression for Women in Tajikistan

Recently, the news has highlighted that Tajikistan’s Ministry of Culture published a “Book of Recommendations” for women’s attire. In the book, models display what the country deems appropriate attire for many occasions, setting standards for work and many social events.

What particularly incited opposition from many was the book’s overt advisement against Muslim and Islamic clothing, like the hijab, as well as Western clothing, which was deemed too scandalous. Furthermore, in 2017, the Tajikistan government instituted a policy of texting women reminders about wearing traditional clothing. This followed the government’s efforts in 2016 to close shops selling women’s religious clothing.

Additionally, the Tajikistan government created a law requiring traditional attire and culture at important events, such as weddings and funerals, officially banning “nontraditional dress and alien garments.” In August, the month it became law, 8,000 women wearing hijabs were stopped by government officials and told to remove their religious garments.

Maternal Mortality Rates for Women in Tajikistan

Tajikistan is one of the world’s poorest countries. Thirty-two percent of Tajiks live in poverty, but in rural areas, that number rises to 75 percent. Consequentially, women face staggering maternal mortality rates with 65 women out of every thousand dying from pregnancy or childbirth. In fact, mortality rates for both mother and infant are higher than any other country in Central Asia, a region already significantly behind Western standards.

This lag correlates with the upheaval faced by Tajiks since the responsibility for healthcare had changed hands so many times in the past. Tajikistan was part of the Soviet Union from 1929 to 1991. Then, shortly after gaining independence in 1991, Tajikistan suffered from a brutal civil war that not only claimed tens of thousands of Tajik lives but also crippled the healthcare system, contributing to such high maternal mortality rates.

Caring for the Home and Family

Political upheaval abruptly caused women to become household managers without any aid, leaving them to struggle with poverty. The civil war crippled industrial and agricultural production, the latter of which the country’s economy depended on almost entirely. Since then, nearly 1.5 million Tajik men have left the country to seek employment elsewhere, often leaving wives in charge of the home and children. But, unfortunately, households headed by women are significantly poorer than those headed by men.

Representation and Education for Women in Tajikistan

Female representation in government has remained below international standards because of the poverty caused by political upheaval. Only 12 of the 62 legislators in Tajikistan are women. Those who do make it into politics are often stuck in the lower ranks with little to no opportunity to rise to levels where they can create change.

Private Muslim schools educated the majority of the country’s population from early 1800 until the 1920s when The Soviet Union secularized education. However, with independence came a decreased government budget for education as the private funds disappeared. Moreover, women either have to marry young or are too busy working and, therefore, do not have an opportunity to receive an education.

Improvements Being Made For Women in Tajikistan

Due to The Soviet Union’s systemized education, literacy rates grew, and that shift in norms has continued to benefit men and women in Tajikistan. Additionally, in the two decades following independence, poverty rates have dropped, suggesting a growing stability. In fact, in 1999, 81 percent of the country lived in poverty, and in ten years that number has almost halved to 47 percent. Additionally, extreme poverty decreased from 73 percent in 1999 to 14 percent in 2013.

The U.N. has been working in Tajikistan to improve conditions for women since 1999 by empowering women and promoting gender equality. Furthermore, local and international stakeholders have been given a way to provide activities for women, such as the Rapid Emergency Assessment and Coordination Team (REACT), which helps train women to respond in disaster situations.

Hope for a Better Future

Therefore, beyond the uproar over women’s clothing being regulated by the government lies a deeper historical injustice due to poverty. Women have had little control over Tajikistan’s laws that have targeted them and a lack of access to education that prevents this fact from changing.

Despite concerning media coverage, possible improvements for the lives of women in Tajikistan exist. As stability grows, the potential exists to improve the budget for healthcare and education and, therefore, reduce poverty. Backed with proper healthcare and educational opportunities, women will have the ability to gain access and opportunities to dictate the laws of their country, such as those about their clothing, by becoming more active in the political sphere.

– Charlotte Preston
Photo: Flickr

 

Facts About Poverty in Somalia
Located in one of the most poverty-stricken regions in the world, Somalia is one of the poorest countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Poverty in Somalia has been an enormous issue for more than a century but has recently been slightly alleviated due to increased foreign aid and government stability. Here are ten key facts about poverty in Somalia.

10 Facts About Poverty in Somalia

  1. Severe droughts and extreme weather make life for people living in poverty in Somalia even more difficult. Historically, food security in the country has been an issue due to limited rainfall and extreme drought. In 2017, nearly six million people in the country were considered acutely food insecure. Around a quarter of a million people have been displaced due to the most recent drought.
  2. Somalia is one of the least developed countries in Africa. Somalia lags behind the rest of Africa when it comes to the availability of basic infrastructure. Only around half of the country’s population has access to fresh drinking water and this number is significantly lower in rural areas.
  3. Poor people who live in rural areas of the country are relatively left behind when it comes to education compared to urban areas. The literacy rate in rural areas drops around 10 percent compared to urban areas. Less access to education in rural areas means a more challenging path out of poverty for poor people.
  4. Four out of five children in Somalia are lacking at least one basic necessity. Around 85 percent of youth in Somalia do not have access to at least one dimension. The more common of which is lack of access to clean drinking water. Another dimension that a substantial amount of children lack is access to information.
  5. Children in Somalia are likely not attending school. Experts believe education is fundamental in giving children a path to escaping poverty. Without education, it is near impossible for children to improve their future. Currently, only half of the country’s youth are receiving and education. This number increases dramatically in rural areas.
  6. The country’s per capita income is around $400. This number is one of the lowest in the region and is a huge reason for poverty in Somalia. Lacking infrastructure in the country affects the number of good jobs and means that most people work on agricultural land.
  7. Somalia’s parliament recently adopted the National Development Plan. The NDP aims to build up the county’s infrastructure and begin to reduce the amount of poverty in Somalia. It also aims to make the country more secure and oust remaining terrorist cells.
  8. Donor grants doubled in 2017 compared to 2016. In 2016, the country received nearly $55.3 million in grants while in 2017 that number grew to over $103.6 million.
  9. About 73 percent of the country lives on less than $2 a day. The percentage of people living on less than $1 a day is around 24 percent, but this number increases to 53 percent in rural areas.
  10. Somalia is one of the worst countries in the world to be a woman. Not only does the country have a terribly high child mortality rate, Somalian women also have limited access to maternal health resources and education.

Although Somalia is still one of the poorest countries in the world, progress is being made to help change the status quo. Increased government stability is leading to improved infrastructure and security. The government is already pushing initiatives that will help mitigate some of these facts about poverty in Somalia. This coupled with an increase in foreign aid dollars flowing into Somalia should bring a brighter future for the struggling country.

– Thomas Fernandez
Photo: Flickr

child poverty in ThailandOver the last several years, Thailand has made impressive progress in reducing poverty. It has gone down from 67 percent in 1986 to only 7.2 percent in 2015. While there has been considerable progress made, poverty is still a major problem in Thailand, especially among children. The following are 10 important facts about child poverty in Thailand.

10 Facts About Child Poverty in Thailand

  1. It is estimated that about one million children in Thailand are living in vulnerable conditions. Child poverty in Thailand is a serious issue. These vulnerable individuals include children that live in poverty, have lost their parents, have a disability or have been forced to live on the streets.
  2. Child labor has long been a problem. It is estimated that more than eight percent of children between ages five and 14 are involved in the workforce. Impoverished children have no option but to enter into factory work, fishery work, construction or agriculture. Young children are also often forced into the commercial sex industry. Riley Winter, a student who recently traveled to Thailand, told The Borgen Project she witnessed children were giving tourists foot massages for just a small amount of money.
  3. Around 380,000 children have been left as orphans by the AIDS epidemic. This greatly affects child poverty in Thailand; many of these children are forced to live on the streets or enter the workforce because they have no one to care for them. It is also estimated that 200 to 300 children will be born HIV-positive each year.
  4. Poor children in Thailand do not have full access to medical care. Out of the 20,000 children are affected by HIV/AIDS, only 1,000 of them have access to medical care.
  5. Children are being exploited. Thailand has become wealthier and, consequently, trafficking networks have been expanding to poorer and isolated children in the country. Child poverty in Thailand has led these children to enter commercial sexual exploitation.
  6. Child poverty in Thailand makes it difficult for poorer children to remain in school. They do not have access to the necessary tools to succeed and remain in school so they are often forced to drop out. The wealthiest group has 81.6 percent of children of primary school age enter grade one while only 65.3 percent of the poorest group enter grade one.
  7. Arranged marriages are very prevalent in Thailand today. A man from a wealthy family is often chosen because the dowry system is still utilized in Thailand. The wealthy man will give the bride’s parents money in exchange for her hand in marriage. This happens in poor communities in Thailand very often, taking away the possibility for the impoverished girl to receive future education, among other things.
  8. Children are being forced to live on the streets due to things like violence, abuse and poverty. These children often beg or sell small goods for just a bit of money each day. They are at risk of poor health and lack of nutrition.
  9. Children are being left in rural communities. Thailand’s economy has been moving away from the agricultural sector and more money can be made in urban areas. Parents are forced to go to work in bigger cities like Bangkok, and children are often left in the care of someone else in rural villages.Parents send money back to their family but children often only get to see their parents one to two times a year. Although the parents are making more money, leaving their children comes with a risk. Children left in these rural communities are at risk of malnutrition and developmental and behavioral issues.
  10. Since the 1990s, child poverty in Thailand has been rapidly improving. The number of child deaths has decreased, literacy rates have dramatically increased, fewer children are malnourished and there are more children in school and less in the workforce.

There have been countless efforts made in Thailand to address child poverty but there is still a lot of work to be done. The nation has set long-term economic goals to be reached by 2036. These goals address economic stability, human capital and equal economic opportunities. These goals will be crucial going forward to help fight child poverty in Thailand.

– Ronni Winter
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts about Poverty in Shanghai
Shanghai sits on China’s central coast and is becoming a wildly popular tourist destination for visiting foreigners as well as Chinese nationals. With an amazing city skyline, incredible subway transportation and popular nightlife, it can be hard to imagine or see those living in poverty beneath the glamour. Here are 10 facts about poverty in Shanghai that are important to remember.

10 Facts About Poverty in Shanghai:

  1. Urban Poverty Eradicated
    The World Bank defines poverty as those living on less than $1.90 per day, and by those standards, China has eradicated all urban poverty. China’s ability to lift its citizens out of poverty is unprecedented but as great as this is, keeping an eye on the middle class will be important for economic health.
  2. Rural Poverty Eradicated by 2020
    Most concern for poverty is for those in the countryside, as people leave for the cities due to a lack of available jobs. The Chinese government’s goal is to eradicate poverty in all of China by 2020 and it has started this process by creating social reforms and looking at its redistributive policies.
  3. Growing Disposable Income
    These ten facts about poverty in Shanghai would be incomplete without the mention of the growing middle class. It is estimated that the middle class will grow to 75 percent of the population by 2022 and as of 2013 the average Shanghai family’s disposable income was ¥48,841 a year.
  4. Disneyland
    Some may see the wealth of Disneyland and compare it to the poverty in the villages nearby. However, it looks as if Disneyland take part in the place to eradicate poverty. Disneyland has helped create infrastructure for rural places by bringing subway lines and freeways to the Pudong district as well as creating jobs for those in northern Shanghai.
  5. Tearing Down the Old
    Small homes built from a past and poorer era are being torn down and residents are being encouraged to relocate. Relocated citizens are given a monthly housing stipend by the government, which unfortunately is not always enough for the interim of the construction.
  6. Building the New
    Wealth seems to be rising as from 2000 to 2008 luxury home construction saw an increase by ten versus smaller homes decreasing by 60 percent. While this has occurred naturally in the past, there is a new focus on building new homes and forcing relocation.
  7. Migrant Workers
    Approximately 39 percent of Shanghai’s residents are estimated to be long-term migrant workers. Migrant workers are people who have moved from more rural communities into the cities looking for work. Their income is unsure as is their housing and many migrant workers are susceptible to poverty.
  8. Migration Reversal
    The Chinese government is causing a migration reversal with the end goal of eradicating poverty. The government is forcing migrant workers out of the city and back to their hometowns by shutting down businesses and houses based on health coeds. Some feel it is unfair to have this forced lifestyle imposed on them, while others think this process would have occurred naturally because the cities are becoming too expensive.
  9. Urbanization
    Part of the migration reversal is a focus on urbanization–turning China into various urban centers. The government is becoming more focused on creating government-subsidized homes for those in rural areas. This relocation is estimated to see of 9.8 million people moved across China from 2016 to 2020.
  10. Disparity
    These 10 facts about poverty in Shanghai all come down to growth and disparity. There is still a huge disparity between wealth and poverty, luxury and necessities, opulence and simplicity, but things are improving. While the methods may not be agreed upon, Shanghai is a beacon for the changing China.

Natasha Komen

Flickr

poverty in china
By the year 2020, according to most financial and political analysts, China will surpass the U.S. as the largest economy on the planet. The World Bank even reported that China opening itself to free-market reforms in the last few decades managed to raise more than 800 million people out of poverty in China.

The Positives

In addition to this positive news, the financial institutions also added the reassuring fact that thanks to this unprecedented growth rate, the Chinese economy improved the living standards for a massive percentage of its population. A closer look at the data reveals how in 1981, 88.3 percent of China’s population lived on less than $1.90 a day (roughly 870 million people), and 99.1 percent lived on less than $3.10 a day (over 980 million people).

The last reported year for which the World Bank gathered official data is 2010, and the results are staggering — only 11.2 percent (almost 150 million people) lived in poverty in China in 2010. The overall prospect, then, seems quite promising; however, there are some further considerations of note in regard to this set of data.

The Divide

Taking into account China’s enormous social and economical strides since the Communist Party took power, one can see that there is a massive divide in income between rural and urban areas.

More specifically, in 1978 only 23 percent of the population was employed in urban areas; by 2014, over 770 million Chinese citizens were urban workers. Such figures acknowledge the significant improvement in the urbanization process, while also concealing the fact that the rest of population still lives and works in rural areas.

Those families are largely stuck in the same economic and social distress they were before the Communist revolution and unfortunately, haven’t made significant steps forward. Other statistics reveal how China’s per capita GDP, for example, is still very much below the standards of a developed country. It ranked, in fact, at $6,894.50 in 2016, which is 55 percent below the world’s average.

The Question

How can a country whose GDP grows at an annual rate of 6.9 percent still have children begging on the streets and families living on less than $2 a day? While it’s hard to provide a definite answer, a few considerations are worth bringing forth about the Chinese political system.

The country is still ruled by a one-party system which owns and controls the vast majority of enterprises and sectors of the economy. Private property is still very weakly protected and the judicial system is dominated by the Communist Party that arbitrarily appoints judges and influences court operations and verdicts.

Moreover, the regulatory framework is also arbitrary and very intricate — details that make it difficult for a private enterprise to blossom and grow. Corruption is also a massive issue which, when paired with the state-controlled financial system and state-owned enterprises, highly depresses foreign investments and contributes to enriching the economic elite and maintaining poverty in China.

China has made improvements in its poverty alleviation efforts, but there is clearly still room for improvement. Only time will tell how the nation keeps up with its progress.

– Luca Di Fabio

Photo: Flickr


As China continues its efforts to lift its citizens out of poverty, initiatives have been established to help those living in rural communities. The government has created the twelfth Five Year Plan that aims to alleviate poverty and focuses on people in rural China, who are more susceptible to poverty than those who live in metropolitan parts of the country.

The plan states that China plans to “lift all of its poor out of poverty by 2020,” by mainly focusing on people living in the nation’s 128,000 poor villages and 832 counties. The plan further encourages the development of competitive industries in areas that include agriculture and tourism to help pursue the goal of alleviating poverty by 2020.

Beyond the government’s efforts to support citizens in rural communities, migrants from these communities, who previously moved to metropolitan cities for better opportunities, are moving back to their hometowns and villages to set up businesses to help progress these areas.

A cause for this shift is attributed to favorable policies implemented to help progress the lives of people in rural China. The Chinese government has created policies that focus on improving rural infrastructure, providing subsidies, streamlining registration procedures, improving financial services and setting up entrepreneurial parks.

In recent years, approximately seven million returnee migrants have established agriculture-based enterprises in their hometowns and villages. Estimates state that the number of returnee migrants is increasing by 10 percent each year. As a result, The Ministry of Agriculture states that at least eight new jobs on average have been created for people in rural China when businesses are set up by returnee migrants.

What is Agritourism?

One industry that has been proven effective in alleviating poverty in rural China is the agritourism industry, which has seen increased interest by both developing and developed countries with large agriculture industries. Agritourism can be defined as the act of tourists visiting a farm or ranch for leisure, recreation or educational purposes.

The increased interest in agritourism can be attributed to tourists’ increased understanding of environmental protection and a heightened interest in improving the quality of life for those who live in rural China. The urban economy in China has also contributed to this popularity with its growing economy and raised awareness of healthy living, which has increased the demand for organic products and rural tourism.

The Results of Agritourism

The past six years have brought success to the agritourism industry and have helped bridge the economic gap between the urban economy and rural economy in China.

In 2012, there were roughly 1.7 million leisure farming and agritourism businesses that were created and helped create employment for 6.9 percent of the total rural labor force. These enterprises brought in an annual revenue of over 240 billion yuan from the 800 million tourists who visited rural China.

In 2016, the number of tourists increased to 2.1 billion people, who brought in and estimated 570 billion yuan that helped 6.72 million households in rural China.

Needed Improvements to the Agritourism Business Model

Even though agritourism has proven successful for millions of citizens, there are still sectors in the agritourism industry that need improvement.

There have been numerous issues that have arisen concerning agritourism and how to sustain the industry, so it can become a more reliable avenue to help alleviate poverty in China. These issues include problems with sanitation practices, lack of program planning and lack of reliable research and monitoring systems.

Also, with rural residents offering tourists “rural-style themed” food and accommodations, these practices have hindered further development of the agritourism industry. Solutions proposed have been to encourage the government to “help logistically and practically by integrating education resources in vocational institutions and by providing tailored training services for the new farmers.”

With efforts underway to improve the livelihoods of China’s rural residents, and with agritourism having already been proven as a successful industry, only time will tell whether this industry can be enough to lift people in rural China out of poverty for good by 2020.

– Lois Charm

Photo: Flickr