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Child Poverty in the United KingdomWith the sixth-largest economy in the world, the United Kingdom has vast financial resources. Despite its economic strength, however, child poverty in the United Kingdom is a severe and growing problem.

Child Poverty in the UK

More than four million children live in child poverty in the United Kingdom, which accounts for nearly a third of children in the U.K. A child is considered to be in poverty when they live with a family whose income is less than 60% of the United Kingdom’s national average. For such a wealthy country, this is a staggering statistic.

Child poverty is becoming even more problematic. The rates of child poverty in the United Kingdom are expected to rise from four million to five million in 2020. There are a variety of reasons for the increase in poverty. Some of these include rises in living costs with lower labor wages, leaving parents having to choose between essential goods and services and feeding their children.

Does Employment Solve Poverty?

Poverty affects children, even when their parents are employed. Two out of three children living in poverty have a parent who is employed. A recent report highlighted the government’s role in child poverty, noting its increased cutting of social services since 2010. By enforcing work as a solution to poverty, the government essentially dismantled much of the social support systems upon which many citizens rely. Despite record levels of employment, one-fifth of people are in poverty, showing the limiting effects of work on decreasing poverty.

Child Poverty and Minorities

The impacts of child poverty in the United Kingdom are widespread and affect minority groups the most. Children who face poverty are more likely to struggle in academic environments, impacting their ability to find employment later in life, leading to lower wages, an increased likelihood of imprisonment for men and becoming a single parent for women. Children from minority groups, mainly Pakistani and Bangladeshi, are most likely to suffer from child poverty in the United Kingdom.

Buttle UK

There are charitable organizations addressing child poverty in the United Kingdom. While the government has cut social services funding, Buttle UK, a charitable organization, provides funds for desperate families who need to buy necessary household items. Of the 10,000 families it helped in 2017, over 3,000 of them used the money to buy beds for their children. Buttle UK estimates that hundreds of thousands of children could be without their own bed in what it calls “bed poverty.” Although the government has cut social services funding, fortunately, organizations like Buttle UK have helped thousands of families and their children every year.

The United Kingdom has many governmental and financial resources with its economic fortitude; however, the cutting of social services has been problematic for many families struggling with a lack of resources. Consequently, millions of children live in poverty, even when their parents are working and trying to provide for them. Fortunately, charities like Buttle UK are addressing some of the difficulties that children face in dire circumstances. Hopefully, with more awareness and support for social services, child poverty in the United Kingdom will soon subside.

– Eliza Cochran
Photo: Flickr

Facts about Poverty in Brazil
Brazil’s learning initiatives focus on ending poverty at both the national and international levels. However, the Brazilian economic boom of the last decade seems to have concluded with millions returning to poverty. The following 10 facts about poverty in Brazil provide insight on the country’s current poverty threshold, political state, budget cuts and programs created to combat poverty.

Facts about Poverty in Brazil

  1. Brazil’s poverty line is set at 140 Brazilian reais per month, which roughly converts to $44 at the current exchange rate. Brazilians making less than $528 per year are considered to be in poverty.
  2. According to the World Bank, 28.6 million Brazilians emerged from poverty between 2004 and 2014. The World Bank further estimates that, from the start of 2016 to the end of this year, 2.5 million to 3.6 million Brazilians have fallen below the poverty line.
  3. Several cuts in social services, such as Bolsa Familia, have occurred under President Michel Temer. Bolsa Familia is Brazil’s family allowance program that provides monthly subsidies to qualifying low-income people. Non-labor income, such as Bolsa Familia, is responsible for the nearly 60 percent reduction of people living in poverty. Although increased unemployment pushes more citizens toward the program, fewer people are actually qualifying for coverage. Bolsa Familia’s decline in coverage may correlate with the recent crackdown on fraud, as Temer’s administration found discrepancies regarding 1.1 million recipients.
  4. Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been under investigation regarding corruption allegations. Da Silva is appealing a conviction regarding a 10-year sentence for corruption, but he continues to lead preference polls for next year’s presidential election. His campaign promises to refocus on the poor and return to better economic times.
  5. After hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics, Rio de Janeiro has suffered extreme economic unrest. The city struggles to pay thousands of public workers, with many receiving wages in late installments. Further items that have been reduced from the budget include garbage collection and a community policing program.
  6. Brazil’s learning initiative World Without Poverty (WWP), or Mundo Sem Pobreza, educates the world on social protection policies and initiatives to fight poverty. Brazil’s innovative solutions have been documented for international access since 2014 and WWP continues to compile the best practices used by other countries to improve global social protection systems.
  7. The Food Purchase Program, PAA, encourages family farming and increases food availability. The program increases regional and local marketing networks, promotes purchasing of foodstuffs by government, endorses biodiversity and organic food production, supports cooperatives and associations and encourages healthy eating habits.
  8. Cisterns Program, or Programa Cisternas, is a national program to support rainwater harvesting and other social technologies for accessing water. It is a part of the Water For All program where concrete cisterns are built for water storage. Stored water is consumed by households, business facilities and rural schools in the semi-arid region.
  9. Brazil’s semi-arid region frequently suffers droughts. The Cisterns Program’s initial goal was to install one million cisterns for domestic use, which was achieved in 2014 and has since been surpassed. Although the region has experienced a harsh drought since 2012, negative effects, such as child mortality, mass migration and starvation, are no longer widespread.
  10. 43 percent of children under five (almost 250 million) in low and middle-income countries face severe developmental issues due to hunger, malnutrition and violence. The Lancet launched “Advancing Early Childhood Development: from Science to Scale” in Brazil. This study focuses on child development from birth to three years of age, emphasizing the importance of proper care during this critical period. Insufficient care can result in poor academic performance, chronic diseases and other developmental issues.

According to Fox News, the average American spends approximately $1,100 per year, more than double Brazil’s poverty threshold, on coffee. A simple conclusion can be reached from these 10 facts about poverty in Brazil: if every American cut their coffee budget in half, they could help eradicate poverty in Brazil.

– Carolyn Gibson

Photo: Flickr

Electricity
Relative to global standards, Somalia’s electricity prices are very expensive.
Somalia, an East African country with a population of nearly 10 million, has some of the most expensive electricity in the world. According to an article by Al Jazeera, a kilowatt of electricity in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, can cost up to $1 per hour, which is five times more expensive than in Kenya, and 10 times more expensive than in the U.S.

In 1991, Somalia’s energy sector was destroyed.

Following the collapse of the central government, residents were forced to depend on diesel generators for individual households in the early 1990s. Many were left with absolutely no electricity.

Now, the seven electricity companies that exist are all privately owned. Most of them don’t have licenses and operate without paying taxes. “[The private companies] give you electricity when they want and stop it when they want,” said an ice-making factory owner, Abshir Maalin Abdi, in an interview with Al Jazeera.

The individual companies also blatantly deny the customers’ accusations that they are being overcharged. But, the control of the cost is out of the hands of the poor, while the benefits are mostly in the hands of warlords and militias.

A high rate of unemployment

Electricity is a luxury because most of the country’s working population is jobless. According to the U.N., more than half of the country’s population (those between the ages of 15 and 64), is unemployed; the unemployment rate for youth is 67 percent.

In addition, 40 percent of Somalia’s population also lives below the poverty line. Many simply cannot afford electricity, and it is hard for businesses to make money and develop without affordable electricity prices.

What are the solutions?

The government of Somalia has developed a ten-year energy plan to improve the electricity sector, which will cost a total of US$ 803 million. It will involve the construction of new power plants and transmission lines that will boost electricity access in towns and homes, costing an average of US$ 0.50 per unit, according to a report by Geeska Afrika.

Some of the money will go towards funding training programs and will also provide alternative cooking solutions from charcoal use. The ultimate goal is to increase Somalia’s power capacity, and diversity the energy alternatives including solar and wind energy. This has the potential to lead to significant economic growth.

The government must also prioritize and improve the basic economic structure and poor social services, which fuel high unemployment rates of the younger generation.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Abdihakim Egeh Guled, deputy minister of energy and water resources, describes implementing a law to alleviate this problem. “The only thing we can do… is to bring about a legislation that will monitor these companies that provide electricity,” he said. Currently, the country has no laws regulating the electricity industry. Encouraging a drop in electricity prices could radically improve the lives of many.

Michelle Simon

Photo: Flickr

child_poverty_uk
The United Kingdom is the 6th largest economy in the world. Even though the country is developed, there are a large number of children living in poverty. The disparity between the country’s impoverished and wealthy is so sharp that doctors from the Medical Research Council said that the number of children who do not have proper access to food is a ‘public health emergency.’

Many people do not think that in a country with such a large and developed economy that child poverty would be such an issue, but the problem has actually grown worse in the last few years. Experts blame the rise in poverty on the spending cuts in social services such as welfare. Here are six facts that characterize what poverty in the United Kingdom looks like:

1. 1 in 5 children in the UK are living in relative poverty. Relative poverty is defined as a family’s net income that falls below 60% of median net disposable income, which is currently £250 or less per week.
2. 2.3 million UK children were living in poverty in 2011-12. The number of children living in poverty in 2012-13 rose by 300,000.
3. 66% of children living in poverty lived in a household with at least one employed person.
4. In 2009-10, single parent households in the United Kingdom are twice as likely to be living in poverty as two parent households.
5. Inadequate benefits leave people who do not make enough money at their job without a safety net. Ideally, benefits provided by employers and social services such as welfare will help people who are in low paying jobs or jobs with little potential for growth. Many new government policies have cut funding to social services leaving people worse off than before.
6. Under current government policies, child poverty is expected to dramatically increase by over 600,000 children by 2015.

-Colleen Eckvahl

Sources: Child Poverty Action Group, BBC News, The Independent
Photo: The Guardian

urbanization-in-developing-countries
According to a study done by the World Bank, urbanization has proven to be a key factor in eradicating poverty. The bank’s Global Monitoring Report 2013 offers statics that positively reflect urbanization in developing countries and in countries that have made the most progress in reaching the 2013 Millennium Development Goals.

The Global Monitoring Report says that countries with large population centers such as Southeast Asia or China have made large strides in reducing poverty in comparison to sub-Saharan Africa, where 70% of the population lives in rural areas. Infant mortality rates are also up to nine percentage points lower in urbanized areas than in rural cities and villages.

Urbanized areas create jobs and are generally better at service delivery such as access to sanitation, health care, education and electricity. Access to sanitation varies as much as thirty percent, 80 percent in urban areas to 50 percent in rural areas. Poverty is also significantly lower in urban areas at 11.5 percent versus the 29.5 percent in rural areas. In Africa, poverty in urban areas stands at 33 percent in urban areas to 47 percent in rural areas.

The next step to urbanizing is to ensure resources are available and to move forward at a steady pace to avoid slum areas. Some people favor state support and the finance of health and education systems while others support a combination of public and private financing. The World Bank encourages countries with oil and mineral resources to use the revenues to finance urbanization and health care systems. However, countries such as Uganda, that do not have an abundance of natural resources, prefer to use those revenues to improve the infrastructure in rural areas. According to Maria Kiwanuka, Uganda’s Minister of Finance, there are trade-offs. When the government uses the oil revenue to strengthen the infrastructure in rural areas, it allows the people living there to make more money to eventually contribute to the health care system.

While there are many different ways to fund health and social services and contribute to urbanization and the ultimate end of poverty, the assurance of resources to create the change is most important, says Joe Verbeek, the lead economist for the Global Monitoring Report. By improving the health and education services for people living in rural areas, it will make the transition easier and improve their job skills if they choose to migrate to a city.

– Kira Maixner

Source Voice of America
Photo World Bank