Child Mortality in UgandaFatal diseases are taking the lives of children in Uganda, claiming the futures of the young generation. Approximately 8.2 million children younger than 5 die annually due to various illnesses and complications during childbirth. Roughly 40% of these deaths occur within the first 30 days of life, falling into the category of neonatal deaths. Rates of child mortality in Uganda have been on a decline since 1970 when there were 191 infant deaths among 1,000 births. Today, there are 45.8 deaths in 1,000 births. Although there is a marked decrease in numbers, under-five deaths still pose a problem for Uganda. Fortunately, many organizations recognize the issue and are implementing programs to effectively combat it.

Causes of Child Mortality in Uganda

Roughly 16% of child mortality cases in Uganda are caused by pneumonia. Symptoms of the illness include chest pain, persistent coughing, fever and low body temperature. About 99% of pneumonia cases occur in less-developed countries such as Uganda, making clear the correlation between poverty and pneumonia. In poverty-stricken areas, malnutrition, poor air quality and limited access to healthcare cause the development and dispersion of pneumonia among a population. Children in Uganda are vulnerable and quickly become victims of the illness.

Malaria also leads to child mortality in Uganda. Malaria is a fatal disease caused by parasites that spread from person to person. Symptoms include fever, headache and chills. Young children are especially susceptible to the disease, and in 2019, 67% of malaria cases affected children younger than 5. The illness can kill children within 30 seconds. Malaria is most common in Africa and costs the continent $12 billion each year. Access to treatment is difficult to obtain in the poverty-stricken areas of Uganda where malaria dissipates. The most impoverished areas of Africa are the ones most affected by malaria, with children younger than 5 at most risk.

Finally, diarrhea causes 10% of infant deaths in Uganda. Symptoms of the infection include cramps, nausea, vomiting and fever. Studies have shown that in Pajule Subcounty and other rural areas of Uganda, the rates of diarrhea are higher. A lack of clean water and inadequate health education contribute to these health consequences.

Working Toward a Solution

Recognizing the issues that surround child mortality in Uganda, many organizations have taken the initiative to reduce the severity of the situation. One such organization is the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which is dedicated to the well-being and longevity of children worldwide. Among its many programs to address under-five deaths in Uganda, UNICEF has established a water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) program seeking to increase access to clean drinking water and teach healthy sanitation habits. Only 8% of mothers with children younger than 5 have access to soap and resources necessary for handwashing. Such habits lead to illnesses such as diarrhea. In tandem with the Government of Uganda, UNICEF is working to provide sanitation resources and increase awareness of healthy habits.

With similar intentions and efforts, Living Goods is a nonprofit organization collaborating with Bangladesh-based BRAC to help rural Ugandan mothers prevent infant mortality. Through its Community Health Promoters (CHP) program, the organization implements grassroots efforts to improve community health. CHPs are workers who go door-to-door to communicate healthy practices, relay important information, diagnose child illnesses and provide care to mothers and their newborns. This work has led to a 27% decrease in under-five child mortality in targeted regions. Ugandan villagers now take more precautions in order to maintain their own health and that of their young children.

Looking Ahead

Child mortality in Uganda is a problem that has not yet been eliminated. Many Ugandan families face unhealthy living conditions that are unfavorable to a child’s health. However, organizations such as UNICEF, Living Goods and BRAC are working to educate rural villages on the importance of sanitation and are giving families the resources to establish healthier lifestyles. Thanks to such efforts, under-five death rates are declining. If the work of these organizations continues, in the near future, more positive progress lies ahead.

– Mariam Kazmi
Photo: Unsplash

Youth Unemployment CrisisYouth unemployment is an increasing worldwide crisis. As of 2016, the International Labor Organization (ILO) reported that 71 million 15 to 24-year-olds around the world are unemployed, many of whom are facing long-term unemployment. To put this number into perspective, youth unemployment is “close to an historic peak” of 13 percent.

The youth unemployment crisis impacts low-income countries the most because even employed citizens are at risk of poverty. In 2016 the ILO estimated that about 156 million employed youths in these countries lived in poverty. This makes up a substantial 38 percent of youths in developing nations.

For the sake of the world’s economy as well as these youths, here are four potential solutions to the youth unemployment crisis:

  1. One of the main causes of the youth unemployment crisis is the lack of quality education worldwide. It was reported in 2016 that about 40 percent of employers find it difficult to recruit people with needed skills. This is because about 250 million children worldwide do not acquire basic reading, writing and math skills. Therefore, nearly one in five youths do not gain the most basic skills needed for employment. By ensuring quality education globally, students will be able to acquire skills needed for gaining employment.
  2. A significant number of youths cannot acquire the education needed for employment because of crisis and conflict. An estimated 75 million children between the ages of three and 18 currently live in countries that are in conflict. These children are twice as likely as their counterparts to have no access to quality education. Thus, to resolve the youth unemployment crisis by allowing youth to get jobs, crisis and conflict in war-torn countries must first be dramatically reduced.
  3. To resolve the youth unemployment crisis, the focus must also shift toward gender equality in education. Gender distribution in the international labor force is woefully disproportionate. According to the ILO, 53.9 percent of young men compared to 37.3 percent of young women are employed. This is due in part to cultural beliefs regarding working women, but also has to do with a lack of women’s education. Globally, 61 million young women are not enrolled in primary or lower-secondary school, giving them little opportunity to gain skills for employment. This includes literacy, as “two-thirds of the world’s illiterates are women.” Therefore, addressing gender inequality in education is a necessary step towards reducing youth unemployment.
  4. Aside from reforming education, tackling youth unemployment will also take commitment to funding research, educational programs and employment programs. In order to finance these programs, funding for education needs to increase to $3 trillion by 2030. As the current investment in education stands at $1.2 trillion, reaching this goal requires large-scale cooperation. This means that companies, governments, non-government organizations and schools must form partnerships to invest in research and solutions to youth unemployment.

Resolving the youth unemployment crisis is critical for not only the well-being of youths worldwide, but also for the global economy. Mass youth unemployment slows progress and thereby it is essential to take steps toward ending it.

Haley Hurtt
Photo: Flickr

Local, Sustainable SolutionsThe Equator Initiative, an organization dedicated to encouraging communities to envision creative, local, sustainable solutions to problems, recently announced the winners of the 2017 Equator Prize.

The 15 winners include grassroots projects located across Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia. They range from a campaign to secure management of a community Mangrove forest in Thailand to the Mali Elephant Project, which protects endangered elephants while working to reduce violence in a war-torn area of Mali.

However, these 15 winners are only the beginning. Across the globe, communities have created local, sustainable solutions to preserve their homelands. These solutions also help feed and educate children and promote peace and justice in their society.

In celebration of its 15th anniversary, the Equator Initiative launched a database that includes 500 of the local, sustainable solutions nominated to receive the 2017 Equator Prize. Here are seven of the most creative and impactful initiatives that local people developed in answer to the challenges they face:

  1. Whales of Guerrero Research Project: The Whales of Guerrero Research Project (WGRP) started in a small fishing village in Mexico in 2013 to increase local interest in protecting the endangered humpback whales. The project teaches children ages 9-13 about marine life and lets them adopt and name whales. It also created an extensive whale-spotting network and runs a program that pairs high school students in Mexico and the U.S. for scientific projects. The WGRP hopes that these workshops will strengthen the community’s pride in the natural environment and inspire them to make choices that will protect the local marine life. The project also advocates that tourist whale watching may become an important source of revenue in a place where the fishing industry has suffered.
  2. Barefoot Solar Initiative: The Barefoot Solar Initiative works to provide lighting systems that run on solar energy to people in rural villages in India. Since its founding in 1972, the Initiative has illuminated more than 15,000 homes. The new lighting improves air quality, saves money and enables children to study longer in the evenings. The initiative also teaches women how to construct and manage the solar equipment for the homes in their village, giving them a valuable skill set. The organization recently announced a new program that is providing solar lighting to many of the Pacific Island nations.
  3. The Nubian Vault Association (AVN): The AVN builds environmentally friendly homes in Burkina Faso that are inspired by the techniques of the ancient Nubians. The houses are built from sun-dried mud bricks, which are sturdy and emit less carbon than the iron roofing sheets traditionally used. The houses have thermal insulation, so they stay cool during the day and warm in the evenings. By teaching farmers how to build these homes, the AVN also created a new economic activity that helps them earn income during the dry season.
  4. Elevated Honey Co.: This initiative aims to bring economic growth and care for the environment to the mountainous areas of Southwest China through beekeeping. The villagers work with Apis cerana, the honey bee native to their region, using traditional beekeeping methods as a way of sustaining both their environment and their culture. The honey made from this bee is lucrative, worth up to 8 times as much as that of European honeybees.
  5. Comuna Ancestral Las Tunas: This project, established in 1998, helps a community in Ecuador receive the numerous benefits of recycling. Children become empowered to make a difference in their communities as they earn money collecting plastic water bottles. The number of tourists in the area increased by 15 percent, a result of the now clean beaches, and the community is watching over two species of sea turtles. Women are able to turn the plastic bottles into crafts and earn money.
  6. Abolhassani Indigenous Nomadic Tribal Confederacy: In an area of Iran that is rich with diverse animals and plants, the Confederacy developed local, sustainable solutions for coping with drought and sustaining both livestock and crops. Two of these are the revival of the hanar system, which conserves water by giving the animals water only once every two days, and feeding the animals with crops rather than natural vegetation, allowing the land to recover. The Confederacy shares its innovations with other tribes in the area.
  7. Nakau programme: Loru Community Conservation Project: Founded in 2011, this program established a legally protected patch of rain forest on the Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu. The indigenous landowners are able to sell conservation credits, or tax credits for donors, as well as market agricultural products of the rain forest (i.e., certain types of nuts). The project meets several of the Sustainable Development Goals that were a key criteria for the 2017 Equator Prize.

The winners of 2017 Equator Prize have received more than a reward. They have created local, sustainable solutions that have transformed their community. Consequently, their successes can serve as examples and inspiration for future projects.

Emilia Otte

Photo: Google

How to Solve Hunger

Global hunger is an issue that has persisted throughout history and continues to threaten nearly 805 million lives today. Despite the overwhelming prevalence of hunger in impoverished areas around the world, there are a handful of solutions that have successfully encouraged fuller, healthier populations in recent years. In fact, within the last decade, more than 120 million people have been relieved of chronic hunger. In continuing to take these simple steps, global hunger can be greatly reduced, or even completely eliminated.

Here’s a list of actions to solve hunger in affected areas:

  1. Emergency relief
    Starvation can occur as the result of natural disasters or man-made conflicts. Displaced populations, such as refugees, are at a far greater risk of experiencing hunger. In precarious situations, populations become susceptible to hunger suddenly and without warning. It is critical that aid services are able to react quickly and support people when disaster strikes.
  2. Safety nets
    Around 80 percent of the world’s population lives without a safety net in case of a sudden famine. A bad harvest can throw entire villages into a poverty trap that takes decades to escape. Having governmental or affordable, privately-provided insurance protects impoverished populations from the debilitating consequences of unexpected setbacks.
  3. Nutrition for infants
    Studies have proven that the first 1,000 days of a child’s life are crucial to long-term mental and physical development. Prioritizing nutrition within this window minimizes the negative effects of hunger.
  4. Support for farmers
    Small-scale farmers often need to take out loans to buy more land, seed, fertilizer and tools. However, in low-income countries, it can be difficult to obtain an affordable loan. Ensuring that farmers are supported financially increases yields and encourages local food markets. Additionally, supporting farmers is a tried and true method of how to solve hunger within the agricultural population.
  5. Effective and efficient food distribution
    Many think how to solve hunger is to simply grow more food. In reality, food shortage is due to inadequate distribution. Only 40 percent maximum of any crop makes it into a market to be sold, and many food producers in developing countries do not have access to global markets, thereby limiting their clientele and potential growth as a business. Improving food handling and giving small-scale farmers access to larger markets is crucial in approaching the issue of how to solve hunger.

While solving hunger is certainly an enormous task, the success in recent years by organizations like the U.N. World Food Program is more than promising. Aid-supported communities are far less likely to experience chronic hunger; therefore, understanding the link between poverty and global hunger is essential to confronting the issue. Ultimately, as with many global issues, empowering communities with the goal of sustainability is how to solve hunger.

Kailey Dubinsky

Photo: Flickr

AI Solutions
The Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Good Global Summit occurred on June 7, 2017. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and XPRIZE hosted the event. Utilizing the Summit’s neutral platform, professionals of all sorts came together to discuss AI solutions. Twenty United Nations Agencies who believe that AI may be essential to ending global poverty backed the summit.

Currently, there are three main AI solutions to global poverty, although there is immense potential for more. These solutions include utilizing AI to point out nations in need, improve agriculture and increase access to education.

A recent development in AI solutions uses satellite images to find areas that require aid. The current methods for discerning this information include household surveys and census data. Although this has been effective in some developing nations, the process is slow and difficult to manage.

Thus, researchers at Stanford University are developing and improving upon “machine-learning” AI that utilizes an algorithm to identify poverty. The algorithm can predict poverty rates with 81 percent to 99 percent more accuracy. With this technology, researchers plan to create a worldwide poverty map that anyone can access online. Consequently, government agencies around the world could monitor poverty and “evaluate the effectiveness of anti-poverty solutions.”

AI solutions also include improving agricultural methods. Up to 65% of poor working adults make their living through agriculture, making its improvement key to reducing poverty. One of the biggest challenges that developing nations face pertains to the identification of and information about their crops. To address this issue, they launched a project called Farmview. Farmview combines AI and robotics to increase the yield of staple crops by collecting relevant information. With this information, scientists could then predict yield and find sustainable crops for any region.

An ongoing project in AI solutions has been towards the improvement of global education. Many open-access computer learning programs are available worldwide, but there is needed improvement as to individualizing education.

Future AI may improve online education programs by learning how to adapt to the user and their specific needs. This includes the improvement of translation programs so that users have access to education in their language. One related project is the Science for Social Good Initiative, which the International Business Machines (IBM) launched. The initiative aims to reduce worldwide illiteracy by using AI to decode texts and convey them through visuals and simple speech.

Global Poverty is a large issue to address, but AI solutions may be able to simplify the process. Through the advancement of AI development and democratization, meeting all Sustainable Development Goals may become more attainable.

Haley Hurtt

Photo: Pixabay

A 2016 study done by World Energy Outlook found that 16 percent of the world’s population (1.2 billion people) is still living without electricity. Communities primarily in sub-Saharan Africa and rural Asia lack modern electrical resources and rely on dangerous and physically harmful resources. Relying on biomass for the majority of their energy, health risks such as poor ventilation and open fires are routine in many households. Providing solutions for energy-impoverished areas requires a change in mindset, infrastructure, economic strategy and inventiveness. Here are 10 of the best:

  1. Make electricity a human right
    Electricity may seem less important than other issues when addressing global poverty. While basic human needs such as food, water and shelter should obviously be of top priority, one solution for energy-impoverished areas is making electricity a human right. Having electricity helps highly-impoverished regions improve hospitals, school systems, industrial work, and other critical aspects of modern society.
  2. Focus on public health
    A key component of human rights is individual health. Economic and technological factors often come second to issues like health care. However, having electricity can greatly improve the general health of a community. The United Nations estimates that dirty household air is responsible for more than 40 million premature deaths. Access to resources such as air purifiers could all but eliminate issues like this and greatly incentivize establishment of power.
  3. Changing attitudes of world leaders
    To make electricity a basic human right, world leaders must become cognizant of its benefits and utter necessity. Often, obstacles such as cost, providing infrastructure and general planning can be seen as insurmountable when establishing power in areas without electricity. However, programs like one in Uganda that provides pre-paid power and can be topped up with a mobile phone may persuade other world leaders to follow suit.
  4. Create economic incentives for power companies
    Many entrepreneurs and startup companies have found great success in developing cost-efficient and accessible solutions for energy-impoverished areas. Solar batteries, LED lights and other inventive energy sources have been met with great economic success and growing market shares. Developing technology that works can be a great economic incentive for global power companies.
  5. Increase global funding
    The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have diverted funding to establish electricity in power-impoverished areas because as organizations, they recognize the long-term economic benefits of so doing. Many countries lack the basic resources to begin projects of this caliber. Organizations that emphasize human rights and economic aid can provide these countries with the initial resources that will eventually create economic success stories.
  6. Think local
    Small, local and even personal electronic grids are the recipients of recent research and funding. Why? The difficulty of spreading existing power to distant, rural communities can prevent areas from ever gaining electricity. Rather than trying to connect these areas to the main grid, many companies have suggested providing these regions with small, localized, off-the-grid solutions.
  7. Reduce energy theft
    Along with influencing government and international-level organizations, convincing people that electricity is a worthy investment can be a challenge. Many communities have found methods of stealing electricity from the main grid, which makes leaders wary of investing in further power. In New Delhi, a program was instituted for local women to discuss the benefits of wide-scale electricity with their neighbors. Social programs such as this are extremely effective in changing attitudes.
  8. Invest in solar power
    When discussing solutions for energy-impoverished areas, climate change is a key factor to consider. Many world leaders and emerging technology companies have considered the benefits of solar energy. While it can be expensive and difficult to implement, the long-term benefits of sustainable energy are important to consider when compared to short-term, non-renewable resources such as fossil fuels.
  9. Explore emerging natural energy sources
    Although solar power is an extremely clean and renewable source of energy, it can be unreliable for large-scale energy production. To create solutions for energy-impoverished areas, various regions in Africa have begun to implement other natural energy resources such as geothermal, natural and hydropower. These are just as environmentally-friendly as solar energy but more consistent and easy to maintain.
  10. Think small
    With international energy access being the long-term goal, there are still many new tech firms selling simple gadgets that greatly improve the way of life for communities lacking large-scale power. Voto, for example, creates personal solar-powered outlets that can charge devices like phones and batteries. While it may seem small, conveniences such as this can make the most basic tasks more simple.

Though these changes may require time, small steps towards improvement can have a great impact on individual households and villages living without power. In making small, tangible efforts towards providing electricity to these areas, global mindsets and policies will gradually be affected.


Julia Morrison

Photo: Flickr

The latest technological innovations have the ability to make a powerful impact on reducing poverty across the globe. However, finding a way to support and develop the most promising ideas remains a challenge. To that end, The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, California holds an annual awards program to spread the word about the best ideas in anti-poverty tech solutions. Here are five of last year’s Tech Awards Laureates:

Top 5 Anti-Poverty Tech Solutions

    1.  Equal Access International: This organization founded and run by CEO Ronni Goldfarb uses the power of the media to tell human stories about those in poverty, raising awareness and shining a light on those who would otherwise be ignored. Last year, this organization partnered with Nepal’s United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to produce the radio show “Chatting with My Best Friend.” This show combines entertainment with education, teaching young people how to prevent becoming infected with HIV/AIDS. “Our programs help people believe in themselves and gain the confidence and skills they need to improve their lives no matter what their circumstances,” Goldfarb said.
    2.  International Development Enterprises-India (IDEI): IDEI designed a brilliant solution to tackle India’s lack of access to underground water. By creating an easy-to-use and cheap man-powered water pump resembling a tiered treadmill, farmers in India are able to extend their annual growing season with their own two feet. “We take what we call the logjam approach,” Shveta Bakshki, IDEI Vice President stated. “We identify that one, critical obstruction to remove so that good things start happening.”
    3.  Design Revolution (D-Rev): Krista Donaldson’s organization is saving the lives of infants using the power of light. Her groundbreaking blueprint for an enduring yet inexpensive lamp, called Brilliance, cures jaundice in babies by bathing them in a strong blue light. One of the most accomplished anti-poverty tech solutions to date, D-Rev’s phototherapy breakthrough has saved more than 175,000 infant lives across 41 countries. “We believe that regardless of your income, you deserve access to high-quality medical devices,” Donaldson stated.
    4.  Souktel: Hundreds of smartphone apps have been designed to serve smartphone users, but Souktel found a way to make older flip phones just as smart. Jacob Korenblum’s startup uses basic text messaging to link employers with candidates in regions where traditional communication is difficult, leading to job growth and greater economic gains. Derived from the Arabic words for market and telephone, Souktel turns text messages into miniature online job boards. “People might be from different backgrounds, but they are united in a common purpose for things like creating better healthcare and education,” Korenblum said.
    5.  Angaza: Lesley Marincola’s idea to bring solar energy to those who cannot afford electricity was revolutionary for its outside-the-box thinking. Instead of forcing people to pay up front for solar lamps, Angaza accepts micro-payments over time for energy while offering immediate access, similar to purchasing minutes on a cell phone. Once the purchase price of the device is reached, the lamp becomes the property of the user. Angaza’s tech not only improves individual lives, it bolsters the local economy as well. As Marincola told The Tech Awards, “It gets super exciting when you think about putting all of these low-income consumers on the map. We have big plans.”

    As Tech Awards Laureates, each of the above designers of anti-poverty tech solutions has been awarded $50,000 from PATH, a nonprofit for global health, to further develop their life-changing innovative ideas.

    Dan Krajewski

    Photo: Flickr

White House Launches Global Climate Resilience Service
Launched by the White House Office of Science and Technology in October 2016, the Resilience Dialogues is an online consultation service that connects community leaders with experts around the world. Their goal? To help one another build climate resilience service.

“Start a dialogue.”

Those are some of the first words that greet visitors of the Resilience Dialogues webpage. They’re also the name of the game — that is, a global conversation and info-sharing platform that proffers the who’s, what’s and how’s of strategic climate resilience.

The Resilience Dialogues defines resilience as the “capacity of individuals, communities and systems to anticipate, prepare for, and adapt to changing conditions, recover from threats, and thrive in the future.” A tall order, to be sure, but one that will become all the more necessary as coastlines and inland alike grows more vulnerable to the hazards of global warming.

By 2080, according to the World Bank, the occurrence of drought could potentially grow by more than 20 percent. That means the amount of people affected by drought would increase proportionally by 9 to 17 percent come 2030, and by 50 to a whopping 90 percent by the time 2080 comes around.

On the flip side of the coin, the World Bank also estimates that flooding is set to spike within the same time period. Those exposed to river floods will amount to around 4 to 15 percent in 2030, before jumping to 12 to 29 percent by 2080.

The Resilience Dialogues is a collaborative means of beating back the tide of climate variability, giving stakeholders an opportunity to connect and share sector-based, place-specific data on likely risks, serviceable products and other technical resources.

Backers come from the private and public sector in equal measure, ranging from MIT’s Climate CoLab, which created and hosts the beta, to the American Geophysical Union’s Thriving Earth Exchange, which will play a crucial role in recruiting experts and coordinating leadership.

The service builds on previous White House actions on climate resilience, including the similarly designed U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit, their public-private Climate Services for Resilience Development partnership and their Partnership for Resilience and Preparedness (PREP).

The global scope of the Resilience Dialogues, however, echoes the new directions of the National Climate Assessment (NCA), which will include a chapter of international content for the first time in its next report.

On paper, the Resilience Dialogues reflects the shift of both national and global institutions’ climate change responses towards integrative and participatory solutions. If successful, the initiative could potentially chart a course for future U.S. government-sponsored endeavors in the sphere of climate resilience — one that empowers and inspires local decision makers.

Josephine Gurch

Photo: Flickr

Financial Solutions for Those in Need
A groundbreaking service called microfinance is making a difference providing financial solutions for those in need. It functions by providing financial services to entrepreneurs and small businesses that do not have access to a bank or other financial institution.

This means that those in especially poverty stricken areas can get the services they need to start a business. This method of empowering those without opportunity is making waves in the lives of families everywhere.

Within the microfinance industry, a group called Mifos is currently providing its services to 30 institutions that service almost 825,000 clients. This organized system is open sourced to benefit people everywhere, providing accurate bookkeeping and detailed performance analytics.

Due to the nature of microfinance, many small donations are made daily and need to be accurately kept track of and distributed to those in need. Mifos services are responsible for growing the Grameen Koota (GK), a microfinance group in India, clientele by 40 percent.

The founders of Kiva had a similar vision when they put together a plan to help those around the world get access to small loans. Teaming up and building off of PayPal’s payment system, Kiva functions successfully in 82 countries with 0 percent interest for borrowers. Today Kiva is closing in on a huge accomplishment, $1 billion loaned to create financial solutions for those in need.

Three sisters that used their loan to become fish farming pioneers in Zimbabwe are one of Kiva’s many success stories. B.E.N. Fisheries now farm around a thousand fish for distribution in an area experiencing food shortage and mass poverty. Women like Beauty, Ericah and Netsai of B.E.N. Fisheries are breaking down gender barriers as female business owners, and it is all thanks to small donations made by every people willing to invest in the happiness of others.

Micro financing is empowering hard workers around the world to create change in their countries and break the cycle of poverty. Stimulating business growth in the world builds up the people affected and is a reminder that ending global poverty is possible.

Aaron Walsh

Photo: Flickr

The world currently produces enough food to sustain the entire global population, yet nearly a billion people around the world still suffer every day from hunger. The U.S. alone could end global hunger with only $30 billion a year — a mere fraction of the $530 billion the U.S. spends annually on the military.

If we have the power to feed the world, it begs the question — why is hunger still such a monumental problem?

The primary and most obvious cause of hunger is poverty. While enough food exists to feed the world, a significant portion of the population still live in such abject poverty that they cannot afford even the most basic food items.

This creates an incessant poverty trap. The global poor can’t feed themselves or their families, so they become weak and malnourished which makes them unable to work. In turn, they fall deeper into poverty. This phenomenon is affecting millions of people around the world. Any solution to hunger must also be in part a solution to poverty.

Another major cause of hunger is natural disasters and climate change. Storms and droughts — both of which are on the rise — damage crops and lead to massive food shortages. Often, the poorest countries are the ones least equipped to deal with these disasters, and the greenhouse gases that lead to climate change originate from the richest countries.

One way to remedy this problem is to increase foreign investment in agriculture. By establishing adequate infrastructure, cultivating the land properly, managing water usage and ensuring storage facilities are used effectively, the fallout from natural disasters can be handled much more easily.

Unfortunately, most poor countries lack the resources and the knowledge to shore up their agricultural sector by themselves. However, foreign investment in the agricultural sector of developing countries would go a long way towards helping them becoming self-sustainable. A U.N. study found that investments in agriculture reduce hunger five times more than investments in any other sector.

Finally, war represents another major cause of hunger. The most war-torn areas in the world also tend to suffer the most from hunger. In war, food is often used as a weapon. Farms and livestock are ravaged in an effort to starve the opposition into submission. In Africa, countries with the most conflict — like Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo — are often the hungriest. On the other hand, in more peaceful countries — like Ghana and Rwanda — hunger is on the decline.

There are a number of insidious causes to the problem of global hunger, but the good news is that all of them are preventable. First and foremost, the problem of hunger must be tackled by facing poverty head-on. From there, we should turn our attention away from feeding impoverished peoples through aid, and towards helping them become self-sustainable.

– Samuel Hillestad

Sources: WFP, Global Concerns Classroom, DoSomething, FAO
Photo: OoCities