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Sustainable Bangladeshi Fish FarmingShrimp farming plays an essential role in Bangladeshi livelihoods, food security and foreign exchange. Prior to the 1970s, Bangladeshi shrimpers typically farmed in inland ponds that trapped tidal waters. These ponds required minimal to no feed, fertilizer or other inputs, relying instead on the natural ecosystem for shrimp production. However, they produced limited output. This article explores the environmental and economic consequences of Bangladeshi shrimp farms, as well as the potential for an alternative method for sustainable Bangladeshi fish farming with IMTA shrimp farms.

Expansion of Shrimp Farming

In the 1970s, international market demand for shrimp grew as part of the “Blue Revolution,” wherein cheap and vacuum-sealed fish appeared in the freezer aisles of grocery stores around the world. The potential for high profits led to the rapid expansion of commercial shrimp farming in Bangladesh. Today, shrimp production contributes dominantly to Bangladeshi fisheries and aquaculture, which comprise about 3.65% of the nation’s GDP. Approximately 14.7 million people depend on Bangladeshi fisheries and aquaculture for full- or part-time employment. Fish products also provide about 60% of all animal protein in the average Bangladeshi’s diet.

Shrimp farming has the potential to combat poverty, malnutrition, hunger and job insecurity among the growing population in Bangladesh, but poor shrimp farm management comes with consequences. In its current state, shrimp farming may pose more problems in Bangladesh than it can resolve.

Consequences

The rapid expansion of shrimp farming has had adverse environmental, economic and social effects in Bangladesh. Poor placement of farming systems can lead to saltwater intrusion in groundwater, deforestation and loss of mangrove forests. All of these consequences overall result in changes to local water systems and the deterioration of soil and water quality. This in turn threatens biodiversity, crop production and both supplies of potable water and critical cooking fuel.

The environmental effects of high-intensity shrimp farming in Bangladesh thus endanger human health and survival tools, particularly among people living in rural coastal areas. These individuals have limited access to alternative livelihoods. This dynamic leads to social imbalance and contributes to criminal activity in the Bangladeshi coastal regions.

The long-term environmental and social ramifications of Bangladeshi shrimp farming pose economic costs as well, including unemployment and loss of natural resources. These may outweigh the economic benefits of Bangladeshi shrimp production.

Solution for a Sustainable Future

To combat the environmental, social and economic consequences of high-intensity shrimp farming, some Bangladeshi shrimp farmers are turning to integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA) systems. IMTA relies on natural processes to cultivate aquatic organisms at multiple trophic levels within the same farming system. Organisms within the system, including finfish, shellfish and seaweeds, interact to recycle and reuse nutrients. IMTA requires minimal external inputs and simulates natural ecosystem processes, much like shrimp farming systems prior to the 1970s Blue Revolution.

When properly executed, IMTA shrimp farms in Bangladesh can produce multiple marketable organisms, raise organism survival rates, increase biomass yield and reduce harmful nutrient concentrations in water. IMTA systems promote biodiversity by supporting production at multiple trophic levels. They relocate shrimp farms from threatened mangrove forests to open-water environments like coastal rivers and estuaries. This discourages intensive, environmentally degrading shrimp farming practices. Further, the regrowth of mangrove forests contributes to carbon capture. All of these processes increase ecosystem resiliency and bolster the long-term efficacy of sustainable Bangladeshi fish farming practices.

In 1998, Bangladesh adopted a National Fisheries Policy. The policy recognizes the detrimental effects that shrimp farming has on the nation. It seeks to optimize fishery resource use in order to encourage economic growth, feed the population, alleviate poverty and protect human and environmental health in Bangladesh. Widespread adoption of IMTA shrimp farms could facilitate sustainable Bangladeshi fish farming practices and, overall, be a step in the right direction.

Avery Saklad
Photo: Flickr

asian development bankThe Asian Development Bank (ADB), which was established in 1966, attempts to alleviate poverty in Asia by funding numerous welfare projects in the region. Many Asian countries are members of ADB, which provides them with loans and monetary assistance, as well as providing general technical help with different projects. ADB aims to achieve “a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific.” Here are four countries that ADB has benefited positively.

4 Countries the Asian Development Bank Has Helped

  1. China: The People’s Republic of China is a country that has experienced uneven development in the past century. Major cities are urbanized, while rural areas remain in extreme poverty. ADB has funded and overseen numerous projects to attempt to lift these areas out of poverty and improve the standard of living in the country. One project in Yunnan, for example, pays and trains women to maintain around 5,000 kilometers of rural roads. This offers economic opportunities to rural women while facilitating more transportation between rural towns. Another project funded the purchase of 1,860 clean buses to combat China’s pollution problem.
  2. Cambodia: While Cambodia has undergone positive development in recent years, poverty still exists in the country, and many of its residents live in adverse conditions. In 2017, for example, 21% of the Cambodian population did not have access to clean water. The Asian Development Bank has encouraged sustainable development in Cambodia through many large-scale projects. In 2003, the bank allotted $15.6 million to Cambodia as part of a project to attract tourists and benefit local economies. More recently, ADB approved a loan of $250 million to support Cambodia’s economy through the COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. Thailand: In recent years, poverty has unfortunately increased in Thailand, with the poverty rate growing from 7.8% in 2015 to 9.8% in 2018. According to the World Bank, this has been due to several “economic and environmental challenges,” particularly because individual Thai households are highly susceptible to variable economic conditions. Projects by ADB attempt to combat this—one 2017 program introduced around 500 farmers to the organic farming market. This connected them to a greater, more profitable market in order to attain a self-sufficient income. In 2012, a solar power plant funded by ADB was also completed, which generated enough power to provide clean electricity to 70,000 households. The plant also helps to keep greenhouse gases from being released into the atmosphere.
  4. Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka is a relatively small country, with a population of around 22 million. In 2016, 4.1% of the population was below the national poverty line. ADB has mainly funded rural development projects in Sri Lanka but has also focused on social justice and creating better living conditions for Sri Lankan residents. From 2000 to 2018, ADB helped connect more than 200,000 households to electricity and built or upgraded just under 4,000 kilometers of roads. The Asian Development Bank has also funded support for around one million residents affected by the Sri Lankan Civil War, which lasted from 1983 to 2009.

Since its conception, ADB has made incredible progress in fighting poverty and assisting development in Asia. In 2019 alone, ADB committed $21.64 billion in loans, grants and other investments to various countries and provided $237 million in technical assistance. Still, much poverty remains to be fought—while Asian countries have experienced massive development in the 21st century, many rural areas have been left behind. Poverty remains a pervasive issue in Asia. The Asian Development Bank has changed the lives of many Asian residents, but much remains to be done.

– Maggie Sun
Photo: Flickr

UK's Energy Efficiency Program
British politician Rishi Sunak recently announced the U.K.’s official energy efficiency plan. The £3 billion plan includes a £2 billion Green Homes Grant and £1 billion of funding to make public buildings more energy-efficient, among other initiatives. Each of these projects presents an important step toward sustainability, particularly the Green Homes Grant, and could even contribute to the reduction of poverty within the United Kingdom.

Green Homes Grant

The U.K. government hopes that the £2 billion Green Homes Grant will encourage homeowners and landlords to apply for vouchers, starting in September 2020, to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. The vouchers will cover at least two-thirds of the total cost, which is up to £5,000 for most households. For low-income households, the vouchers will cover the full cost of improvements, up to £10,000.

Effects of the Energy Efficiency Plan

The U.K.’s energy efficiency plan will create approximately 140,000 green jobs, improve the energy efficiency of over 650,000 homes, reduce carbon by more than half a megatonne a year and potentially shave £300 a year off of homeowner’s bills. These changes also have the potential to drastically alter the nation’s interaction with the environment for the better.

How will the UK’s Energy Efficiency Plan Help People in Poverty?

  1. Low-income households typically spend more on energy expenses. A 2010 study found that “low-income householders spend 10 percent or more of their income on energy expenses”, pointing out that as income goes up, expenses go down, since middle- and upper-income households tend to only spend 5% or less of their income on energy expenses. Therefore, the U.K.’s efforts to help low-income households become energy-efficient will allow them to have more disposable income.

  2. Low-income households have a more difficult time adapting to large fluctuations in natural gas prices, as they have less disposable income compared to middle and upper-income households. Due to market supply and demand, natural gas prices can experience fluctuations as large as 140%, as was seen in 2016. In March 2016 natural gas was $1.639/MMBtu, and by December of the same year, prices had risen to $3.93/MMBtu. The U.K.’s energy efficiency plan can help to alleviate low-income households’ concerns over the uncertainty of natural gas prices by making their homes less dependent on them.

  3. Low-income households are at greater risk of developing health problems. Many low-income households do not have enough income for necessary home improvements, meaning that these homes can often suffer from structural problems such as leaks, which can lead to the development of mold and infestations. Exposure to these issues can increase the chances of arthritis, respiratory disease, mental illness and heart disease. When homeowners make improvements to their homes to make them more energy-efficient under the Green Homes Grant, they will also lower their risk of experiencing these health issues.

The U.K.’s energy efficiency plan is taking the initiative that all developed countries should be to alleviate poverty in their country and increase the use of sustainable energy. By providing grants to homeowners and updating technology in public buildings, the U.K. is making great strides toward environmental stability.

Araceli Mercer
Photo: Flickr

10 Great Fair Trade Stores
According to the World Bank, 10 percent of the world’s population lives in extreme poverty. This means they make less than $1.90 per day. Fairtrade is an innovative business model that aims to combat global poverty. Workers who produce fair trade products are paid a fair and livable wage by their employers. Each product they produce tells a story about corresponding culture and craftsman. Fairtrade ensures safe working conditions for men, women, and children as well as products that are environmentally sustainable.

By shopping fair trade, you can provide support to impoverished communities, worldwide. Here is a list of 10 great places to do so.

10 Great Fair Trade Stores

  1. Ten Thousand Villages: Founded in 1946, this store has expanded into a chain across the US. The store’s name took inspiration from a Gandhi quote: “Because in every village are people who want to live a meaningful life with dignity and who bring beautiful culture worth sharing.” Ten Thousand Villages works to embody this quote by selling handcrafted materials and products from an assortment of villages worldwide. The products sold range from jewelry all the way to gourmet chocolate. On average, each craftsman has sold their products through Ten Thousand Villages for 25 years.
  2. Greenheart Shop: This store is the only fair trade store in Chicago Illinois. They sell items from all categories, such as clothes, jewelry, dishes and rugs, all of which are eco-friendly, and as they put it, “carry a social mission.” Their craftsmen are sourced worldwide, contributing from as far away as Tunisia in North Africa.
  3. Fair Trade Winds: This family-run business has five locations across the U.S.–Bar Harbor, Maine, Boulder, Colorado, Fairfax, Virginia, Hudson, New York and Seattle, Washington. It was founded by a couple who bought and sold fair trade items such as coffee, tea, and chocolate at their church through a nonprofit called Lutheran World Relief. As time went on, this couple began selling the fair trade products at other churches, fairs, and events until they eventually invested in a retail space, thus establishing Fair Trade Winds.
  4. Fair Trade Jewelry Company: Located in Toronto Ontario, this store is the first Jeweller in North America to use fairtrade certified gold. To make their jewelry, they use a blend of fair trade gold as well as recycled gold to ensure that their jewelry is both socially and environmentally conscious. They work with miners to teach them how to use mining techniques that are safe and efficient.
  5. The Mustard Seed: Located in Lake Forest, Illinois, this store donates all their profits to organizations that support and empower at-risk women and children. Founded in 2009, The Mustard Seed employs an entirely volunteer workforce, which allows them to donate 100 percent of its profits to charities. Over the last 9 years, The Mustard Seed has donated roughly $200,000 to women and children.
  6. WHEAT: Founded in 1990, WHEAT, which stands for World Hunger Education, Advocacy and Training, is a fair trade store that supports craftsmen from over 30 countries. They sell many items including coffee, jewelry, ceramics and candlesticks. Their goal is to allocate their profits to help feed, house, clothe and educate the less fortunate. They are located in Phoenix Arizona.
  7. The Himalayan Bazaar: Located in Ann Arbor Michigan, this store sells handcrafted gifts and gear from Nepal. Their goal is to educate the community on culture, travel and adventure. In addition to their storefront, they also provide tours of the Himalayas in Nepal twice a year.
  8. Trade Roots: Established in Arlington Virginia, this store is a coffee shop, wine bar and gift shop all in one. Their craftsmen use recycled materials such as aluminum cans, textiles, and telephone wires to create original jewelry, clothes, baskets, etc. They embody a commitment to sustainable products.
  9. JustGoods: This store sells handcrafted goods such as jewelry, coffee, and clothing from 25 different countries. Their supply-chain represents almost all seven continents. They are run by volunteers, many of whom were once Peace Corp members. Their building is powered by LED lights and wind turbines to ensure environmental sustainability. They are located in Rockford Illinois.
  10. Simply Fair: Located in Springfield Illinois, this fair trade boutique sells handcrafted items from 40 nations. They offer daily samples of coffee and chocolate to their customers.

The above list only encompasses a small percent of the total fair trade stores in North America. A website called “Change The World by how you Shop” can help you find other great fair trade stores near you. All you have to do is provide your zip code. By shopping fair trade, people worldwide are given the opportunity to escape poverty and pursue a better future for themselves, their families and their communities.

– Emily Turner
Photo: Flickr

Artificial Intelligence Helps the Impoverished
Artificial intelligence has evolved from a futuristic fantasy to our living reality. The possibilities for artificial intelligence-based solutions are continuously developing. Therefore, the potential to expand the reach of various initiatives to help those in poverty is increasing. Recently, companies have recognized that artificial intelligence helps the impoverished by contributing to various sustainability initiatives in impoverished countries. The globally impoverished disproportionately suffer from the negative impacts of environmental issues. Artificial intelligence can help those in poverty restore a sense of empowerment in struggling communities.

How Artificial Intelligence Helps the Impoverished with Sustainability Goals

  • Wadhwani AI – The focus at Wadhwani AI is to bring artificial intelligence to communities in need (and thus that are the least likely to have access to artificial intelligence). One of their current projects focuses on cotton farming. Cotton is the third-largest crop in India with 75 percent grown by small farmers who struggle to have a stable income. Pests are a huge problem for small farmers for both economic and mental health reasons. After 40 percent of cotton crops were destroyed by a pink bollworm attack between 2017-2018, 100,000 cotton farmers committed suicide. As many pesticides have proven unreliable over time, Wadhwani AI is developing technology to detect pests, reducing crop losses and pesticide use.
  • GringgoRecycling collection is incredibly limited in impoverished areas. Generally, only 40 percent of trash is collected in South East Asia. Gringgo, based in Indonesia, uses an app to help collect plastic waste. The app connects waste collectors to uncollected recyclables in their area that can be sold for a profit, increasing income for waste workers and cleaning up waste simultaneously. Recycling facilities purchase these recyclables and convert them into various commodities. For example, plastics can be converted into fuel for the cement industry. Selling waste back to recycling industries (effectively taking it out of the waste stream) reduces ocean pollution, as many landfills are located near rivers, causing much of the collected waste to end up in oceans. Gringgo aims to increase recycling rates by 50 percent by 2022 and reduce the plastic in oceans by 25 percent by 2020 in South East Asia.
  • Makerere University – Air pollution causes more than 700,000 deaths in Africa yearly. Additionally, 98 percent of cities in low and middle-income areas do not meet air quality guidelines. Finding solutions to reduce air pollution is imperative. Based in Uganda, Makerere University demonstrates how artificial intelligence helps the impoverished by aiming to improve air quality. By using low-cost technology, Makerere University hopes to obtain more data on air pollution and the communities most at risk. Sensors attached to taxis around Uganda track pollution and will ultimately forecast future air pollution rates. Policymakers will use this data to make informed decisions regarding industrial changes to reduce air pollution. As data on air pollution rates in specific communities is currently lacking. However, this study could raise awareness among citizens about the unhealthy pollution rates in their own communities.

AI expansion is inevitable; it is already happening. While there are many possibilities for how artificial intelligence can help the impoverished, companies may also question the ethics of new technologies and possible impacts. That being said, it is clear that artificial intelligence can help those in poverty when paired with an open dialogue with those involved in terms of how to help.

– Amy Dickens
Photo: Flickr

Sustainable Agriculture in the Democratic Republic of CongoThe Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the second-largest country in Africa. With approximately 70 percent of its population living in rural areas, the large and mineral-rich land has shown immense potential for sustainable agriculture in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The development of agriculture and other sectors in the DRC have been hindered by the simple fact that the country has been healing from more than 15 years of war. This has unfortunately created serious infrastructure and systematic issues that have tested the nation’s business environment.

The agricultural sector contributes 18 percent of the DRC’s GDP and accounts for about 60 percent of labor, yet it still fails to establish food security and create enough revenue and sustainable jobs. Nearly half of Congolese people live below the poverty line, and the nation must import more than 70 percent of the food it eats.

Malnutrition still remains one of the leading causes of death among the population, with iron-deficiency being the second most common cause of disability. Infant mortality exists at 3.3 percent and life expectancy remains low, with more than half of the country’s inhabitants being under the age of 20.

Recently, the World Bank authorized additional credit of $75 million to Congo for the Agriculture Rehabilitation and Recovery Support Project. This funding is expected to increase agricultural production and improve crop promotion and animal products for many agricultural households.

The Congolese government backs this project with the hope that it will lower rural poverty by 2020 through establishing and streamlining systems used for agricultural production, progressing nutrition and food security and mobilizing backing from both public and private sectors. The additional funds will also hopefully be able to increase activities that acknowledge issues such as nutrition-sensitive activities, climate-smart agriculture and job generation.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has also developed numerous projects to strengthen the capacity for food security and nutrition and to develop sustainable agriculture in the Democratic Republic of Congo, such as:

  • Supporting the development of an irrigation system tied to a priority investment program, which will contribute to the use of water for agriculture, livestock and fisheries.
  • Endorsing the creation of the national seeds policy, in order to support the government in developing a system for the manufacturing, preservation and control and distribution of high-quality seeds.
  • Putting into action the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions in the area of cultivation and forestry, a project proposal to be submitted to the Green Climate Fund, which is expected to contribute to the reduction of emission and increase forest carbon stocks.

With so much fertile land at its disposal, this country has the potential to feed the whole of Africa. But in order for sustainable agriculture in the Democratic Republic of Congo to be achieved, farmers must have access to ample financial services and strong infrastructure.

– Zainab Adebayo

Photo: Flickr

The Green Belt Movement is an environmental organization whose aim is to make the planet green again through fighting deforestation and preventing soil erosion. It engages the community, especially women, in its process and, in return, compensates participants with a small monetary payment. It has now become an international platform for women’s empowerment through the conservation of natural resources.

The Green Belt Movement was started by the late professor, Doctor Wangari Maathai, who founded the organization in 1977 in Kenya. Dr. Maathai is a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, the first African woman to receive such an honor. She is also the first woman to receive a doctorate degree in East and Central Africa. Dr. Maathai witnessed the struggles of rural Kenyan women with finding drinking water, food and firewood, saw the connection between deforestation, scarcity of rainfall and food insecurity and wanted to address the problem as a whole. She encouraged men and women to practice reforestation, binding soil to prevent soil erosion, food processing, beekeeping and many more sustainable values.

The Green Belt Movement has also dealt with larger issues in the daily lives of Kenyans. It has protected public lands from private landowners, known as “land grabbing.” It has trained farmers with simple techniques to grow indigenous vegetables and fruits that are sustainable in harsh environments. It also uses a water-shed based approach to harvesting. Furthermore, the Green Belt Movement launched the Community Empowerment and Education program, which helped to educate common people on the environment, natural resources and civics.

Since its foundation in 1977, over 51 million trees have been planted across Kenya. The movement also invented a method of spreading ideas among the community through “trainers of trainers.” In 2015 alone, over 200 women who participated in training from the Green Belt Movement have gone on to train over 20,000 members of their communities, thus assisting in the spreading of the Movement’s ideas. The Green Belt Movement has addressed important issues such as deforestation, climate change and women’s empowerment, gaining international status in the process.

– Mahua Mitra

Photo: Flickr

SwazilandSwaziland is a small, landlocked country in southern Africa with a population of approximately 1.1 million. An estimated 63 percent of the population lives below the national poverty line, and 350,000 people are food insecure and in need of food aid. Swaziland also has one of the highest incidence rates of HIV/AIDS in the world, with nearly 26 percent of people aged 15 to 49 living with the disease. The average life expectancy is only 49 years so, as a result, 45 percent of children are left orphaned or vulnerable at a young age. Here are just some of the primary ways in which humanitarian organizations and the Swazi government are working to help people living in poverty in Swaziland.

Helping Vulnerable Children Access Necessary Resources

Due to the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS which predominantly affects the country’s younger population, many children have lost one or both of their parents. Parents of children who are HIV-positive often cannot afford retroviral therapy. Many HIV-positive children are cut off from basic health services and education. One in 10 children in Swaziland is severely malnourished. There is also a low school enrollment rate of 60.1 percent, with one in five primary-school-aged children not enrolled in primary school.

Organizations such as SOS Children’s Villages and the World Food Programme are currently working on providing orphaned and vulnerable children with access to education and healthcare services. SOS Children’s Villages provides daycare and medical assistance in three different locations in Swaziland. The World Food Programme also provides nutritious meals to children at community-led daycare centers throughout the country. The project aims to provide vulnerable children with both nutrition and access to social services such as early childhood education, psychosocial support and basic healthcare services.

Providing Treatment for HIV/AIDS and TB

With 26 percent of people aged 15 to 49 living with HIV, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS has also greatly depleted Swaziland’s labor force. Tuberculosis (TB) is also one of the leading causes of death in the country, although 80 percent of TB patients are also infected with HIV. In order to combat the spread of these diseases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Swazi Ministry of Health work together to broaden the scope of HIV testing and antiretroviral treatment in Swaziland. Since 2012, thousands have been provided with access to antiretroviral treatment, HIV testing and counselling services. In addition to helping those in need, combating HIV will also help ease the strain HIV puts on the Swazi economy.

Providing Communities with Sustainable Sources of Clean Water

Approximately 330,000 people in Swaziland do not have access to a source of clean water, and half a million people do not have access to adequate sanitation. Every year, over 200 children under the age of five die due to diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation conditions in Swaziland. The high incidence of HIV/AIDS only makes the need for safe water and hygiene even greater.

This is why organizations such as WaterAid and the Thirst Project have made it their goal to provide a source of clean water to all those in Swaziland who do not currently have one. WaterAid works with local communities to introduce affordable technologies that can be easily maintained by the communities themselves. It also lobbies the Swazi government to ensure water and hygiene are prioritized and budgeted for.

The Thirst Project also works to bring clean water sources to communities and hopes to have provided all Swazi communities in need with safe water by 2022. “They build something sustainable, that’s not going to dry up even though there are tremendous droughts right now in Swaziland,” states Paola Pozzaglia Nilsen, an adviser for a local chapter of the Thirst Project in New York. Nilsen added that clean water is an integral part of how to help people in Swaziland as it helps communities to become self-sufficient, healthier, and safer.

By investing in the nutrition and education of children, the treatment of diseases like HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis and the construction of clean water sources, progress toward eradicating poverty in Swaziland can begin to happen.

Amanda Quinn
Photo: Flickr

Tanzania Poverty Rate

Over the last decade, the Tanzania poverty rate has decreased to about 47 percent. Political stability, agricultural growth and increased access to education have all widely contributed to Tanzania’s victory in poverty reduction. Improving infrastructure, gender equality and employment are the keys to helping the remaining 2 million people still struggling on less than $0.60 a day.

Infrastructure
The 2015 World Bank Poverty Assessment showed a strong link between poverty and low access to public infrastructure. Tanzania’s infrastructure is limited, which leads to only 2.9 percent of poor people having access to grid power. Additionally, only 16 percent of the poor have access to paved roads. A further reduction in poverty and sustainable economic growth will require additional investments in transport and energy infrastructure.

Gender Equality
Even though the Tanzanian Constitution assures equal participation for women and men, discrepancies still exist. Disparity still exists in education, while women continue to face inequality in social, economic and political activities. Recently, The National Gender Development Policy and Strategy have set new targets within the constitution for gender equality. But to successfully achieve goals on the poverty reduction level, institutional support will be essential.

Employment
35 percent of people in Tanzania between 15 and 35 years of age are unemployed. Lack of basic skills, poor infrastructure and unavailable jobs are key contributors to youth unemployment. Addressing unemployment requires both supply and demand interventions. The enhancement of quality education will need to be available to even more people. Demand-side measures will have to provide advanced solutions in finance, infrastructure deficiencies and business support services.

Despite these issues, the Tanzania poverty rate has seen tremendous improvements. Tanzania deserves credit for its reduction of child mortality, a decrease in the incidence of HIV/AIDS and a significant drop in food insecurity. As for the areas that still need work, the country has partnered with the African Development Bank to achieve even more progress in poverty reduction.

Emilee Wessel

Photo: Flickr


A recent University of Illinois study indicates that including trees in the agricultural industry has the potential to reduce poverty in Africa. Lead researcher Daniel Miller reported that one-third to half of rural farmers in Ethiopia, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda incorporate trees into their farming plans. Miller explained that within the target group, trees alone contributed 17% to the annual household income. He acknowledged that the trees were a very important source of economic benefits for these households. He discovered that the most popular tree types were fruit trees and coffee trees. Timber and fuel-producing trees were also found, but only five percent of the farms studied contained them.

Colonial Law No Longer a Stumbling Block

In addition to using satellite images and comprehensive surveys, Miller’s study relied heavily on personal interviews from farmers in the five countries.

Miller’s research delved into the ramifications of an old colonial law in Nigeria concerning tree ownership. He reported that the old law gave the government the right to claim any tree as being within the domain of forestry. As a result, farmers shied away from having trees on their farms because authorities would have a legal right to enter their land and claim the trees for the central government.

Miller indicated that the law in Nigeria recently changed to allow farmers more control of the trees on their land. He explained that this was a clear case of where previous government intervention adversely affected the decisions of landowners. Nigerian farmers are beginning to incorporate more trees into their farms, albeit slowly. Miller reported that of the five countries studied, the prevalence for trees on Nigerian farms was the lowest, at 16%.

Climate Change Mitigation

The weight of climate change is also a major consideration in the effort to reduce poverty in Africa. Miller’s results indicate worth for increased attention on farms incorporating more trees, especially considering food security and poverty-related policy concerns. Miller reports, “Trees are climate smart because they aren’t as fragile as agricultural crops are to extreme shifts in climate…trees can continue to produce when you might have a crop failure due to a drought.”

Diverse Sustainability for Farmers

Miller’s study found that farmers incorporating trees into their agricultural plans had greater food security. In his report, the uses of products harvested from trees included self-consumption, cash income, storage, and even gifts.

With the hope to reduce poverty in Africa at the forefront, Miller remains optimistic about the potential of future studies. “We see significant scope for future research…to gain a complete picture of the dynamics of rural livelihoods in Africa over time.”

Gisele Dunn

Photo: Flickr