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Female Genital Mutilation in SudanAlthough six African states issued legislation to prohibit female genital mutilation, the north African state of Sudan was lagging behind in these efforts. Female genital mutilation ( FGM) was illegal in some Sudanese states but the bans were widely ignored. Under the leadership of Omar al-Bashir, parliament rejected recommendations to ban the practice.

Female Genital Mutilation

FGM is defined as procedures that deliberately alter or cause injury to female genital organs. It is mostly carried out on young girls between infancy and adolescence and occasionally performed on adult women. These procedures are nonmedical and provide no health benefits, only harm to the female. It involves removing and damaging healthy and normal female genital tissue, therefore, it interferes with the natural functions of the female body.

The reasons behind FGM vary between regions due to a mix of sociocultural factors. The procedure is routinely executed by a midwife without anesthesia. There are four types of FGM. Type one is the partial or total removal of the clitoris. Type two is the removal of the clitoris and inner labia. Type three is the removal of all the external genitalia or narrowing of the vaginal opening. Type four is any other type of damage to the female genitalia, such as burning, scraping or piercing.

Females experience either short-term or long-term effects. The short-term effects include severe pain, excessive bleeding (hemorrhage), genital tissue swelling, fever, infections, wound healing issues. The more dangerous and life-altering long-term effects include urinary problems, menstrual problems, increased risk of childbirth complications, the need for later surgeries or psychological problems.

According to UNICEF, 87% of Sudanese women aged between 14 and 49 have undergone a form of FGM. FGM is also more prevalent among the poorest women.

Actions to End Female Genital Mutilation

In 2008, the National Council of Child Welfare and UNICEF joined together to launch the Saleema Initiative, which focused on abandoning FGM at a community level.  The initiative educated women about the health risks and encouraged females to say no to the procedure.

Additionally, the United Nations General Assembly took action in 2012 by calling on the international community to enhance efforts to end FGM. In 2015, the global community agreed to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include a target under Goal 5 to eliminate all harmful practices, such as child marriage and female genital mutilation by 2030.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is addressing the issue by implementing guidelines, tools, training and policy to allow healthcare providers the opportunity to offer medical care and counseling to females suffering the effects of FGM.  The WHO also aims at generating knowledge to encourage the abandonment of the FGM procedures. One final measure by the WHO is increased advocacy through publications and tools for policymakers.

Criminalizing Female Genital Mutilation in Sudan

In May 2020, the Sudanese Government criminalized FGM and made it punishable by up to three years in prison. But, experts remain concerned that a law is not sufficient in ending the practice due to religious and cultural ties to the procedure.

The sociocultural and religious ties surrounding female genital mutilation in Sudan complicate attempts to end the practice. Criminalizing FGM in Sudan may not be enough to end the practice. The National Council of Child Welfare, UNICEF, the United Nations General Assembly and the WHO are taking major steps to eliminate FGM or assist those already affected by the practice.

– Rachel Durling
Photo: Flickr

Protect Bangladesh
The Hunger Project is a global nonprofit organization that strategizes to help end hunger and alleviate poverty in Africa, South Asia and Latin America. The Hunger Project has worked in Bangladesh since 1990. It focuses on achieving the U.N. 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Additionally, the organization works to address corruption and gender discrimination to end hunger as a way to protect Bangladesh in 185 SDG unions. The poverty rate in Bangladesh has increased from 20.5% in 2019 to 29.5% in June 2020 due to an unemployment increase.

The Hunger Project Bangladesh Work History

Prior to COVID-19, The Hunger Project Bangladesh partnered with the National Girl Child Advocacy Forum (NGCAF) and Citizens for Good Governance (SHUJAN). They sought to achieve gender equality and eliminate corruption in Bangladesh. The organization has 109,319 trained volunteers that help Bangladesh SDG unions act toward ending hunger and other issues in Bangladesh. The four goals of the organization include mobilizing rural communities to take self-protective actions, empowering women, strengthening local government and helping build advocacy alliances between NGOs, CSOs and 63 civil society leaders as a way to protect Bangladesh.

The Hunger Project and Citizens for Good Governance established two COVID-19 social media live streams. One was with Hunger Project Bangladesh Country Director Badiul Majumdar and contagious disease expert Dr. MH Chowdhury Lelin co-hosted the other. The social media live streams helped spread reliable COVID-19 protection information while discouraging the spread of misinformation.

The COVID-19 Resilient Villages is one Hunger Project program. It follows World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines and helps keep Bangladesh communities safe. Bangladesh village volunteers from 1,100 Village Development Teams created and distributed approximately 137,160 face masks, various hygiene products and COVID-19 protection information as of October 2020.

Organizational COVID-19 Goals

The Hunger Project continues to work with a volunteer-based approach that provides SDG and COVID-19 support. Deputy Director Jamirul Islam notified The Borgen Project that “during lockdown at the beginning of COVID-19, our volunteers started an initiative to collect cash and kind from solvent peoples,” to give to homes listed as not having food. Islam told The Borgen Project that the organization implements this initiative in 129 SDG unions and 1,161 villages across Bangladesh. The organization believes “that people can be the author of their own futures, so people have to work to create their own paycheck.”

The Hunger Project advocated and supported two 2014 goals from Bangladesh Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina. They aimed to end marriages for girls under 15 by 2021 and eliminate child marriages by 2041. The Hunger Project agreed with 168 organizations in the National Girl Child Advocacy Forum to stop the Bangladesh government from lowering the girl marriage age to 16. This action resulted in 18 being the determined marriage age for girls except for if they receive parental consent. The organization also trained 9,400 people in water, sanitation and hygiene workshops in Bangladesh since March 2020.

Plans and Partnerships to Protect Bangladesh

Islam told The Borgen Project about how the organization empowers youth unit members and other volunteers. The organization arranges Coronavirus Resilient Village and Risk Communication in-person training. Islam said that “in each meeting, we try to connect teachers and students during COVID-19.” The Bangladesh Coronavirus Resilient Village (CRV) model has four stages that bring people together, promote COVID-19 precautions through the 3 W campaign, identify people with COVID-19 symptoms and economically support vulnerable homes and farms as a way to protect Bangladesh in approximately 1,500 villages.

Islam told The Borgen Project how The Hunger Project Bangladesh partners with UNICEF Bangladesh, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and The Hunger Project Australia and the Netherlands. Together, they provide technical and financial support for building Coronavirus Resilient Villages. Since COVID-19, Islam noticed how “people organize themselves,” in order to be “united to fight to save themselves and to help each other.”

Islam notified The Borgen Project about how the organization partners with World Vision, Save the Children and three other NGOs to initiate the Right 2 Grow project. The project will help improve nutrition and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) protocols. It will also work on other initiatives in Bangladesh by focusing on SDGs 2, 3, and 5 from January 2021 to 2025. The development of the project to employ SDGs 2, 3 and 5 began in November 2020 to help end hunger, ensure community health and well-being, and promote gender equality. The project works in six countries including the Khulna, Patuakhali, Sathkira and Barguna Bangladesh districts. These districts have experienced repression due to various civic space issues. Both programs help villages through NGOs, CSOs and local government support while the organization focuses on peace facilitator groups related to SDG 16.

Looking Ahead

During COVID-19, the nonprofit organization taught community leaders how to advocate for COVID-19 response and circulate village resources. The Hunger Project continues volunteer CRV and Risk Communication online and in-person training in Bangladesh. The organization prepared 500,000 local leaders for COVID-19 in 13 countries as of May 2020. In September 2020, Majumdar contributed to the Bangladesh 2020 Civil Society Organization Sustainability Index that rates everything from CSO advocacy to service provisions. As Bangladesh has seen decreased COVID-19 case numbers since December 2020, the villages await vaccines that should arrive by February 2021.

Evan Winslow
Photo: Pixabay

Food SystemsIn the next 30 years, the world population will grow by two billion: approximately 25% of the current population. Food demand will increase significantly during this time and international organizations are prioritizing the development of strategies to address this concern. Framing the future of food systems, which encompass producing, processing, transporting and consuming food, is key to continued efforts in reducing poverty and extreme hunger.

Population Growth in Africa

Global population growth does not imply an equal or even proportional increase in every region of the world. The population of sub-Saharan Africa, for example, is estimated to double by 2050, from approximately one to two billion. This number accounts for half of the global population growth expected. Such substantial growth in a population already experiencing food insecurity, if not coupled with sustainable food system developments, will exacerbate the issue and make advancement more difficult.

Facets of Food Security

Increasing demand for food is not the only threat to the future of food systems around the world. The cultivability of land is changing with the climate, requiring workers in the agriculture sector to adjust crop selection and techniques. Instability in the industry detracts from the appeal of such an occupation and further strains the food supply.

Many producers of food are among the hardest hit by the effects of food insecurity. In India, 41% of the workforce falls under agriculture, yet the country is home to the largest number of people experiencing hunger in a single nation — approximately 189 million. With the food supply responsibility falling on some of the most at-risk populations, food systems are even more vulnerable when confronted with adversity.

The COVID-19 pandemic is an example of adversity faced by food systems. Limits put in place to prevent further spread of the virus weaken the agriculture sector of the workforce and economy. This stress on food systems extends to the global economy, education, peace efforts and human rights, among others.

The Decade of Action

Just 10 years remain to meet the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. The second SDG necessitates improvements in food security, nutrition and agriculture across the globe, marking the next 10 years as the Decade of Action. The 2021 U.N. Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) has been planned to foster discussions of global challenges, priorities, opportunities and solutions in the food system sector, hopefully resulting in unified and inclusive efforts toward achieving the SDGs. In a lead up to the 2021 UNFSS, 13 organizations collaborated to host the two-day Bold Actions for Food as a Force for Good event in November 2020.

Food System Innovations

Along with the need to shift toward more sustainable consumption, gender-equity in food systems, agricultural innovations and financing for solutions, the Bold Actions for Food as a Force for Good event emphasized the importance of novel approaches to reducing extreme hunger with the Food Systems Innovation Challenge. In this challenge, teams of students from 20 universities proposed innovative ideas to transform the future of food systems. Solutions proposed by these teams include online systems connecting producers and consumers to keep all facets of the food market current on need and capacity. Apps and food labels to provide guidance on reducing food waste and making more sustainable dietary choices as well as food packaging that minimizes waste and carbon footprints formed part of these solutions.

A Sustainable Future

Projections for global population growth alongside new challenges stemming from climate change and COVID-19, make food security a top concern. By promoting the now-underway Decade of Action, the U.N. is leading unified efforts to establish sustainable and equitable food systems worldwide. Progress will depend on effective mobilization, collaboration and innovation— the backbones of development toward more stable food systems.

– Payton Unger
Photo: Flickr

The Samsung Global Goals App, Supporting SDGs With a TapIn 2015, the United Nations General Assembly announced a pledge to change the world for the better by the year 2030. That pledge led to the Sustainable Development Goals, also known simply as the Global Goals, which aim to eradicate hunger, combat inequality and clean up the planet. To this end, Samsung has joined the efforts to see the world accomplish these goals and released the Samsung Global Goals app in 2019.

The Samsung Global Goals

The Samsung Global Goals app’s purpose is to “take action on the Global Goals and make the world a better place,” according to the app’s Google Play Store listing. The app has three intentions:

  1. Know the Goals: This allows the user to discover what all 17 goals are about and lets the user determine which one they care about the most and want to support the most.
  2. Get the Facts: Lets the user see statistics about the Global Goals and what important areas organizations are working on to alleviate global poverty and build a sustainable world.
  3. Monitor Donations: This function allows the user to track their donation history and see which of the Global Goals are progressing worst than others.

Donating With a Simple Tap

The app puts Samsung’s advertising revenue to good use. Every ad the user views inside the app earns money that can be donated toward a goal, the user can choose to keep donating to one goal or keep switching between goals. If the user is using the app on a Samsung phone or tablet in the U.S., Singapore, Canada or the U.K., they can use Samsung’s own payment system, Samsung Pay, or if they are on another Android device, they can use Google Pay.

Samsung will also match the user’s donation as the South Korean tech giant’s attempt to brand themselves as a “global corporate citizen.” If the user cannot donate, then they can raise funds by allowing the app to place ads on the user’s lock screen as they charge their devices and the user can select which of the goals those funds will go toward. After an update on January 2020, the app allows users to put inspiring messages and quotes from famous humanitarians and messages about the planet’s climate situation.

United Nations’ Initiatives to Accomplish its SDGs

The Samsung Global Goals app is just one of the new ways the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is attempting to advertise the Global Goals. The UNDP is partnering with different companies to promote the idea and raise awareness of the Global Goals. In America, the UNDP teamed up with iHeart Media to create short messages from famous pop stars about the Global Goals and how citizens can help accomplish them.

Even though the Samsung Global Goals app comes from a place of philanthropy, it would probably do more good for the Global Goals and the UNDP if the app was not limited to just Samsung and the Android platforms. Instead, it should become available to outside platforms, such as Apple’s iOS, to raise even more awareness for the Global Goals, and ultimately our planet.

As we grow closer to the deadline for the SDGs, the world should see more companies following Samsung’s lead and helping the United Nations build a sustainable world by 2030.

—Pedro Vega
Photo: Flickr

Foreign Aid Policies In 2019, the Overseas Development Institute came out with the principled aid index to assess the degree to which donor countries are contributing to a prosperous world. According to the report, the principled foreign aid policies not only benefit the country that receives the aid, but it also serves the interests of the donor country. Below is a list of how this report’s top five countries are using their foreign aid:

5 Countries Foreign Aid Policies

  1. Luxembourg is a small country in Western Europe that has pledged 0.96% of its gross national income (GNI) to go towards development and aid. It is one of the few countries that meet a goal set by the U.N. to dedicate 0.7% of a country’s GNI to foreign aid. Luxembourg starts by targeting some of its partner countries, which include Burkina Faso, Nicaragua, Mali and Senegal. With remaining funds, Luxembourg helps provide humanitarian assistance in Kosovo, the Palestinian territories and Vietnam. The country also focuses on private enterprises through microfinance and inclusive finance to help promote productivity. In 2020, Luxembourg joined the International Aid Transparency Initiative which motivates the government to share data about foreign aid spending with the public. Accountability is an important factor in creating sustainable aid.
  1. The United Kingdom is another country that has met the U.N. goal of 0.7% of GNI for foreign aid. The U.K. set the goal back in 1974 but recently achieved it in 2013. Additionally, the government inscribed the goal into law in 2015 so that the country now has a legal duty to achieve it. Around 64% of the U.K.’s foreign aid goes to countries for bilateral aid. The main recipients of bilateral aid include Pakistan, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Syria and Afghanistan. The remaining 36% of the U.K.’s foreign aid goes to multilateral institutions like the E.U. and the U.N. Additionally, the U.K. has also provided humanitarian aid for Liberia and Sierra Leone during the Ebola outbreak. Also, the country offered assistance to Nepal and Indonesia — following natural disasters and Somalia during the hunger crisis.
  1. Sweden has continuously met the U.N. goal since 1976. The country even made its own goal to dedicate 1% of its GNI to foreign aid in 2008. In 2019, Sweden allotted 0.98% of its GNI for foreign aid. Along with Norway, Sweden is considered to be a “humanitarian superpower.” The Swedish development cooperation, also known as Sida, is Sweden’s leading agency for providing foreign assistance. Sweden has 33 partner countries that it helps by creating income opportunities and strengthening democracy. Sweden is dedicated to helping achieve the U.N., 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The country’s primary goals include human rights, democracy and the rule of law, gender equality, the environment and climate change, health equity and education and research.
  1. Norway has met the U.N. goal for providing foreign aid since 1976. In 2019, Norway apportioned 1.02% of its GNI for foreign aid and development. Norway’s foreign aid policies use an approach that follows the 2005 Paris principles. These principles value ownership, alignment, harmonization, managing for results and accountability. Norway provides foreign aid funding for civil society organizations and budget support. The country also uses a large part of its budget to help people inside its borders. For example, Norway has used part of its budget to provide for its refugee population, which included more than 50,000 refugees in 2019.
  1. Ireland currently does not meet the U.N. goal, but the country is hoping to double its impact by 2025. In 2017, 0.36% of Ireland’s GNI went toward its foreign aid budget. Ireland’s foreign aid focuses on developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The country hopes to combat the issues of displacement and conflict, which Ireland’s main concern — climate change, tends to exacerbate. Additionally, developing countries are more likely to feel the effects of climate change disproportionately as compared with developed countries.

Striding Forward

These five countries’ foreign aid policies are impressive examples of how developed nations can make valuable contributions to global well-being. Hopefully, more undeveloped countries continue to benefit from foreign aid policies of more developed nations. Likewise, it is important these developed countries continue their efforts to achieve the U.N. goals, for theirs and the world’s greater benefit.

Camryn Anthony
Photo: Pixabay

free public transportation in EstoniaEstonia is a northeastern European country of about 1.2 million people. It is bordered by Russia to the east, Latvia to the south and is a short distance across the Baltic sea from Finland, to the north. Formerly part of the Soviet Union, Estonia is now a member of NATO and the EU. Also a part of the United Nations, Estonia is subject to the U.N.’s annual Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There are 17 goals, such as no poverty and zero hunger. SDG Goal 11 is Sustainable Cities and Communities. It calls on countries to “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.” The country is currently making commendable progress in creating and maintaining sustainable cities and communities, such as providing free public transportation in Estonia. However, challenges do remain.

Updates on SDG 11 in Estonia

  1. The annual mean concentration of particulate matter of fewer than 2.5 microns in diameter (PM2.5): This is the first of the four progress markers for SDG Goal 11. PM2.5 essentially measures the level of air pollution that can cause significant respiratory or other health issues. The long-term SDG objective is to lower this value to 6.3. Over the past decade, Estonia has made great progress in curtailing air pollution. It is remarkably close to the SDG goal, most recently clocking in at just over 6.7. According to the World Health Organization, Estonia is one of the six nations with the cleanest air in the world.
  2. Access to an improved water source piped: Nearly the entire Estonian population has access to an immediate source of improved piped drinking water. According to the SDG report, an ‘improved’ drinking-water source will protect the source from outside contamination. Although most industrialized nations provide widespread access to clean drinking water, Estonia’s progress is still positive. Its neighbors, Latvia and Russia are both hovering around 97% access. This puts them at a lower SDG classification than Estonia who is between 99-100%.
  3. Free public transportation in Estonia: Of the surveyed Estonian population, 67.4% report being ‘satisfied’ with their local public transportation systems. The SDG report has Estonia on track to eventually reach the desired percentage to 82.6%. Public transport is the area that needs the most improvement in SDG Goal 11. Estonia’s capital city of Tallinn is notable for being the first capital in history to offer free public transportation to its residents. Non-residents and international travelers still have to pay. Though Tallinn loses almost all of its revenue from bus fares, public transportation has improved and the city’s population is growing. As a result, this boosts local tax revenue. Additionally, fewer cars on the streets cut down on air pollution, contributing to success in that category. Free public transportation in Estonia is an idea that is catching on in places like Luxembourg. Now, it is the first nation to offer free public transportation to everyone (citizens and foreigners alike).
  4. Population with rent overburden: The SDG report classifies this as the “percentage of the population living in households where the total housing costs represent more than 40% of disposable income.” Just 4.7% of Estonian households spend more than 40% of their income on rent. Estonia is only a tenth of a percentage point higher from reaching the SDG goal of 4.6%. In reducing rent overburden, Estonia helps stimulate its economy. Citizens with more money to spend and the desire to do so are one of the principal factors behind economic growth. As of 2019, Estonia has the fourth-highest GDP growth rate in the EU.
  5. Sustainable cities and communities: Even in public transport, where there is the most work to do, Estonians are showing a commitment to developing better ideas and solutions. Ridango and Singleton, two Estonian businesses, are teaming up to improve transport-related technology such as mobile apps for ticketing. Free public transportation in Estonia is currently a reality for 11 of its 15 counties. However, residents still have to fork over a whole two euros for a travel card that they never have to buy again. There is still a ways to go. Free public transportation in Estonia is a great example of a creatively developing sustainable cities and communities.

Estonia is making a great effort to create a sustainable city and fulfill the SDG Goal 11 of Sustainable Cities and Communities with clean air and improved water source piped. The government is also helping citizens with overburdened rent and the private sectors are helping to improve transportation.

Spencer Jacobs
Photo: Flickr

3 Factors Impacting Poverty in PalauPalau is an independent island group in the Pacific located just southeast of the Philippines. In July 2020, Palau recorded a population of 21,685 people. The latest data from 2006 shows that 24.9% of people were living below the national poverty line. Despite this figure, the quality of living in Palau is actually among the highest in the Pacific. There are three factors that impact poverty in Palau; tourism, geographic location and non-communicable disease.

A number of factors make it difficult for Palau to maintain a healthy and growing economy. Palau’s economy relies mainly on the tourism industry, with trade-in fishing and agriculture as secondary industries. Because of its reliance on tourism and its remote location, Palau is vulnerable to external economic shocks or other global events. Since gaining independence in 1994, Palau has come a long way with achievements like universal access to healthcare, quality education and the formation of valuable regional and global partnerships. It has also moved towards a gradual reduction in poverty but still struggles with this issue.

In the 2019 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Palau identified the eradication of poverty in all its forms as its primary goal. To achieve this goal, Palau currently focuses primarily on supporting its economy, strengthening its agriculture industries and improving health services.

Tourism

Because Palau’s economy heavily relies on tourism, the small island nation is particularly susceptible to global factors that affect tourism rates. In 2019, Palau reported a GDP growth rate of -1.8%, showing a declining economy which was expected to continue declining in 2020 to 9.5% following a slump in tourism. The COVID-19 crisis is especially damaging to Palau’s economy as it has caused tourism to fall to an unprecedented low. Palau’s reliance on tourism poses a risk to its overall economic stability and vulnerability to poverty. High tourism rates are highly variable and dependent on global events.

In order to best take advantage of its tourism industry, Palau developed the Palau Responsible Tourism Policy Framework in 2015. This aims to pursue a more sustainable and lucrative tourism industry by moving from a high-volume industry to one focused more on low-volume tourism but with a high-value experience. These goals will be achieved through coordinated management between the public and private sector, community awareness and a focus on attracting high-value consumers with new marketing strategies. This shift will help make revenue from tourism in Palau less volatile. Therefore, it will contribute to a more stable economy and promote sustainable growth.

Geographic Location

As a small group of islands in the Pacific, Palau’s geographic location and topography make it susceptible to factors that can exacerbate poverty. Pacific islands are often vulnerable to cyclones, violent storms, tidal surges, drought and other natural disasters. As a result, it can wreak havoc on infrastructure and natural resources. Additionally, Palau’s topography is mountainous, and only about 2.2% of its land is arable. Because of its minimal arable terrain, Palau is currently unable to satisfy food demand with domestic production. Consequently, Palau is highly dependent on foreign food imports. This accounts for roughly 86% of Palau’s food expenditures being used for imported foods. This dependence on imported foods can be dangerous because even short disruptions in food shipments can result in the depletion of food stocks.

To address this issue, Palau creates a Policy to Strengthen Resilience in Agriculture and Aquaculture. It sets a target to meet 50% of food requirements with local production by 2020. New practices in pursuit of this goal include switching to more resilient crops. As a result, it can withstand natural disasters and saltwater intrusion, increase the number of farms and better manage farmland. Between 2015 and 2017, land used for agriculture increased from 306 hectares to 503. The number of commercial farms rose from 16 to 19. In addition, more students enrolled in agriculture at Palau Community College.

Non-Communicable Diseases

As part of its third 2019 Sustainable Development Goal, Palau indicates that non-communicable diseases are a factor causing people to fall into poverty. The report reveals that the main non-communicable diseases in Palau include cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, lung diseases and mental health disorders. These diseases are at extremely high levels in Palau. It accounts for more than 80% of deaths and lowering life expectancy. In 2011, the government declared a state of emergency in regards to non-communicable diseases. Additionally, the government addresses the issue through the promotion of healthy choices in schools and workplaces. It focuses on beginning preventative education in early childhood. To combat the proliferation of disease overall, Palau is vowing to strengthen its health systems. The country will provide accessible and quality hospital and primary and preventative services.

While Palau generally experiences a higher standard of living than some of its neighbors, economic instability, geographic factors and non-communicable diseases contribute to poverty. However, measures are being taken to strengthen and improve each of these sectors. Through these efforts, Palau is optimistic that it can become more resilient and achieve its goal to eradicate poverty.

Angelica Smyrnios

Photo: Flickr

SDG Goal 1 in IndiaIndia is located in the South Asian peninsula. It is the second-most populous country, seventh-largest country by area and the largest democracy in the world. Since its independence in 1947, India has had a consistently developing economy. The country made great strides in raising growth, income levels and standards of living. However, the luxuries that a few receive are not available to the majority of the country. Around 77% of all wealth is owned by only 10% of the population. Today, at least 6% of India’s population lives on less than $2 per day. Recognizing this fact, the U.N. has formulated the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to acknowledge and eradicate poverty in every form. The future of achieving SDG Goal 1 in India is promising.

India and the Sustainable Development Goals

Along with being one of the fastest developing economies in the world, India has played a tremendous role in the formulation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda 2030. The SDGs consist of 17 goals, 169 targets and 306 national indicators. Although the SDGs is an exhaustive list, it has not stopped India from making substantive progress towards achieving most of these goals.

Goal one of the SDGs of the U.N. Sustainable Development Agenda is the complete elimination of poverty in every form by 2030. From 2008 to 2018, the poverty rate in India halved as the percent of Indians living in poverty dropped from 55% to 28%. The good news is that India is on track to eliminate extreme poverty by 2030. However, it is important to recognize recent trends to gain a better perspective on where India stands in the race to achieve SDG goal 1.

Updates on SDG Goal 1 in India

  1. As of 2018, 44 people in India come out of extreme poverty every minute. This is the fastest rate of poverty reduction in the world. Besides rapid economic development, this reduction in poverty can be attributed to an anti-poverty government agenda. It started providing rural areas with access to living necessities such as sanitation facilities and cooking fuel.
  2. In the same year, India fell one spot from being the home to the largest number of poor people in the world. Despite being the fastest-growing population in the world, India’s rate of absolute poverty continues to decline.
  3. In just one decade, India lifted 271 million people out of multidimensional poverty. This is nearly half the total population of Indians living in poverty. Multidimensional poverty refers to poverty across an array of factors such as lack of education, health care and insufficient standards of living. Economic development is concentrated within the urban regions of India. At the same time, an investment in the most vulnerable communities allowed millions to rise from poverty. In addition, the investment provides millions of the population with sufficient means to live sustainably. This includes access to sanitation, cooking gas, electricity and education in food growing techniques.
  4. Updates on SDG Goal 1 in India includes an evaluation of the economy. Economists believe the country’s economy must grow at 7 to 8% annually in order to achieve SDG goal 1 in India by 2030. Over the last 15 years, India has maintained an average growth rate of 7.4%. Much of this growth is the result of the government programs that invest directly in the lives of their citizens. By providing basic necessities to poor populations, India is able to bring people out of poverty and making them more productive and self-sustainable.

Hope for the Future

As India aims to achieve its goal on time, a glance at recent trends gives an optimistic view of the future of India. India owes its reduction in poverty to its thriving economy and to the coordinated efforts of its government and the U.N. Beginning with the government of 2014, India has made successful attempts in distributing essential commodities to its most vulnerable communities. For instance, electricity, clean water and sanitation. Through a robust anti-poverty scheme, India has granted 90% of its population access to electricity. Additionally, a whopping 99.45% of its population has access to basic sanitation. The latter number is up from 40% in 2014.

The evidence suggests that governments can effectively tackle poverty when they have the means to do so. The past decade in India is a prime example. However, India is only halfway through in achieving SDG goal 1. In order to continue its progress, it is imperative to recognize the benefits of coordinated government initiatives that are supported by our own. For the county’s thriving economy and progress towards SDG goal 1 in India can only sustain itself through the support of the effective government.

Aadil Khan
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Malta
Considerable progress has been made in addressing poverty in Malta. Malta has experienced substantial increases in its GDP, with a real GDP growth rate of 6.7% in 2017. The unemployment rate in 2018 was also relatively low at 3.7%, exhibiting a -2.5% change from 2012, compared to the European Union average of 6.8%. Malta has further experienced a positive improvement in almost all of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including no poverty and zero hunger. In addition, Malta is among one of the fastest-growing economies within the E.U., further exhibiting their ability to effectively address poverty.

What Is Being Done?

The government of Malta is fighting poverty through its National Strategic Policy for Poverty Reduction and for Social Inclusion 2014-2024. The strategy works to address poverty in Malta through a focus on income and benefits, employment, education, health and environment, social services and culture.

The national strategy has been successful in that it has led to continued increases in the figures for At Risk of Poverty and Social Exclusion (AROPE). Progress addressing poverty in Malta is also being measured by the World Bank, which found that from 2010 to 2015 the income of the bottom 40% in Malta experienced a 3.6% increase, a growth rate faster than the average of the total population.

Pushing Forward Further Progress

While Malta has experienced considerable improvements in addressing the 2030 SDGs, progress has stalled in addressing sustainable consumption and production, inequality and climate change. Malta has put forth policies to push forward progress with regard to these stalled SDGs.

The reform package measure “Making Work Pay” works to address inequalities through the introduction of a guaranteed minimum pension, reduced income tax and introduction and extension of in-work benefits. The success of these measures is evident through the country’s low unemployment rate and rising GDP. Additionally, gender inequalities continue to persist in terms of employment. However, the rate of women in employment has seen a considerable increase in recent years. The fact that the gender employment gap has reduced by 4.6% from 2015 to 2018 demonstrates this.

Despite the fact that progress addressing climate change in Malta has stalled, when compared to other countries within the E.U., Malta is among the countries with the lowest greenhouse gas emissions per capita. Malta’s Sustainable Development Vision for 2050 addresses the lack of progress in regard to climate change, as well as envisions the eradication of poverty and social exclusion.

Tourism in Malta

The Maltese government is also using tourism, a major contributor to their economic development, as a means of pushing forward the green economic transition and progress towards sustainable consumption and production and climate change. The restoration of historical and cultural sites in the country is making this progress possible. One such example is the restoration of the Grand Master’s Palace in Malta. Tourism contributes to the alleviation of poverty in Malta by increasing economic opportunities and generating taxable economic growth which can be used towards poverty alleviation.

While work is still needed in Malta in areas such as climate change and the gender employment gap, poverty in Malta is well on its way to meeting its 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

– Leah Bordlee
Photo: Flickr

In the past few years, Kyrgyzstan youth have stepped up to address poverty reduction and promote the well-being of women and children in Kyrgyzstan. The U.N. has worked with Kyrgyzstan youth representatives to promote the Sustainable Development Goals and has partnered with youth who are passionate about using IT solutions to fight domestic violence. In addition, youth are raising awareness about human trafficking and investing in their own wellbeing in conjunction with local governments.

Youth Promoting SDGs

Between 2019 and 2020, the U.N. began an initiative allowing Kyrgyzstan youth to step up and spread awareness amongst their generation about implementing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs include things like “no poverty” and “zero hunger.” Through this program, 34 Kyrgyzstan youth have partnered with U.N. campaigns to advance the SDGs and show others what steps can be taken to achieve them. Each SDG is assigned to two youth representatives. Participants are passionate about the chosen SDG, as it often relates to the representative’s area of study in school or experiences growing up.

As Aibek Asanov, a youth representative for Clean Water and Sanitation (SDG 6) said, “I believe that youth can change the future. This is why I became the SDG Delegate.”

Youth Against Human Trafficking

Kyrgyzstan youth have also taken a stand against human trafficking. Through Kyrgyzstan’s 2017-2020 State Program against Trafficking in Persons, 80 youth ambassadors have represented 30 youth groups across Kyrgyzstan. These youth ambassadors work with local government and media groups, and gather for a yearly conference to discuss the goals and developments of the program. The program focuses on eliminating child marriage and forced marriage. It also provides access to resources for victims of human trafficking. In 2018, the program had positively influenced more than 600,000 people and utilized the work of 5,000 youth activists.

Youth Spearhead IT Campaign to Fight Domestic Violence

In 2020, the UNDP partnered with youth coders and designers to develop IT solutions that fight domestic violence against women and children. These solutions are especially needed for those trapped in quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In cooperation with the Spotlight Initiative, UNDP organized a two-day hackathon that addressed solutions in 4 areas:

  • Violence against women
  • Violence against children
  • Migrant children in difficult situations
  • Those with disabilities in difficult situations

Within two days, over 50 developers came up with 18 IT solutions to aid people in these four areas. Of these projects, the three winners created very different but useful solutions. One addressed recognizing domestic violence and connecting people to the necessary resources. Another focused on victims’ access to online psychologists. The third winner used fairy tales to track children’s mental health.

Youth Partnership with Local Governance

Since 2017, UNICEF has encouraged Kyrgyzstan youth to take initiative in advancing their own wellbeing by partnering with local governments. So far, the Youth and Child Friendly Local Governance (YCHFLG) program has reached 24 rural and 18 urban precincts to place importance on services for young people and ensure that local governments prioritize the needs of Kyrgyzstan youth. The program encourages the involvement of youth in decision-making and politics. Youth can share their insight and preferences, which are then taken into account by local governments when plans are put into place.

In just a few years, Kyrgyzstan youth have taken initiative. They have impacted poverty reduction by addressing the SDGs, raising awareness about human trafficking, using creativity and innovation to end domestic violence and becoming involved in the political process. Passionate, poverty-aware youth will continue to be instrumental to future progress in Kyrgyzstan.

– Anita Durairaj
Photo: Wikimedia