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HIV in Djibouti
According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), addressing poverty means first reaching those who feel the greatest impact; progress does not necessarily trickle down to the population that is most disadvantaged. The 2016 Human Development Report found that one-third of the world’s population lives in low human development circumstances. Furthermore, some sectors of society are more disadvantaged than others. Inequalities and social exclusion that people such as those living with HIV face present larger barriers to development and access to health programs. For this reason, the World Food Programme, alongside UNDP, UNAIDS and the national network of people living with HIV in Djibouti (RNDP+), have created an income-generation program that provides loans for people living with HIV. Such loans are empowering women with HIV in Djibouti to live dignified and successful lives.

Men and Women with HIV in Djibouti

As of 2017, 1.3 percent of the adult population in Djibouti was living with HIV, a decrease from 1.6 percent – or 9,900 people – in 2014. Social and cultural norms, destructive policies, improper medical services and restrictive laws impede HIV treatment and prevention measures. In Djibouti, women are most vulnerable to stigma and social exclusion and therefore often suffer the most.

The Income Generation Programme

The World Food Programme’s income-generation initiative supports and empowers women through longterm aid. By providing a regular, stable income, the World Food Programme is creating financial security for women with HIV in Djibouti. The money that women receive typically goes toward starting and running a retail business. These loans generally range from $141 to $148 per person and include a training program teaching effective business skills.

How it Works

Recipients of the loan become chosen from two networks in Djibouti that specifically support those living with HIV: ARREY and Oui à la Vie – Yes to Life. Oftentimes, those diagnosed with HIV are susceptible to deteriorating conditions, are unable to hold down a job and face discrimination, causing the citizens to be unwelcome in public sectors. Women with HIV in Djibouti that receive these loans are able to make a consistent income for themselves and overcome the stigma that some associate with HIV. Further, these women are able to take back control of the lives they previously led.

The Outcome

One such recipient of the loan stated that she was “no longer a desperate woman.” She now makes enough to support her family and other dependents. Additionally, once this loan gave her the capital to launch a sustainable business, she was able to repay the loan in only 10 months. During that time the recipient was also able to expand the retail business to include furniture and electronics.  

The World Food Programme’s income-generation initiative aids the Sustainable Development Goal of ending HIV by 2030, and furthermore, leaving no person behind. According to UNDP’s findings, development itself does not automatically ensure that the entire population is included. Programs such as this target the multidimensional factors involved in people receiving proper aid.

Empowerment is an essential part of development; without the ability to feel successful and fulfilled, women often lack the means to seek treatment and make educated decisions regarding health. The loan initiative empowers women living with HIV in Djibouti to combat the associated stigma and obtain financial investment necessary to develop a sustainable business. With a stable income, women are able to seek health services that might not have been previously accessible. 

Laurel Sonneby
Photo: Flickr

Women’s and Children’s health
In 2000, all 191 members of the United Nations officially ratified the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) which are eight, interdependent goals to improve the modern world. One of these goals included “promot[ing] gender equality and empower women; to reduce child mortality; [and] to improve maternal health,” emphasizing the need for increased focus on women’s and children’s health across the globe. In 2015, the Millennium Development Goals ended and the U.N. published a comprehensive report detailing the success of the MDGs. The report concluded that, during the length of the program, women’s employment increased dramatically, childhood mortality decreased by half and maternal mortality declined by nearly 45 percent.

Such success is, in part, due to another initiative, the 2010 Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, that aimed to intensify efforts to improve women’s and children’s health. Upon conclusion, the U.N. began developing a new program, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which includes 17 interconnected goals. Expanding on the success of the MDGs, the U.N. aims to tackle each goal by 2030. Similar to supportive programming to the MDGs, the U.N. has created another push for women’s and children’s health by establishing the 2016 Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescent’s Health.

The Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescent’s Health

The 2016 Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescent’s Health tackles a variety of critical global issues including maternal and childhood death, women’s workforce participation, women’s and children’s health care coverage, childhood development and childhood education. Being more robust, the 2016 Global Strategy is distinguished from the previous program as it “is much broader, more ambitious and more focused on equity than [the 2010] predecessor,” according to a U.N. report. The 2016 Global Strategy specifically addresses adolescents with the objective of encouraging youth to recognize personal potential and three human rights of health, education and participation within society.

Initiatives Supporting the SDGs

Many anticipate that achieving these global objectives will be a complex challenge. Therefore, the U.N. has established two groups to address women’s, children’s and adolescent’s health advancement: The High-level Steering Group for Every Woman Every Child and The Working Group on the Health and Human Rights of Women, Children and Adolescents.

The U.N. Secretary-General created the High-level Steering Group for Every Woman and Every Child in 2015. Seven areas of focus within the 2016 Global Strategy define the overall aim of this group. These include early child development, adolescent health, quality, equity, dignity in health services, sexual and reproductive health and rights, empowerment, financing, humanitarian and fragile settings.

The World Health Organization and the U.N. Human Rights Council created the Working Group on the Health and Human Rights of Women, Children and Adolescents in 2016, and it delivered recommendations to improve methods to achieving the 2016 Global Strategy. The group provides insight to “better operationalize” the human rights goals of the Steering Group in the report. 

In conjunction, these groups have accelerated and promoted the effectiveness of the 2016 Global Strategy. These groups effectively outline the idea that it is crucial to work as a team to tackle some of the world’s most complex problems concerning global poverty and health. U.N. Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, believes these programs and groups will guide individuals and societies to claim human rights, create substantial change and hold leaders accountable.

Benefiting the Global Community

While the objective of the 2016 Global Strategy is to provide women, children and adolescents with essential resources and opportunities, the benefits of this integrated approach reach far beyond these groups. Developing strategic interventions produces a high return on resource investment. The reduction of poverty and increased public health leads to stimulated economic growth, thus increasing productivity and job creation.

Further, projections determine that the 2016 Global Strategy’s investments in the health and nutrition of women, children and adolescents will procure a 10-fold return by 2030, yielding roughly $100 billion in demographic dividends.

These high returns provide a powerful impetus for program support by local communities and government officials. Projected financial return can shed light on the global benefits of localized poverty reduction efforts. While the aim of poverty reduction should be in the interest of those most affected, understanding that such programs can provide a country with increased long-term growth is a major factor in the success of such initiatives, specifically in women’s and children’s health. 

The 2016 Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescent’s Health is indispensable during a time when women and children are providing the world with new innovations and perspectives. Each day, women across the world promote cooperation, peace and conversations within communities. Children will come to define the wellbeing of our world in the future. The success of U.N. programs today is a new reality for the world tomorrow.

Aly Hill
Photo: Flickr

China Reduced its Poverty
China reduced its poverty from 97 percent in 1978 to 1.7 percent in late 2018. In the late 1970s, China began focusing on poverty reduction and economic development. Through various economic efforts, China became market-oriented to decrease poverty, which subsequently grew the private sector, created modern banks, reformed the agricultural industry, developed the stock market and spurred foreign trade and investment. China aims to reduce poverty rates to 0 percent in 2020, which is in line with the U.N. Sustainable Development Goal of eliminating global poverty.

China’s Alleviation Method

The International Poverty Reduction Center in China reported lifting more than 850 million of its people out of poverty from 1981 to 2013. During that time period, extreme poverty decreased from 88 percent to 1.85 percent. To achieve a 0 percent poverty rate, China is using extensive expertise in helping Chinese nationals who reside in poorer regions. The current poverty rate of 1.7 percent primarily encompasses those in poor rural regions. 

Similar to the approach that China took in the 1970s and 1980s, it aims to increase efforts to open the economy for trade, diversify the marketplace, improve agricultural practices and implement education reform.

Poverty is still an issue throughout the agricultural industry, but the government is aiming to completely eliminate the Chinese poor. China created a poverty registration system that enables tracking of information relevant to those in poverty. It gathered data from more than 128,000 villages and 290,000 households that indicated that many of the poor reside in Guizhou, Yunan, Henan, Hunan, Guangxi and Sichuan. China aims to accomplish additional poverty reduction techniques through policies based on industrial development, relocation, eco-compensation, education and social security improvement. The Chinese government has managed to reduce poverty through direct involvement in hard-to-reach rural areas that have innately higher levels of poverty.

To support economic growth, the Chinese government is pushing for new industries in these poor regions, such as e-commerce and tourism. Furthermore, the relocation of poor families residing in areas prone to earthquakes or landslides has supported Chinese poverty reduction measures. The country is also emphasizing education and occupational training. Public health services will be available to the poor, especially in the remote mountainous regions. These actions indicate that China has reduced poverty not only through broad approaches but also through direct impacts.

Direct Progress

Progress is already underway in the government’s push for new industries. China has reduced poverty through these industries that benefit hundreds of thousands of Chinese citizens. China E-commerce centers, known as Taobao villages, enable the Chinese to sell their produce and specialties online. In 2015, 780 Taobao villages employed more than one million people and included more than 200,000 active online storeowners. Comparatively, in 2019, the number of Taobao villages grew to 4,310 and active online shops totaled to more than 660,000.

China’s Investments in Africa 

China also helps other countries with economic development and poverty reduction. As an economy grows, poverty trends to gradually lower; on the other hand, job growth, economic diversification and agricultural productivity improve. One can see a specific example of China’s method for poverty reduction through its investments in African countries to build foreign economies. China has provided more than $57 billion in financial aid to more than 170 countries. In 2018, China accounted for almost 20 percent of all infrastructure and capital project investment in Africa.

A Chinese Poverty-Reduction Model for Global Use

China reduced its poverty through economic development and direct impact. In 2016, China sent 775,000 officials to poor regions to alleviate poverty. The country sent these officials out to work in one to three-year posts. This direct impact demonstrates how a country can eliminate poverty through strong economic growth in remote regions. 

Brett Rierson, China representative for the World Food Program said, “China invested in agriculture to reduce poverty and successful agricultural projects were built up from the grassroots.” Rierson believes China is a good model for how to reduce poverty in developing countries.

Although China has been a positive influence on developing economies, one country alone cannot eliminate global poverty. Other developed countries could use China as a model for reducing poverty and improving living standards.

– Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr

Technological Sustainability
Technological innovations are changing the world. These innovations enable easier and more sustainable ways to support the Earth. Ensuring sustainable development includes technological innovations that improve the overall well-being of humans. It also requires a broad knowledge of technologies that can help advance people and organizations within the system. In order to create technological innovations for sustainability, there has to be a well-rounded understanding of the system. Once one has absorbed this knowledge, then they can create different technologies. These types of technologies include devices, methods, processes and actual practices. Technological innovations affect local communities in global areas as well.

Sustainable Development Goals

Technology is boosting the number of Sustainable Development Goals. This is creating solutions for social, economic and environmental threats. People have created many medical solutions through technological innovations. According to UNCTAD’s 2018 Technology and Innovations report, data analysis is aiding the response to disease outbreaks in different countries. In developing countries, some are using 3D printers to make custom-built prosthetic limbs for a cheap price.

Technological Innovation Devices

There are many other technological innovations that are promoting goals for the development of sustainability as well. Namely, one of those innovations includes the Zéphyr. Karen Assaraf, Julie Dautel and Cédric Tomissi created the Zéphyr, which acts as an eco-friendly generator. The device only uses water to inflate and capture solar energy from 165 feet in the air. Its purpose is to bring power to places that natural disasters have struck. In addition, the Groasis Waterboxx planting device is another technological innovation for sustainability. Pieter Hoff created the device which attempts to make growing crops in the desert possible and more efficient. It takes 90 percent less water than its traditional growing counterpart and people can use it in some extreme climates.

Initiatives for a Sustainable World

Along with technological innovations, there are also initiatives in place to create resources for a sustainable world. ENGIE Insight is a sustainable resource initiative working with businesses to reduce environmental impacts. ENGIE provides businesses with technology to support the reduction of their carbon footprint. So far ENGIE has worked with Gamestop and AMTRAK to assist in the creation of practices that reduce harm to the environment.

Additionally, in March 2018, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) launched its Industrial Development Report. This report promotes industrial development and argues that mass consumption of manufacturers will set a “virtuous circle of industrial development – comprising income creation, demand diversification and massification of consumption.” The report also acknowledges that manufacturing is a key provider of quality goods and has a positive impact on living standards. Further, this contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals by ensuring the sustainability of the environment.

Technological advances that support sustainability are very important and are a part of the solution to change the world for the better. As the world becomes more sustainable, poor and marginalized communities should experience increased opportunities. In addition, improving sustainability through technology is impactful beyond the restraints of socioeconomic status. It all starts with technological innovations that require efforts from the people and political powers to set in motion.

– Jessica Jones
Photo: Flickr

Internet Access in Afghanistan

One of the biggest issues facing developing countries is stunted infrastructure. Many developing countries lack the funds and institutions necessary to efficiently carry out mass infrastructure revamps that would connect all parts of these countries and enable more people to get safer, better-paying jobs. Of course, for developing countries like Afghanistan, this type of development also includes internet access as well. Internet access is so critical for long-term growth that the United Nations even listed it as a key outcome under its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Importance of Internet Access to Development

A lack of internet access can be stifling for economic growth in any country. Many international businesses are unwilling or hesitant to invest in countries that have no broadband connection. In this era, the internet is the medium through which many interactions essential for economic progress take place, such as:

  • Potential higher-paying employers can contact and hire employees.
  • Students can take classes, study, and turn in assignments.
  • Workers can unionize.
  • Citizens can keep educated about international events and help keep their representatives accountable.

However, this staple of modern development is widely not available to those who live in impoverished countries. Lack of internet access is especially a problem in the Middle East, as not only does terrain stifle modern development, but extremist groups like the Taliban oppose it as well. Afghanistan is one of these countries, as only about 17.6 percent of the population has access to the internet. The broadband that the population has access to costs about $80 per month for 1 Megabit per second (Mbps), making broadband access unaffordable for much of the population that has a Gross Net Income (GNI) per capita of $570.

Progress: Internet Access in Afghanistan

The good news is that there have been significant improvements within the past 10 years in Afghanistan’s internet infrastructure. In 2013, only 5.9 percent of the population had internet access, this means Afghanistani people have seen triple inaccessibility in just six years. Afghanistan now has a rather intensive fiber optics network laid down in 25 of its provinces with assistance from its neighboring countries, mainly Pakistan, as well as some international organizations like the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Due to these coordinated efforts, there are more than 8.7 million people using the internet in Afghanistan today. This number is expected to increase with de-escalation of the conflict in the region and further diplomatic talks with Afghanistan’s hegemonic neighbor China with plans to coordinate infrastructure development.

Internet access in Afghanistan still has a long way to go before it is considered comparable to any developed country, due in part to political, economic, social and even geographic reasons. Even so, the Chairman of Afghan Telecom Gul Aryobee remains optimistic about the prospect of further development in the Information Technology sector since the country has already seen such rapid improvements in less than a decade. He recognizes all the challenges that the internet in Afghanistan faces, but he remains strong in his conviction to meet the SDGs set by the United Nations and fully believes Afghanistan has the potential to develop exponentially with the continued assistance of other countries and international organizations.

Graham Gordon
Photo: Flickr

 

Keeping Girls In School
Right now, 130 million girls ages 6 through 17 are not in school. Fifteen million girls will never receive any kind of education. The international community has recognized the importance of rectifying this problem, including the elimination of gender inequality in education as a target of the Sustainable Development Goals. Despite the significant hurdles which remain, the number of girls in school has increased dramatically in recent decades indicating progress.

Between 1970 and 2017, the global average number of years a girl spends in school increased from 6.7 to 12.5. South Asia experienced the most amount of progress, tripling the average length from 3.8 to 12.

South Asia

Several countries in South Asia have implemented programs that target keeping girls in school. Efforts in India largely drove the increase in rates, where average years of schooling jumped from 4.1 to 13, exceeding the 12-year target. Many nonprofits have worked to improve the educational attainment of Indian girls. For instance, ConnectEd brings education to girls at home when their parents do not allow them to attend school. Additionally, the nonprofit organization CARE has worked with the Indian government to provide educational programs for girls who have dropped out of school and to strengthen early childhood education. CARE also advocates for the bolstering of legislation and policies which ensure safe and secure access to education.

Bangladesh has also made significant strides in keeping girls in school. Secondary school enrollment for girls went up from 39 percent in 1998 to 67 percent in 2017. In 2008, the government of Bangladesh initiated the Secondary Education Quality and Access Enhancement Project (SEQAEP) with the help of the World Bank. This program provides stipends and tuition payments to impoverished children, especially girls. Teachers have received additional training and incentives to ensure that at least 70 percent of their class passes. Additionally, Bangladesh has taken steps to improve sanitation and water facilities at schools. Before the implementation of SEQAEP, 50 percent of children completed primary school and only one-fifth of these went on to complete 10th grade. Now, 46 percent of students graduate from secondary school, including 39 percent of children from impoverished backgrounds. Girls have experienced a rise in enrollment rates in particular due to a number of specially targeted stipend programs. Between 2007 and 2017, the gender parity ratio for grades six to 10 improved from .82 to .90.

Sub-Saharan Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa also made significant gains in the number of years girls spend in school, more than doubling the average from 3.3 years to 8.8. However, this region remains the worst in terms of keeping girls in school. In many countries in the region, girls never even get a chance to attend primary school. In the Central African Republic, Chad, Mali and Niger, two-thirds of primary school-aged girls do not enroll in school. In Liberia, this number is 64 percent, while in South Sudan it reaches a staggering 72 percent.

Nigeria has driven the current progress. Since 2007, the Nigerian government partnered with the World Bank to distribute grants and resources to school systems in particularly struggling areas. Programs that provide free meals and uniforms have incentivized families to allow their girls to obtain an education. Additionally, resources such as textbooks and expanded class space have made class time more effective for students and assisted in graduation rates. In one state, primary school completion rates for girls rose from 17 percent to 41 percent.

These statistics show that change is possible. Advancements in these countries show that even small investments in girls’ education can drastically improve their prospects.

Clarissa Cooney
Photo: MaxPixel

Global Illiteracy
The ability to read and write is one of the few skills with the power to completely change a person’s life. Literacy is vital to education and employment, as well as being incredibly beneficial in everyday life. Global illiteracy is extensive. As of 2018, 750 million people were illiterate, two-thirds of whom were women. 

In 2015, the United Nations set 17 goals for sustainable development, one of which included the aim to “ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy” by 2030. Though this is an admirable goal, current progress suggests that global illiteracy will remain a substantial problem in 2030 and beyond, due to challenges such as poverty and a lack of trained teachers in some areas. While eliminating global illiteracy by the 2030 deadline seems out of reach, companies and organizations around the world are taking steps toward improving literacy rates, often with the help of technological innovations.

  3 Organizations Fighting Global Illiteracy

  1. The Partnership-Afghanistan and Canada (PAC), World Vision and the University of British Columbia have collaborated to create a phone-based program aimed at improving literacy rates among rural women in Afghanistan. Women in remote areas who lack local educational resources learn from daily pre-recorded cell phone calls, which teach them how to read and write in Dari, a Persian dialect widely spoken in Afghanistan.  The lessons require only paper, a writing utensil and cell phone service, which are widely available throughout the country.

  2. The World Literacy Foundation operates many literacy-boosting programs, one of which is its SunBooks project. The project provides solar-powered devices through which students can access digital content and e-books while offline. The SunBooks initiative, intended to boost literacy rates in sub-Saharan Africa, helps young people overcome barriers to literacy such as limited access to books, a lack of electricity and limited internet access. Only 35 percent of schools in sub-Saharan Africa have access to electricity, so traditional e-books are not a viable solution to a lack of books. SunBooks’ content is available in local languages and in English.

  3. A collaboration between Pearson Education’s Project Literacy Campaign, the World Bank and All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development has resulted in a project called EVOKE: Leaders for Literacy. EVOKE is a series of lessons on problem-solving, leadership and the importance of literacy, styled as a video game in which the student plays a superhero. EVOKE aims to empower young people to be literacy advocates in their own communities, and more than 100,000 people have participated in the program.  The project has shown promise in getting young people excited about reading and writing.

People generally understand literacy as a necessary part of education and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights established it a human right in 1948. Yet still, hundreds of thousands of people cannot read or write. Literacy rates are improving, but not quickly enough to meet U.N. targets. These organizations are making valuable contributions toward fighting global illiteracy so that every person can be empowered.

– Meredith Charney
Photo: Pixabay

Help Fight Global Poverty
Poverty is an issue that does not always have a single, clear-cut solution. This leads to a myriad of action plans across the world that seek to address the root causes of poverty. The average person usually experiences these measures through the filters of government officials and media, which makes poverty reduction seem inaccessible to the everyday citizen. However, anyone can help alleviate poverty, not just politicians or public figures. Here are four ways to help fight global poverty.

Use Passions and Education

Poverty is a daunting topic and one cannot learn all its facets in one sitting. The easiest way to begin expanding one’s knowledge about poverty is to start somewhere familiar. Consider any relevant interests or hobbies. For example, sports lovers could type “sports and poverty” into a favorite search engine and learn about issues that impact their interests. Starting off with a topic that is familiar makes it easier to digest new information and keep one’s interest before diving into more specific topics as the individual gains more knowledge.

Finding poverty-related information relevant to one’s interests by discovering articles, videos and social media pages is a great way to educate oneself. Knowledge is a powerful tool to help fight global poverty.

Support Ethical Brands

Fashion lovers will find that the fashion industry is a significant contributor to poverty around the world. In particular, companies produce fast fashion in hazardous sweatshops. Companies make articles so that they wear out within a few wears and harmful chemicals, such as lead, often contaminates them.

Fast fashion companies like Zara and H&M design clothing so that it is outdated within one week thanks to the rise of micro-seasons. Rather than releasing designs corresponding to the traditional seasons, these companies put out 52 clothing collections each year. Some companies get new clothing shipments in their stores twice a week, while others list upwards of 400 items on their websites per week.

Companies can produce this clothing quickly and cheaply due to the usage of low-quality materials and not paying workers a living wage. Estimates determine that informal workers, often women and children, sew 20 to 60 percent of fast fashion garments in their own homes. Globally, 40 million people are garment workers, and 85 percent of those are women. Children usually add details like sequins and beading, which machines can apply easily, in order to cut equipment costs.

To stop supporting fast fashion brands and help fight global poverty, there are a few steps everyone can take. Websites and apps like Ecoture and Good On You provide ratings of brands’ ethics and practices, while also providing a one-stop-shop for ethical brands. Ethical brands like Organic Basics, Kowtow, People Tree and HARA are just a few of the highly ranked clothing companies out there. Thrifting is also a great way to stop creating a demand for fast fashion while not breaking the bank.

Support the Sustainable Development Goals

The Sustainable Development Goals are a set of 17 goals set forth by the United Nations in 2015. They aim to support economic growth and to resolve global issues such as poverty, hunger, lack of access to water and inequality by 2030. These goals are for countries and governments, but individuals can support progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals as well.

In June 2019, Forbes indicated that millennials, unlike older generations, have distinct consumption habits and preferences that are conducive to achieving various Sustainable Development Goals. Millennials are more likely to be conscious of ethical brands, are more ethnically diverse and are financially, socially and health-conscious. Others often think of them as more educated and technology-based than previous generations as well. Other generations can advance Sustainable Development Goals by adopting similar habits, like becoming more financially conscious through impact investing which allows individuals to put their money into socially responsible investments (SRIs).

Get Involved

Individuals can maximize their efforts by involving themselves with a larger group. A great way to help fight poverty is by finding a cause or nonprofit to support. Many organizations help fight global poverty even if that is not their main goal. Organizations dedicated to women’s empowerment, providing access to clean water, child welfare or improving access to education are all causes that decrease poverty rates. Pick a favorite organization and donate some time or money to them on a regular basis. Great resources to start with are The Borgen Project, Days for Girls and Equality Now.

Mobilize

Another way to help fight global poverty is to multiply efforts by contacting local leaders and encouraging others to do the same. People know this as mobilizing and it is a great way to create change. Congressional leaders and their staff receive letters, emails and calls from constituents every week and the more they see a particular issue or piece of legislation come up, the more likely they are to support it. The Borgen Project details more ways to get involved and connect with Congressional leaders.

These five points are a great way for anyone to help fight global poverty and encourage others to join the cause. Together everyone can make the difference that eliminates poverty for good.

Shania Kennedy
Photo: Pixabay

Erna Solberg
Erna Solberg is a Norwegian politician who was born and raised in Bergen, Norway and has held many different positions of power during her career. Since 2004, she has been the leader of the Conservative Party of Norway (EPP, IDU) and has been Prime Minister of Norway since the General Election in 2013. Norway re-elected her as Prime Minister in September 2017 and she has leveraged her position as the leader of a wealthy and influential country to fight for female education and children’s rights in developing countries. The Prime Minister has a long track record of international educational aid especially for women and children, and these are just three examples of the important strides Ms. Solberg has taken.

Three Initiatives in the Fight for Female Education

1. Starting in 2016, the Prime Minister co-chaired the U.N. Secretary General’s Advocacy group for the Sustainable Development Goals. During her residency as co-chair, she committed herself to increasing equitable access to education for girls and children in conflict areas. In fact, in 2018, Norway promised to increase its contribution to The Global Partnership for Education (an organization that works to improve education in developing countries) to $255 million.

2. In 2015, under the direction of Ms. Solberg, Norway committed to providing at least $6 million to improve sanitation for the estimated two billion people lacking it. This commitment may seem unrelated to education but many developing nations lack adequate sanitation, which often keeps girls from attending school regularly. Cultural stereotypes and taboos around female hygiene, especially in regards to menstruation, often keep girls out of class. The $6 million Norway pledged can make a huge difference in closing the gender gap in classrooms. For example, a UNICEF study showed that girl’s attendance improved by 12 percent in Tanzania when the girls had access to clean water. Norway’s support for proper sanitation, in tandem with education, will give girls a better opportunity to obtain a quality education.

3. In 2014, Erna Solberg launched a $12.3 million initiative in Malawi to improve the access and quality of girl’s education. On a trip to Malawi in July 2014, Ms. Solberg announced the initiative and stated that it would strengthen the education system, particularly for girls, and improve aid effectiveness. With Norway’s money and cooperation, Malawi has launched a number of programs including promoting secondary school for girls, further integrating minorities and children with disabilities into the education system and providing new technologies to enhance learning. The program has been successful so far and under Ms. Solberg’s guidance, the initiative will continue until 2020.

It is clear that since her appointment as Prime Minister of Norway in 2013, Erna Solberg has focused the plentiful resources of her nation to uplift girls in the most underprivileged countries. In an op-ed she co-wrote in 2014, she said, “if you invest in a girl, she feeds herself, educates future children, lifts up her community and propels her nation forward – charting a path that offers dignity for all in the process.” The Prime Minister openly continues to hold this belief and has launched and supported many initiatives that prove it.

– Isabel Fernandez
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Sub-Saharan AfricaIn accordance with the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Australia will spend $121 million in 2018-2019 in Official Development Assistance (ODA) to poverty-stricken areas including sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The amount of assistance includes investment priorities in areas such as health, building resilience, education, infrastructure and trade. Australia sees economic benefits in investing in SSA, such as future potential trade with Africa. Through the help of many nongovernment organizations, Australia seeks to eradicate poverty in sub-Saharan Africa.

Agricultural Productivity

Two major areas of investment in SSA include agricultural productivity and food security. There is a spillover effect from achieving these two goals; as health improves from improving farming productivity, income increases as well. Due to a higher income, those in extreme poverty would be able to afford education, better food, clean drinking water and sanitation.

The livelihood of Africans would increase and that is one reason Australia has its focus on agribusiness. From 2009, Australia has awarded at least $31 million to small- and medium-sized agribusiness companies, the technology and renewable energy sector and the financial service sector. The $31 million is part of the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund, which is promoting resilient rural communities, helping eradicate poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa and creating jobs through the private sector.

Humanitarian Assistance

Australia’s humanitarian program in Africa focuses on economic downfalls, natural disasters and conflict, all of which contribute to food scarcity and poverty. Australia’s goal is to alleviate suffering from these shocks, save lives and bring stability and dignity to those affected. In the last few years, Australia focused on the crises in South Sudan and Somalia. In line with the Foreign Policy White Paper, its focus is on working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in supporting refugees.

Australia Awards

Australia’s method of improving Sub-Saharan Africa’s livelihood is through the Australia Awards Scholarship Program. Wealth generation and job creation are two areas that have developed from recipients of this award. Courses teaching hydroponic farming, macroeconomic development and professional development give awardees the knowledge and skills needed to drive economic growth and sustainable development. Awardees also learn leadership, negotiation, project management, public speaking and other soft skills.

One such awardee, Edmore Masendeke from Zimbabwe, works as an economist at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. In 2018, Masendeke began an accessible housing project for people with disabilities. He helped the bank start a loan facility for Zimbabweans with disabilities. He is only one awardee that has accomplished positive change in underrepresented individuals.

Success

  • Over 12 million Africans have better healthcare, improved access to food security and better water and sanitation thanks to the collective work of 27 nongovernmental organizations funded by the Australian NGO Cooperation Program in 2017-18.
  • Through its humanitarian effort, Australia helped over 1 million vulnerable women, men and children in 12 countries by giving life-saving assistance.
  • Australia increased crop production by improving agricultural productivity that resulted in advanced farming techniques and better food security.
  • There were 479 Australia Awards Scholarship awardees in 2018.

Future

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade stated that its strategic direction aligns with the Foreign Policy White Paper. Its main focus areas in the future include the following: agricultural productivity, humanitarian assistance, leadership and human capacity development and gender equality and women’s empowerment. Australia will continue to support the initiative to eradicate poverty in sub-Saharan Africa and collaborate with nongovernment organizations, the United Nations and its subsidiaries to improve agriculture, food security, water and sanitation and hygiene programs in order to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

– Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr