Posts

All As One is Fighting Child Poverty
All As One is an orphanage fighting child poverty in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone is one of the poorest countries in the world – 70 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. The 340,000 orphaned children feel the disparities of this country in particular. They have a one in five chance of dying before they reach the age of 5 and a 57 percent chance of never learning to read.

Recently, The Borgen Project had the opportunity to speak to the Executive Director of All As One, Deanna Wallace. During the interview, Wallace noted that All As One has been working in Sierra Leone over the past 20 years and that the orphanage has impacted “the lives of over 35,000 children and young adults, helping to bring change to a generation of children.”

How All As One Fights Child Poverty

Four main factors cause poverty in Sierra Leone including corruption within the government, insufficient infrastructure, lack of education and inadequate civil rights. Children often die at birth due to low-quality health care or starvation. The problem of child poverty worsened after the 2014 Ebola outbreak, which left thousands more children orphaned and impoverished.

All As One is fighting child poverty in Sierra Leone by taking care of its most vulnerable children and young adults. The orphanage provides them with a home, education, medical care and other amenities as needed. While All As One does not offer adoption services, the amenities it does provide help these children establish a healthier lifestyle.

Wallace stated that, “All As One helps fight poverty on the ground level, mainly through education, so that their children can find jobs and support themselves as adults.” The organization also gives micro-loans to entrepreneurial young women with dreams of starting a business. In addition, All As One provides nourishing meals to 100 children every day, with hopes that these children escape the grips of poverty.

The organization currently has about 45 children in care and about 55 daily patrons from the surrounding community, who visit for schooling and food.

Life At the Center

Life for a child at All As One involves going to school, doing homework, completing small chores, having playtime in the afternoons, attending church on Sundays and occasionally going on outings. Reflecting upon these offerings, Wallace said that “the children we care for have it better than so many [children in Sierra Leone] like those who are forced into the workforce as a child.” A staggering 51.3 percent of children in Sierra Leone are subject to child labor.

Recent Strides in Fighting Global Poverty

Recently, five All As One students received the opportunity to take a university entrance exam. Although the test typically has a 95 percent failure rate, all five AAO students passed the exam and were able to continue on to attend university. Victories such as this encourage All As One to continue its fight against poverty in Sierra Leone.

– Emily Joy Oomen
Photo: Flickr

The Anglophone Crisis in Cameroon
The Anglophone Crisis in Cameroon has internally displaced half a million people. Many are seeking refuge in forests with little access to medical care and portable water. Only recently has the world acknowledged the crisis, despite three years of growing human rights abuses driving the country to the brink of civil war.

The Makings of a Disaster

French and English are the official languages of Cameroon, which consists of 10 semi-autonomous regions. However, the Northwest and Southwest English-speaking regions have felt marginalized by the central government for decades.

Anglophones make up 20 percent of the population and have long complained of few job opportunities and the predominance of Francophones. When the government assigned French-speaking teachers and judges to anglophone schools and courts, anglophone lawyers and teachers felt that it violated their rights, leading to peaceful protests in 2016.

Government security forces responded by killing four protestors and arresting around 100, including several anglophone leaders. The government even banned civil society groups seeking a peaceful solution.

Escalating the Crisis

In 2017, an anglophone separatist group declared a new independent state called Ambazonia. In a pro-Ambazonia demonstration, security forces killed 17 people. The Borgen Project interviewed Mausi Segun, executive director of Human Rights Watch (HRW) in Africa, who said, “If anyone is putting the abuses on both sides on a scale, the government has the upper hand. They have the most effective military equipment.”

Security forces have killed unarmed civilians and burned down villages. Meanwhile, authorities are arresting civilians on suspicion of supporting or belonging to the separatist movement. A number of those held on suspicion are undergoing torture.

Dr. Christopher Fomunyoh, a Regional Director at the National Democratic Institute told The Borgen Project that authorities are catching civilians in a web of violence and mistaken affinity. “They can be arrested for not having their identification card,” he said.

As authorities hold anglophones in detention without trial, lose property and loved ones, resentment and distrust in the government is growing, fueling the grievances of the separatist movement. “We’re concerned the government is throwing the military, and arms and ammunition at a problem that is beyond just a military one,” Segun said.

Armed separatists have committed unlawful abuses as well, including killing security forces, kidnapping students and burning down approximately 36 schools. The International Crisis Group reported the killing of 235 soldiers, along with 1,000 separatists and 650 civilians.

Although one can blame the Anglophone Crisis on a failure of governance, Fomunyoh said that it is no longer a governance issue, “It’s now one of political insecurity.”

International Response

Cameroon now has the sixth-largest displaced population in the world. A wider conflict could threaten the entire region, impacting bordering countries such as Chad and Nigeria, who are fighting Boko Haram alongside Cameroon.

In March 2019, after three years of growing systematic violence, the U.N. human rights chief told the Cameroon government that its violent response will only fuel more violence and the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) held its first meeting on the crisis in the following May. The E.U. called on Cameroon’s government to initiate a dialogue with armed separatists and Switzerland agreed to act as a mediator.

Fomunyoh said that countries may have been slow to respond because they expected African organizations to intervene. The African Union (A.U.) is one such organization, which has intervened in precarious situations before, including South Sudan’s recent crackdown on protestors. The A.U. called on Sudan to restore civil law and expelled the country from the Union. Although the A.U. has endorsed Switzerland’s peace talks, it has yet to take further action.

Solutions

Fomunyoh said that there are three divided propositions to the Anglophone Crisis, “The Amba boys who want separation, those who want a federation and those who believe the status quo is fine the way it is,” however, the first step should be to end this violence.

All parties need to agree to a cease-fire, separatists need to allow children to go back to school and the government should release anglophone prisoners so they can be part of finding a solution. Although the idea of federalism has almost become taboo, Human Rights Lawyer Felix Agbor Nkongho strongly believes it would appease all sides.

“People would have a separation of powers. People would have the autonomy,” said Nkongho. However, the government has made promises in the past it did not keep.

Cameroon’s previous federation dissolved in 1972 under the same government. So, promises to implement any agreement will not mean anything unless the government regains trust. Segun believes this can start by holding those guilty of human rights abuses accountable. “To sacrifice justice on the order peace would only lead to more violence and a crisis later, if not immediately.”

Preventing a future crisis also requires healing from the trauma, which is Fomunyoh’s biggest concern. If the country does not make investments in healing, it could threaten future security by creating an environment where corruption thrives.

“When you have dead bodies in the street when that becomes the norm, then other abuses like assault, rape, theft, are pale in comparison,” said Fomunyoh. The Anglophone Crisis can become much direr and have unintended long-lasting consequences.

International solidarity helped South Africa’s struggle against apartheid. The AU and UNSC helped resolve Côte d’Ivoire’s post-election crisis. There is no reason that Cameroon cannot stop its Anglophone Crisis.

Emma Uk
Photo: Flickr

 

US Foreign Aid
U.S. foreign aid has come under fire in the past few years and the small percentage of the budget the U.S. commits to foreign aid is shrinking. Many economists and politicians criticize this trend in the federal government, citing the many benefits of investing in developing countries. Luckily, independent nonprofits, like The Borgen Project, have dedicated themselves to helping the developing world for years. People often wonder why The Borgen Project focusses on international aid when there are so many Americans in need of help.

The short answer is that improving conditions around the world is beneficial to the U.S. It is a little more nuanced than that though. Unpacking the many reasons can help people better understand The Borgen Project’s continued commitment to supporting and enriching the world’s developing countries and why U.S. foreign aid matters.

Global Economic Growth

The most direct impact is the economic enrichment the U.S. experiences when it aids other countries. One of the most compelling examples of this is the way developing countries affected global economic growth after the 2008 global recession. According to the World Bank, “Strong economic growth in developing countries became an engine for the global economy … accounting for roughly 50 percent of all global growth.” Economic growth for the world is economic growth in America. One can see further importance on the developing worlds in their dependence on U.S. imports. As of 2014, half of all U.S. exports went to markets in developing countries. The economic growth of America directly links to the continued economic prosperity of these developing countries. When one grows, so does the other.

The US’s Security

The U.S.’s security is another reason why U.S. foreign aid matters. Countries that have aid coming in from the U.S. are much more likely to work with America in its global initiatives. Additionally, it helps foster an all-around safer global community. The Sept. 11 attacks were a grim reminder of what can happen when people ignore the suffering of foreign people. While foreign aid does not directly prevent the rise of terrorism, people with more wealth and stability in their lives are less likely to fall prey to dangerous organizations or demagogues.

Finally, as the richest and most powerful nation in the world, it is the U.S.’s moral duty to help those in need. One study found that many Americans overestimate how much the government spends on foreign aid and would be willing to spend up to 14 times that amount. In 2016, the U.S. spent roughly $49 billion on foreign aid or about 1.2 percent of the federal budget. However, this number will likely continue to decrease under the Trump administration. The president stated many times that he wishes to make drastic cuts to foreign aid.

While it is tempting to forsake U.S. foreign aid in favor of more domestic endeavors, investing in other countries has incredible potential to help the continued growth and security of America for years to come. Investing in developing countries benefits Americans in several ways, and that is why U.S. foreign aid matters.

– Henry Burkert
Photo: Flickr

10 Poverty Charities
Give Well is a nonprofit charity evaluator with the aim of providing donors a list of the best charities to donate to. It evaluates based on how much good is done per dollar. With its criteria in mind, here are 10 poverty charities that are worth donating to.

  1. Against Malaria Foundation
    The first of the 10 poverty charities is the Against Malaria Foundation. According to its website, 100 percent of donations go toward long-lasting insecticidal nets, which are used to fight malaria. So far, it has raised money for 69,720,219 nets. This charity has a Malaria Advisory Group made up of malaria experts who work to ensure that the money is spent on the most cost-effective solutions to combat malaria. Additionally, the team confirms that the nets are being properly distributed.
  2. Malaria Consortium
    Malaria Consortium focuses on preventing, controlling and treating malaria, among other diseases, in 12 low-income countries in Africa and Southeast Asia. Its methods for fighting these diseases are backed by extensive research and then shared with the countries in an effort to improve health practice and policy development.
  3. Schistosomiasis Control Initiative
    Schistosomiasis Control Initiative concentrates on eliminating neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), which affect over 200 million people across the world. According to its website, its goal is “to reduce the global disease burden of NTDs in sub-Saharan Africa by 2030 in accordance with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”
  4. END Fund
    The END Fund also strives to fight NTDs, including intestinal worms, schistosomiasis, lymphatic filariasis, trachoma and river blindness, which collectively create 2.95 billion people in need of treatment. The organization focuses on providing effective solutions at a small cost. According to its website, it has “raised more than $118 million, treated more than 140 million people with 330 million treatments at a value of more than $620 million.”
  5. Evidence Action’s Deworm the World Initiative
    According to WHO, 836 million children across the world are at risk of parasitic worm infections. This is what Deworm the World Initiative is combating. The principles listed on Evidence Action’s website include using effective solutions that are backed by research and building operational models. As stated on its website, its goal is to “design a process to bridge the gap between proven interventions that work and scaling them up to produce measurable impact for millions of people.”
  6. Evidence Action’s No Lean Season
    Evidence Action also runs No Lean Season, a charity to reduce the effects of seasonality in agricultural areas. The charity provides $20 to families so they can send a family member to a nearby city to find a job in the time between planting and harvesting crops. With this money, the family is able to afford 500 more meals during this period.
  7. Sightsavers
    Sightsavers’ mission is to stop avoidable blindness and protect the rights of those who are disabled. Its strategy is to influence policies regarding global health, education and NTDs.
  8. Helen Keller International
    The Helen Keller International organization aims to improve sight and fight malnutrition. According to its website, “we build the capacity of local government, non-profit and private sector systems and infrastructure, and promote the development of sustained, large scale programs that deliver effective solutions to preventable blindness and malnutrition.”
  9. Give Directly
    Give Directly is an organization that allows donors to donate money to families in extremely poor communities. The process contains four steps: locating the poorest communities around the world, auditing to ensure that recipients did not cheat, transferring around $1000 for the year and monitoring to ensure the households received the payment.
  10. The Borgen Project
    The Borgen Project fights to eradicate global poverty. Its strategy is to mobilize citizens to call their representatives. Through this, it has change U.S. foreign aid policies. Some bills that it has helped to pass include the Electrify Africa Act, the Global Food Security Act and the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act.

These 10 poverty charities operate with transparency to donors and cost-effective solutions to issues that plague developing nations. These attributes make these the top 10 poverty charities one should consider getting involved with.

– Olivia Booth

Photo: Flickr

How to Help People in SenegalSenegal is a West African nation on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. To give an idea of its size, Senegal is slightly smaller than South Dakota in terms of square miles. The population is about 14 million people. Like other African nations, Senegal is considered a developing nation. This means that the country experiences problems that other more developed nations do not face, like a lack of resources such as food and clean water. Food is especially a problem in underdeveloped countries, and Senegal is no exception. If you want to know how to help people in Senegal, nutrition and food security are excellent places to start, and can ultimately save lives.

Good indicators of a nation’s issues with sufficient food are obesity as well as underweight statistics, especially for underweight children. According to the CIA World Factbook, Senegal has an obesity rate of 8.3 percent as of 2014. Among other nations, this ranks them close to the bottom, at 145 out of 191 nations. The percentage of children below age 5 that are underweight is 12.8 percent, putting them close to the top of nations with underweight children (based on percentage).

One organization dedicated to fighting hunger in Senegal is Caritas Internationalis. Caritas is a group that was created to reach out to the poor of the world, regardless of race or religion, and to assist those in need when a disaster strikes. Caritas, inspired by the Catholic church, seeks to take on extreme poverty through the grassroots method, putting people on the ground in impoverished communities in order to lend a direct helping hand.

For Senegal itself, Caritas is “launching an emergency project” to help families that are in urgent need of care. Due to bad harvests, natural disasters and a dramatic rise in food prices, poor families have experienced the harshness of poverty even more severely, which means even less food. One out of five households in Senegal are going hungry.

Caritas seeks to help the Senegalese by providing food, such as rice, millet and oil, to over 1,000 families for at least three months. Their goal is to have these families eating three meals a day. There are also cereal banks throughout Senegal, providing 600 families with regular access to food. There are many other projects as well, including projects to ensure that farmers have proper amounts of seeds and tools.

For the person looking for how to help people in Senegal, helping Caritas might be a great way to assist those in need. One way to help this organization is by donating. Caritas has a very old-fashioned sort of charm, and also operates using older methods (being an organization that has existed for over a hundred years); this means that donating to them is not done directly through the computer. To give to Caritas, a check can be mailed to their headquarters, or you can make a direct transfer through a bank account.

If you are looking to go a little further in helping, Caritas also take volunteers from all over the world, especially those willing to help when disaster strikes. Discover where they work and contact them in regards to volunteering.

Of course, another great way to help can be found on the Borgen Project website, and is perhaps one of the simplest ways of all to help the impoverished. Calling Congress can get bills passed that allocate large amounts of funding to helping the poor and hungry of the world looked at by leaders.

Every call made about an issue gets tallied up by the interns who answer the phone and shown to the representative or senator. All that needs to be said is, “Hello, I’m a Borgen Project supporter and I support protecting the International Affairs Budget,” or whatever bill you choose to support (a list can be found in the link). And that’s the whole phone call. It can be done in an easy 30-second call, and becomes even more effective when one gets their family and friends to do it as well.

Stephen Praytor

Photo: Flickr

How to Help People in Tanzania
There are many countries in need of foreign assistance. Among the highest recipients of foreign aid are Egypt, Syria, Turkey and Tanzania, to name a few. Some people may find themselves wondering how to help people in Tanzania, while others may have little interest in the issue at all.

When it comes to fighting global poverty, feeling sympathetic towards those in need is a slippery slope of uselessness. What makes sympathy dangerous is that it often goes hand-in-hand with marginalization. Feeling sorry for the world’s poor does nothing but invoke quiet judgment and a subsequent divide between the affluent and the impoverished. Social change is only possible when individuals have empathy.

A lack of empathy between groups of people is a primary cause of conflict worldwide. A lack of empathy is often a result of the absence of contact between two parties. Out of sight, out of mind, as the saying goes.

A recent study published in the PNAS journal found that empathy increases significantly between two parties after just two shared positive experiences. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) fighting global poverty have long used jarring images and language to provoke pity in potential donors; the “guilt-trip,” essentially. However, there are growing concerns that such traditional methods can have a reverse effect.

When news of global poverty is overwhelmingly negative, the cause can seem hopeless, donations useless. Organizations such as The Borgen Project recognize this paradox and seek to supply readers with the bad and good news. Neither should be ignored.

Hope and a sentiment of personal efficacy are critical to ensuring the fight against global poverty maintains its vigor. So, know this: the world is waging a successful war against global poverty. In fact, global poverty has been more than halved in the past 20 years. With that information in mind, know too that the fight is far from won.

Take up arms and fight. There are numerous countries on the precipice of development, but just as many on the precipice of decline. Both require foreign aid brought about by empathy and hope.

Tanzania is one such country steadily pulling itself out of an impoverished past. Sixty-eight percent of the population survives on less than $1.25 a day. With newfound hope in the global fight, you may find yourself wondering how to help people in Tanzania. The outlets are endless

If you are concerned with the fundamental human right to healthcare, Dodomo Tanzania Health Development (DTHD) may be the perfect place for you to donate to. According to their website, DTHD’s mission is “to ensure high-quality, compassionate, Tanzanian-led health care for the people of Central Tanzania.”

Another important organization working in Tanzania is Feed the Children. One donation to Feed the Children can change a child’s life. The foundation can multiply your donation five times with the continued support of its corporate sponsors. The donation goes towards nutritious food, clean water, school and supplies and maybe even a goat for their family.

A third organization to which you may want to consider donating is Solar Sister, an organization which is helping to end “rural Africa’s energy poverty by empowering women to become clean energy entrepreneurs and bring light, hope and opportunity to their families and communities.”

There are many more answers to the question of how to help people in Tanzania. In fact, there are copious amounts of resources to help every country in need. It only takes a few active engagements with those in need to nourish a long-term, valuable empathetic bond. Perhaps just one person’s involvement with humanitarian aid could start an influential chain reaction.

Sophie Nunnally

Photo: Flickr

U.S. Must Reverse President Trump's Refugee BanIn the continuing fight for the rights of refugees, The Borgen Project is committed to working to reverse President Trump’s refugee ban. The executive order signed on Friday afternoon barred all refugees from entering the U.S. for 120 days, barred nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days, and put a permanent ban on Syrian refugees.

President Trump’s refugee ban came as a surprise to diplomatic and airport staff in the U.S. and overseas, and many scrambled to respond with various interpretations. The executive order has caused protests and lawsuits and has drawn condemnation from dozens of diplomats and former President Barack Obama.

The current refugee crisis is unprecedented. The number of people displaced by conflict in 2016 was the highest since the end of the Second World War, at almost 60 million. Only joint solutions will credibly and effectively lessen the increasing suffering and social and political turmoil.

Therefore, labeling refugees fleeing conflict zones like Syria and other countries as terrorists has only made matters worse for these vulnerable individuals. A refugee is a person seeking shelter, a life of dignity, freedom and safety for themselves and their families. There is no excuse for treating other human beings who have come to the U.S. seeking these things with hostility, suspicion and intolerance.

About 30,000 Syrians have been evacuated from Aleppo, and 100,000 more are still fleeing violence in the area. Children continue to be massacred every day while the U.S., under this executive ban, is slamming its doors.

For all of the world’s refugees, do not look away. You can help change lives, not just for people in Syria, but for those in more than 90 countries who are fighting to overcome hunger, poverty and violence.

It is un-American to turn away those seeking safety and to discriminate against groups of people because of nationality and religion. Let us stand with refugees and not against them, in their hour of need. Remember that every refugee is someone’s mother, father, son, daughter, sister, brother or newborn baby.

You can call Congress and take action on this serious issue. Please stand with leaders from both parties to reverse President Trump’s refugee ban and welcome those in need of our help.

 

Photo: Geoff Livingston via photopin (license).

Rwandan Genocide

The Borgen Project sat down with Brian Endless, a political science professor at Loyola University Chicago and an academic expert on the Rwandan genocide. Since 2007, Endless worked closely with Paul Rusesabagina, the inspiration for the film “Hotel Rwanda,” to raise awareness about misconceptions surrounding the 1994 Rwandan genocide.


How and why did you initially become interested in the Rwandan genocide?

“[My interest] started around the time I started grad school. I had always focused on the Security Council, and I had a lot of experience with it. I was immersed in the genocide from the beginning from an international perspective. I knew what was happening and saw it as a huge failure of the U.N. I saw everything from the perspective of the outside world.

I didn’t really know how little I knew about Rwanda until 2007, when I met Paul Rusesabagina, who had become an international spokesperson for Rwanda. I had no idea about the history of the civil war and internal conflicts that led up to the genocide. From 2007 on, I went on a pretty steep learning curve, picking up everything that I could about what was happening inside of Rwanda.”

Can you summarize your experience learning about and advocating for awareness of the genocide after 2007?

“From extensive talks with Paul and members of the Rwandan expatriate community, I learned that while the international public saw the situation as Hutus killing Tutsis, what was actually happening was the latest in a series of civil wars. I was surprised by the fact that an enormous number of Hutus died during the genocide, and that a Tutsi dictatorship had replaced a Hutu dictatorship, and that a small percentage of Tutsis was ruling and committing substantial human rights violations.

I did an enormous amount of academic reading and I followed a lot of court cases as things came into the public press. I started actively working with Paul and writing speeches for him and things to be published and publicly disseminated. The Hotel Rwanda Paul Rusesabagina Foundation was first campaigning to inform the public that there were still problems. The situation was really just, ‘meet the new boss, same as the old boss’ with a population that was being discriminated against. Rwanda was also a very friendly government to the United States, so it was difficult getting information out and advocating for truth and reconciliation in Rwanda.”

What were the biggest driving factors behind the genocide?

“It’s a story that dates back to pre-colonial times. By 1990, a Hutu government was in charge but didn’t have enormous control over the country. Tutsi groups in Uganda started a civil war to take back the country. Tutsis were largely winning the war in 1993, and there was a peace plan. By early 1994, the peace plan was breaking down. Hutu extremists started to bring out negative views against the Tutsis. In part, it was a plan to try to stop the Tutsi invasion by encouraging Hutus to demonize Tutsis. They focused especially on internally-displaced youth who were pushed out of their homes as the Tutsis invaded.

That’s effectively where the genocide started. The genocide officially started when the plane carrying the president of Rwanda and the president of Burundi was shot down in early April 1994. That triggered the genocide, and Hutu Power radio began to say, ‘It’s time to chop down the tall weeds,’ which was code to kill the Tutsis.”

How did the international community fail to become involved in the Rwandan genocide?

“We had just come out of Somalia, where 18 U.S. army rangers had been killed. The Clinton Administration used this as an excuse to pull us out. What happened was the U.S. public became more against using forces in places they didn’t understand or that weren’t strategic. Rwanda was a place where nobody had close ties. There were really no great natural resources, thus we let it happen and let it go on. People in the U.S. and in Europe didn’t realize it until we saw it on CNN, and our politicians had no interest in getting us involved in another war that could end up like Somalia.”

What do you think should have been done?

“Really the question is: If we’re going to say ‘never again’ after a genocide, we have to decide if we mean it or not. So far, we haven’t meant it. We’re not willing to put resources on the ground even when we know what’s happening, and in the case of Rwanda, we absolutely knew that genocide was happening.”

What do you think can be done to prevent future genocides around the globe?

“I think in the future, a piece of it is: how can we make the American people more interested and more knowledgeable about what happens in other parts of the world? If the press chose to highlight these things, they would become more important. Advocacy groups need to convince both press and politicians that these are issues of interest to Americans. People need to understand that we have some culpability because we have our fingers pretty much everyplace in the world. People too often think, ‘Oh, that’s not our problem,’ or, ‘Oh, they should solve their own problems.’ A big piece of our own problem is that we don’t look at things from a humanitarian perspective.”

Endless continues to advocate for the elimination of genocide by working with Paul Rusesabagina’s foundation and teaching classes at Loyola University Chicago. Endless’ insights into the Rwandan genocide offer a path to an international community that can genuinely say “never again” to genocide.

Peyton Jacobsen

Photo: Flickr

Education in Niger
With a stable democracy and no civil war, it would seem that Niger is ripe for progress compared to many other African nations. Yet Niger struggles with extreme poverty and ranks last on the U.N.’s Education Development Index. In 2003, the government instated a ten-year plan for education reform, but little progress in both quality of and access to education in Niger was made.

Niger’s history as an independent republic is very brief and rather bleak. According to the BBC, after gaining independence from France in 1960, Niger faced political instability, drought and widespread poverty. Slavery was only just outlawed in 2003 but remains a problem to this day.

Fortunately, in a peaceful 2010 election, Mahamadou Issoufou became president of Niger and since then the nation has been relatively stable politically. However, the nation remains one of the “poorest peaceful [countries] in the world.

Limited access to education in Niger is a significant contributor to widespread and ongoing poverty in the nation. According to the U.N., average expected years of schooling in Niger is 5.4, compared to 16.9 in the U.S.

Niger’s adult literacy rate is a staggering 15.5 percent and only 5.2 percent of the population have at least some secondary education. These figures, among others, cause Niger’s education system to rank 187/187 nations ranked in the 2013 U.N. Human Development Report.

2013 also marked the ten year anniversary of the plan for education reform; in the same year, USAID became involved in the effort to increase access to education in Niger.

A 2007 evaluation of the PDDE (from the French “Programme Décennal pour le Développement de l’Éducation”), revealed that Niger’s education system had improved quantitatively, but not qualitatively. That is to say, access to education improved — access to primary education increased nationally from 51 percent to 65 percent — but quality remained sub-par.

USAID aims to increase access to quality education in Niger. Higher quality education in Niger would mean a safer and more welcoming environment for female students, which currently have a 44 percent enrollment rate after sixth grade, increased parental involvement, and strengthened community links to education.

According to their website, the objectives of USAID are “to increase access to quality education in schools through an improved physical and social environment; and to increase early grade reading achievement by promoting a culture of reading.”

USAID calls their program “Niger Education and Community Strengthening.” By addressing the low education rates through the lens of community, USAID will have a sense of the cultural aspects that contribute to Niger’s struggling education system.

Working with the community as well as the Millennium Challenge Corporation will fortify USAID efforts to decrease the 18 percent gender gap in education and increase the 5.2 percent education rate.

Sabrina Yates

Photo: USAID

How to find jobs in advocacy

Are you a recent college graduate looking for your first full-time position? An experienced professional looking to make a difference? Or perhaps a high school student wanting to buff up your resume? Well, understanding how to find jobs in advocacy may prove beneficial for you.

Advocacy is the action of generating public support for or recommending a particular cause or policy. One of the ways in which The Borgen Project makes a difference is through advocacy.

By teaching citizens skills on how to communicate with their government, The Borgen Project is able to both generate support for and recommend making global poverty a higher priority for U.S. foreign policy.

Here are five ways on how to find jobs in advocacy so you can begin a fulfilling, challenging career of improving people’s lives:

  1. Find your passion.
    Is there a cause you really believe in? Is there a problem you would like to address? Is there a topic you could talk about for hours and hours?Most employers, whether it’s listed in your cover letter or spoken about in an interview, want to know what motivates you to join their team. They want to know your passion because a passion-less person doesn’t make a good advocate, now does it? Don’t think too hard about it, though.

    While some peoples’ passion may be something specific, like woodcutting or kite flying, yours could be a broader goal such as helping other people.

  2. Reach out to local non-profit organizations.
    There is a very high chance that your community has at least one non-profit organization operating within it. While that non-profit organization may not be directly linked to advocacy, the people volunteering or working there may be able to direct you to other non-profit organizations more advocacy-geared. And if there is a link to advocacy, then you’re in luck.
  3. Search for jobs.
    In this day and age, the internet is your friend and the perfect place to start your advocacy search. You can look at popular websites like idealist.org, indeed.com or thenonprofittimes.com to find the perfect advocacy position for you. Most advocacy positions will be posted by non-profits organizations, local governments and lobbying firms.
  4. Volunteer.
    If you’re not having any luck landing a paid position, consider volunteering. It will not only beef up your resume, but it also has the potential to lead to a paid position in the place you are volunteering.In your volunteer position, your supervisors can get to know you, see how motivated you are to the cause and perhaps find a more permanent fit for you on their team. Building these connections can lead to positions you never even thought possible!

    Additionally, most non-profit organizations operate under a very tight budget so the majority of advocacy positions may be volunteer anyways. Take The Borgen Project for example–we have only 2 full-time and 4 part-time employees but have around 300 volunteers.

  5. Utilize your networks.
    A recent survey revealed that 85 percent of all jobs are filled through networking. LinkedIn is a great resource that connects you a network of over 400 million people.You can also utilize alumni networks, family and friend networks, and networks found through volunteering or reaching out to organizations. It is also important to keep in mind that networking is not always about meeting as many people as possible, but it is also about meeting a few well-connected people who can vouch for your ability and credibility.

    In the future, these types of connections can refer you to other well-connected people.

While this list is not exhaustive, hopefully, these tips on how to find jobs in advocacy will benefit you in your search.

Alexis Pierce

Photo: Youth Advocacy Programs, Inc.