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innovations in poverty eradication in ugandaWhen it comes to the fight against poverty, innovation is just as important as in any other field. Coming up with creative, sustainable solutions for such a massive problem is critical in any nation. However, it is more important in developing countries, where funds allocated for poverty reduction are often limited. By thinking outside the box, governments, private sector organizations and NGOs can effectively accomplish poverty reduction efforts across many sectors. Here are just a few innovations in poverty eradication in Uganda.

The Private Sector

In fact, the private sector is often where innovation originates and forward-thinking people thrive. Normally, many people think of poverty reduction as a job for governments and NGOs. However, by involving private corporations, the fight against poverty can work outside the bureaucracy that often impedes the work of governmental agencies.

Additionally, there is a large incentive for private businesses to get involved with poverty reduction. The world’s poor represents a largely untapped market of consumers. By lifting them out of poverty, businesses will create a larger client base and ultimately more profit. Today, 4 billion people are living on less than $8 a day. This segment of the population provides opportunities for expanded market development and human capital. Indeed, there is no shortage of entrepreneurs looking to work with this demographic.

Innovations in Poverty Eradication in Uganda

The private sector is where many innovations in poverty eradication in Uganda emerge. One particular business-focused innovation that has taken hold in Uganda is microfinancing. Microfinancing practices give small loans to fledgling entrepreneurs. Recipients use the loans to grow their businesses, create jobs and positively impact their communities. This opportunity for those traditionally excluded from the banking system to obtain credit has done lots of good, particularly in Uganda.

For example, The Hunger Project is taking its microfinancing efforts one step further. Not only is it promoting economic self-reliance, but it is ensuring the inclusion of women. Women even lead its microfinancing program, giving them an influential voice in their communities. Thus, microfinancing is one among many innovations in poverty eradication in Uganda.

Empowering Women

Another success story is the Women’s Microfinance Initiative (WMI). WMI’s mission is “to establish village-level loan hubs. Local women administrate the loan hubs to provide capital, training and support services for women in East Africa. This is to help them engage in income-producing activities.” Since 2008, WMI has issued over $7.2 million in loans to more than 17,500 women in East Africa. The organization estimates that each loan provides a positive economic outcome for at least 20 people. Overall, this means that this program has reached over 350,000 individuals in the past 12 years.

The anecdotal evidence above as well as the available data show that microfinancing initiatives are effective innovations in poverty eradication in Uganda. According to the World Bank, the percentage of those living below the poverty line in Uganda decreased by 11.4% from 2006 to 2013. The organization credits much of this progress to agricultural innovations, many of which use microfinancing. This goes to show that often, innovation and progress happen from the bottom up.

Moving Forward

However, if this progress is to continue, innovators looking to further innovations in poverty eradication in Uganda need to focus on malnutrition, education, sanitation and electricity. Without access to these services, innovation efforts will fall short. Therefore, a potential approach to poverty reduction in Uganda would be a blend of governmental, NGO and private sector efforts. Long-term, inclusive and sustainable solutions can go a long way toward reducing poverty in Uganda and elsewhere.

Addison Collins
 Photo: Flickr

Hunger in MexicoMexico struggles with multiple food-related health issues that range from malnutrition to obesity. Many families do not have access to the proper nutrients that their bodies need. However, this is not because of a lack of resources but rather because they cannot afford the food that is available. Approximately 7% of Mexico’s population survives on less than $2 a day, making it difficult to afford nutritious food. This makes hunger in Mexico a huge problem for the country since many simply cannot afford to meet their basic needs.

National Crusade Against Hunger

In January 2013, President Peña Nieto created the National Crusade Against Hunger (CNCH). President Nieto designed the program to not only fight poverty and hunger in Mexico but completely eradicate it. He centered the program around five main objectives. The five objectives were to achieve zero hunger through adequate food provisions, improve child nutrition rates, increase monetary income and food production for rural farmers, minimize food loss during transportation and promote internal community awareness. The CNCH allowed Mexicans in local communities to choose what objectives they wanted to focus on. The hope was for the program to address the diverse needs of varying regions.

The Struggle Remains

Unfortunately, Mexico continues to struggle with poverty and hunger. Of the 126 million inhabitants, over 20 million Mexican citizens still do not have access to food. Two years after the CNCH began, Mexico’s National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy observed that CNCH made no substantial progress towards the five listed goals. Additionally, the Federal Auditor’s Office found that the program only covered approximately 60% of the population. Moreover, those that the program did cover failed to report adequate data on the aid received. After advising that the program be shut down in 2018, the Federal Auditor’s Office labeled CNCH a failure.

Other Solutions

What has been done to improve poverty rates and hunger in Mexico since then? The Hunger Project (THP) has been a long-time supporter of the cause, having worked with the people of Mexico for over 30 years. By providing training, education and monetary support, THP aims to teach communities how to take care of themselves long-term.

In addition, food banks in the Mexican cities of Monterrey and Torreon also received grants from The Global FoodBanking Network in 2017. With this money, the Monterrey Food Bank was able to afford new equipment to store, process and sort fresh produce. Similarly, the Torreon Food Bank was able to purchase a large refrigerated truck, allowing for the transportation and protection of perishable food. Both food banks have since partnered with several companies and universities in order to help expand programs in order to assist more people.

The failure of a program such as CNCH can be disheartening. Even so, there are still many people and organizations that are actively working to make a difference. Hunger in Mexico is still a large problem but Mexico has immense potential to improve the situation. With the help of foreign aid, NGOs and a commitment from the Mexican government, hunger in Mexico can be alleviated.

Nicolette Schneiderman
Photo: Flickr

Ghana, a small country located in West Africa, has dealt with tremendous economic struggles since the 1990s. Positive strides are being made to alleviate the economic crisis and improve the situation today, specifically for people experiencing poverty in Ghana. For example, in recent years, Ghana has achieved astronomical progress toward alleviating the economic burdens on its citizens. In the last two decades, Ghana has lowered its poverty rate by more than 30%. Its GDP increased 8% by 2006, the highest it has ever been. Significant changes were made to facilitate this progress in Ghana. First, the nation diversified its economy to create more products and services in different sectors. This led to increased consumerism and employment amongst the residents, which allowed Ghana’s economy to flourish.

Ghana Still Faces Poverty Challenges

Although many improvements were made to foster a steady economy in Ghana, many of its citizens still face significant challenges. Similar to the United States, when Ghana adopted a consumerist culture it consequently increased the wealth disparity within many regions. This affected the Upper West and the Upper East Regions, where the poverty rate has either increased or remained static.

The disparities among poverty rates in Ghana are a direct effect of geographical locations and climate. The lack of infrastructure, such as roads, in the Northern Region of Ghana, makes it difficult to transport goods and products. Despite these disparities, many families in both the Upper West and Upper East Regions have found creative means of accumulating extra income, such as the production of Shea butter. Some businesses, like Star Shea, provide loans for women as a means of starting production and accommodating transportation costs. 

In fact, many women believe these loans were advantageous in pursuing more educational opportunities. For example, Mrs. Atorneygene, a local resident in Ghana, utilized the proceeds from her Shea butter production to provide educational tools for her granddaughter. Changes being made on a local level, such as the production of Shea butter,  have proved to be beneficial in providing opportunities to marginalized regions.

Big Changes for Ghana

Changes on a national scale have also been instrumental in Ghana’s progress toward poverty reduction. According to the United Nations, Ghana plans to enact a Development Fund for its northern regions, especially areas with limitations in technology and other resources. In contrast to past politicians, John Nabila, former President of the National House of Chiefs, reinstated $1 billion toward the Development Fund. The government plans on prioritizing funds toward infrastructure and communications in order to unify Ghana and limit the economic disparities between these regions.

In addition, external organizations, such as The Hunger Project, are working toward alleviating poverty in Ghana. Since 1995, The Hunger Project has aided over 300,000 people by focusing on improving infrastructure, education reform and sanitation. The project focuses on building community centers, or “epicenters”, in order to collectively unify communities within Ghana and provide resources, such as electricity and clean water. As of now, over 40 epicenters receive clean water and sanitation, and almost all of them have health committees and clinics.

Even with the problems that Ghana has faced in the past, the nation has reached tremendous milestones and has made effective improvements within the last decade. With the help of the government, The Hunger Project and people in the community, Ghana has been able to make positive changes relating to its economy and wealth disparities. Now, a precedent has been set by Ghana regarding the instrumental changes needed to alleviate poverty.

– Aishwarya Thiyagarajan
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in BeninHunger in Benin affects thousands of people across the country. According to the World Food Programme, most of the Republic of Benin’s population of 11.2 million people live primarily in rural areas. Almost 10% of them struggle with food insecurity. However, Benin also exemplifies some of the successes that international organizations and state governments have had in collaborating with Benin’s leadership to create positive change. Two key players in Benin’s fight against hunger are the nonprofit The Hunger Project and USAID, the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Hunger in Benin specifically affects vulnerable groups like young children. The World Food Programme warns that chronic malnutrition is a major threat to Benin affecting the development of up to 32% percent of its children ages five and younger. Suffering from chronic malnutrition at this age can negatively affect children’s health later in life.

The Hunger Project in Benin

The Hunger Project has been working in Benin since 1997 and uses the ‘epicentre strategy’ to fight hunger. It works to organize around 138 villages (311,078 people) into 18 different epicenters for greater collective action. Using this strategy allows for villages in Benin to share resources and address hunger and food insecurity together. As a group, the villages learn and cultivate self-reliance.

The villages are able to capitalize on aid the Hunger Project provides initially and then, through developing community infrastructure, communities become self-reliant. This has proven successful in three epicenters already. Each epicenter focuses on four core phases for success: “Mobilization (I), Construction (II), Programme Implementation (III) and Transition to Self-reliance (IV).”

USAID’s Role in Helping Alleviate Hunger

The United States coordinates its international aid efforts through organizations like USAID. Specifically in Benin, USAID contributes to the “new alliance for food security and nutrition,” which organizes the G7 states with the Republic of Benin’s government to invest in the agricultural sector. The World Food Programme reported that agriculture makes up to 70% of the country’s employment. Furthermore, agriculture is responsible for 25% of Benin’s GDP. Increased investment will undoubtedly aid in hunger alleviation.

Additionally, USAID helps Benin fight off major food insecurity causes like pests in crops. One pest that USAID is addressing is the Fall Armyworm (FAW). FAW is particularly dangerous to African crops because it feeds on maize, a key food source for more than 300 million African families. Across the 12 main maize-producing countries in Africa, the Fall Armyworm can cause an annual loss of “between $3.6 and $6.2 billion.” That kind of loss can devastate farmers.

To combat FAW, USAID held a “Fall Armyworm Workshop” in Benin in 2018, bringing agricultural experts, plant protection experts and technical staff. The workshop was intended to educate farmers and other essential workers on how to locate, identify and exterminate the pests.

Looking Ahead

Hunger in Benin continues to be an obstacle for the country. Benin only scored a 51/100 on the 2019 Global Food Security Index. But with multilateral support from state governments and international organizations, Benin represents a model for successful collaborative efforts to address hunger and poverty collectively, as it has risen above the regional average score of 47.9/100 for food security.

Kiahna Stephens
Photo: Flickr

One Common Goal
Common Goal has 765 members who benefit 133 organizations with just a 1 percent pledge. All it takes to overcome the social challenges of the world is one common goal. Common Goal has a large team, larger than the 11 players that usually suit up to take on an opponent on the soccer field, but it takes all players sharing one common goal to tackle the social problems of the world.

The Cause

Common Goal’s campaign unites “the global football community in tackling the greatest social challenges of our time.” With one common goal, the world’s toughest opponents, like HIV/AIDS, gender discrimination and youth employment, must face a team of 765 individuals committed to a better tomorrow.

Two hundred and sixty-five million people play soccer, with 5 million more refereeing the game. Soccer is without a doubt the world’s most popular sport as nearly 4 percent of the global population is involved with the game to some degree.

Members of the Common Goal campaign donate 1 percent of their earnings to a central fund which then allocates the resources towards the advancement of the United Nations’ global goals.

Signature Names

Soccer superstars from around the world pledge their commitment to a common goal, acknowledging that individuals are only so powerful, but as a team, they can change the world. The United States’ Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe, Spain’s Juan Mata, Canada’s Christine Sinclair and Germany’s Mats Hummels are among those representing their countries with one common goal.

World leaders identified 17 goals that the world should achieve by 2030. With eliminating poverty at number one, the top five global goals include zero hunger, good health and well-being, quality education and gender equality.

Health and Hunger Crisis

Poverty and hunger are linked. The Hunger Project identifies hunger as a “dimension of extreme poverty” and “the most severe and critical manifestation of poverty.” While not every person living in poverty faces chronic hunger, nearly all facing chronic hunger live in poverty. Resources like The Hunger Project combat the hunger problem by increasing women’s economic support, boosting agricultural support efforts and creating self-reliant food banks.

Political, social and economic injustices are often the causes of poor health worldwide. Poor health sometimes entraps individuals in poverty in which poor health then traps communities in poverty. In turn, this negatively affects economic growth. Disease and infection often impact marginalized groups the most. The Global Goals’ action reduced childhood deaths by half over the past 15 years showing the world’s ability to win against every illness and disease. Worldwide good health is possible through healthy lifestyles and efficient health care.

Knowledge is Power

Education is one way to prevent the cycle of poverty. In some situations, people living in poverty often forgo education to work, and then the cycle continues. Educational programs, like those provided by ChildFund International, aim to provide programs by teaching literacy and numeracy skills to open a world of opportunity.

Across the world, women’s voices are often deterred in favor of their male counterparts. Young girls are the ones who miss out on educational opportunities because people see their worth as less. Girls and women’s human rights are at risk in poverty situations. Equality across all frames benefits not only females, but it could unlock the world’s potential. Gender Equality Programming aids women by ensuring equal access to decisions and humanitarian aid.

The Common Goal campaign looks to combat these social problems. A young soccer player from Chile cites soccer as a source of life. Chile faces a poverty rate of 18 percent. Common Goal and Wash United combated period poverty in India, a nation where people do not often talk about periods.

Through the reach of the soccer community, millions of people are united in the fight. In fact, the world’s social challenges have no chance against a team of 765 members.

Gwendolin Schemm
Photo: Flickr

Empowering African Women Farmers
More than 60 percent of Sub-Saharan African women work in the agricultural sector and contribute to nearly 80 percent of the food supply. However, they only own 15 percent of the land. These women are the backbone of their families’ and communities’ agricultural production. They are still facing tremendous hardships and barriers due to their gender that limits their rights and opportunities. Hence, supporting and empowering African women farmers is necessary for Africa to be able to reach its full potential.

The U.N. has estimated that if women have equal access to opportunities and resources, they can increase yields on their farms by 20-30 percent. This will raise the total national agricultural output by 2.5 to 4 percent. Below are a few initiatives that work towards empowering African women farmers.

Securing Land Ownerships

The majority of women in Sub-Saharan Africa have limited property rights. They are only able to access land through a male relative. This gender disparity in landownership leaves the women farmers vulnerable at the constant risks of displacement. Death of the husband or father and a simple change of the man’s mind can take away the means of the women. With such insecurity, long-term investments in enhancing the productivity of lands do not seem appealing or make much sense to African women farmers.

Ending gender discrimination in land ownership can empower women to earn more and contribute more to the economic growth and food security of the community. In Tanzania, women with strong property and inheritance rights can earn up to 3.8 times more income. Compared to men, improving landowners’ tenure security for women can have a much more positive impact. The World Bank reports that rights improvement can lead to women increasing investments in their lands by 19 percent.

Many countries have taken important steps to promote and protect women’s land rights when they realize the impact of women on the economy. The government of Ethiopia has mandated joint land registration between husband and wife, formally recognizing women’s rights to their farmlands. Such reforms have led to increased investments in their land.

Improving Access to Financial Services

Lack of access to credit and financial services is another major obstacle for African female farmers. Without sufficient finance, women farmers are unable to afford adequate inputs to advance their agricultural activities. Many different development agencies and NGOs designed and provided women-focused financial services and programs. Additionally, they want to improve their access to agricultural inputs.

The Hunger Project (THP) is a U.S.-based international NGO has created a micro-finance program that provides training. THP gave financial advice and credit to African women farmers. In addition, THP loaned about $2.9 million to women farmers in eight African countries. This helps increase the beneficiaries’ production levels.

Another micro-finance institution based in Mali, Soro Yiriwaso, supports women in boosting food security. More than 93 percent of the institution’s borrowers are women. Additionally, over two-thirds of the loan go into agriculture. The institution also gave agricultural loans to women members in 90 villages between 2010 and 2012. This enables farmers to have access to agricultural inputs and increased investments.

Empowering African Women Farmers

U.N. Women has recently launched a project funded by Standard Bank Group known as Contributing to the Economic Empowerment of Women in Africa Through Climate Smart Agriculture. The project seeks to close the gender gap in agricultural productivity and has a commitment to empowering African women farmers by increasing women’s access to markets.

Standard Bank commits around $3 million for the project, with Malawi receiving $450,000. Many expect that over 50,000 women in Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda and South Africa will benefit from this three-year-project.

Many have recognized agriculture as the sector most able to provide sustained economic growth and social inclusion in Africa. The agriculture and agribusiness combined have the potential to become a $1 trillion sector in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2030, with the likelihood of women continuing to be the backbone of the industry. Empowering African women farmers and closing the gender gap should be the focus and priority to help the African countries realize their full potential. In addition, this will effectively reduce poverty and attain sustainable economic growth.

– Minh-Ha La
Photo: Flickr

People who Fight Poverty
Poverty is a global issue that affects at least 80 percent of the world’s population. The number seems frightening and can intimidate any person who might want to help. Some come together to fight as a united front and tackle the worldwide issue due to the sheer magnitude of the dilemma. Either way, every solution starts with a single person and a single idea. Below describes the top five people who fight poverty today, who they are and what they do (or did) to combat poverty.

Top Five People Who Fight Poverty

  1. Suzanna Mayo Frindt Empowers Rural Communities
    She is the current President and Chief of Staff of The Hunger Project, a nonprofit organization which aids countries in South Asia, Latin America and Africa. The organization provides aid through the establishment of self-reliance within the community. The Hunger Project begins by encouraging women to take active roles within the locale by training them to obtain leadership positions. Then, it enforces self-reliance. It does this by having individuals mobilize their peers through local government to take action and improve the conditions of the area. Finally, The Hunger Project works closely with these governments to ensure it is aiding the people. This system helps bring entire communities out of poverty. As President, Frindt is in a powerful position to fight poverty. She earned her position through 25 years of experience in the field as she worked in impoverished areas, like Peru. Additionally, she co-founded the firm, 2130 Partners. The firm is another organization that dedicates itself to guidance and education. Though these are just a few of her accomplishments, these key points showcase why Frindt is one of the top five people who fight poverty.
  2. Ellen Gustafson Feeds the Hungry
    This woman is an entrepreneur, activist, author and speaker whose primary cause is to work to eliminate world hunger. She focuses on hunger of particularly impoverished areas where the problem is most prominent. Gustafson co-founded FEED Projects, a charity which provides food for people around the world. As of 2019, it has provided 60 million meals to schools around the world. She has also tackled the issue of obesity through educational activism. Overall, Ellen Gustafason’s goals may center around food, but her work has improved the lives of impoverished people in places where they often need help the most.
  3. Bono Advocates Against Poverty
    He is an American musician and frontman of the popular music group, U2. Bono’s infamy stems not only from his musical persona but also from his philanthropic efforts. The singer is the founder of ONE, an advocacy organization that works to raise awareness of poverty and fight against the issue. Similar to The Borgen Project, ONE addresses its cause through legislation and lobbying of governments. ONE focuses on reducing poverty in Africa’s poorest areas. It is just one of the few organizations Bono supports with a target against poverty. This fact showcases the musician’s dedication to both his art and beliefs.
  4. Anthony Lake Leads UNICEF in the Fight Against Poverty
    He has been the director of UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) since 2010. He earned his role through a longstanding career as a foreign policy advisor to various presidential candidates and officers of the United States. During the office of President Bill Clinton, Lake served as National Security Advisor. His political career prepared him well to undertake the leadership position of UNICEF, the organization responsible for a significant amount of the world’s humanitarian aid. Specifically, it focuses on the needs of children in over 190 countries. As Lake has taken directorship, his prominence in the fight against poverty has risen immensely.
  5. Bill Gates Shares His Financial Success with Developing Countries
    People primarily know Bill Gates as a technological innovator and a record-breaking billionaire. Through the creation of Microsoft, he has amassed substantial financial benefits. People also know Gates as an impressive philanthropist who gears his saving towards aid programs. Specifically, he has established the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a joint project between him and his wife. The program receives a significant amount of his donations. Since its establishment in 2000, the foundation has “spent more than $36 billion to fund work in global health, emergency relief, education, [and] poverty,” as reported by Business Insider. The organization is using some of that money to fight malaria and ebola outbreaks in developing countries.

From political professionals to celebrities, these five people who fight poverty show that stepping up for the world’s poor does not require a designated hero. Anyone, with the right drive and ambition, can make a change for the better. The list features only a few prominent people who fight poverty, though it does not have to end there.

– Eleanora Kamerow
Photo: Flickr

What is Hunger?
Every day, people around the world experience those familiar sensations of emptiness and rumbling pangs in their stomach, signaling that it is time to eat. At this point, most people would get something to eat and go on with their day. Sadly, many people in the world, especially those in developing countries, do not receive this luxury. They experience chronic hunger, which is undernourishment from not ingesting enough energy to lead a normal, active life. It is difficult to empathize with what hunger feels like, to live with a body longing for nourishment, weakened by a lack of energy and unable to fulfill its basic need for food.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, an estimated one in nine people, 821 million, live with chronic hunger. It also states that the number of people living with the condition has been on the rise since 2014, with a staggering 98 percent living in developing countries.

The Consequences of Hunger

Hunger brings along with it many problems other than an aching stomach. Prolonged lack of adequate nourishment results in malnutrition, which causes the stunting of growth and development in children and wasting syndrome. Wasting syndrome is a side effect of malnutrition, in which the victim’s fat and muscle tissues break down to provide the body with nourishment. The condition results in an emaciated body and in some cases, death. In fact, malnutrition links to around 45 percent of deaths among children under the age of five, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).  Fortunately, some have made progress. Since 2012, the number of stunted children in the world has decreased by nine percent from 165.2 million to 150.8 million, a significant improvement.

Hunger and Poverty

Poverty is the underlying determinant in who suffers from chronic hunger. Impoverished people are unable to consistently provide substantial amounts of food for themselves or their families, as they simply cannot afford to. This inability to provide nourishment creates a vicious cycle of hunger and poverty.

Undernourished people lack the energy required to perform basic tasks and therefore are less productive. Those who were malnourished as children develop stunted physical and intellectual abilities, which results in a reduction in the level of education achieved and the individual’s income, according to UNICEF.

What Can People Do?

People can break this vicious cycle and help people suffering from chronic hunger. Organizations such as The Hunger Project, the FAO and the Gates Foundation all have initiatives aimed at helping those in need get on their feet.

The Hunger Project works to empower those suffering from hunger with the tools they need to become self-reliant.  In Mbale, Uganda, the organization partnered with the local community to build a food bank where farmers are able to safely store grain, which has greatly increased their food security.

The FAO focuses on aiding governments and other organizations in implementing initiatives that aim to decrease hunger and malnourishment. A great example of this is Africa Sustainable Livestock 2050, in which the FOA helps countries such as Kenya and Ethiopia develop livestock infrastructure that will support the countries as their populations increase over the coming years.

Bill and Melinda Gates formed the Gates Foundation in 2000 with the main focus of providing internet to those who do not have access to it. Since then, the scope of the foundation’s mission has expanded to help the impoverished through global health and development initiatives. One of the foundation’s major initiatives is Seed Systems and Variety Improvement, which aims to improve seed breeding systems in Africa and India in an effort to make agriculture in those countries more sustainable.

With projects that aim to give impoverished people access to clean water, infrastructure, sustainable farming, disaster relief and education, these organizations have made significant strides.

Individuals can help eradicate chronic hunger by donating to charitable organizations or by contacting their government representatives, encouraging them to support bills and initiatives that aim to combat global hunger. Everyone can play a role and spread the word. There is a long road ahead, but with the tools available, chronic hunger can become a thing of the past.

– Shane Thoma
Photo: Flickr

John Coonrod Empowers Poor People
John Coonrod is the Executive Vice President of The Hunger Project — a non-profit organization that helps give poor people the means to lift themselves out of poverty. As part of this organization’s leadership, John Coonrod empowers poor people to lift themselves out of poverty by placing special emphasis on female farmers, who are among the poorest people in the world.

Origins

Coonrod has been advocating for social justice for a very long time. While he was training as a physicist at Stanford and the University of California-Berkeley, he was an active member of local civil rights and anti-war movements. When The Hunger Project was first founded in March of 1977, John Coonrod was its first volunteer and he continued to volunteer while he worked at Princeton University from 1978 to 1984.

In 1985, he became an official member of The Hunger Project’s staff. In addition to meeting his future wife while working at The Hunger Project, Coonrod used — and still uses — his expertise to help poor people in developing countries. To this day, John Coonrod empowers poor people to lift themselves out of poverty.

The Hunger Project

The Hunger Project is a non-profit organization that seeks to end poverty and world hunger by pioneering grassroots movements. While it believes that everyone should be free of poverty and hunger, they place a special focus on women and gender equality. The reason for this is that women are typically in charge of meeting a family’s needs, but are often denied the means and resources to do so by their society.

The Hunger Project currently works with organizations in 11 countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Senegal, Uganda, Bangladesh, India and Mexico. Between these countries, they have helped more than 85 organizations start 2,900 projects. In addition, they have chapters and investors in Australia, the U.S., Canada, Japan, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Peru, Switzerland and the U.K.

In all of the countries where they work, The Hunger Project seeks to empower women, mobilize communities and engage local governments. In India, for example, their main focus is on helping women get elected into local governments. The organization has done this in nearly 2,000 panchayants (clusters of villages) across 6 states, and the women they have helped now lead 9 million people.

In Africa, The Hunger Project helps turn clusters of villages into epicenters where up to 15,000 people can band together to help their communities thrive. These epicenters, in turn, create their own development programs, which reach more than 1.6 million people across the continent. In Bangladesh, local volunteers, especially women and children, are mobilized to reach 185 sustainable development goals in their communities, reaching 5 million people. Finally, in Mexico, community development focuses on indigenous women and children, helping to improve childhood and maternal nutrition; this admirable work reaches 21,000 people.

Partners A-Plenty

The Hunger Project has numerous partners in the countries where they work. One of these partners is Rotary International, a global organization in which 1.2 million people work in sustainable projects to improve life in general across the globe. This includes fighting diseases, providing water, supporting educations, saving mothers and children, growing local economies and promoting peace. The Hunger Project mainly works with Rotary International in Ethiopia, where Rotary International uses vocational training to teach doctors how to resuscitate newborns.

In India, SKL International is a major partner of The Hunger Project. SKL International is a Swedish organization that uses the model of Sweden’s extensive local governments as a baseline to help developing countries achieve democracy. Like The Hunger Project, SKL International’s main goal in India is getting local women elected.

In Mexico, The Hunger Project works with Water For Humans — a non-profit organization that uses sustainable technology to bring clean water to those who need it, especially in Mexico. The organization is currently working on helping indigenous people build eco-cookstoves which require less wood than traditional stoves, need only one fire to work in multiple burners at once, and keeps coffee warm every day — as is culturally preferred.

Local Empowerment

All in all, John Coonrod empowers poor people to lift themselves out of poverty by helping to create and promote local movements, especially women-centric movements, that promote community welfare and engage with local governments. By working with several partners in various countries around the world, John Coonrod and The Hunger Project make lives better for women and other people across the globe.

– Cassie Parvaz
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty Around the World
Half of the world’s children live in poverty and face the constant risk of conflict, discrimination and abuse. Here are five countries with the highest levels of child poverty around the world and the current state of these countries.

Five Countries With the Highest Levels of Child Poverty

  1. Romania – Roughly half of Romania’s children are at risk of poverty or social exclusion. Romania’s child poverty rate increased from 50 to 51 percent after Romania entered the European Union. Child labor in Romania is at one percent; although this is encouraging, it is still an issue in the case of child development. Along with a poor economy, healthcare in Romania is minimal for children. It is estimated that 12 percent of children in Romania die before the age of five.
  2. Israel – The child poverty rate in Israel showed a decrease from 2006 to 2015, but from 2015 to 2016 there was a slight rise in the poverty levels from 30 percent to 31.2 percent. The poverty levels for ultra-Orthodox families and single-parent families in Israel increased in 2016. One out of three children in Israel live in poor conditions and suffer from malnutrition. One cause to the poor state of children in Israel is due to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. This conflict has injured and killed many children in Israel, and Israeli school buses have been the target of many attacks.
  3. Turkey 17 percent of Turkey’s population lives in poverty, and the gap between rich and poor is becoming wider and wider. Babies born in Turkey are suffering as soon as they are born; 11 percent of babies are born with dietary deficiencies and 20 percent of children die before the age of five. Education in Turkey is progressing, but five percent of children still do not attend school. The majority of those children are girls.
  4. Bulgaria – Children under the age of 18 in Bulgaria have reached the highest risk of poverty and social exclusion. It is estimated that 52 percent of these children are at risk. Disabled people, ethnic minority groups and children are some of the most vulnerable groups in Bulgaria and are ill-equipped to be deprived of their basic rights of clean water, food and security.
  5. Mexico – The majority of the poor in Mexico are children. It is estimated that 53.8 percent of children in Mexico live in poverty. In addition, 14 percent of children in Mexico have suffered from slow development and are malnourished. Many of the problems regarding child poverty in Mexico can be linked to the lack of trust in the government and decreases in income; this often prohibits children from attending school, forcing them instead into the workforce to help provide for their family.

There are many ways to help the millions of children living in poverty around the world. Here are five ways that one person can change the future of child poverty.

Five Ways to Make an Impact on Child Poverty

  1. Contact your representatives in Congress – One of the easiest ways to make a difference is by simply sending an email or making a quick phone call to support bills that can greatly affect the lives of those suffering in extreme poverty. If support is shown for a bill, members of Congress are more likely to push the bill forward.
  2. Support The Hunger Project – The Hunger Project is a non-governmental organization that is fighting to end global hunger. The Hunger Project builds confidence in those who are suffering from social suppression and hunger and helps them find a voice to take charge of their own development. As an example, an outcome evaluation in Ghana and Malawi showed significant improvements in gender equality after The Hunger Project stepped in to help.
  3. Promote proper water quality – Women and girls spend roughly six hours a day going out and collecting water. This keeps young girls from educational opportunities and emphasizes the limited access to clean water for children in developing countries. Access to clean water can unlock significant potential for millions of children. Reduced time spent collecting water has shown an increase in school attendance for children.
  4. Empower Women – By empowering women, closing gender gaps and eliminating gender discrimination, the wellbeing and progress of children will increase. When girls are discriminated against, they are less likely to attend school. There is a correlation between educated women and child survival and development; a lack of proper education decreases the child survival rate. One study suggested that if men and women had the same influence in decision-making, it could allow 13.4 million fewer children in South Asia to be undernourished.
  5. Sponsor a child Sponsoring a child can provide the child with opportunities for success that they might never have. It also shows the child that there is someone who cares enough to encourage them and provide them with the basic necessities. When children know that they are supported, it pushes them to try their hardest and reach their full potential.

Children are the future, and each person around the world has the responsibility to help the future grow. It is important to be aware of child poverty around the world and take steps to reduce it.

– Victoria Fowler
Photo: Flickr