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The Marshall Plan
In 1947, Europe was still feeling World War II’s devastation. Rebuilding was not going as fast as necessary and people of every country were feeling the impacts. Economies had nearly come to a complete halt in most countries and there were up to 11 million refugees that needed to find jobs, homes and food. The United States was the only superpower in the world that could offer any assistance to the people of Europe because the war did not entirely influence its industries. The reason for the implementation of the Marshall Plan was to help people rebuild their homes and industries, as well as provide security and an economic boost to the U.S.

The Marshall Plan’s Origins

The Marshall Plan, formerly called the European Recovery Program, was an initiative proposed by the United States Secretary of State, George C. Marshall, in 1947. The plan aimed to accomplish several things. First, it was to provide aid to kickstart European countries whose economies the war destroyed. The second was to promote free trade that would not only benefit those countries but the United States as well. The third was to contain the spread of communism that was sweeping over Eastern Europe.

The Marshall plan gave aid to 15 countries; the United Kingdom, West Germany, Austria, France, the Netherlands, Iceland, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Denmark, Belgium, Sweden, Ireland, Portugal and Norway. President Harry Truman signed the plan into law on April 3, 1948; it brought aid to Europe in the form of machinery, fuel, food and money.

Aid for the Netherlands

World War II hit the Netherlands hard when the German forces occupied the country from 1940-1945. The war heavily damaged its infrastructure, agriculture and housing and they were in desperate need of repair. To rebuild its infrastructure, The Marshall Plan gave half a million dollars to the cement industry to repair roads, bridges and ports. The port in Rotterdam was particularly important because the country uses it to import goods. The Plan provided more funds to build housing for 9.5 million people living in the Netherlands. Fixing the agriculture of the Netherlands required the country to modernize its practices. It spent funds on new farming equipment and the treatment and repairing of the soil destroyed by years of fighting. In total, the Netherlands received $1.127 billion to rebuild its country.

Aid for Germany

Germany split in two shortly after World War II ended. The Soviet Union controlled East Germany while the United States and its allies controlled West Germany. West Germany received $1.4 billion in Marshall Plan aid although the war heavily impacted it. The whole of Germany had an aggressive bombing campaign to destroy its cities and invading armies from the west and east devastated the country’s communities. Twelve percent of the aid to West Germany went towards housing the nearly eight million refugees that had settled there after the war. These houses were necessary with a population of 67.9 million. Coal was another industry that was in desperate need; 40 percent of funding went towards this so that Germany could fuel its industries and factories. The funds from the Marshall Plan helped the German people find homes, jobs and food.

Aid for the UK

German bombings on British industrial sites had a terrible impact on the production of British goods, particularly on its southern cities. By 1948, the United Kingdom had mostly recovered from the war, but it needed to address more. While the U.K. was able to rebuild, the country was deep in debt and was having a challenging time feeding its people and keeping its industries going. Because of its 1948 population of 50 million people and its contribution to the war effort, the U.K. received the largest sum from the Marshall Plan, $3.2 billion. These funds provided the country with financial stability and allowed it to balance out its economy. While the aid did not go towards helping the U.K.’s economy, it benefited from the food and fuel brought in and the breathing room necessary to stabilize its country.

In total, the United States spent over $13 billion in aid for the 15 countries. These countries were able to provide food, fuel, housing and stability for their people during a devastating time thanks to the Marshall Plan. The average GDP of the nations that received aid increased from their prewar levels by 35 percent, and overall industrial production rose by 40 percent. The U.S. was also a beneficiary of the economic success of the European nations engaging in trade. In the decade following the end of the Marshall Plan in 1951, the GDP of the United States had nearly doubled. The Marshall Plan shows the benefits of providing foreign aid that can help not only those receiving but those giving as well.

– Sam Bostwick
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Poverty in Moldova

Moldova, a country located between Romania and Ukraine, was one of the richest countries in Europe while under the Soviet Union. By 1991, when Moldova claimed independence, its economic prowess dropped to an all-time low. This drastic change caused Moldova to become one of the poorest and least visited countries in Europe. Listed below are 10 facts about poverty in Moldova and the development of the country.

10 Facts About Poverty in Moldova

  1. Population: Moldova’s population is not accurate because of the many citizens that have left to go to neighboring countries, like Romania and Ukraine, in search of better jobs. Within the poorest areas of Moldova, it is very difficult for the people to find available jobs that will pay them more than $2 a day. In Chisinau, the capital of Moldova, the average salary after taxes is $237. This significant difference has caused around 300,000 to 800,00 people to look for work abroad. Officially the population is 4.4 million, but the number continues to decline.
  2. Shared Wells in Grozesti Cause Health Problems: Gathering clean water can be very difficult, especially for those living in Grozesti, a rural village in Moldova. There are only 12 shared wells within reach for 700 families, causing water to become scarce throughout the day. However, expert geologists proclaim that the water from these wells contains high levels of iron and fluoride, which can cause yellowing of the teeth. “Many locals suffer from stomach problems or kidney problems because of the mineral content…and there are also a lot of water-related diseases such as hepatitis.” Local doctors have also discovered that water consumption has led to untimely deaths.
  3. Inequality: The highest paying jobs in Moldova are in the country’s capital of Chisinau and the lowest pay is in the southern regions. There is also a gap in pay between men and women. Women are still receiving 12 percent less pay than men in careers dealing with “information and communication, industry, arts, leisure, and recreation sectors.” Income is not the only problem, though. Due to the small amount of access to wells in rural areas, “only 43 percent of the poor have access to clean water compared to the 90 percent located in town.” Those with disabilities are also at a disadvantage in rural communities because 70 percent of public areas do not have wheelchair accessibility. In May 2017, the OSCE Mission held lectures that informed others about the importance of gender equality and the economic life of the country, so that future generation would rise above the country’s current issues of inequality. About “900 students and teachers” attended and learned about what they could do to promote equality.
  4. Health Care Access: All the hospitals are mainly located in Chisinau, which means that many in rural areas must travel a long way to gain access to health care. In 1990, there were only 129 hospital beds and 40 doctors, and only 12 percent of the government’s budget went towards health care improvements. Today, “18 local hospitals and outpatient care in Chisinau” and “264 physicians per 100,00 people”, which is a lot more than two decades ago.
  5. Education: Although a vast majority of children attend school, many of those from rural areas find it more difficult to learn the basic principles of reading, mathematics and science. Due to the lack of skills among children, only 90 percent can attend primary school while only 85 percent attend lower secondary schools. Many organizations have donated towards the refurbishing of schools for children between the ages of three and six, which is an age group that Moldova has cared most about, but there are still children that do not have access to education. “Children with disabilities and those from Roma and rural communities are among the most disadvantaged.”
  6. Moldova Wine: Due to Moldova being one of the poorest countries in Europe, the economy relies heavily on agriculture, “featuring fruits, vegetables, wine, and tobacco.” Wine, however, is what the country is known for. One of the most famous wineries in the capital Chisinau is Cricova winery. Recently, Vladimir Putin traveled to Moldova just to get a taste of the wine for his birthday. “Almost 5 percent of the country’s territory is filled with vineyards…. Nowadays, Moldova exports over 90 percent of its wines, mostly to the European market.”
  7. Trans-Dniester River: Moldova formerly used Trans-Dniester river along the Dniester region for the trade of goods. However, when the region became aware of Moldova’s ties with Romania, it began the road to independence from Moldova in 1990. Moldova does not recognize this independence, however, due to the region’s land being directly in between the borders of Moldova and Ukraine. The Dniester region’s inability to gain full independence has led to continuous fights over the previously used route.
  8. Criminal Acts: In Moldova, there have been reports of organized crime groups that mainly originate from Trans-Dniester, the breakaway territory. Many of these crimes include “money laundering…and the smuggling of alcohol, tobacco, drugs, human beings, and illegal weapons…” The government attempted to implement ways to prevent organized crimes in 2005, but there was not much success in doing so. It has caused “the dearth of public education in Moldova concerning corruption, as well as the country’s prevalence of economic and social problems.”
  9. Sex Trafficking: As it becomes harder for one to acquire employment and obtain enough money for their families, many young women have become susceptible to sex trafficking. Women and young girls have been coerced into trafficking, being exploited in countries like Russia, Turkey, Italy, Cyprus and the United Arab Emirates. Between the years 2000 and 2005, records identified at least 1,760 victims in Moldova, but there may have been more due to many women not coming forward.
  10. Solutions: Moldova has grown as a country economically since 2009 when there was a global economic crisis. Among many of the problems that the country faces, however, is knowing how to compete with other countries that thrive on agriculture. The World Bank Group has made it its responsibility to ensure that Moldova has everything it needs to ensure that it continues to rise from poverty. “In 2006–12, roughly 500 matching grants provided to 479 firms for international quality certification and business development. Over US$ 22 million provided as a line of business credit to 60 enterprises.” The World Bank Group has also helped Moldova improve areas like agriculture, education, energy, social assistance, health, communities and public services.

The 10 facts about the poverty in Moldova listed above are not only informative about the country’s state of poverty, but also how it continues to look towards a better future. With the World Bank and other organizations, the country should continue to rise economically and further out of poverty.

– Emilia Rivera
Photo: Flickr