gendered poverty
Statistics prove that poverty affects women more than men as women make up the majority of the world’s poor. The social structures and barriers in many, if not all, countries are the reasons for this accelerated rate of poverty among women. These barriers include gender wage gaps, the lack of access to decent working conditions and opportunities, the amount of unpaid work women do in their communities and households and the fact that their workdays are longer. Many organizations recognize these issues and are taking a stand against gendered poverty by empowering women.

The Importance of Empowering Women

It is important to include everyone’s needs in the fight against poverty. However, because poverty impacts women at an exacerbated rate, their empowerment and advancement in society create statistically higher rates of economic growth in countries where women are a priority. Across developing nations, women make up 40% of all farmers, yet they own as little as 1% of the land. When the narrative changes and women can own just as much land as men, crop yields have the potential to grow up to 10%.

Similarly, women and girls attend school at a much lower rate than men and boys. With just 10% more girls attending school, a nation can see its GDP expanding by about 3%. When women secure an economic opportunity that brings in an income, they tend to reinvest their earnings into their families and community. This means higher education rates, lower hunger rates, healthier family models (fewer child mortality, fewer unwanted pregnancies) and increased local economic growth.

U.N. Women Fights Gendered Poverty

The United Nations is currently making great progress by spearheading and promoting many projects around the world that focus on women first to eradicate poverty. U.N. Women recognizes that zero poverty is not achievable without dissolving gender inequality and placing women at the center of development efforts.

U.N. Women initiatives have benefited more than 100,000 impoverished and disadvantaged women in 29 districts in India. As the result of one particular project, “more than 30,000 marginalized rural women now manage worksites and are able to ensure wages are paid and demand their rights under pension, social protection and livelihood programs,” the U.N. Women website says.

Chars Livelihoods Program (CLP)

The chars of Northwestern Bangladesh, or riverine islands, are susceptible to destruction through flooding and erosion. Many people living on these chars suffer from poverty and are vulnerable to losses of assets and livelihoods due to floods and erosion.

One program that put women at the center of its efforts is the Chars Livelihood Program (CLP), which ran in various phases from 2004 to 2016 through funding from the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID). The program sought to help families rise out of poverty by giving women of households living in poverty investment capital, intellectual resources and economic courses and by educating communities on gender discrimination. These actions led to women investing in long-term, sustainable income-generating opportunities and familial betterment and saw women becoming more participatory in the community and taking control of their independence.

The first phase of the CLP (CLP-1) operated between 2004 and 2010 on the chars of the Jamuna River. CLP-1 aimed to assist 55,000 of the most impoverished families and is estimated to have positively benefited more than 900,000 individuals.

Moving Forward

When countries find solutions to address gendered poverty, leaders can then start to eradicate poverty at the source. By giving women economic opportunity, social space and personal autonomy and empowerment, countries open up the globe’s playing field to a marginalized group that plays a significant role in global economic growth.

– Alexandra Curry
Photo: Flickr

Sri Lanka's Debt Crisis
Sri Lanka’s debt crisis has become the latest point of geopolitical contention. The country experienced extreme economic hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving it unable to pay billions of dollars worth of debt to private and government creditors. Following an unprecedented defaulting of its debts and a political crisis that saw the president resign and the prime minister’s office raided, Sri Lanka stands on the precipice of an economic and humanitarian catastrophe. With the United States, Russia, India and China all weighing in, the world’s monetary eyes have turned toward the struggling island nation.

A Closer Look at Sri Lanka’s Collapse

Sri Lanka’s debt ballooned over the last few years due to domestic crises and an unfavorable economic situation. Relying primarily on exports to feed an ever-growing deficit, the country’s situation took a turn for the worse when pandemic supply shocks and tourism dried up foreign revenue, causing blackouts along with food and energy shortages. Unsurprisingly, political turmoil quickly followed suit, ending with the ousting of President Rajapaksa and the ascension of Wickremesinghe to office. Now, Sri Lanka has nearly no foreign reserves and a 119% debt-to-GDP ratio.

If the macroeconomic situation seems dire, it pales in comparison to the suffering of Sri Lanka’s poorest citizens. Between 2021 and 2022, poverty rates increased by half to 25.6%, pushing 2.7 million more people into the grips of poverty. Additionally, inflation in Sri Lanka hit a record high of 73.7% in October 2022. With the world’s economy expected to shrink over the next year, Sri Lanka’s predicament threatens to worsen as its crisis deepens.

Sri Lanka’s Creditors

Underlying these pressures are private and public groups using Sri Lanka as a pawn on the international stage. China accounted for close to 10% of Sri Lanka’s debt by April 2021 but refuses to negotiate the amount owed, insisting on “a two-year moratorium” instead. India, China’s competition in the region, offered Sri Lanka an emergency $4.4 billion in credit, attempting to woo the island nation away from its traditional source of funding. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says it will only consider a relief package if Sri Lanka can come to an agreement with its main creditors.

In addition, private banks have played hardball with Sri Lanka, exacerbating the current crisis. These organizations collectively hold half of Sri Lanka’s debt, lending to the island nation at an exorbitantly high-interest rate. Renowned economists, such as Thomas Piketty, note that many of these companies knew Sri Lanka would be unable to repay its debt but chose to offer it loans regardless. His conclusion is that risky lending must bear the consequences.

Debt Assistance

Although some economists like Piketty champion cancellations of Sri Lanka’s debt, a more moderate solution does seem plausible. The IMF showed more openness to an emergency loan as talks with China and India continued. Provided Sri Lanka passes austerity and anti-corruption measures, the IMF said in September 2022 that it would be willing to give $2.9 billion in funding. Vitally, this aid would allow the country to purchase much-needed medical equipment and food. Private creditors also demonstrated a willingness to restructure Sri Lanka’s debt, pending approval from President Wickremesinghe.

Domestically, Sri Lanka’s president stressed the importance of weathering the economic storm. Urging his fellow countrymen forward, President Wickremesinghe stated that as pay raises for civil servants come into effect “the public would become prosperous, with income sources increasing. The interest rate can be reduced. In another three years, present incomes can be increased by 75%.” Indeed, inflation will likely decrease from 45% in 2022 to 23% in 2023 and only 8% in 2024.

Foreign Aid to Help During Sri Lanka’s Debt Crisis

Amid Sri Lanka’s debt crisis, it is important not to lose sight of those most affected by the country’s economic woes: its people. Given the dire condition of food, fuel and supplies, immediate aid provides the most tangible form of assistance. In June 2022, USAID announced almost $6 million worth of humanitarian aid to Sri Lanka on top of assistance worth close to $12 million a month prior. The funding will “provide cash assistance, short-term jobs, and agriculture supplies such as seeds directly to crisis-affected people to meet their basic needs,” the USAID website says.

Meanwhile, the United Nations raised $79 million to relieve food and medicine shortages in Sri Lanka. Through its Humanitarian Needs and Priorities Plan, the U.N. aims to help about 3.4 million Sri Lankans in need of aid.

With increased aid and pressure from the international community to resolve the crisis, a resolution to the crisis appears, if not imminent, at least plausible. Although this provides scarce comfort to the 6.3 million Sri Lankans that food insecurity has affected as of September 2022, it is an important step in the right direction while humanitarian organizations address the needs of struggling people on the ground.

– Samuel Bowles
Photo: Pixabay

Digital Technologies
Impoverished children have long been the target of anti-poverty efforts. In addition to being one of the groups most vulnerable to the effects of penury, ensuring children have opportunities to grow economically and socially is vital in the long-term fight against global poverty, considering they will form coming generations. This aspect has become more important than ever; due to factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic, child poverty has seen a substantial increase in many parts of the world, and the fight against child poverty as a whole has experienced complications. Thankfully, focusing on digital technologies can yield multiple solutions to many of the issues bound up in child poverty.

Understanding Child Poverty

Today, 1 billion children are in multidimensional poverty (with about 356 million of those children being in extreme poverty), which means they lack access to various necessities ranging from clean water and food to a proper education. In recent years this number has unfortunately increased, with the COVID-19 pandemic pushing another 100 million children into poverty.

The effects of child poverty can be devastating, both short and long-term. About 3.1 million children die each year (or 8,500 children a day) from a lack of proper nutrition. For many other children, not having adequate nutrition or clean food can lead to several issues such as stunted growth. In the long term, if these impoverished children are unable to get a proper education, that will stymie opportunities for them to climb the economic and social ladders and raise themselves out of poverty. For these issues and many more, child poverty is a vital facet to focus on when fighting against world impoverishment.

Technological Solutions

Thankfully, digital technology has emerged as one avenue to fight child poverty. For example, one huge way digital technologies are improving the lives of impoverished children is by providing greater access to education. As technologies like computers and cellular connectivity continue to gain a greater foothold in the world’s poorest regions, they provide opportunities for children to have complete, safe and efficacious access to sources of education. Studies that the United Nations and agencies like UNICEF have backed this up by showing that using digital technologies to educate poor children can not only help them get into the educational system but help them catch up on time they lost in the classroom during events such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Digital technology can also help fight child poverty in ways many may have never considered. For example, the introduction of new technologies into poor regions can help improve their Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) systems, programs that various national governments use to record data such as birth date, place and other vital information about individuals. These systems do not have records of many of the world’s poorest children, which means these children cannot access things that their governments provide such as social, health and education services. Streamlining digital technologies that allow for poor children to be registered in these systems, will ensure they have the full support and protection of rights from the government necessary to thrive and survive.

Looking Forward

Child poverty remains a top issue in the fight against global poverty. Thankfully, several of the issues rooted in this fight are possible to combat through the promotion of the innovative use of digital technology in the world’s poorest regions. As more research continues into how digital technologies can help end child poverty, progress will continue.

– Elijah Beglyakov
Photo: Flickr

Women in the Chivi District
Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in Southeast Africa. It is a member of the United Nations, the Southern African Development Community and the African Union. Many know it for its gold and agriculture-based economy as well as its status of being a tourist destination. The Chivi district, specifically, is a district located in the Masvingo province of Zimbabwe. This district is known for being quite arid and prone to drought. Natural disasters and changing weather patterns have exacerbated the arid climate and drought in the region.

While changing weather patterns and environmental disasters have been negatively affecting the area, women have been working to combat the more unfavorable effects, such as poverty. A 2012 study on the Chivi District shows that around 33.8% of people in the district suffer from chronic malnutrition. Malnutrition is one of the effects of extreme poverty that women in the district are aiming to combat. This article will focus on the role of women in the Chivi district in battling the effects of poverty and the challenges they face in their mission.

The Role of Women in Rural Economies

Overall, women play an important role in developing countries. A study by Hilda Jaka and Elvin Shava has explained that in more rural countries, such as Zimbabwe, women contribute greatly to the reduction of poverty. They help reduce poverty by making important improvements to rural economies. These improvements often come in the form of livelihoods as farm laborers or wage laborers. They also manage and operate complex households and families. Depending on the region, rural women often work in different sectors of agriculture. In the case of the Chivi district, women uphold the economy through their work in irrigation and pottery.

The Role of Women in Chivi

With a population of 90,170 women and 75,879 men in the district, women make up a larger portion of the population in Chivi. Women in this region often spend the majority of their time working on unpaid chores that are necessary for survival. During cropping season in Chivi, women often tend to contribute by working in irrigation. During the agricultural off-season times, many of the women in Chivi are focused on tasks such as pottery, crocheting, sewing and beer-brewing as means to earn extra income for their families. The work of women in this region contributes greatly to the overall economy as they play key roles in society by providing for their families and communities.

Challenges That Women in Chivi are Facing

Although women play an elemental role in the region’s economy, there are still a number of challenges that they face. One of the main challenges women face in this region is the lack of access to competitive markets. The local Chivi government does not provide ready markets, so women often have to travel to other areas in order to sell their goods (pottery, cloth, etc.). There is no direct transport to these areas so women oftentimes have to walk many miles each day. Changing climate patterns is another problem that women in the area are facing. Environmental disasters, in general, have made it harder for agriculture, which is one of the main means of livelihood for women in the region. These cause high temperatures that negatively impact crop production. Women in Chivi are also not very educated about this matter and have no tools to mitigate it.


Women play a large part in the Chivi district and its economy. Whether working as a laborer in agriculture or making pottery and other sellable goods, women are doing something to help their local economy year-round. While they do face challenges such as a lack of education about changing climate patterns and limited access to competitive markets, they still manage to contribute greatly to society. Their contributions to society not only aid their community and family but also helps in reducing global poverty.

– Timothy Ginter
Photo: Flickr

Indigenous Communities in Latin America
Data from 2014 shows that there are 58.2 million Indigenous people and 826 different ethnic groups in Latin America. Due to marginalization and discrimination, the current challenges for Indigenous communities in Latin America include a lack of access to quality education, inadequate access to health care services, low internet access and land appropriation.

Challenges for Indigenous Communities in Latin America

  • Health. Life expectancy among Indigenous peoples is up to 20 years lower than non-Indigenous people, according to the United Nations, due to disease outbreaks. A lack of access to treatment and quality health care due to poverty and marginalization also plays a significant role. In particular, “Indigenous peoples experience disproportionately high levels of maternal and infant mortality, malnutrition, cardiovascular illnesses, HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis,” the U.N. reports. In fact, more than half of Indigenous adults suffer from type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, maternal mortality is a very concerning issue that affects mothers and newborns because of low access to hospitals and the lack of available doctors/trained professionals. In Guatemala, for example, in 2008, skilled professionals attended only about 30% of the births involving Indigenous women.
  • Education. Education is a proven pathway out of oppression, marginalization and poverty. According to Article 14 of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, “Indigenous peoples have the right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions providing education in their own languages, in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning.” Yet, one of the current challenges for Indigenous communities in Latin America is the lack of access to quality education at all levels and low completion rates. In 2016, 85% of Indigenous children in Latin America participated in secondary education but just 40% finished their secondary education.
  • Access to the Internet. The OECD says the “Internet is the backbone of the digital economy, it underpins much of the world’s social activity and it is a powerful catalyst for innovation, economic growth and social well-being.” Among other benefits, the internet increases access to education, job opportunities and information and allows for the dissemination of information and news. But, Indigenous peoples lack access to the internet and digital tools required to thrive in an increasingly digital world. For example, in Ecuador and Peru, non-indigenous households have access to the internet “six times greater” than Indigenous communities.
  • Land Appropriation. Indigenous people have faced issues concerning land rights in the territories belonging to them. Apart from territorial invasions and forced displacements, deforestation as well as construction and mining activities affect Indigenous peoples’ rights to preserve their lands. In most of these situations, major companies are involved. Indigenous communities have faced violence from people looking to exploit the land’s resources. Data indicates that Peru, Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras saw 2,109 incidents of “communities affected by extractive industries and their associated activities” between 2017 and 2021.

The International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA)

The International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) is a non-governmental organization dedicated to defending and upholding “Indigenous Peoples’ individual and collective rights.” Its primary goal is to promote, respect and safeguard “Indigenous Peoples’ rights to land, territories and resources.”

The IWGIA was founded in 1968 when a group of concerned scholars became aware of the genocide against Indigenous Peoples in the Amazon. The IWGIA is currently working in different areas, such as climate change, land appropriation and global governance.

Safeguarding Land Rights and Amplifying Voices

In terms of displacement and land appropriation/dispossession, IWGIA explains the far-reaching consequences: “Land dispossession will lead to the loss of Indigenous Peoples’ traditional livelihood practices and the inter-generational transfer of Indigenous knowledge and will undermine their social organization, traditional institutions and cultural and spiritual practices; all of which can cause poverty, food insecurity, social disintegration and loss of identity and human dignity.” For these reasons, IWGIA’s “strategic focus areas” for 2021 to 2025 involve documenting violations, advocating for accountability and protection and empowering and supporting Indigenous people to “defend their land rights and to achieve land tenure security.”

The IWGIA wants to ensure Indigenous people’s voices are heard at an international level and that Indigenous people participate in important decision-making processes. In 2021, IWGIA produced 58 articles, podcasts and videos to raise awareness of Indigenous rights and spoke to nine different universities to disseminate this information. The IWGIA also participated in 20 United Nations meetings and made efforts by “facilitating events, providing information and supporting Indigenous Peoples’ participation.”

Despite ongoing marginalization and discrimination, human rights advocates and organizations continue to fight for the rights of vulnerable Indigenous communities.

– Elena Luisetto
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Food Insecurity in Sri Lanka
Food insecurity in Sri Lanka has increased amid the country’s economic crisis, with disproportionate impacts on women and children. The World Bank says the poverty rate in Sri Lanka is 25.6% (based on the poverty line of $3.65 per person per day) in 2022, almost doubling from 13.1% in 2021. The World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations are taking action to meet the nutritional needs of these vulnerable groups.

Women and Children

According to WFP, as of August 2022, 30% of Sri Lankans are enduring food insecurity, equating to about 6.3 million people. As such, about 66% of households are reducing their food portions and are consuming “less nutritious food,” the WFP website says.

Among those suffering the most from food insecurity in Sri Lanka are pregnant and breastfeeding mothers as well as those with physical or intellectual disabilities and children younger than the age of 5.

The economic crisis has caused a significant increase in food prices as well as a shortage of fuel. The spike in food prices means pregnant women and new moms are struggling to secure three balanced meals a day. Proper nutrition is crucial not only for their health but for the health of their babies.

In August 2022, a doctor at a hospital in Sri Lanka told BOOM journalism that “pregnant women who have visited the hospital in the last few months are all showing signs of anemia.”

Gayani Dilrukshi, who is 23 years old and seven months pregnant, only eats two meals every day with her 4-year-old daughter because she does not have the budget to afford three meals, according to an interview with BOOM journalism. The meals that Dilrukshi can afford are not nutrient-dense and, as such, she is not in overall good health at a critical point in her pregnancy, according to doctors.

Taking Action to Address Food Insecurity in Sri Lanka

The WFP is taking action to meet the nutritional needs of the most vulnerable groups in Sri Lanka. However, the WFP requires $63 million worth of funding to adequately respond to the crisis in Sri Lanka. As of August 2022, the WFP’s response plan includes providing “3.4 million people with food assistance.”

In addition to this, WFP is looking to strengthen social safety-net programs that already exist. For instance, through the existing national school feeding program, the WFP aims to help 1 million Sri Lankan children. Through an existing state initiative that provides “fortified food to pregnant and breastfeeding mothers and young children,” the WFP hopes to impact an additional 1 million individuals.

In November 2022, the United Nations amended its Humanitarian Needs and Priorities (HNP) Plan to further help vulnerable citizens throughout Sri Lanka. The HNP raised $79 million in funds from different organizations and countries such as the United States and Australia. Organizations such as Brandix Apparels and the Citi Foundation also contributed funds for Sri Lanka. The United Nations has revised the HNP plan, which will last through 2022, calling for an additional $70 million.

The revised HNP plan would give food aid to 2.4 million vulnerable Sri Lankans, plus assistance, such as fertilizer supplies, to at least 1.5 million farmers in Sri Lanka. Pregnant women and schoolchildren would be included in nutrition support efforts. This plan will also supply more than 900,000 people with clean and safe drinking water. As many as 867,000 people will receive aid in the form of integral medicine and health care.

Fortunately, organizations are addressing food insecurity in Sri Lanka, especially among vulnerable groups. Through aid, Sri Lanka can recover from its current economic crisis.

– Yonina Anglin
Photo: Flickr

Children’s Mental Health in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is suffering from the worst economic crisis in the country’s history. The crisis’ impacts have reached into every aspect of Sri Lankans’ lives. A July 2022 report by Save the Children reveals the heavy toll economic problems have had on children’s mental health in Sri Lanka.

A Country in Turmoil

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sri Lanka’s economy has been weakening. The World Bank estimates that the pandemic forced an additional half a million Sri Lankan people into poverty. As a result of Sri Lanka’s pandemic-induced economic downturn, the World Bank changed Sri Lanka’s classification from upper-middle income to lower-middle-income in 2020. In 2022, inflation and food shortages have exacerbated Sri Lanka’s economic struggles. Now, in August 2022, Sri Lankans are waiting for days in long lines for fuel and struggling to cope with food shortages and rolling blackouts.

In May 2022, the nongovernmental organization Save the Children began collecting data to better understand how Sri Lanka’s economic crisis affects children and families, with a particular emphasis on the impacts on children’s mental health in Sri Lanka. Save the Children gathered data from 2,309 households with elementary school-aged children in May and June. To collect data, Save the Children called families throughout the country and recorded responses from parents or caregivers.

Families Feel the Impacts

Save the Children’s survey revealed that Sri Lankan families have borne several negative consequences of the economic crisis. Of the survey respondents, 85.1% reported losing income since the start of the nation’s economic crisis with 58.1% of families reporting economic losses of more than 50% of income and 10.9% losing the entirety of their income.

More than half of households described an inability to meet the family’s basic needs such as food, water, household goods, shelter and health care. Only 31% of respondents reported the ability to completely fulfill their family’s food and nutrition requirements. About 74% reported that they had needed to change their eating habits in the week before the survey to save money. A mere 17% of participants described that they had not had to make changes to their lifestyle to adapt to the economic crisis.

Alongside changes in the country’s economy, parents have noticed changes in children’s mental health in Sri Lanka, the survey revealed. Less than a third of survey respondents answered that the economic crisis had negatively impacted their children’s well-being. Included in that 31% who reported changes in their children’s behavior were 12.7% of respondents who saw changes in their children’s appetite, 9.7% who observed increasing aggressive behavior and 6.7% who noted changes in emotional regulation ability. Additionally, more than half of survey participants reported that the economic crisis had impacted their children’s education, with 33.9% unable to afford school materials and 29.8% unable to afford extra educational classes for all their children.

The International Community Responds

On June 9, 2022, the United Nations (U.N.) released a Humanitarian Needs and Priorities Plan that set the goal of helping 1.7 million Sri Lankans struggling with the consequences of the country’s economic downturn. On August 5, 2022, the U.N. released a follow-up report detailing that, since the release of the plan, it had already provided more than a quarter million children with school supplies, assisted 48,000 children in accessing uninterrupted learning, delivered food to more than 40,000 people and improved access to clean water for 31,450 people in Sri Lanka.

In addition to assistance from the U.N., the United States pledged $6 million in June 2022 to address Sri Lanka’s economic crisis. The U.S. funds will go toward supporting agricultural productivity and small businesses as well as facilitating governmental management of the crisis.

Aid from the international community will ensure that Sri Lanka can recover while safeguarding the well-being of the nation’s children.

– Anna Inghram
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

changes-in-the-global-population-affecting-poor-countriesWhile the global population is expected to reach 8.5 billion in 2030 and nearly 10 billion by 2080s, the growth rate is slowing dramatically due to lower fertility. The global population is growing at the slowest rate since 1950s, with the annual growth rate falling to less than 1% in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the causes of the slowed population growth. The U.N. is concerned that the global population will become concentrated in eight countries over the next 30 years: Egypt, Ethiopia, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, India, Pakistan, The United Republic of Tanzania and the Philippines. Concentrated population growth could make eradicating poverty, hunger and systematic inequalities very difficult.

 Massive Changes in the Global Population

In certain parts of the world, primarily developed countries, population growth is slowing, life expectancy is increasing and general health is improving. The U.N. estimates that the average global longevity will be about 77.2 years by 2050.

Between 1950 and 2019, the global population increased between 1% and 2% annually and that number has dropped drastically to 0.1%.

This slowed population growth is offering an opportunity for developed countries to expand economically, because the working-age population (25-64) is growing faster than others, according to the U.N.

Some countries are experiencing massive migratory outflows due to poor conditions. Nepal, The Philippines and Bangladesh are seeing increased outflows due to the demand for migrant workers and Syria, Myanmar and Venezuela are experiencing a population decline due to violence and instability. Rapid and drastic changes in population concentration due to violence, instability, pandemic or fertility could make the fight against poverty very difficult because they could complicate the allocation of resources.

Population Concentration in Developing Countries

According to the U.N., India could be the most populated country by 2027, and along with Egypt, Ethiopia, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, India, Pakistan, The United Republic of Tanzania and the Philippines will comprise over half of the global population.

Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the only regions that could have a strong and consistent population growth for the rest of the century. The Pew Research Center estimates that within the next 80 years, the region’s population could triple. If small, low-income countries have extremely dense populations, allocating resources like education, health care and food assistance could be incredibly difficult. Many of these small countries also do not have the natural resources to support a rapidly growing population.

Changes in the Global Population and Fight Against Poverty

If the populations of low-income and developing countries continue to grow amid the generally slowing growth rate and the fight against global poverty could become much more difficult due to an all-around slowed distribution of poverty relief resources. The U.N. is advocating for better reproductive and child care resources for developing countries so that families can break out of cycles of intergenerational poverty.

This includes recent initiatives such as equitable vaccine distribution, funding for education and maternal health care. The U.N. is keeping a close eye on the eight countries whose populations could rapidly concentrate to monitor the necessity of aid.

Support for Developing Countries Amidst the Slowed Population Growth

While many international organizations are celebrating the fact that slowed population growth is leading to a general improvement in health, education and climate well-being, it is important to remember that significant changes in the global population could negatively impact low-income countries due to slowed distribution of resources.

The most important thing that developed countries and international organizations can do amidst changes in the global population is investing in proper family planning, health care, agriculture, education and economic support for developing countries.

Ella DeVries

Photo: Flickr

Children’s Mental Health in Lebanon
The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with the ongoing civil unrest and the economic crisis in Lebanon have negatively impacted children’s mental health in Lebanon. Amid several crises, Lebanon is noting higher rates of mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression, among the nation’s children.

Overview of Children’s Health in Lebanon

A 2022 Psychopathology in Children and Adolescents in Lebanon Study (PALS) study found that 32.7% out of 1,517 children and adolescents in Lebanon screened positive for at least one psychiatric disorder. However, only 5% of these children sought professional mental health help.

The high prevalence of psychiatric symptoms in Lebanese children and adolescents alerted the need for adequate mental health prevention programs. In 2022, approximately one in five aged between 15-24 reported that they have depression.

Political Crisis in Lebanon

On October 17, 2019, Lebanese launched mass anti-government protests in a response to new tax measures and corruption. During the protests, businesses and banks closed causing a financial crisis. These mass protests impacted the families in Lebanon financially, pulling many children out of private schools.

News Medical has found that education impacts the mental health outcome of children. In fact, “Higher levels of education have been associated with better mental health.” Low levels of education are linked to “a lack of sense of control and resilience,” which puts an individual at a higher risk of depression.

Economic Crisis in Lebanon

According to the World Bank, Lebanon is “facing one of the world’s worst economic and financial crises,” the United States Institute of Peace reported. According to the statistics in 2021 from the World Bank, Lebanon’s economy has decreased by 58.1% since 2019 and the national GDP declined by 10.5% in 2021.

In fact, Lebanon’s contraction was the largest contraction out of 193 countries. Besides the impact of the pandemic, the blast in the Port of Beirut aggravated the economic crisis in Lebanon. On August 4, 2020, the Port of Beirut exploded resulting in many casualties, injuries and massive destruction. The explosion at Beirut’s port killed at least 218 people and wounded 7,000 people.

Economic fallout in the aftermath of the Beirut explosion along with the COVID-19 has put the families and children in danger of poverty and food insecurity. In 2021, the World Food Program (WFP) reported that 6.7 million Lebanese and the entire Syrian refugee population of 1.5 million are living in severe poverty.

Looking at the correlation between the economic situation and the child’s mental health according to the research article published in Health Economics, children’s mental health outcomes worsen as the economy weakens.

Environmental factors such as food insecurity and poverty because of the economic meltdown had a direct impact on the well-being of Lebanese families leading to the poor mental state of children in Lebanon.

COVID-19 in Lebanon

In January 2021, due to a massive resurgence of new cases of COVID-19, the government ordered a strict lockdown. This caused many citizens to feel isolated and disconnected due to a lack of socialization and confinement within homes. It adversely impacted the mental health of citizens, who, as a result, struggled with stress, anxiety, depression and more.

Improving Mental Health in Lebanon

The United Nations in Lebanon worked in conjunction with the National Mental Health Programme in the Ministry of Public Health to create “a mental health and psychological support action plan as part of the national response to the COVID-19 outbreak.”

As part of the plan, the U.N. and its partners raised awareness of ways to manage stress and mental health by sharing psychosocial support kits for children in hospitals and providing remote community-based mental health support kits to 5,975 children and parents, UNICEF reported.

In 2020, UNICEF Representative Yukie Mokuo said that “50% of mental disorders start before the age of 14 and 75% by the mid-20s.” The U.N. also launched the campaign in 2020 under the name of “How Are you Doing in Corona Times?” targeting to raise awareness and identify mental health status specifically among the youth population, according to UNICEF.

The other environmental contributing factors that impact children’s mental health are under control by international efforts. In 2022, on March 23, USAID provided nearly $64 million in humanitarian assistance in a response to Lebanon’s economic detraction and food insecurity. The United States government has contributed nearly $510 million in assistance to Lebanon since October 2020.

Lebanon’s progressive approaches to raising awareness of children’s mental health with national efforts along with the help of international aid show positive prospect for the future of child mental health conditions. Considering the future of children’s mental health in Lebanon, the nation should prioritize implementing initiatives and adequate policies to promote positive mental health among children in Lebanon.

– Youngwook Chun
Photo: Unsplash

Refugees from Afghanistan
After 20 years out of power, in August 2021, the Taliban seized the capital of Kabul after the collapse of the Afghan government. With many Afghans opting to flee the country in search of safer and more stable pastures, the nation’s neighboring countries are experiencing an increase in refugees from Afghanistan. Although the reign of the Taliban brings increased instability to the country, Afghans were already fleeing the nation years prior. In fact, apart from fearing that “[the Taliban] will impose harsh rule, neglect to provide basic services and abuse human rights, “many Afghans are leaving due to the severe humanitarian crisis in the nation. Due to these worsening conditions, countries and organizations are trying to assist vulnerable Afghans.

Humanitarian Crisis in Afghanistan

In October 2021, Afghanistan’s poverty rate stood at 72%, but the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) expects this rate to increase to a staggering 98% by the middle of 2022. Moreover, about 19 million Afghans are suffering from acute levels of food insecurity. Because of these conditions, people are fleeing Afghanistan in search of a better life. According to the UNHCR, almost 6 million Afghans face forced displacement. Estimates indicate that there are about 3.5 million internally displaced Afghans and roughly 2.6 million Afghan refugees residing in other nations. Compounding issues further, Afghanistan is facing a severe drought that has already led to the malnourishment of 50% of Afghan children.

The Taliban Takeover

The Taliban is a group of religious students from Afghanistan who aim to seize power to “restore peace and security and enforce their own austere version of Sharia, or Islamic law.” The Taliban began taking over parts of Afghanistan in 1994. In 1996, the group took over the capital of Kabul, and by 1998, had garnered control “over most of the country.”

During its time in power, the Taliban imposed harsh laws “forbidding most women from working, banning girls from education and carrying out punishments including beatings, amputations and public executions,” among other horrific punishments and restrictions. In 2001, a United States-led invasion is able to remove the Taliban from power. Unfortunately, “the Taliban reemerge” in 2006. In April 2021, after “President Biden announces the withdrawal” of U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of September 2021, the Taliban gains traction taking over more areas. By August 2021, the Taliban seizes the capital of Kabul.

Halting Aid to Afghanistan

With the Taliban in power, Afghanistan is facing a colossal economic crisis. Afghanistan was heavily dependant on international aid even before the Taliban takeover — 40% of its GDP comes from foreign aid. The World Bank has stated that “about 75% of public finances were supplied by grants from the U.S. and other countries.” Now, the Afghani currency has lost all its value.

In August 2021, when it became apparent that the Taliban would seize Afghanistan, global powers, such as the United States, chose to halt foreign assistance to Afghanistan, as did the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Furthermore, before, families relied on money from family members outside of the country. However, Western Union and MoneyGram removed their assistance and services in Afghanistan, causing the deprivation of money from families abroad.

Evacuating Afghans

Days after the Taliban took over Afghanistan, the United States began the evacuation process of Afghans. In truth, the United States helped evacuate about 125,000 people for relocation. Unfortunately, thousands of Afghans who hoped to leave the country did not have the opportunity to evacuate, even some with passports. Many of the evacuees received special visas for “their service alongside coalition military forces” or their work “with foreign-funded programs.” A more minimal number of evacuees able to board the planes as refugees from Afghanistan were “Afghans seeking visas or asylum based on their fear of persecution due to their identity.”

Refugees from Afghanistan Receive Assistance

Due to the influx of refugees from Afghanistan, the United Nations has requested that countries nearby “keep their borders open.” In September 2021, several governments pledged to “resettle refugees from Afghanistan,” including Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Mexico and Costa Rica. The countries specify maximum intake numbers, with some only accepting Afghans who fall into a specific vulnerable group or who hold specific jobs. The U.S. also pledged to take in 62,500 Afghans by the end of September 2021.

Amid a crumbling nation and citizens facing dire conditions, the international community is giving hope to Afghans for a better future with several countries willing to assist in the relocation of refugees from Afghanistan.

– Kayla De Alba
Photo: Flickr