Posts

Poverty in Lebanon
According to the United Nations, Lebanon is facing a significant economic crisis, with nearly three-quarters of the country living below the poverty line as of September 2021. This staggering poverty rate warrants assistance from the international community.

Lebanon’s Poverty in Numbers

In a 2019 report, the U.N. found that “between 2019 and 2020,” poverty in Lebanon rose “from 28% to 55%.” When looking at multi-dimensional poverty, the situation is even more severe. According to the World Bank, multi-dimensional poverty ratings look to “understand poverty beyond monetary deprivations,” by including six key indications: “education, health, public utilities, housing, assets and property as well as employment and income.” Lebanon’s multidimensional poverty rate almost “doubled from 42% in 2019 to 82% in 2021.” Furthermore, about a third of the Lebanese population has no access to adequate health care, a fact that is especially concerning in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the U.N., close to 25% of the country could not meet their nutritional food needs by the close of 2020.

Additionally, by August 2021, Lebanon reached a record high unemployment rate of more than 35% — a sudden surge from the single-digit average throughout the past decade. With this crisis, the value of the Lebanese lira has also decreased by almost 80% against the U.S. dollar as a result of extreme inflation and economic deterioration.

Lebanon’s Deteriorating Economy

Investigations show Lebanon’s economic crisis could date back to the early 2010s, although the primary detriments of the surge appear at the beginning of 2019. Although there is no evidence that COVID-19 was a direct cause of this crisis, its effects certainly did not aid the economy when exports slowed immensely, thus stalling the country’s primary export industries. Additionally, World Bank experts predict that Lebanon’s economy may decline by 10.5% by the close of 2021.

Lebanon’s corrupt banking sector shares the blame for the country’s economic crisis. It lent the Lebanese government close to 75% of its deposits in early 2019. The result of this was “extreme bankruptcy.” Additionally, the political turmoil in Lebanon played a contributing role to instability — the nation had no official leader between 2014 and 2016. Experts believe the economic crash was inevitable with no proper leadership. According to an article by the Middle East Institute, Lebanon’s economy could see a decline “from $60 billion in 2018 to $15 billion” by the end of 2021.

World Bank Assistance

Despite how dire Lebanon’s situation may appear, hope is on the horizon. In January 2021, the World Bank Group announced the approval of “a $246 million new project to provide emergency cash transfers and access to social services to approximately 786,000 [impoverished] and vulnerable Lebanese” facing the impacts of both the economic crisis and COVID-19.

This initiative, the Emergency Crisis and COVID-19 Response Social Safety Net Project (ESSN), will also help implement “social safety nets” to improve the nation’s resilience and recovery in the face of “future shocks” or crises. To help people living in extreme poverty, the ESSN project will provide cash assistance to these individuals for 12 months. Additionally, the ESSN will provide a “top-up cash transfer” to 87,000 Lebanese children aged 13-18 to cover the costs of education, including uniforms, supplies and remote learning resources.

Lebanon’s economic crisis brings suffering to countless citizens. However, the World Bank’s ESSN poverty alleviation project has the potential to provide essential relief to the most vulnerable citizens, ultimately reducing overall poverty in Lebanon.

– Andra Fofuca
Photo: Flickr

Parental Leave Policies
In a family setting with parents or guardians caring for young children, climbing out of poverty can be extremely difficult. In these situations, parents or guardians often struggle to balance the need to financially provide for the family while ensuring the well-being of the children. Within countries that do not provide adequate parental leave by law, this struggle heightens as parents often have to prioritize income over crucial child care time. In a 2012 survey, about 46% of employees did not take essential medical or family leave because they could not afford it. Working women may also face workplace discrimination if there are no parental leave protections. For instance, an employer may unfairly dismiss a worker due to pregnancy. In order for parents to successfully lift their families out of poverty, they need supportive parental leave policies that allow them more financial freedom and job assurance.

Parental Leave Policies

Britannica defines parental leave as an “employee benefit that provides job-protected leave from employment to care for a child following its birth or adoption.” Policies surrounding parental leave vary drastically across countries. For instance, in The Bahamas, women may only take “maternity leave once every three years.” On the other hand, Germany allows new parents to take “up to three years of parental leave to take care of a newborn until the child turns 3 years old.”

However, the International Labour Organization (ILO), an agency of the United Nations, has set recommendations for parental leave. The ILO “calls for a minimum 12-week leave” but recommends a 14-week leave ideally. In countries that offer paid parental leave, the ILO recommends that the payment amounts to “no less than two-thirds” of the parent’s previous salary, with complete coverage of health benefits. Another standard that the ILO set is the guarantee that a woman will not lose her job because of pregnancy.

The Importance of Parental Leave

According to Katrin Schulz of the World Bank Group, “ensuring that mothers and fathers have adequate paid leave for the birth of a child should be a priority for economic development.” To understand this better, Schulz says it is important to note that “adequate maternity leave can lead to lower infant mortality rates, health benefits for the mother, higher female labor force participation and increased breastfeeding rates.”

On the other hand, paternity leave also has a wide range of advantages in terms of development outcomes, such as “health and economic benefits to the mother, more equitable division of household labor and increased child bonding.” In fact, studies specifically link paternity leave allowances to “increased earnings for the mother, reduced mother-absenteeism due to sickness and higher female employment in private firms.” All of these factors, in the long run, will improve the family’s well-being and ability to rise out of poverty.

Parental leave laws play an important role in poverty reduction. For impoverished families, paid parental leave proves essential for their economic well-being. Additionally, in its cross-national comparison of parental leave, the World Policy Center found that more extensive parental leave policies correlate with a decreased risk of poverty for both two-parent households and single mothers. The extra money that some parental leave programs may provide support the family economically and may also boost income following parental leave.

Progress in Parental Leave

Some of the most successful parental leave programs come from European and Nordic countries. Norway is one of the more generous countries in terms of paternal leave. Its policy allows 12 months of leave for each birth and a “parental benefit,” which stands as a source of income for new parents during the leave period. Both parents can take leave until the child reaches age 3.

Norway’s leave policy has helped narrow the gender income gap down to 13%. “The retention of women” in the workforce has also helped Norway collect higher tax revenue, strengthening the economy. These tax benefits contribute to Norway’s high GDP per capita, which now stands at $89,741, a representation of the country’s economic prosperity. Nordic countries aimed to reduce the stigma surrounding paternal leave with a campaign to normalize paternal leave. Now, about “90% of Norweigan fathers” take paternal leave, bringing wide-ranging benefits on a household level as well as a national level.

Norway’s example shows how parental leave policies can be beneficial not only for the families raising children but the economy surrounding them. Better parental leave is a small push toward building a more prosperous future. When children receive proper care in the first years of life, they have a better chance of breaking generational cycles of poverty.

– Hariana Sethi
Photo: Unsplash

Morocco's EconomyPreviously, a myriad of tourists had visited Morocco to explore its diverse culture, food, landscapes, history and people. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the nation has faced a devastating economic crisis. Without its regular influx of tourists or traveling diaspora, Morocco is in the depths of a recession for the first time since 1995. The government is working to ensure that Morocco’s economy can recover from the pandemic.

5 Ways Morocco’s Economy is Recovering

  1. The Mohammed VI Investment Fund: In November 2020, King Mohammed VI established a $1.6 billion economic plan to revive Morocco’s economy due to the economic crisis that the COVID-19 pandemic brought on. Shortly afterward, the International Finance Corporation, as part of the World Bank Group, officially announced its support for the Moroccan Ministry of Economy and Finance’s efforts to boost the country’s economy.
  2. Moroccan Transportation Companies Decrease Prices: In June 2021, King Mohammed VI announced that all transportation companies must make tickets more affordable for Moroccans living abroad. The announcement targeted airlines such as Royal Air Maroc, which dropped flight ticket prices by more than 50% globally. Within a few days of the announcement, flights were being booked much faster than before. During the first week of discounted airline ticket prices, 195,547 people traveled to Morocco.
  3. Other Discounts for Tourists: Airline discounts are not the only thing Morocco’s economy is relying on to attract travelers. All forms of transportation in Morocco, from car rentals to train and bus tickets, have decreased in price. Additionally, 30% of hotel prices have decreased.
  4. More Visitors: International travel restrictions drastically affected tourism, causing a 78% deficit in the sector’s revenue in the first quarter of 2021. In response, the Moroccan government established a new economic plan that specifically targeted revenue from tourism. Now, tourism is surging more than it ever has since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, 12 million tourists visited Morocco, half of whom were Moroccans living abroad. From June to September 2021, Morocco will see 72% of the visitors it saw in the same period in 2019, or around 3.5 million travelers.
  5. Rapid Tourism Sector Rebound: Morocco’s tourism sector suffered a loss of $7.2 billion in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic hit small businesses and tourism hotspots hard, especially during national lockdowns. However, these businesses are benefiting from the country’s new economic plan. Travel reopenings are also catalyzing Morocco’s economic recovery.

Laudable Economic Growth

Despite the effects of COVID-19 on Morocco’s economy, the World Bank ranked it 53rd out of 190 countries for ease of doing business in 2020, reflecting its laudable economic achievements within merely a decade. With King Mohammed VI’s plan in place, the country’s setbacks hardly seem significant. The restoration of Morocco’s economy is underway and the country’s effervescent tourism sector is back on the rise.

– Nora Zaim-Sassi
Photo: Flickr

The World Bank's Crisis Response
In early October 2020, the president of the World Bank Group (WBG) gave a speech to address the COVID-19 pandemic and the World Bank’s crisis response. In his speech, WBG president David Malpass discussed the enormous toll that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on developing countries. He also stated that the World Bank’s response would focus on alleviating poverty, inequality and debt burdens, and support educational and health opportunities.

Disparities

Dramatically uneven access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) across the globe is one indication of global disparities in economic well-being, which in turn have affected pandemic response capabilities. Lowering the transmission of COVID-19 requires the coordination of a globalized response. However, localized country-wide challenges in securing PPE, the most basic of pandemic safety necessities, prevent this possibility.

Illustrating this challenge is the fact that low-income countries have little economic agency to act during the global pandemic. Developed countries may face shortages in supplies of PPE. Those countries may even opt to reduce the supply of outgoing PPE sales in order to remediate domestic shortages. However, restrictive budgets, few local manufacturers and no way to import PPE exacerbate shortages in developing countries.

A 2020 National Institute of Health study estimated that if countries tightened up sales of PPEs, “export restrictions could initially increase prices of medical masks by 20.5%, Venturi masks by 9.1%, and protective equipment, such as aprons and gloves by 1% and 2% respectively” around the globe. Illustrating the problem, a recent survey of seven low-income developing countries across the world showed that on average, clinics and health centers were only able to supply two of four necessary PPE items to medical staff. The challenges presented by PPE distribution demonstrate the importance of the World Bank Group’s aid programs around the world.

Dual Challenges

Lockdown guidelines that have successfully “flattened the curve” in developed nations are not always a viable option for developing economies. For example, in India, nearly 90% of the workforce is in the informal employment sector. In sub-Saharan Africa, 86% of workers have informal employment. The nature of informal work requires workers to leave the house for work and as a consequence, choose between keeping their families fed or respecting lockdowns. Countries that struggle to lower transmission rates or offset the financial damage of lockdowns see dual challenges. Implementing measures that “flatten the curve” and lower transmission rates cause economic harm. On the other hand, failing to reduce hospitalizations inflicts strain on medical systems, leading to high infection rates and death tolls.

“A Fire That Must Be Put Out”

In the World Bank Group’s June 2020 COVID-19 Crisis Response Approach Paper, the ongoing COVID-19 crisis is described as “a fire that must be put out.” As a direct result of the pandemic, for the first time in 60 years, the World Bank projected that Emerging Markets and Developing Economies (EMDEs) will see economic contraction. The global economy will likely shrink by 5.2% in 2020, the deepest recession since World War II. For comparison, the global economy shrank less than 2% during the 2009 financial crisis. A number of traits cause EMDEs to be especially vulnerable to the pandemic’s negative economic impacts. Traits such as weaker health systems, dependence on global trade and tourism exacerbate financial instability. For the first time in decades, global poverty will rise.

The World Bank Group’s Response

Despite challenges, international financial institutions, including the WBG, are moving quickly to prevent the loss of hard-won development growth in EMDEs. The WBG has recognized the new paradigm of the pandemic and as an organization, has shifted its focus to a crisis response agenda. In April of 2020, the WBG announced the first projects directly related to COVID-19 and prepared to deploy up to $160 billion over a period of 15 months to address COVID-19.

Like other international organizations, the World Bank’s crisis response to COVID-19 aims to focus on issues directly related to the pandemic. However, the WBG ensures a continuation of its broader development objectives by placing its COVID-19 crisis response agenda within its own Twin Goals. Adopted in 2013, its Twin Goals are to bring extreme poverty down and to promote prosperity among the bottom sector of every country. The WBG’s massive $160 billion project rollout focuses on direct response to COVID-19, and on protecting past economic development gains. This includes maintaining steady progress towards the Twin Goals.

The World Bank’s current crisis response agenda can be divided into near, medium and long-term agendas. These agendas are termed relief, restructuring and resilient recovery. Relief relates to dealing with the most direct impacts of COVID-19. Its restructuring plans include strengthening health systems, restoring human capital and restructuring social and economic sectors. Resilient recovery is about building a future in recognition of a changed post-pandemic world. In pursuing these plans, the WBG ultimately aims to assist at least one billion people affected by the pandemic.

– Marshall Wu
Photo: Flickr

Combat Gender-Based Violence
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that as many as one in three women experience physical and sexual violence across their lifetimes, amounting to roughly 736 million worldwide. COVID-19 has increased those numbers. The pandemic has been a gruesome lens of sorts, revealing the weaknesses in many emergency-response and social service systems worldwide. One particular view into the far-reaching consequences of the pandemic has highlighted the disturbing rate at which women experience gender-based violence, often in their own homes. The need to combat gender-based violence has become inherent during the pandemic because it has forced many victims into lockdown with abusers.

To make things worse, vital victim support programs, such as domestic violence shelters and helplines, have had to close or limit operations. Therefore, fear exists that the pandemic may erase the progress that countries previously made on addressing social norms that harmed women and girls.

Gender-Based Violence and Poverty

Gender-based violence disproportionately affects impoverished women and girls, furthering negative socioeconomic outcomes for generations. Unplanned pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections and medical complications all negatively impact the future-income potential of already financially strained women and girls. The unprecedented breakdown in social-response programs and victims’ services highlights the need for the transformative power of education to combat gender-based violence. Nations, nonprofits and other international organizations need to utilize education tools to combat gender-based violence to fight the ‘shadow’ pandemic.

The Education Transformation: Knowledge = Personal Power

Nonprofits worldwide tout education at-risk individuals as a way to reduce and more accurately report instances of violence in all communities. A focus on providing educational tools can help combat gender-based violence by offering a long-term way to identify and eliminate biases in the identification, reporting and prosecution of abusers.

Educating health professionals and law enforcement also plays a role in reducing gender-based violence; advanced, continuing education leads to increased compassion and empathy that is essential in properly addressing the needs of victims after trauma. Furthermore, educating authorities and communities on what constitutes gender-based violence may also limit the stigma associated with reporting it.

A recent UNESCO study found that Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) was lacking in parts of the world with high rates of gender-based violence. The issue is a double-edged sword, as gender-based violence both causes and is a product of a lack of education. UNESCO’s Senior Programme Specialist in Health Education, Joanna Herat, concluded that a lack of quality education was contributing to the ‘shadow’ pandemic. Many countries, Herat says, poorly addressed sexual abuse, exploitation and rape. The trends are changing, Herat continues, and UNESCO will continue to support countries embracing quality CSE.

Social Services Superstars: International Initiatives to Combat Gender-Based Violence

The United Nations Security General’s Campaign to End Violence Against Women (UNiTe) calls for international awareness and advocacy to end gender-based violence and address the pandemic factors leading to a rise in domestic violence. As of July 2020, the Interagency Statement on violence against women and girls in the context of COVID-19 highlighted six critical areas for action:

  1. Make urgent and flexible funding available for women’s rights organizations and recognize their role as first responders.
  2. Support health and social services to operate and remain accessible, especially to those most likely to end up behind.
  3. Ensure that people regard services for violence against women and girl survivors as essential.
  4. Place a high priority on police and justice responses.
  5. Put preventative measures in place.
  6. Collect data to improve services/programs and help meet ethical and safety standards.

Several other organizations have attempted to use educational tools to combat gender-based violence. Here are a few.

McCann Worldgroup’s “The Shadow Pandemic PSA”

This one-minute-long public service announcement, narrated by Kate Winslet, highlights the upsurge in domestic violence during COVID-19. The UN Women Unstereotype Alliance developed the project to highlight homes in over 14 countries and raise awareness. “It’s a proud moment when the power of advertising is used not just to build awareness of a critical issue but also to empower people to do something about it,” says Michael Roth, CEO of Interpublic Group.

The World Bank Group and the Sexual Violence Research Initiative (SVRI) Partnership

The Development Marketplace launched this program to address gender-based violence. The organization awards international teams up to $100,000. Winners use the money to fund evidence-based research, interventions and other activities related to gender-based violence prevention. To date, the program has given $5,000,000 to teams.

– Katrina Hall
Photo: Flickr

Sustainability in the MENAThe Middle East and North Africa, or MENA region, is best known for its strategic location in relation to the lucrative fossil fuel market. Oil and gas have given many developing countries a fast track into wealth, causing rapid urbanization and social stratification. This is especially noticeable around the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, in places such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Iran and Egypt. Now, more than 60% of the population lives in cities, but poverty is heavily concentrated in rural areas. Given the push to transition to renewable energy and the disaster potential posed by sea-level rise and other climate changes, sustainability in the MENA region is critical.

Recovery from Economic Crisis

Unfortunately, COVID-19 has started a significant economic downturn in this region. During the start of the pandemic and resulting financial crisis, the price of oil dropped sharply, even falling below $0 per barrel. This had a dramatic, negative effect on the overall economy and hinders the region’s ability to recover effectively.

In past financial crises like this one, carbon emissions routinely decreased, especially in 2009 by approximately 1.4%. In 2010, the decreases were more than offset, with emissions showing a growth of around 5.4%. An article published in Nature noted that during the COVID-19 lockdown measures global CO2 emissions decreased by 17%.

Programs for Sustainability in the MENA Region

This large decrease in emissions presents an opportunity to work toward sustainability in the Middle East and North Africa. One way is by designating the financial relief and stimulus money to restart the economy to projects such as the Egyptian Pollution Abatement Programme (EPAP) which funds environmentally friendly services and projects. They are currently developing more sustainable fuel, funding hazardous waste management efforts and supporting various other technological innovations to reduce pollution. Similar programs exist in Lebanon and several other nations.

Ideally, these programs and other emerging jobs in green technology will more than replace any jobs lost from the oil and gas industry and increase opportunities for employment outside the agricultural sector. Non-farming activities in the water-constrained MENA region, reduce poverty, according to a study conducted by senior economists at the World Bank Group.

Alternatively, there are other initiatives to invest in sustainable land management practices. These could increase the profitability of work in the agricultural sector and lower the risk of poor weather leading to extreme poverty. For example, the Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) program in Morocco aimed to diversify coastal economic activities in low-income areas. They encouraged algae cultivation and ecotourism in addition to normal fishing and farming. This made the community more resilient to potential unforeseen circumstances.

Looking Forward

In recovery from a crisis, the priority is usually to return to normal, but that kind of thinking sets back long-term goals that could greatly improve the quality of life and technological sustainability in the Middle East and North Africa. As another World Bank Blog article says: “Thinking ahead, therefore, the urgent focus on short-term needs should not overlook opportunities to achieve other longer-term goals (and avoid making longer-term goals even more challenging).”

– Anika Ledina
Photo: Flickr

USAID is Aiding the Dominican Republic 
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dominican Republic has suffered a tremendous amount of loss. The impact of the virus has caused medical centers to max out, full to their capacity with very little resources for patients. The strain of providing enough medical care, hospital and ICU beds has put the healthcare system in the Dominican Republic in an exhausting position, needing much aid and support to get back on its feet. With this country running out of resources to help patients battle the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has stepped in with support, donating ventilators to medical centers. Here is some additional information about how USAID is aiding the Dominican Republic.

USAID and COVID-19

The Dominican Republic has had 131,131 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 pandemic and 2,269 confirmed deaths. COVID-19 has hit the Dominican Republic hardest in the West Indies, as it has been struggling to stay afloat with the large amounts of COVID-19 cases. USAID is aiding the Dominican Republic by donating 50 ventilators and two hospital beds in response to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and to give relief to disaster operations. With both of those donations in combination, USAID has supported the Dominican Republic with around $1.85 million in resources thus far. With this amount of resources going toward healthcare systems in the Dominican Republic, the Dominican Republic’s government is now able to extend medical resources and expand medical care within its healthcare facilities.

USAID’s History with the Dominican Republic

USAID is aiding the Dominican Republic government faithfully and has been supporting it for over 50 years, financially and assisting it with poverty reduction. It is continuously providing humanitarian assistance to many developing countries around the globe, creating partnerships with governments, multilateral organizations and private sectors, along with other organizations. USAID not only assists with the disasters of the COVID-19 pandemic but has also been aiding the Dominican Republic in providing basic needs to the community such as sanitation, access to clean water and shelter for the most vulnerable.

Within the last decade, USAID has helped the Dominican Republic, improving the quality of life for those living along the poverty lines. It has invested around $80 million within the last decade to provide clean water access, health services and proper sanitation, reaching the most vulnerable communities. With the COVID-19 outbreak, providing sanitation and access to clean water has been more essential than ever, a top priority for USAID. It has been working right alongside local communities and private sectors, establishing plans and solutions within the country.

Responses to Developing Countries During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The United States continues to support countries globally, funding several humanitarian services. USAID has helped in strengthening clinical care, building clinical capacity, improving disease surveillance and more.

Along with USAID providing services and aid to the Dominican Republic, the World Bank Group, an institution that provides loans and grants to governments of low-income countries in support, has rolled out around $14 billion to support systems to strengthen the response efforts to COVID-19 in developing countries. With these institutions continuing to provide rapid financing and support, the Dominican Republic can implement more effective and rapid response efforts to the COVID-19 pandemic.

USAID has and continues to meet critical needs in the social protection arena, providing psychological support and water and sanitation assistance, along with food and security. The donation of the ventilators is only a small way that USAID is supporting developing countries in response to the fight against COVID-19.

– Kendra Anderson
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in the Dominican Republic
When one thinks about the Dominican Republic, one may typically picture the beaches of Punta Cana or other tropical vacation destinations. Although the Dominican Republic has a strong and fast economic growth rate within the Latin American and Caribbean regions, the largest income group is a vulnerable set of individuals who have a high probability of falling back into poverty. In 2008, the national poverty rate was roughly 34% in the Dominican Republic. The national poverty rate fell to 21% in 2019. However, much more progress must occur in order for the people of the Dominican Republic to escape poverty. Here are five main influences on poverty in the Dominican Republic.

5 Influences on Poverty in the Dominican Republic

  1. Lack of Quality Education: Young children and women do not have equal access to education in the Dominican Republic. About 36% of students do not finish their basic education. Many children who drop out are from the poorest areas of the country. They have to stop their education in order to help their families by working to earn money. In 2018, a total of 65,825 students were not in school. This pivotal set back will limit equal opportunities and their development. In order for the Dominican Republic to attain a positive economic turnaround, there must be an improvement in quality education. Since 2013, the government has increased its GDP spending on education and joined the World Bank’s Human Capital Project in order to get input about the improvement of human capital.
  2. Socio-economic Inequality: One cause of poverty in the Dominican Republic is unemployment. The employment rate of women is 33% in comparison to 61% of males in the workforce. Women are at a disadvantage due to the absence of education. Oftentimes women leave education in order to take care of the family and household. Even if women are in the work field, they are underpaid in comparison to men. The average pay for women was 79% of what men make.
  3. Lack of Sanitation: About one-fifth of citizens live in shacks without access to running water, electricity and proper sanitation. Although the country made an effort to increase access to sanitation services, this does not correlate with improved living conditions and quality. Many do not have equal access to quality infrastructure, which shows an increase in poverty. According to the Pan American Health Organization, the consumption of contaminated water led to severe diarrhea, which caused 50% of deaths in children under the age of 1. The World Bank Group helped restore water treatment facilities in Santo Domingo and Santiago. This led to more than one million gallons of drinking water for around 750,000 people. It also launched a project for wastewater treatment plants to help facilitate sanitation. The improvement of irrigation systems and clean water led to the improvement of local farms.
  4. Natural Hazards: The Dominican Republic suffers from natural disasters, which include earthquakes, flooding, hurricanes and droughts. Natural disasters have negatively affected a quarter of the country’s population. Many buildings and homes are vulnerable to natural disasters due to a lack of enforcing proper building and zoning codes. Increased flooding due to climate change will lead to economic loss within the country. It is difficult for the government to produce aid for families and businesses burdened by natural disasters. In 2017, Hurricanes Maria and Irma brought high winds, flooding and landslides that devastated the country. These hurricanes caused major property damage due to the creation of strong storm surges along the coastline. Luckily, the death toll was not high from these hurricanes. However, the storms caused major damage to physical communities and left many without power, water and sanitation. The Dominican Red Cross responds to disasters where it has relief protocols in order to support the country. It distributed relief packages to more than 2,000 families affected by Hurricane Irma.
  5. Crime: Violence and criminal activity led to a downfall in the country’s wealth equality. Although the Dominican Republic’s gross domestic product continues to rise, different communities do not have equal funding. Higher crime rates lead to disproportionality of wealth. These poverty-stricken communities lack protection. This can lead to individuals living in extreme poverty in the Dominican Republic.

The Dominican Republic is capable of reducing poverty in the next 10 years, but it must make major improvements. In order to end poverty in the Dominican Republic, representatives must improve the quality of education, health care services and employment through the implementation of policies that help the most vulnerable individuals. The country needs to make positive economic changes by increasing human capital and the business environment, improving the management of natural disasters and climate change and maintaining natural resources. These five influences on poverty in the Dominican Republic show that there needs to be policy changes in order to reshape the inequalities within the country.

Ann Ciancia
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Turkey
With an increased Human Development Index (HDI) of 0.806 from 0.655 in the last decade, Turkey’s overall development has significantly increased, namely with a hike in life expectancy and education. While the execution of specific long-term policies (Development Programme for Women and Conditional Education Assistance) constantly address issues such as gender inequality and education, the refugee crisis and the disruption that COVID-19 has caused remain more pressing matters. Nevertheless, as all of these existing and new issues pile up, the initiative to alleviate poverty in Turkey has currently slowed down.

The Long-term Causes of Poverty in Turkey

  • Education: The proportion of poor people with limited or no education at all is significant. In fact, a study from 2007 indicated that 26.9 percent were illiterate, 22.6 percent had basic reading and writing skills and 42.4 percent were primary school graduates. These facts might suggest that a lack of education contributes to poverty due to the inability to work at higher-paying jobs. In order to encourage education, Turkey circulated free textbooks and transportation. Additionally, the FAITH project, which the Turkish government implemented, made education compulsory for all citizens for the initial 12 years. Along with the increase in the number of universities from 93 to 107 by 2013, the total gross enrollment increased to 81.6 percent. While the Turkish education system is still not able to compete with the European Union’s standards, it is definitely becoming more efficient.
  • Household Make-up: The mean household size tends to increase in poorer households, as nearly six out of 10 households have more than four members. Meanwhile, 45.6 percent of the poorest women in Turkey are housewives. As the number of people in households increases, the burden often falls to men to fulfill the basic needs of the entire family.
  • External Immigration and Refugees: Around 4.1 million immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Bosnia and Syria have strained Turkey’s resources. Legal immigrants receive access to education, health care and social security under Turkish legislation, namely the Law on Foreigners and International Protection and Temporary Protection Regulation. Furthermore, the demand for housing has driven up its price, pushing more and more people into poverty. Turkey has pledged nearly $35 billion to manage the flow of immigrants, which is inadequate because of the number of illegal immigrants also occupying Turkish territory. The rise in population, due to how drastic it is, has left more people confined to the poverty trap prevalent in the nation.

Turkey’s Measures to Reduce Poverty

The severity of poverty in Turkey has instigated the introduction and implementation of various policies such as the following:

  • The Country Partnership Framework (CPF): CPF is an agreement between Turkey and the World Bank with hopes of achieving growth, inclusion and sustainability under the 11th National Development Program. The General Assembly of Parliament of Turkey has implemented this as part of the 10th Development Plan.
  • The World Bank Group (WBG): The World Bank is partnering with the Facility for Refugees in Turkey (FRiT) to help reduce economic disruption due to the influx of refugees in Turkey by implementing programs with regards to education, employment and social support. For example, FriT, along with UNHCR, has pledged € 23.929.195 to allow access to protection and services for refugees and asylum seekers in Turkey.

Trust Funds in Addition to FRiT

  • The Clean Technology Fund (CTF): CTF  has granted $390 million to support wind power and encourage the private sector to invest in renewable and efficient energy.
  • E.U. Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA): IPA funds are providing € 3533 million to Turkey. The most important goal of IPA is to improve public administration and financial governance.
  • Global Environmental Facility (GEF): GEF funds are financing $387,138,238 to focus on climate change and the maintaintence of biodiversity.

How COVID-19 Could Affect Turkey’s Ability to Address Poverty

The unexpected spread of COVID-19 has recently strained the world economy, including Turkey’s ability to implement and administer the necessary schemes to alleviate poverty. In fact, the bilateral trade between China and Turkey is as low as 1.1  percent. Coupled with the loss of tax collection from affected industries (including textiles and garments) and restricted travel abroad, this has led to an increase in national debt and left the private sector enduring heavy losses. Therefore, the government’s ability to address poverty has diminished.

Mridula Divakar
Photo: Flickr

Life Expectancy in Belize

Belize is a small country located in Central America, along the Caribbean Sea. It has the lowest population in Central America, populated by 385,854 people. It is an English speaking country comprised of people from several different ethnic backgrounds. Tourism makes up the greater part of the economy of Belize, as it contains beautiful islands with crystal-clear waters that attract people year-round. Belize is both a destination and a home for many. Despite the tourist-rich islands, poverty is widespread throughout the country and its effects remain prevalent in many lives. Below is a list of the top 10 facts about life expectancy in Belize.

Top 10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Belize

  1. As of 2018, the average life expectancy in Belize is 74.7 years. For females, the average is 76.3 years, while the males’ average is slightly lower at 73.1 years old. According to the Central Intelligence Agency, this life expectancy ranks 122nd globally. The life expectancy in Belize has improved over the past few decades, increasing from an average of 71.1 years in 1990.
  2. About 40 percent of the annual deaths in Belize is comprised of cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes, and chronic respiratory disease. The second greatest mortality rates result from injuries and external causes at about 28 percent annually. An additional 20 percent results from communicable diseases, such as HIV, which continues to be a concern throughout Belize.
  3. The country’s high homicide rate specifically affects male life expectancy. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Belize is continually ranked on the top 10 list for world homicides. Gang violence is extremely present in Belize City, making homicide one of the leading causes of death in males, alongside HIV and road traffic incidents.
  4. Poverty is most prevalent within the child population of Belize. While 41 percent of the total population lives below the poverty line, approximately 49.3 percent of all children live in poverty. Children are less likely to overcome poverty since they cannot fully provide for themselves.
  5. There is a substantial impact on the indigenous population in Belize from poverty. Of all children under the age of five, 18 percent suffer from stunting; However, this percentage jumps to 50 percent when looking at the indigenous community.
  6. Belize has high access to clean resources. 99.5 percent of the population has access to a water source. One factor is the significant amount of the population that lives along the coast. Another 90.5 percent of the population has access to a sanitation facility. The high percentage of access to water and sanitation allows for better overall health in the country, aiding the life expectancy in Belize.
  7. Belize is susceptible to natural disasters such as hurricanes and coastal flooding between June and November. Due to flooding and infrastructure, the damage comes lack or difficulty to access clean resources, such as water. As a result, sanitary conditions are put in jeopardy. Furthermore, this gives way to the spread of waterborne illness or infectious disease, specifically in children, who are more vulnerable to sickness. Ultimately, being detrimental to life expectancy in Belize.
  8. The Belize Health Structure Strategic plan was created in 2014 to improve the country’s health sector by 2024. The goal is to develop a Primary Health care based system through integrated health service delivery networks. This will both positively impact the health of the population while creating more sustainable outcomes.
  9. The World Bank Group has created an objective to improve youth employability and at-risk youth inclusion. This is a targeted program to enhance the employment of youth, and specifically at-risk youth males, ages 8-19, who are susceptible to street violence and crime. It aims to provide young people with the skills needed to work and motivation to remain employed.
  10. The World Health Organization created a country cooperation strategy agenda with four specific priorities from 2017-2021. The goal is to achieve a higher quality of life for all people in Belize. The agenda includes health systems accessible to all, human resources for the growing population, promoting health and wellness to reduce the major causes of death, and addressing health emergencies to the public.

The top 10 facts about life expectancy in Belize reveal the country’s continual struggle with poverty and its impacts on health and well being; However, it simultaneously shines a light on the significant steps the country and government is taking. With a constantly increasing population, the next decade of growth and improvement is crucial for the country of Belize.

– Savannah Huls

Photo: Flickr