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drones can save livesThird-world development programs use drones to advance projects more quickly and with fewer expenses. Pilots can volunteer for projects that provide humanitarian aid to remote areas, such as delivering medicine, blood, specimens for lab testing, vaccines and anti-venom. A skilled drone pilot can provide support across the globe to help people in need. Drone pilots can support relief efforts after major natural disasters, and civilian drone pilots (who have the proper authorization) can work with officials in search and rescue missions, provide aerial photography data to help find lost persons, map out disaster areas and help assess damage to an area. Here’s how a drone pilot can use their skills to help save lives around the world.

Four Ways Drone Pilots Can Save Lives

  1. Volunteer Organizations: One of the most well-established humanitarian drone pilot associations is the UAV Aviators Organization founded by Dr. Patrick Meier. This group has more than 3,300 members worldwide and represents 120 countries. Of those members, more than 600 are drone pilots. A drone pilot can find out about volunteer opportunities by registering with the Humanitarian UAV Network and agreeing to the UAV Humanitarian Code of Conduct. There is no cost to join this association. Another volunteer organization is S.W.A.R.M. More than 7,500 SAR pilots volunteer with this organization, serving more than 40 countries. It has an active Facebook group with more than 4,400 members. 
  2. Third-World Development Projects: The World Bank reports there are many benefits when using drones for development projects in third-world nations. Some benefits include easier planning, faster project implementation, less risk to local workers and communities, lower operational costs and surveying before access infrastructure is built in remote areas. The World Bank seeks drone pilots as volunteers and interns for drone flying projects to work in land use administration, forest management, coastal zone protection and environmental risk assessment. Drone pilots can help with medical deliveries, firefighting, contamination sensing and weather prediction. They can also help with guarding endangered animals and natural resource conservation.In 2016, the World Bank executed a drone project to conduct mapping in Kosovo. This mapping occurred after the Balkan wars ended in the late 1990s. The $13.86 million Real Estate and Cadastre Project was operated by the Global Land and Geospatial Unit of the World Bank. Women from Kosovo, who lost their husbands and sons in the wars, worked alone or with other women to rebuild their homes. The wars made it impossible to prove the land was theirs because all the documentation was lost. Without the ability to prove ownership, they could not work the farmland or get loans from the bank. These women had no ability to pay for traditional surveyors. Surveying the land through the use of drones helped them register their rightful ownership to their family’s land.
  3. Disaster Relief With Search and Rescue: Coordinated efforts with local authorities create the most beneficial effects. It is important for pilots to avoid any unintentional consequences of drone deployments in disaster zones, which might interfere with official rescue and relief efforts. Following Typhoon Yolanda, which hit the Philippines in 2013, four key drones were launched by different local and international groups to support the relief efforts. They were used to discover safe and effective areas for NGOs to set up camp, identify passable roads, assess the damage from the storm surge and flooding and determine which villages were most affected by the typhoon. Drone surveillance determined some of the most affected areas, and the data was given to different humanitarian organizations to aid the relief efforts. In Dulag, aerial imagery was used to determine which areas had the greatest need for new shelters. This allowed Medair, a Swiss humanitarian organization, to identify how much material was needed and better allocate their resources to help people as quickly as possible.
  4. Vaccine and Medical Supplies Delivery: In December 2018, a drone delivery brought a life-saving vaccine to a remote part of the island of Vanuatu in the South Pacific near Australia. With funding for the humanitarian project supported by UNICEF and the government of Australia, volunteers working with a company called Swoop Aero were able to deliver vaccines through 25 miles of rough mountainous terrain. Drone use helped the vaccines maintain the proper temperature due to the speed available through drone transport and delivered them and other critical medical supplies to remote areas.In Africa, UNICEF funds a company called Zipline. The staff of volunteers delivers vaccines and other medical supplies by using drones. The deliveries have been made to remote villages in the countries of Rwanda and Ghana since 2016. UNICEF sponsors other projects of a similar kind in Malawi and Papua New Guinea. It may take days to reach these remote villages by car or on foot. A drone can fly to them in minutes and land in a small jungle clearing a plane or helicopter could not use. UNICEF also sponsors programs that use drones to transport specimens from remote locations back to laboratories for testing. This helps health care practitioners make the correct diagnosis and administer life-saving treatment to patients quickly.

Drone pilots have plenty of ways to use their skills to help fight poverty and get involved in global relief efforts. Pilots are encouraged to volunteer to help out locally and/or internationally. As Dr. Peter Meir says, “The best use of a drone is to save a life.”

Mark Sheehan
Photo: Unsplash

Education in TunisiaTunisia is a small country in Northern Africa with a population of 11.5 million people. Both Arabic and French play a large role in Tunisian culture and both are considered primary languages of instruction in schools. Education in Tunisia is an important part of society and is compulsory until the age of 16. The following seven facts about education in Tunisia further illuminate the country’s challenges and initiatives to improve the current system and community.

Seven Facts about Education in Tunisia

  1. While Tunisia’s education is influenced by the French system, an emphasis on Arabic language and culture is prioritized within schools. After gaining independence from France in 1956, Tunisian education has seen significant Arabization since the 1970s. In recent years, however, there has been yet another cultural shift marked by the demand for English speakers within the workplace. As a result, the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research partnered with the British council in 2016 to offer English speaking certificates within their Tunisian universities in order to increase employability for Tunisians at home and abroad.
  2. Schools in Tunisia are overseen by the Tunisian Ministry of Education and Training. There are three main levels of schooling: basic, secondary and higher education. In 1991, the Tunisian government passed the New Education Act which lengthened the duration of the basic and secondary levels to 13 years.
  3. The Tunisian government has also significantly invested in a pre-primary level of education intended for children from ages 3-5. These exist in two forms: traditional kindergartens and kouttabs, which are supervised by the Ministry of Women, Family and Childhood and the Ministry of Religious Affairs, respectively. In traditional kindergartens, children follow a standard curriculum. In contrast, kouttabs, the educational focus is on religion. From 1987 to 2007, the number of kouttabs has nearly tripled from 278 to 961. Though there is no data comparing the enrollment between kindergartens and kouttabs, this increase in the number of kouttabs does reveal higher levels of enrollment today.
  4. According to UNESCO, Tunisia spends about 6.2 percent of its GDP on education. Many modern technologies used in Tunisian classrooms today are funded by major organizations such as the World Bank, Microsoft and Apple. This has seen an especially significant impact at the University of Tunis: 20 percent of its courses have been offered online in the last 15 years. This has also increased the number of students able to complete their education by allowing them to work part-time while earning their degrees, an impactful solution in addressing Tunisan educational reforms.
  5. The government’s recent initiatives to improve the education system after independence can be seen in the discrepancies between the older and younger Tunisian generations. According to UNESCO, the literacy rate between 15-24-year-olds was 96.1 percent in comparison to 39.77 percent of those 65 and older as of 2014. To address this issue, the National Adult Education Programme was created in 2000. In the first three years of its existence, the program grew from 107,000 participants to 165,000.
  6. In 2016, the Tunisian government released the Strategic Plan for the Education Sector, detailing intended reforms spanning the next four years. The plan identifies its primary goal: reducing dropout rates to be addressed by “improving teacher training, upgrade curricula and infrastructure, as well as… enhance [the] framework for private sector partnerships.”
  7. According to UNESCO, the education rate between young men and women in Tunisia is almost equal: In 2007, 96.7 percent of girls and 95.5 percent of boys were recorded to be in school. That being said, however, traditional Tunisian cultural norms have heavily influenced the employability of educated women who have a harder time finding work than their lesser-educated counterparts. The World Bank reports that “the unemployment rate has remained around 15.5 percent and is particularly high among women (22.8 percent), graduates (29.4 percent) and in poor regions.”

The World Bank estimates that Tunisia’s economy is projected to grow 4 percent in the next year, which it states is “contingent on the completion of pressing reforms to improve the investment climate and ensure social stability.” These seven facts about education in Tunisia highlight these issues, and ensuring that they are addressed, Tunisia is sure to flourish for years to come.

– Jordan Powell
Photo: Flickr

Alternative to Third WorldThe term “third world” has a deep history, dating back to the Cold War when the world was divided between Western capitalism and Soviet communism. In 1952, French demographer Alfred Sauvy wrote “Three World’s, One Planet,” an article that divided countries into the three different groups we know today.

Three Worlds

Nations such as the United States and Western Europe were designated as the first world. The Soviet Union and its allies became the second world. Finally, all the other nations became known as third world countries. Over the years, the term “third world” began to gather a negative connotation of being less developed and economically sound than the first and second world.

Furthermore, what counts as the third world is not so easy to define. B.R. Tomlinson expressed in his article, “What was the Third World?” that the term is a “convenient and rather vague label for an imprecise collection of states.”

Peter Worsely, a proponent of introducing the term into academia, confessed that “the nature of the Third World seemed so self-evident in the 1960s that in a book on The Third World I published in 1964, I saw no need to define it any more precisely than that it was the world made up of the ex-colonial, newly-independent, non-aligned countries.”

This way of defining nations has long since been outdated. The Soviet Union isn’t even a nation anymore. So, if these nations aren’t the third world, what are they? Is there a more appropriate alternative to third world?

5 Phrases to Use as an Alternative to Third World

  1. Developing Nations – Many argue that the term “developing nations” is a better choice. Vaibhav Bojh, a credit manager at Punjab National Bank in India says, “Being called a developing country gives me a chance to improve.” However, this term comes with its problems too. While the term developing brings about a connotation of improving conditions, it also encourages the misconception that countries with big economies such as the U.S. are not still developing themselves. In 2016, the World Bank announced, “there is no longer a distinction between developing countries…and developed countries.”
  2. LICs and MICs – The World Bank is now encouraging a new classification based on income data. LICs and MICs, pronounced “licks and micks,” defines nations as low-income countries and middle-income countries. For nations that don’t fit either of these definitions, there is LMIC or lower-middle-income countries.
  3. Majority World – The term “Majority World” is often used to remind the West that these countries outnumber them. Majority World refers to countries where most of the population resides. On the other hand, the Minority World are the nations more commonly considered “developed” where a small percentage of the earth’s population lives.
  4. Fat and Lean – Describing a nation as either Fat or Lean, as proposed by Dayo Olopade in his Op-Ed, looks at the value in the operations of each country. Lean nations are resource-scarce so they use what is available more efficiently. As Olopade explains, in Fat nations “plenty is normal.” Olopade illustrates the positive connotation with the term lean, stating, “Individual Africans waste less food and water, owe less money and maintain a regional carbon footprint that is the lowest in the world.”
  5. Global South/North – This is a term that focuses on geographical locations. The term does not perfectly group all nations together. For example, Haiti is in the global north and Australia is in the global south. However, the term avoids any negative connotation.

“Third World” is an old and demeaning term that does not truly describe nations in the modern era. In truth, trying to categorize nations will never be entirely accurate. Every nation has its own culture and way of life. However, if we must refer to them using categories, there are plenty of alternatives to use that should become a part of our vernacular. Using an appropriate alternative to “third world” can help change the way that the world views its nations.

– Maura Byrne
Photo: Flickr

Global Illiteracy
The ability to read and write is one of the few skills with the power to completely change a person’s life. Literacy is vital to education and employment, as well as being incredibly beneficial in everyday life. Global illiteracy is extensive. As of 2018, 750 million people were illiterate, two-thirds of whom were women. 

In 2015, the United Nations set 17 goals for sustainable development, one of which included the aim to “ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy” by 2030. Though this is an admirable goal, current progress suggests that global illiteracy will remain a substantial problem in 2030 and beyond, due to challenges such as poverty and a lack of trained teachers in some areas. While eliminating global illiteracy by the 2030 deadline seems out of reach, companies and organizations around the world are taking steps toward improving literacy rates, often with the help of technological innovations.

  3 Organizations Fighting Global Illiteracy

  1. The Partnership-Afghanistan and Canada (PAC), World Vision and the University of British Columbia have collaborated to create a phone-based program aimed at improving literacy rates among rural women in Afghanistan. Women in remote areas who lack local educational resources learn from daily pre-recorded cell phone calls, which teach them how to read and write in Dari, a Persian dialect widely spoken in Afghanistan.  The lessons require only paper, a writing utensil and cell phone service, which are widely available throughout the country.

  2. The World Literacy Foundation operates many literacy-boosting programs, one of which is its SunBooks project. The project provides solar-powered devices through which students can access digital content and e-books while offline. The SunBooks initiative, intended to boost literacy rates in sub-Saharan Africa, helps young people overcome barriers to literacy such as limited access to books, a lack of electricity and limited internet access. Only 35 percent of schools in sub-Saharan Africa have access to electricity, so traditional e-books are not a viable solution to a lack of books. SunBooks’ content is available in local languages and in English.

  3. A collaboration between Pearson Education’s Project Literacy Campaign, the World Bank and All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development has resulted in a project called EVOKE: Leaders for Literacy. EVOKE is a series of lessons on problem-solving, leadership and the importance of literacy, styled as a video game in which the student plays a superhero. EVOKE aims to empower young people to be literacy advocates in their own communities, and more than 100,000 people have participated in the program.  The project has shown promise in getting young people excited about reading and writing.

People generally understand literacy as a necessary part of education and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights established it a human right in 1948. Yet still, hundreds of thousands of people cannot read or write. Literacy rates are improving, but not quickly enough to meet U.N. targets. These organizations are making valuable contributions toward fighting global illiteracy so that every person can be empowered.

– Meredith Charney
Photo: Pixabay

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

10 Facts About Slums in Manila
Since as early as the mid-1900s, impoverished citizens of Manila, Philippines have resided in informal settlements known as slums. The metro Manila area has several of these slums which houses much of the poor population of the city. Below are 10 facts about slums in Manila.

10 Facts about slums in Manila

  1. An estimated 35 percent of the metro Manila population live in unstable, poorly constructed shelters in slums. Eleven percent of slum residents live near unsafe areas like railroads and garbage dumps. According to the World Bank, living conditions in slums are worse than in the poorest rural areas. The Mega-Cities Project’s research found that tuberculosis rates were nine times higher than in non-slum areas and that rates of diarrheal disease were two times higher.

  2. It is extremely difficult to collect adequate demographic data on slum populations, as most constituents lack a proper address. Even if surveyors reach slum occupants, most are timid to answer questions due to the fear that surveyors will use the information to demolish their shelters or resettle them. Most slum residents have very little or no tenant security. However, in 2000 the Asian Development Bank estimated a total slum population of around 3.4 million in Manila.

  3. The rate of childhood malnutrition is three times higher in the slums than in non-slum areas. According to USAID, children sometimes have to sort through garbage for scraps of food. A study of the Smoky Mountain slum found that 80 percent of children aged eight months to 15 years who scavenged for food had at least two species of intestinal parasites. An Asian Development Bank study found that 50 percent of children were anemic. This is despite the fact that many of these children have access to medical facilities.

  4. Residents in Manila slums lack access to proper sanitation and a clean environment. USAID states that 66 percent of slum residents lack an adequate way to dispose of human waste and often resort to open pits or rivers. A UNICEF study found that only 16 percent of children in the slums have access to clean drinking water. As a result, residents often turn to vendors or contaminated groundwater. The child mortality rate in slums is three times higher than in non-slum areas according to the Philippines Health Department.

  5. Project PEARLS is providing children in Manila slums with food and health care. The organization has three different food programs for the children of Manila slums. PEARLS launched The Soup Kitchen program in July 2015, which feeds at least 300  children per day on a budget of $160. The organization also provides free medicine to children for illnesses like dehydration, flu, pneumonia and infections, as well as various wounds.

  6. Slum settlements in Manila are extremely vulnerable to natural disasters. The Philippines ranks fourth in the global climate risk index and is often prone to typhoons, flooding, earthquakes and other natural disasters. The instability of the often homemade shelters provides little to no protection from these calamities. The Asian Development Bank states that this and the fact that most slums are in dangerous locations make slum settlements vulnerable to natural hazards. Heavy rains in July 2000 caused a landslide of garbage that killed 218 people in a slum settled on top of a garbage dump.

  7. Habitat for Humanity is building stable shelters for slum residents in Manila. With the help of volunteers, the organization builds around 5,000 homes every year. The team works with the local government to rebuild homes and also construct new homes that can withstand the natural elements. From digging the foundation to pouring the concrete and laying the roof, the organization and volunteers create sustainable homes from the ground up for thousands of impoverished slum residents.

  8. The moderate economic growth in recent years did not help to mitigate poverty or slums. The Asian Development Bank reported an average 5.3 percent increase in GDP from 2003 to 2006. Poverty rates increased from 24 percent to 27 percent during that time and continued to increase in 2007 when the GDP growth was 7.1 percent. Chronic poverty, driven by factors like severe inequality and corruption, hinders the reduction of slum residents and settlements. The Philippines ranked 141 out of 180 countries in the 2008 Transparency International corruption perceptions index. According to the Asian Development Bank, local political dynasties manipulate markets to deter the poor from accessing private goods and capital. In 2006, the richest 20 percent owned 53 percent of the wealth in the country.

  9. Poverty is fuelling online child sex abuse in the slums. The live streaming of child pornography in these locations has led UNICEF to name the Philippines the global epicenter of the online child sex abuse trade. Despite the new cybercrime unit at the Philippines National Police Headquarters and the passage of an Anti-Child Pornography Law, convictions remain low and case reports high. This is partially due to the fact that the age of consent in the Philippines is only 12 years old. UNICEF reports that parents have even brought their children to these shows to earn money.

  10. Police and government corruption have engendered the unlawful killings of thousands of slum citizens at the hands of officers since the start of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. These corrupt and violent raids target slum residents the most. A Human Rights Watch report found that these raids have unlawfully killed over 7,000 people. The report states that police often falsify evidence and falsely claim self-defense to get away with these extra-judicial killings. Although Duterte has not called for extra-judicial killings, his repeated calls for the killing of drug offenders and an absence of any investigations into the killings prompted the Human Rights Watch to label this campaign as a possible progenitor of crimes against humanity.

The Manila government has struggled to find ways to reduce poverty and the population of slum residents, but poverty is a drain on Manila’s economy. According to the Asian Development Bank, for every one percent increase in poverty, there is a 0.7 percent decrease in overall per capita income. Along with this economic algorithm, a lack of investment, access to capital and financial markets throughout slum communities hinders economic growth. Different non-governmental organizations like Habitat for Humanity and Project PEARLS are providing basic essentials and helpful assistance for the different struggles of slum life. However, the Philippines requires more research and both domestic and international assistance to mitigate and eventually solve the aforementioned 10 facts about slums in Manila.

– Zach Brown
Photo: Flickr

Urban and Rural Voucher SystemsEach year, millions of pregnant women give birth without access to proper health care services. Countries such as Ethiopia, Laos and Yemen are just a few parts of the world where this is a major problem. For example, in Ethiopia, 59 percent of women do not receive care by a medical professional during pregnancy. In Zimbabwe, however, access to prenatal care has drastically improved since the 2014 implementation of the Urban and Rural Voucher Systems (UVS and RVS, respectively). These systems allow for low-income pregnant women to receive the healthcare that they need. They have already had incredible benefits on thousands of pregnant women. Additionally, they set a great precedent for governments and NGOs to come together to find solutions to pressing maternal health issues.

Qualifications

The UVS and RVS service pregnant women whose incomes place them in the bottom 40 percent of households in Zimbabwe. Consequently, women who cannot afford the required $25 co-pay at many clinics can still receive care. Providing women with this essential health care helps to ensure that these women and their babies stay healthy and safe both during and after pregnancy.

Funding

The government of Zimbabwe, the World Bank and Codaid are the main sources of funding for the UVS and RVS. Cordaid is a local NGO that has assisted with much of the program’s implementation. Clinics are subsidized based on their performance. They measure performance on overall range and quality of coverage. This supply-side solution works to help promote jobs and economic growth in local communities, which contributes to the program’s long-term sustainability.

Impact on the Poor

Access to proper care during pregnancy is essential to ensure the health of expectant mothers and their child. In many countries around the world, women do not have access to this care. As a result, the consequences have been horrific.

For instance, there are roughly 3.3 million neonatal deaths recorded per year. Neonatal refers to the first four weeks of a baby’s life. Proper prenatal care can prevent these fatalities. A woman who receives such care is far less likely to give birth to a child with fatal health issues. Proper prenatal care can help identify and fix possible health issues before they become too serious. In addition, receiving prenatal care can offer educational resources. The care can educate a woman about the ways in which they should go about raising a healthy child.

Conclusion

Zimbabwe’s Urban and Rural Voucher Systems have had immense benefits since their implementation. The thousands of women that they have helped to serve reflect such benefits. The programs provide an affordable and accessible option for pregnant mothers to receive the care that they need to ensure both their health and the health of their babies. Also, the UVP and RVP supply-side design ensure that the programs are helping to stimulate local economies and bring communities together. All in all, while much progress must still be made towards increasing access to prenatal care for pregnant women around the world, Zimbabwe has taken an important first step with its Urban and Rural Voucher Systems.

– Kiran Matthias
Photo: Flickr

Renewable Energy in Djibouti

Djibouti, located in East Africa and bordered by Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia, has a population of nearly one million people. In 2013, Djibouti announced Vision 2035, a comprehensive plan to use exclusively renewable energy and achieve universal access to reliable electricity. If successful, Djibouti would become the seventh country in the world and the first African country to achieve 100 percent renewable energy.

Djibouti’s Energy Infrastructure Today

Right now, Djibouti faces several roadblocks in its path toward renewable energy. For example, much of Djibouti’s energy comes from volatile imports. Around 65 percent of Djibouti’s electricity comes from Ethiopia. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), this reliance on imported energy leads to price volatility that can hamstring economic development plans. Much of Djibouti’s remaining energy comes from its own geothermal, solar, wind and biomass sources. However, much of this electricity is unreliable. According to USAID, 100 megawatts of electricity that Djibouti consumes, only 57 megawatts are available to serve the population because of underdeveloped energy infrastructure. In addition, only 60 percent of Djiboutians have access to electricity. There is a large disparity in access between urban and rural areas, with far more city dwellers connected to the grid than those in rural areas. In total, 110,000 households in Djibouti without electricity.

Potential and Progress

Despite these hurdles, Djibouti has a remarkable potential to increase domestic renewable energy production. Djibouti has the natural capacity to produce 300 megawatts of renewable energy annually—triple what it produces today. The country has abundant solar radiation for the creation of solar farms and many opportunities to harvest geothermal energy, such as the rifts of its two largest lakes, Abbe and Assal.

Since the 2013 commencement of Vision 2035, much of this potential has been actualized. The creation of the Djibouti Geothermal Power Generation Project, a power plant in Lake Assal, was announced in 2013. In 2018, construction began after $50 million in funding was secured by the World Bank and other financiers. Moreover, a $390 million solar farm is under construction in southern Djibouti as a result of a public-private partnership between Djibouti’s Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources and Green Enesys, a German renewable energy firm. Djibouti is already beginning to reap the benefits of renewable energy investment projects. The World Bank reports a four percent increase in access to electricity from 2013 to 2017—the largest sustained increase in over two decades.

The Importance of Renewable Energy

There are many important benefits to Vision 2035 if it succeeds. Access to energy is essential to economic growth. The World Bank reports that reliable energy is critical for several aspects of development such as “health, education, food security, gender equality, livelihoods and poverty reduction.” Better electricity is vital for sustained progress in Djibouti.

Additionally, Vision 2035 offers a framework of sustainable development that maintains the integrity of Djibouti’s natural ecosystems. By harnessing energy from renewable sources, Djibouti can reduce poverty without depleting its forests or relying on imported coal or oil. By becoming the first African country to use 100 percent renewable energy, Djibouti has the opportunity to become a leading international voice in sustainable development.

– Abraham Rohrig
Photo: Flickr

Agricultural Development in LesothoLesotho is a small mountainous country in South Africa with a population of around 1,962,461. The expanding population puts pressure of settlement on many areas which results in “overgrazing, severe soil erosion and soil exhaustion; desertification; Highlands Water Project controls, stores, and redirects water to South Africa.” Agriculture used to be a major component of Lesotho’s GDP, but its contribution decreased in the 1990s due to drought.

Currently, only one-tenth of the country is fertile. Despite this fact, a large part of Lesotho’s rural population practices subsistence agriculture. The most common crops are corn (maize), sorghum, wheat and beans. Unfortunately, due to drought, it has become necessary to import foodstuffs.

Agricultural projects such as the World Bank’s Lesotho Smallholder Agriculture Development Project (SADP) are working to improve agricultural development in Lesotho.

Smallholder Agriculture Development Project

On November 11, 2011, the first SADP was approved in order to promote and improve agricultural development in Lesotho. The dates for the implementation of the project were from 2011 to 2018, however, it was extended to 2020. The World Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) partnered to direct a support mission for the SADP. The SADP project is meant to “support smallholder farmers to exploit opportunities to increase their productivity and diversify into market-oriented agriculture.” The project area covers four out of the 10 districts in Lesotho and focuses on: “increasing agricultural market opportunities, increasing market-oriented smallholder production, identifying commercially viable activities that can be replicated and successfully scaled up and project management”

The first SADP is ongoing, however, on May 30, 2019, the World Bank approved the Lesotho Smallholder Agriculture Development Project-II. The second SADP leans toward the technological side as it was implemented to “support increased adoption of climate-smart agricultural (CSA) technologies in Lesotho’s agriculture, enhanced commercialization, and improved dietary diversity among targeted beneficiaries.”

The SADPs will improve agricultural development in Lesotho by minimizing the possible effects of climate change on produce. The project will promote and support the increase of climate-smart agricultural technologies as well as enhance commercialization and improve dietary diversity. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO-UN) defines climate-smart agriculture based on “three pillars: increasing productivity and incomes, enhancing resilience of livelihoods and ecosystems and reducing and removing greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere.”

Incentives for Farmers

Farmers and agro-processors who finance investments will receive matching grants for increasing productivity and post-harvest infrastructure and management. Paul Noumba Um, World Bank Country Director for seven South African countries, stated that the project will help the Government of Lesotho “improve the country’s food security, employment opportunities, rural livelihoods and nutrition and increased commercialization through mainstreaming climate and environment considerations into agriculture to enhance climate resilience.”

Since the 1990s, Lesotho has been experiencing droughts and population pressure that put constraints on its agricultural production. Agriculture used to play a large part in the country’s GDP, but its role has been steadily decreasing. Efforts to improve agricultural development in Lesotho have been made through projects such as the SADPs. By increasing the rate and quality of agricultural production, there are hopes that food security, employment opportunities, rural livelihoods and nutrition will increase throughout the country as well.

– Jade Thompson
Photo: Wikimedia

Maternal Mortality Rate in GuatemalaAs of 2015, the maternal mortality rate in Guatemala was 88, and three-quarters of these maternal deaths occurred in women of indigenous ancestry. The maternal mortality rate among indigenous women is thought to be more than 200. Since midwives or comadronas primarily care for pregnant indigenous women in Guatemala, investments from the World Bank and UNFPA have been focused on training midwives and connecting them with hospital services when necessary. More than six million indigenous people inhabit Guatemala and comprise a large portion–estimated at 45 to 60 percent–of the population. Further, 21.8 percent of the indigenous population live in extreme poverty compared to only 7.4 percent of the non-indigenous population.

Improving Mortality through Training

In 2006, UNFPA, a U.N. agency focused on sexual and reproductive health, began to offer obstetrical emergency training to local comadronas and family planning methods. The agency also teaches the importance of a skilled attendant being present during births in order to improve the maternal mortality rate in Guatemala. Estimates suggest that a well-trained midwifery service “could avert roughly two-thirds of all maternal and newborn deaths.” Statistics show that from 2009 to 2016, UNFPA has trained more than 35,000 midwives.

The Department of Sololá in the western highlands of Guatemala is home to more than 300,000 people, most of whom are indigenous Maya. Only one in four rural births occurs in a hospital, compared with over two-thirds of urban births. In Sololá, comadronas attend more than 63 percent of births mainly outside of a hospital. Some estimates put this figure at more than 90 percent.

The Improving Maternal and Neo-Natal Health Initiative has a three-pronged approach and funding from the World Bank’s Youth Innovation Fund in 2017. The initiative has established a visually-based curriculum to help comadronas recognize dangers and risks during delivery, two-week long training workshops conducted in local healthcare posts, and endowment of “safe birthing kits” for all comadronas containing tools such as latex gloves and gauze pads. Unlike previous initiatives, these trainings have been conducted in local languages rather than solely Spanish. Rosa, a comadrona in the city of Santiago, said this simple change made her “feel more respected” and gave her an increased desire to participate because she felt empowered to save “more lives in her community.”

In collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health and the government of Guatemala, the Maternal Child Survival Program (MCSP), an international program with national and subnational branches, implemented a Midwifery Training Program in February 2018 to improve the maternal mortality rate in Guatemala. Their model uses a competency-based skills training approach. Working with the University of San Martin Porres, MCSP established a coursework protocol for certification.

Discrimination Against Indigenous Peoples

Maternal mortality rates among indigenous populations in Guatemala face particular hurdles. In addition to access to care and infrastructure challenges, indigenous populations face heavy discrimination. They are often evicted from their ancestral lands only to face abuse within the criminal justice system. One young indigenous man reported abuse at the hands of a local gang to police. He believed that “the police don’t listen to us as indigenous people–they do not care about us.” A U.N. Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, says she is very worried about “the grave situation of indigenous peoples” in Guatemala.

Guatemala has made consistent strides in reducing the national maternal mortality rate from more than 200 in 1990 to less than 100 today. However, the maternal mortality rate among indigenous populations remains high. Indigenous populations should be heartened by these improvements, but their unique struggles must not be lost in the larger narrative of maternal mortality in Guatemala.

– Sarah Boyer
Photo: Flickr