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Cameroon’s Agriculture Industry
There is potential for growth in Cameroon’s agriculture industry. Although Cameroon is Africa’s fourth-largest cocoa producer, the country imports more than $800 million worth of cereal, flour and fish to feed its people and meet demands in production.

The subsistence agriculture industry employs more than 50 percent of Cameroonians, which requires hard labor without machinery. Cameroon President Paul Biya emphasized the need for a more productive and modern agriculture industry that would benefit small and medium-sized farms. The World Bank, Nestle and the IFC have made various efforts to develop the Cameroonian agriculture sector.

World Bank Project

The World Bank created the Agriculture Investment and Market Development Project to improve the productivity of subsistence crops such as cassava, maize and sorghum. The project began in 2014, costs $166 million and closes on July 2021. The areas of focus range from improving seed quality and public infrastructure to enhancing agricultural technology and distribution systems. Commercial farming is rare. This is why the World Bank is helping create a dominant industry that departs from the old, inefficient and arduous ways of subsistence farming.

Various targets under the project are complete. Yields in cassava, maize and sorghum have all increased. Maize yields have already surpassed the set target while cassava and sorghum are just below their targeted yields. The project has implemented more than 86 sub-projects out of the target goal of 100. More than 15,000 clients have adopted improved agricultural technology that the project introduced, and there are more than 139,000 direct project beneficiaries out of the goal of 150,000. The project also distributed more than 16 million cassava seeds. Although the project ends in July 2021, it met many of its targets. The project benefited Cameroon’s agriculture industry and will continue to do so thanks to the World Bank and its partners.

A Win-Win Scenario

Due to Cameroon’s position as a trade hub off the coast of Africa, companies are seeing opportunities in the growing agriculture industry. Tiger Brands bought Cameroonian company Chococam in 2008 and afterward saw “excellent growth in operating income, driven by strong volume growth and tight cost management.” Nestle produces its Maggi stock cubes in Cameroon but wants more inputs from local farmers. Nestle views it as a win-win scenario, as it gives Nestle a competitive advantage and also helps local farmers and rural development. Nestle also wants to create a starch similar to cornstarch from Cameroon’s cassava plant. It currently imports cornstarch from Europe.

The insurance industry is also developing Cameroon’s agriculture industry and helping farmers insure their crops. International Finance Corporation (IFC) partners ACTIVA Assurance and AXA Cameroon are two insurance companies that provided index insurance to nearly 8,000 cotton growers. Index insurance helps farmers during climatic shocks, such as floods that are common in the country. The goal of IFC and its partners is to provide 135,000 agricultural index insurance contracts by the end of 2020. This will enable 700,000 farm households to offset yield reductions during natural disasters.

Future of the Industry

Companies and NGOs aided Cameroon’s growing agriculture industry either directly or indirectly. Progress is ongoing, but more the industry requires more to develop and help those in poverty. About 90 percent of the poor reside in rural areas, where the main source of income comes from subsistence farming. Thanks to the World Bank, Nestle, Tiger Brands and various NGOs and nonprofits, Cameroon is seeing positive growth in agriculture development.

– Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr

Human Capital Investment in SomaliaSomalia is one of the 10 poorest countries in the world. UNICEF estimates that 43 percent of the Somali population live on less than a dollar a day, while around half of the labor force is unemployed. Social unrest caused by a long civil war, coupled with weak institutions have contributed to devastatingly high levels of poverty in the region. One especially prominent effect of this has been the incredibly weak education system in Somalia. Only half of the Somali population is literate and in 2016, only 32 percent of Somali children were enrolled in school. This has undermined much of the government’s attempts to build successful anti-poverty initiatives, as economic development requires substantial improvements in the human capital development of Somalia.

Partnership with the World Bank

Somalia had previously been unable to attain a partnership with the World Bank, due to high levels of debt carrying over from previous World Bank loans. However, the ambitious economic reforms of the new Somali government which was established in 2012, offer hope for improvement, culminating in the new Country Partnership Framework established by the World Bank in 2018. The World Bank has dedicated its resources to aiding the Somali government in developing stronger institutions and economic growth, in line with the government’s National Development plan. As a result of the new partnership, the World Bank now accounts for 15 percent of total financing (around $28.5 million) for Technical and Vocational Education and Training programs in Somalia.

Human Capital Investments

These investments play a significant role in human capital development, as they offer an opportunity for Somalia to diversify its economy and offer the potential for granting individuals access to sustainable long-term income. This is especially true of the role that education plays, as creating a more educated population can be vital to ensuring continued economic growth, reducing the overall reliance on foreign aid. Improvements in human capital have the potential for massive returns. The World Bank estimates that human capital growth can produce a 10 to 30 percent increase in per-capita GDP, providing economic resilience, as well as developing the tools necessary to help lift a country out of poverty. 

Such programs can play a vital role in improving employer confidence and organizing effective human capital advances. While many other reforms may contribute to economic growth, it is important to note that since the World Bank began the partnership in 2018, the country’s GDP has grown by 0.7 percent.

Overall, by securing this partnership with the World Bank, Somalia is working toward major educational reforms to boost human capital development for this and future generations.

– Alexander Sherman
Photo: Flickr

women's digital financial inclusionAcross the globe, digital finance services are empowering vulnerable communities to make responsible investments, save for the future and gain access to credit. Between 2011 and 2014, seven hundred million people in the developing world gained access to these services, allowing them to participate in formal economic decisions for the first time. Although there is a long journey ahead for women’s digital financial inclusion in the developing world, much is being done to help close the gap.

Barriers and Challenges

Despite rapid growth, there is still a significant deficit in women’s digital financial inclusion. According to the World Bank, there is a 9 percent disparity in financial inclusion between men and women in the developing world. This number has remained the same since 2011. The disparity is in large part born out of several social, economic and cultural barriers that hinder women in the developing world from gaining access to these kinds of services. Lower rates of mobile phone ownership and low rates of digital literacy among women are arguably the two most prominent barriers for women in the developing world.

A 2018 report recorded that women in low to middle-income countries are 10 percent less likely to own a mobile phone than their male counterparts. That 10 percent translates to around 184 million women without access to a mobile device and, therefore, digital financing services. Without this crucial link to a formal economy, women are excluded from credit approval and economic and political decision-making. They have little to no control over how their personal funds are spent.

In addition, an overall lack of digital literacy causes an assortment of issues for women’s inclusion in financial matters. According to the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI), 75 percent of survey respondents classified a lack of digital literacy as a major barrier in women’s digital financial inclusion. Without knowledge of these innovative services, women in rural and impoverished regions are forced to resort to less trustworthy forms of investment and informal savings. These often yield large negative returns for participants. This method of financing makes the identification of these women extremely difficult. This leads to low loan approval and higher interest rates for those women who are lucky enough to get approved.

Nonprofits Commit to Closing the Gender Gap

Despite various challenges, much is being done to assist women in developing countries on their path to financial stability and independence. In 2014, AFI signed the Denarau Action Plan, which lays out a commitment to halve the financial gender gap by 2021. AFI isn’t alone in their pursuits either. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recently launched an institutional gender strategy that will commit $170 million to the economic empowerment of women. Consultive Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) also recently joined forces with 200 different organizations in similar pursuits.

The issue of women’s digital financial inclusion is gaining momentum globally. The world is starting to recognize just how much of a positive impact financial gender-equality will have on the global economy. AFI found that global gender-equality could unlock $12 trillion in incremental GDP by 2025 with a specific focus on digital finance services. Although progress is slow, women in developing nations are beginning to reap the benefits of financial inclusion on a more personal scale.

Digital financial services give these women the opportunity to gain financial independence, create and expand their businesses, plan for their families’ futures and make empowered decisions about how their funds will be spent. The world is recognizing women’s digital financial inclusion as a top priority and it is bursting into action to provide these women with financial independence, stability and empowerment.

Ashlyn Jensen
Photo: Pixabay

The Power of Mining and the Future of Eritrea

Eritrea is a poor country located in the horn of Africa. Its high poverty rate of 50 percent is a burden on Eritreans seeking greater well-being. Although the country is poor, the mining sector has shown considerable promise for the future of Eritrea. The GDP growth rate increase from 2.2 percent in 2010 to 8.7 percent in 2011, which made it one of the fastest-growing economies in the world at the time. Its current GDP growth rate is high at about 4 percent. One reason for its high average growth is the mining sector.

Abundant Natural Resources

Eritrea has many natural resources that account for its growth, such as copper, granite, potash, gold and marble. The United Nations Development Programme believes the Colluli Mining Share’s potash project in Eritrea has the potential to boost its economy while also appealing to the country’s sustainability agenda. The Australian mining company Danakali and the Eritrean government share the project 50-50.

The largest known deposit of potash or SOP in the world exists in Eritrea. Globally, SOP is currently consumed at a rate of seven million tonnes annually. Seamus Cornelius, the Colluli company director, said that Eritrea could meet that demand for at least 30 years. With the implementation of the project, locals could find work at the mines, especially those in poverty.

Economic Effects

The U.N. report also reported the impact of the Colluli mine. Reports showed that SOP could make up to 50 percent of exports in Eritrean by 2030 and comprise at least 3 percent of Eritrean GDP by 2021. It could also have a strong impact on agriculture productivity, indirectly employing upwards of 10,000 people by 2026. Another positive aspect of the project is that it will not affect any animals or plants because the mine is located in an uninhabited salt basin.

China’s Sichuan Road & Bridge Mining Investment Development Corp. is also seeing potential in Eritrea, particularly in copper, gold, silver and zinc. Estimates determine that more than 574,000 tons of copper, 930,000 ounces of gold and 1.2 million tons of zinc could be found in four deposits near the city, Asmara. July 9, 2018, marked the end of Eritrea’s conflict with Ethiopia, which increased notice from foreign investors interested in Eritrea’s mines such as China. Due to peace between the two nations, the future of Eritrea appears optimistic.

The Ports Rehabilitation Project

The World Bank upgraded and rehabilitated two major ports in Eritrea, Massawa and Assab through a $30 million project that was approved in 2011. Results were substantial, particularly for the Massawa port. Bulk cargo handling exceeded the original target of 1,100 tonnes by hitting 1,457. This was a 71 percent increase from 850 tonnes per ship per day in 1997. Natural resources are a top exporter and the Ports Rehabilitation Project exponentially improved productivity and efficiency. It especially enabled easier access for petroleum imports into Eritrea.

Corruption and Privatization

Canadian mining company Nevsun Resource had a 60 percent stake in the Bisha Mine, which mines zinc and copper. Accusations of forced labor caused the company to appeal to the Canadian Supreme Court in January 2019. One of the largest gold producers in the world, Zijin Mining Group Company, acquired Nevsun. After the human rights incident, Nevsun began training its employees on Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights and now has an ongoing presence in infrastructure projects including water accessibility and supply in Eritrea.

Eritrea has one of the fastest-growing economies due to the strength of its mining sector. With the help of nongovernment organizations, external companies and other parties, the economy could become stronger. Growth from not just from the mining sector but also the agriculture sector would increase possibilities for the future of Eritrea.

– Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Comoros
Comoros is a small country comprised of four islands located just off Africa’s eastern coast. Poverty is widespread across the island due to limited access to transportation to the mainland and very few goods that could be exported to encourage economic growth. These 10 facts about life expectancy in Comoros will demonstrate how poverty and other factors contribute.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Comoros

  1. The population of Comoros is rapidly growing with poor health services unable to keep up. As of 2018, the average was 350 people per square mile. Anjouan has the largest population of the Comoros islands. Overcrowding makes resources scarce and health is rapidly declining. The life expectancy of any person on the islands rarely exceeds the age of 65; in 2018, the CIA reported that only 3.98 percent of the population was 65 years or older. Most of the population are children from infancy to the age of 14 at 38.54 percent.
  2. Overcrowding on the island has led some to attempt illegal immigration to the French island of Mayotte. In 1995, the French government declared travel to Mayotte without a visa illegal. Immigration for the people of Comoros is more challenging, but it does not stop them from fleeing to find a better life outside of the overpopulated islands. As of 2017, 40 percent of the population of Mayotte comprised of illegal immigrants from Comoros. The journey is certainly not safe; The New Humanitarian estimates 200 to 500 deaths every year are a result of attempted immigration to Mayotte in the tiny fishing boats that the Comoros people call kwassa-kwassa. The majority of those who cross are children that parents send in search of a better life, contributing to the high mortality rate of children in Comoros.
  3. The overcrowding is due in part to the high birth rate as compared to the death rate. Despite the low age of life expectancy, the death rate overall is only seven deaths per 1,000 people as reported by the CIA. In comparison, the birth rate is 25 births per 1,000.
  4. The infant mortality rate, however, is extraordinarily high. The country ranks number 17 on the CIA’s list with an estimated 58 deaths per 1,000 births. The problem is, in part, due to the limit of financing toward health care and hospitals. Financing has not exceeded 5 percent in total government spending within the last few decades according to the African Health Observatory (AHO).
  5. Illness, as a result of low attendance to health care facilities, runs rampant in Comoros. Malaria was once the deadliest disease until 2011 when it finally began to decline. The Comoros government launched the Residential Spraying campaign to provide insecticide and treatments to the water. Transmittable diseases, according to a table released by the AHO, are the prime suspect for illness and fatality on the islands. Sixty-six percent of all deaths related to diseases are a result of transmittable illnesses, while only 25 percent are non-transmittable and 9 percent are due to injury or natural causes.
  6. Cardiovascular disease (CDV) is on the rise, according to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO); as of 2016, CDV has fatally affected 17 percent of the population of Comoros. The AHO links CDV to malnutrition and the consumption of less than adequate food to survive. Since 2005, cerebrovascular heart disease and ischemic heart disease have increased by 4.2 percent and 5.4 percent respectively. As of 2015, these diseases were the third and fourth most deadly in Comoros.
  7. Tuberculosis is also rampant on the islands; WHO estimates 28,000 of Comoros became infected with the deadly disease in 2017. Twenty-one thousand of those infected with TB died. Only 10 percent of the population receive a preventative for TB, clearly demonstrating the need for better health care access to increase life expectancy in Comoros.
  8. The leading cause of death as of 2015 is lower respiratory infections. This includes bronchitis, influenza and pneumonia, among others. According to WHO, 47 percent of all deaths in the country as of 2016 are due to communicable diseases such as these infections. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) reported that between 1990 and 2010, lower respiratory infections remained the deadliest issue in Comoros with an estimated 27,000 years of life lost among the younger generations fatally affected.
  9. Though illnesses are slowly declining, other health issues are beginning to arise in their place. A lack of adequate nutrition is beginning to plague the people of Comoros. The CIA estimates that Comoros exports roughly 70 percent of all food it grows, leaving very little for its people. According to a report in 2011 by the World Bank, 44 percent of children in Comoros are malnourished and one in every four children is born with low birth weight. This contributes to the infant mortality rate mentioned earlier. Vitamin A deficiency and anemia are the leading causes of health issues among those who are malnourished in Comoros.
  10. Sanitation issues are on the rise due to the overcrowded population. Water sanitation is one of the top concerns. The islands have very little freshwater resources; Grande Comoro, the main island, has no surface water at all and the people import water from the mainland. Meanwhile, the other 50 percent of the population in rural communities rely on collecting rainwater. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) wants to change this dangerous way of living and ensure that all the citizens of Comoros have access to safe drinking water. With the government of Comoros, its goal is to increase the freshwater supply to 100 percent for all by the year 2030. With all parties assisting, the project has $60 million at its disposal.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Comoros show that in recent years, aid to Comoros has increased, especially with sanitation. The life expectancy in Comoros is only one part of the problem that the people of the country faces. Comoros must come to an agreement with Mayotte and other countries accept the refugees who are seeking a better life.

– Nikolas Leasure
Photo: Flickr

 

Life Expectancy in Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda is a small nation in the Caribbean including several islands. Many consider it to be one of the most prosperous countries in the area and it boasts relatively good social indicators. That does not mean that its people have completely escaped the troubles of everyday life that come with residing in a developing country, though. Despite its high standing within the Caribbean it still does not compare well with the rest of the world. These 10 facts about life expectancy in Antigua and Barbuda will shed a light on the country’s struggles as well as the progress it has made and what impact that has on its citizens.

10 Facts about Life Expectancy in Antigua and Barbuda

  1. Life Expectancy is Improving: Life expectancy for the people of Antigua and Barbuda is 72.3 years old. This is one of the strongest indicators of the steady progress that the country is making. Since 1960, there has been an enormous jump from the previous life expectancy of 52.5 according to the World Bank.
  2. Infant Mortality is Improving: Infant mortality rates are improving but still stand at almost double those of many western countries. UNICEF reported that the current infant mortality rate for children under the age of 5 stands at 7.4 deaths per 1,000 births. This shows great improvement considering that the infant mortality rate was over triple that number in 1990 at 26.3 deaths per 1,000 births.
  3. The Country is Susceptible to Natural Disaster: A Caribbean country, Antigua and Barbuda faces the constant threat of hurricanes. A semi-recent hurricane to hit the country was Hurricane Irma which caused mass devastation. While the country did not suffer massive numbers of casualties, injuries and displacement were rampant. The country was still facing the damage years later resulting in Prime Minister Gaston Browne proposing a complete rehaul of the landowning system in an effort to rebuild the country’s destroyed property.
  4. Poverty is Prevalent: There is still a relatively large amount of poverty within the country. The Headcount Index places 18.3 percent of the population of Antigua and Barbuda as being below the poverty line. Around 3.7 percent of the population falls within the indigent population and another 10 percent is vulnerable. Estimates put the poverty line in Antigua and Barbuda at $2,366 puts into perspective the lack of income that such a large portion of the population lives on. Despite these grim numbers, Antigua and Barbuda still ranks among the most well perfuming Caribbean nations with the second-lowest poverty rate. While little new data is available, an optimist might take continued economic growth as a sign that things have been improving.
  5. Unemployment Rates are High: Reports stated that the unemployment rate in 2011 was 10.2 percent with a breakdown of 11.2 percent of men being unemployed and 9.4 percent of women being unemployed. The biggest age bracket falls within the 15-25 range and no doubt contributes to the relatively high aforementioned poverty rates.
  6. Nourishment is Varied:  Antigua and Barbuda does not guarantee nourishment to every citizen. Data collected in different areas of Antigua and Barbuda showed a major discrepancy with nourishment between those areas. When looking at the percentage of children malnourished over 12 months in two different cities, Bendals and Clare Hall, 1.2 percent of children in Bendals were malnourished, while 10.3 percent of children in Clare Hall were malnourished. The country is has continued to address this issue and in 2013, the Zero Hunger Challenge advertised as an advocacy tool for irradiating world hunger by the Food and Agriculture Organization, which is the leading U.N. agency fighting hunger.
  7. Water Shortages are an Issue: As a Caribbean nation, Antigua and Barbuda has not escaped the water shortage that the entire area is facing. As of 2015, the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) made it known that the country did not have consistent access to running water. In 2017, Antigua and Barbuda was among 37 countries predicted to have “extremely high” levels of water stress.
  8. Health Care has Potential: The government of Antigua and Barbuda provides 100 percent of the population with health care with a reported 2.77 percent of the GDP going towards public health. The publicly financed system provides maternal and child health, community mental health and dental care. While the country provides some care, several tourists have expressed dissatisfaction with the public health care system, which highlights that there might still be more room for further improvement.
  9. Educational Trends are Promising: Not only are primary and secondary school completely free, but they are also compulsory. This no doubt plays a part in the adult literacy rate of 98 percent for those above the age of 15. For context, the Caribbean has an overall adult literacy rate of just 71 percent, well below that of Antigua and Barbuda.
  10. Incentives to Eliminate the Top Killers: Antigua and Barbuda has had the same four leading causes of death for over 10 years. Those four are heart disease, stroke, diabetes and respiratory infections. While there is little clear data on the causes of these diseases in Antigua and Barbuda specifically, medical professionals often attribute them to poor diet, air quality, and access. There have been incentives to improve health care as well as education in the country.

A small nation with a small population of 105,000 people, people often overlook Antigua and Barbuda when addressing the global issues of poverty. However, it is important to realize that people should not overlook any nation and these 10 facts about life expectancy in Antigua and Barbuda are just a snapshot into the progress and problems the country is addressing.

– Samira Darwich
Photo: Max Pixel

Fighting Poverty in Haiti
Haiti is a country among the most struggle-filled in terms of development in its personal history. With a long history of changing its rule, sociopolitical instability and copious natural disasters, Haiti faces one of the tallest uphill battles of any country. The country is one of the United States’ top trading partners and there has been a solid, though rocky, history between the two nations. The following will describe some of the struggles the country faces in developing its infrastructure, as well as a quick look at how the United States and other nonprofit groups are fighting poverty in Hati.

The Challenges of Infrastructure

Developing infrastructure and fighting poverty in Haiti is no small task, but Haiti has a history and a geographical position that makes it even more challenging than many other developing nations. Economically, Haiti has faced a depreciation of value in its currency and a heavy reliance on foreign aid that composes 20 percent of its overall annual budget. It also has faced a long history of dictatorships or otherwise corrupt government officials, which creates difficulty in achieving political stability even today. The most damaging factors to Haiti’s infrastructure, however, come from the natural world.

Haiti faces more natural disasters than any other Caribbean nation. Positioned on a fault line and directly in the path of most hurricane formations through the Gulf of Mexico, the nation suffers earthquakes, extreme flooding and wind damage. Though these are difficult enough to face on their own, a lack of city planning or rapid response to infrastructure damage leaves Haiti recovering for a lengthy time period after such disasters. In 2010, there was a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that displaced many Haitians from their homes; from 2015-2017, there was a massive drought leading to losses of 70 percent of crops; and in 2016, Hurricane Matthew caused significant damage to infrastructure and housing. Haiti faces a number of rapid-fire disasters and it does not have the economic resources nor the political responsibility required to recover.

There are other infrastructural systems that face significant issues in Haiti. Aside from damages to roads and buildings, there are many cities in Haiti without a central sewage system. Port-au-Prince is among the largest cities in the world without such a system, causing over 3 million people to use outhouses. The lack of improved sanitation systems leads to water contamination and outbreaks of diseases such as dengue, malaria and cholera. Internet access and electricity is also improving, but at a very slow rate – only about 12 percent of Haitians have access to the internet and roughly 44 percent have access to electricity.

Solutions

In order to assist with developing infrastructure and fighting poverty in Haiti, organizations like the World Bank and USAID, and nonprofits such as HERO and Hope for Haiti, are coming together to provide assistance to Haitians both directly and through funding. The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) rehabilitated over 100 kilometers of roadway, set up a debris processing facility and provided recovery kits to 50,000 people following the 2010 earthquake – all the while employing Haitians for such recovery projects and providing them a source of income.

The nonprofits HERO and Hope for Haiti are also helping with developing infrastructure and fighting poverty in Haiti. HERO provides 24/7 medical emergency response, as well as other important health services, in Haiti. This means that when such disasters occur, there will still be emergency relief aid. Hope for Haiti is also assisting with education and water-based infrastructure – providing education for over 7,000 students, and 1.7 million gallons of clean water annually to families in need. The assistance of these organizations is integral, and with their help alongside national organizations and a potential increase in aid from the United States, Haiti can overcome its struggles for infrastructure.

– Jade Follette
Photo: Defense.gov

Poverty Level
The word poverty is common in discussions of politics, global issues, health and education around the world. Although many organizations are working to put an end to poverty, the general public often has many questions surrounding this prevalent topic. What does it mean to be in poverty and what is the poverty level?

The most recent poverty level set in 2015 stated that an adult making less than $1.90 a day is in poverty. People could questions surrounding the poverty level from a variety of perspectives. Politicians often use it around the globe to allot aid and develop economic policy, but mathematicians can also use it to compare the rates of poverty among countries and solution-oriented NGOs can use it to understand the root causes of poverty. In today’s era, one hefty debate revolves around the impacts of globalization on poverty-ridden countries. This is just one context in which the poverty level is a useful tool in decision making and analysis.

Who Determines the Poverty Level?

The World Bank sets the international poverty line and it fluctuates over time based on how the cost of living changes around the world. To calculate a shared poverty level internationally, the World Bank takes the poverty threshold from each country and converts it into a common currency. It does this using Purchasing Power Parity (PPP), which creates equilibrium among currencies so that the same basket of goods in two different countries will receive the same pricing in each country. PPP is an economic theory that allows the World Bank to put each country’s income and consumption data in globally-comparable terms to ensure that the same quantity of goods and services receive equitable pricing across countries.

Why is it Important to Measure Poverty Levels?

Developed nations, such as the U.K., debate the costs of living and raises in income. In low-income countries, analyzing poverty levels is important for targeting development initiatives and evaluating economic progress over time. For instance, The Rural Support Programmes in Pakistan work to identify needs in rural communities and improve the delivery of basic goods and services in these areas. These programs use poverty levels to evaluate their work and support development initiatives in the area.

Who Lives in Poverty?

The U.N. estimates more than 700 million people live in extreme poverty around the world, struggling to fulfill the basic necessities of life. About 70 percent of these people live in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, however, these issues affect developed countries as well. Estimates determine that there are 30 million children growing up near or below the poverty line in the world’s richest countries.

What are the Causes of Poverty?

The causes of poverty are diverse and far-reaching, but they often include unemployment, social exclusion, conflict, natural disasters, disease and other phenomena that prevent them from accessing the resources they need to be productive and make a living.

With an estimated four million people living in extreme poverty, the Democratic Republic of the Congo currently has one of the highest poverty rates in the world. Although the country has access to many natural resources, political unrest has plagued it in recent years. The Democratic Republic of Congo has suffered through continual corruption of political officials that has stifled development so that it remains nearly impossible to easily access or extract any of the country’s natural resources. Therefore, it remains difficult to make a living, or even have access to the basic necessities of food and water.

Despite the dismal numbers, some organizations are making huge strides in overcoming global poverty. Organizations like Oxfam International have made it their objective to reduce worldwide poverty. Working in over 90 countries and directly reaching millions of people each year, Oxfam primarily tackles issues of inequality and discrimination. It also provides direct aid in times of crisis and educates the world’s poor in an effort to impact the root causes of poverty at the political level.

Groups like Oxfam often utilize the international poverty level to assess and direct their efforts. Unfortunately, there is no magic solution to such a widespread problem. In order to solve the issue, though, everyone must first understand its causes. By implementing the poverty level system, the world should be on the right track to eradicate extreme poverty.

– GiGi Hogan
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Panama
Situated as the southernmost country in Central America between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, Panama has a population of nearly four million people across 29,000 square miles and a terrain which includes rainforests, mountains, beaches, wetlands and pasture land. The capital, Panama City, has a population of under half a million. Panama’s strongest industries include import/export, banking and tourism. It has enjoyed economic stability and growth, which can translate to good health and long life expectancy when residents can access education, health care, water and sanitation resources equitably. Here are the 10 facts about life expectancy in Panama.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Panama

  1. The first of the 10 facts about life expectancy in Panama is that currently, the average life expectancy of a man in Panama is 76.1 and 81.9 for a woman. This averages to 78.9 for the entire population. Panama ranks 58th worldwide for life expectancy.
  2. In Panama, the leading causes of death are chronic, noncommunicable conditions such as circulatory diseases (diabetes and heart disease). Diet, high blood pressure or smoking can cause these. Panama has taken action by implementing the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and passing legislation guaranteeing smoke-free environments. The United Nations suggests dietary guidelines for healthy eating and recently added recommendations for children under 2 years of age.
  3. Traffic accidents in Panama are on the rise. The World Health Organization reports a road traffic death rate of 14.3 per 100,000 in 2016, while that number was only 10 per 100,000 in 2013 with 386 actual deaths. While the law in Panama requires seatbelt use, hazardous conditions due to lack of road maintenance, poor signage and overly congested highways are causes of this increase in accidents. Investment in roads and highway infrastructure could lower the number of deaths.
  4. The WHO reports that homicides in Panama are decreasing. In 2010, there were 23.4 homicides per year per 100,000 and in 2015 that number went down to 18.7. More than six times as many men suffer homicide in Panama than women (32.3 men per 100,000 compared to 4.9 women per 100,000). Young people between ages 15 and 29 are the most frequent targets of homicide (40.5 per 100,000). Strong laws are in place to combat violence in relation to firearms and alcohol and the WHO reports effective enforcement of laws against intimate partner violence and elder abuse. Panama could make improvements in the areas of enforcement of sexual violence and child maltreatment laws.
  5. Because of Panama’s tropical climate and wet, forested areas, mosquito-transmitted illnesses such as malaria, dengue and yellow fever pose a risk for Panamanians. Death is more likely in vulnerable people, such as infants. When new outbreaks arise, such as with the Zika virus, the WHO monitors transmission and infections closely in case they become widespread or pose a risk to travelers in the region. People can transmit the Zika virus sexually and it can also pass from mother to fetus. Microcephaly, a severe birth defect linked to Zika, poses a risk to the fetus of pregnant women, though death is rare. The WHO reports one death of a premature infant. Another disease that has limited impact in Panama is the hantavirus (linked to contact with rodents). The WHO reports approximately 100 cases with only four total deaths occurring. There is no treatment or vaccine for the hantavirus. Recommendations state to control the rodent population to prevent it.
  6. Panama saw 1,968 new cases of tuberculosis in 2017 (co-occurring with HIV in 90 percent of patients). TB and HIV are amongst the leading causes of premature death in Panama. People with HIV have more compromised immune systems, leaving them more vulnerable to contracting TB. Panama spends $1.9 million each year treating and combating TB and HIV. Relapse of patients and drug-resistance pose particular challenges. Tuberculosis affects twice as many males as women, and the greatest incidence is among people ages 25-34 years.
  7. Mortality in young children has steadily declined in recent years. Deaths of children under 5 in 1990 were 27.2 per 1,000 live births, and in 2017, 17.2.  Deaths of children under 1 per year in 1990 were 20.9 per 1,000 live births, and in 2017, 13.4. Between 2007 and 2017, neonatal disorders dropped from number one to number three as a cause of premature death, and congenital defects dropped from number four to number six. These statistics are a result of a dramatic improvement in maternal and infant care for non-indigenous rural Panamanian women through a program called Health Protection for Vulnerable Populations, instituted in collaboration with the World Bank and the Minister of Health.
  8. The education of girls in Panama is important to life expectancy and maternal health. UNICEF reports that girls with no education receive 30 percent less antenatal care compared with those who have received a secondary education. The antenatal care is beneficial to learn about life-threatening risks in childbirth such as eclampsia, as well as immunization against tetanus and HIV testing and medication to prevent perinatal transmission of HIV. UNICEF calls for increased equity in antenatal and postnatal care particularly for indigenous women and infants in Panama.
  9. The upcoming Burunga Wastewater Management Project will address the serious health risks posed by untreated wastewater. The World Bank cites the lack of Water Supply and Sanitation (WSS) as a major risk to public health. Currently, people dump untreated water into several rivers in the areas of Arraijan and La Chorrera. Despite economic growth in Panama, impoverished people will continue to be vulnerable to reduced life expectancy because of waterborne illnesses such as giardiasis and cholera, especially without updates to infrastructure in rural areas with attention to access to clean water and sanitation.
  10. In 2018, The World Bank approved an $80 million project in Panama called the Comprehensive National Plan for the Indigenous Peoples of Panama. This project has the aim of improving health, education, water and sanitation for indigenous people who are more vulnerable to natural disasters, for example. Built into the plan is a goal to develop the cultural relevance of programs. In order for life expectancy measures to continue to improve, Panama must equitably address the needs of indigenous as well as rural groups.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Panama show that the country faces ongoing challenges in health care, but measures of life expectancy are hopeful and improving. With follow through on projects to assist the indigenous and rural people, and ongoing investment in infrastructure, Panama should continue to rise in the ranks amongst the world’s flourishing, healthy and stable nations.

– Susan Niz
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Global Development
Global development is a term that politicians, think tanks and scholars frequently use when they discuss foreign aid, but what is it? Simply put, global development refers to the actions countries or organizations take to lend aid to other countries in need around the world. The United States frequently contributes to global development in the form of directed financial aid through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). In 2018, the U.S. gave a total of $29 billion of foreign aid. The countries that received the largest amount of aid in 2018 include Ethiopia, South Sudan, Afghanistan and Syria. The monetary aid that countries or organizations provide, such as the $29 billion from the U.S., supports a specific program of development. The breakdown for monetary aid to Ethiopia in 2018 shows that the primary sector receiving aid was Emergency Response at approximately $409 million with Developmental Food Aid receiving the second-largest amount of aid at approximately $142 million.

Global Development and Climate Change

With the increased degradation of natural resources and the frequent occurrence of natural disasters, sustainable development acquires a new meaning. In Ethiopia, USAID implemented a program under its Food Security sector to help pastoralists living in rural areas of Ethiopia to sustain themselves despite worsening droughts. A USAID program in Ethiopia has made it possible for pastoralists to collect and sell their milk to a regular buyer, thus creating a dependable source of income for many families in the area. Programs such as this one create food and economic security for families where there previously was none or where security was undependable.

Past programs for global development have found success by taking into account the resources that communities require and what the availability of those resources might be in the future. The focus of the development itself may also face necessary change in response to a changing environment. If a community has begun to experience repeated damage from natural disasters, foreign aid for development could focus on preparing the community to meet future disasters. For example, the Pacific Islands have experienced an increase in weather-related natural disasters in recent years resulting in washed-out roads, a shortage of freshwater and widespread power outages. Recurring storms of this strength make life difficult for all people living on the islands, but especially those with disabilities. In 2017, USAID partnered with the University of the South Pacific as part of its USAID Ready Project to work to create a five-month-long management course for individuals with disabilities. This course gives participants skills in risk assessment and business communications to equip them to advocate for the creation of sustainable solutions to the impacts of climate change that include people with disabilities.

Global Development Projects

There are many ongoing projects for global development around the world. Currently, the World Bank is developing a project of the Greater Accra Resilient and Integrated Development Project for Ghana. As it currently stands, the Odaw River Basin floods frequently and the lack of poor drainage for waste in the area contaminates the water of the river which is necessary for life in the region. This project’s objective is to create long-term solutions to flood and waste management of the Odaw River Basin in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana with a projected closing date of December 31, 2025. By this projected end date, the World Bank aims to increase the capacity of the Odaw River to carry floodwaters, increase the upstream detention of floodwater, create a forecast system for floods, increase the amount of solid waste that people dispose of in sanitary landfills and increase the number of people who have access to urban living conditions. This program plans to achieve these end goals through the creation of new drains in the Odaw River as well as the rehabilitation of existing drains and the implementation of improved sanitation practices within low-income communities. With the proposed development in the Odaw River Basin from the World Bank, the quality of life for the people of this particular region of Ghana would improve significantly and see sustained improvement for future generations.

Global development is a common and effective approach to foreign aid. When employed responsibly and intentionally, global development can be a force for good and a tool for the improvement of life for thousands of people around the world.

– Anne Pietrow
Photo: Flickr