Poverty In Italy

Causes of Poverty in Italy

Poverty in Italy is on the rise as millions of Italians are unable to heat their homes and afford basic necessities. A recession, soaring unemployment and an increasing migrant population are the biggest contributors so far. In light of these conditions, Italians are working together to reduce poverty rates.

A post-war recession caused the number of people living in absolute and relative poverty to jump in 2012; southern regions were hit especially hard. Italy’s unemployment rate, like its economy, is slow to recover. Despite living in the third-largest economy in the eurozone, youths between 15-24 years of age are hit the hardest as approximately 40% are unemployed.

The Group of the Party of European Socialists (PES Group) in the Committee of the Regions (CoR) hopes to address this issue through the Giovanisi project in Tuscany. This project, which draws support from the European Union’s Structural Fund, includes initiatives to promote a right to study, vocational skills, entrepreneurship, support for housing and independent living as well as services related to well-being in the community.

Food Security

Food security is also an issue for many citizens. Of the 8.6 million impoverished people in Italy, about 16.6% of families live in poverty and cannot afford healthy meals. As a result, a family may go without meat once every two days. According to the Associated Press, Italy’s highest court ruled that stealing small amounts of food is no longer illegal for the country’s destitute and starving in May 2016.

Pope Francis recently visited the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) to address the need to end hunger. The pope called on U.N. member states to strengthen their commitment to serving and cooperating with WFP. “In this way, the World Food Program will not only be able to respond to emergencies but also implement sound and consistent projects and promote long-term development programs, as requested by each of the governments and in keeping with the needs of their peoples,” said the pope. Despite the lack of food security in Italy, the European nation was one of the top 25 donors to the WFP in 2015.

Migration into Italy

Italy has also seen a spike in the number of migrants. According to the Telegraph, “There are more than 130,000 migrants living in reception centers in Italy, waiting to hear if they will be granted asylum or expelled.” However, migrants have played a role in aiding police officers in the town of Caltanissetta, Sicily. According to The Local, officers struggled with providing support to the thousands of foreign visitors and migrants that pass through each year. Police Chief Diego Peruga approached the city’s mayor, Giovanni Ruvolo, about getting lessons for his officers. Ruvolo thought it would be beneficial if some of the city’s asylum seekers could teach a 30-hour basic English course for the police force; the asylum seekers were happy to volunteer as teachers. “It also provides them with the opportunity to give something back to the town which has welcomed them with open arms,” said Ruvolo.

There is still much work to be done to alleviate poverty in Italy — changes in the economy and unemployment cannot happen overnight. Thanks to these initiatives the country is getting on the right track.

Veronica Ung-Kono

World hunger facts

Sixteen years ago, the world decided it was time to formally prioritize ending world hunger. The United Nations (U.N.) Millennium Development Goal One (MDG1) was to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. MDG1, Target 1.C, was to “halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.”

The U.N.’s target was largely met: the proportion of undernourished people in the world’s developing regions has fallen by almost half since 1990. But, there are still 795 million people hungry in the world and more than 90 million children under age five are underweight and malnourished. World hunger facts offer us insight into why this is still a problem in the world today.

According to the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP), there are two faces to world hunger and 10 crucial facts to understand. The two sides to world hunger are crises and chronic malnutrition. Emergencies such as wars and natural disasters “account for less than eight percent of hunger’s victims.”

Chronic hunger can continue with no end in sight with people living on less than the recommended 2,100 kilocalories daily intake of food. This chronic hunger accounts for mental disadvantages in adults, stunted growth in children and weakened immune systems.

10 World Hunger Facts from the U.N. World Food Programme

  1. Approximately one in nine or 795 million people worldwide do not receive enough food to lead a healthy, active life.
  2. Most of the world’s hungry live in developing countries: 12.9% of the inhabitants of these areas do not have enough food.
  3. Asia is the continent with the largest number of hungry people, making up two-thirds of the total number of malnourished peoples.
  4. Sub-Saharan Africa has one in four people undernourished; it is the region with the highest percentage of its population going hungry.
  5. Malnutrition causes 45% of the deaths of children under five. This accounts for 3.1 million deaths of children each year.
  6. In developing countries, one in six children is underweight.
  7. Stunting affects one in four of the world’s children and one in three children in developing countries.
  8. The number of malnourished could be reduced by 150 million if female farmers had the same access to resources as their male counterparts do.
  9. In the developing world, 66 million primary children attend classes hungry, 23 million of those in Africa.
  10.  WFP believes that the 66 million school-aged children could be fed with $3.2 billion per year.

Just as there are more than 10 world hunger facts, so too are there many organizations working to combat world hunger. One group that is helping to end world hunger is The World Bank. The group has been working with other international groups by “investing in agriculture, creating jobs, expanding social safety nets, expanding nutrition programs that target children under two years of age, universalizing education, promoting gender equality and protecting vulnerable countries during crises.”

Rhonda Marrone

Photo: Flickr

Gender Equality
International Women’s Day 2016 rekindled awareness of the progress of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly the fifth goal to achieve gender equality.

While the number of impoverished women has decreased by 50 percent since 1995 and 90 percent of girls attend primary school, the lack of access to secondary school and the prevailing workplace gender gap beg the question: How will gender equality be achieved by 2030?

Fast Company reported that in North Africa and the Middle East, millennial women have as few employment opportunities as did their mothers and grandmothers and they are three times less likely to run a business than their male counterparts. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first female president of the Republic of Liberia, estimated that full gender equality will require a minimum of 80 years.

One of the surest catalysts to accelerate gender equality is to give women and girls better access to education. Educated women lead healthier lives, provide for their families and better contribute to society. Consequently, in order for the world to complete the fifth SDG, it must achieve worldwide quality education as well.

“Education is key to opening up so many opportunities for girls. We can’t emphasize that enough,” Terri McCullough, director of No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project, told Bustle.

On March 8, the U.N. Statistical Commission met with the Economic and Social Council and the U.N. General Assembly to discuss electing gender equality as a global education indicator.

Indicators enable world leaders to monitor the progress of the SDGs within their countries to ensure the goals remain on track. Both gender equality and global education require reaching out to the 510 million women who remain illiterate.

If approved, the official statement would read, “Extent to which (i) global citizenship education and (ii) education for sustainable development, including gender equality and human rights, are mainstreamed at all levels in (a) national education policies, (b) curricula, (c) teacher education and (d) student assessment.”

Establishing gender equality as a global education indicator will help countries analyze each factor of global education and pinpoint where progress is lacking. One major barrier between women and education is negative cultural perception of educated females.

In order to help more girls receive an education, countries must change the public opinion of girls and education. The Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report launched an Instagram campaign to investigate the pervasiveness of gender bias in textbooks worldwide. GEM Report will also host a side-event at the May 2016 Women Deliver Conference to improve training for female teachers.

The balance of gender equality and education benefits men as well as women. Mandisa Shields of The Daily Orange pointed out that when women are not qualified to work in the fields of their choice, men are required to fill the vacant positions, weakening the labor force. As a result, countries suffer both academically and economically.

The ultimate goal of each country is absolute eradication of global poverty, a goal that depends on the full completions of the other SDGs. At the announcement of the SDGs, Irish president Michael Higgins told the U.N., “We cannot achieve the new Sustainable Development Goals if we do not achieve gender equality.”

Sarah Prellwitz

Sources: Daily Orange, EFA Report, Bustle, Fast Company, Irish Aid

United_nations_reliefCurrently, 60 million people have been forcibly displaced globally. Ongoing conflict around the world has led to large populations to flee and start over with nothing, creating a situation where humanitarian relief agencies can’t keep up with the amount of services and funding they need.

Fortunately, in early August, UN under-secretary-general of humanitarian affairs, Stephen O’Brien, announced that $70 million had been allocated for the worst kinds of under-funded emergencies. The money comes from grants from the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and is viewed as a last resort for aid operations.

The United Nations relief will provide much-needed resources to those who have fled their homes, in Bangladesh, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Somalia and Sudan.

Each country faces varying challenges, most of which have to do with conflict. Sudan and Chad, for example, will receive $20 million for basic services and protection from Sudan’s Darfur region which has endured 13 years of conflict.

Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia will receive $33 million, to deal with the recurring conflicts and climate shocks in its region. Somalia has more than 730,000 people continuously needing emergency food and nutrition assistance, also a result of the Yemen conflict with the number of people fleeing their homes.

Myanmar and Bangladesh, will receive $8 million. Both of these countries have some of the world’s most neglected communities and displaced people that need access to emergency shelter and healthcare.

Afghanistan will receive $8 million for humanitarian operations, where relief agencies have decreased services due to underfunding, although they really need to increase their services as a result of ongoing conflict.

CERF was created in 2006, has 125 member states, totaling $4.1 billion to support 95 countries and territories since 2006. It receives most of its funding from governments, as well as foundations, companies, charities and individuals by placing it into a single fund and then distributing the funds in emergency situations.

Considering the alarming amount of people that have been forcibly displaced and desperately need basic services, we should all be doing more to not only meet the basic human demands they so desperately need, but also help stabilize these areas.

Paula Acevedo

Sources: UN News Centre, Xinhua
Photo: Flickr

The U.N. released its latest annual report on world hunger this week with some encouraging results: the number of chronically hungry people in the world has been reduced by 216 million since 1990.

That still leaves 795 million hungry today. However, considering the world’s rapidly growing population, a decrease in hundreds of millions of hungry people is a testament to the continued success of anti-hunger measures worldwide.

These measures are included as part of the U.N.’s eight Millennium Development Goals. The first goal seeks to “halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.”

According to the report, 72 of 129 nations monitored by the U.N. have met this goal. Progress was greatest in Latin America and parts of Asia.

Success in hunger reduction has been attributed to three important developments, the report states. They include: improved agricultural productivity, economic growth and the expansion of social protection.

Agricultural productivity and economic growth are both driven by investments in education and technology. In China, rapid economic growth was responsible for decreasing an enormous number of hungry people.

However, the report found inequality to be partly responsible for global hunger, which is why economic growth must be inclusive. Growth must also be harnessed into social protection programs, which have kept 150 million people from extreme poverty, according to the report.

In a press release, Executive Director of the World Food Programme Erthain Cousin stated, “healthy bodies and minds are fundamental to both individual and economic growth, and that growth must be inclusive for us to make hunger history.”

While these gains are noteworthy, problems still continue in sub-Saharan Africa and India.The report says almost one in four people go hungry in Sub-Saharan Africa each year. India, meanwhile, has the most hungry people in total. An estimated 194.6 million Indians suffer from undernourishment.

This leaves more work to be done.

In a press release, José Graziano da Silva, Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization, urged the world to continue its progress. “We must be the Zero Hunger generation,” the director said. “That goal should be mainstreamed into all policy interventions and at the heart of the new sustainable development agenda to be established this year.”

The report, titled “The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2015,” was produced by three related U.N. agencies: the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme.

– Kevin McLaughlin

Sources: International Business Times, FAO 1, FAO 2, U.N.
Photo: Applied Unificationism

Urbanization is the process of moving people from rural areas into urban areas. Organizations like the World Bank have found success in this process all over the world. However, there can be some disadvantages to relocating people from slums to cities. Regardless of the cons, urbanization has improved the lives of many in China, Ghana and Latin America.

One benefit of urbanization is increased access to resources like clean water and food. In African rural areas, mothers walk miles for clean water. The World Bank has directly improved lives in Ghana with labor reallocation; the idea of increasing productivity by managing human capital. Moving people to jobs requiring more productivity has contributed to economic growth in Ghana, as well as increases in income for families who typically work in agriculture.

However, without proper monitoring, urbanization does not always work. According to the World Bank, “if not managed well, [it] can also lead to [the] burgeoning growth of slums, pollution, and crime.” This then raises the question of whether urbanization is really a good idea. Much of the world is becoming more urbanized and the U.N. believes this is a good way to reduce poverty.

The United Nations Population Fund, or UNFPA, recognizes the growth in urban culture and believes it can help solve many problems in developing countries. Although there is a rise of inequality in urban areas, according to UNFPA, “urbanization has the potential to usher in a new era of well-being, resource efficiency and economic growth.”

Urbanization is a controversial idea and another potential solution is rural development. According to the World Bank, “it can be done with complementary rural-urban development policies and actions by governments to facilitate a healthy move toward cities.” Development of rural areas allows people to stay where they are and adopt certain aspects of urban culture, such as increasing access to clean water and food while improving living conditions.

Whether it is urbanization or rural development, it is vital to implement new ways to help people in developing countries as cities and economies grow. The mentioned solutions above are two of many that could help reach the goal of ending poverty by 2030.

– Kimberly Quitzon

Sources: World Bank, Spy Ghana, UNFPA
Photo: Flickr

Gaza’s sewage system is in crisis.

According to The Independent, “War has stopped the plant doing the job it was built for: limiting the pollution of the Mediterranean by semi-treating the 40 million litres a day it pumps into the sea.” Sewage leakage goes directly into the sea and dirty water seeps into the ground and groundwater. The sewage system has been rendered ineffective due to Israeli restrictions on imports, infrastructure errors, continuing violence and increases in population.

Hamas’s takeover of the enclave last year was met with an Israeli embargo, limiting imports to mostly food and medicines. According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, this has affected the ability of aid groups (including the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross and CARE International) to import equipment like pipes in sufficient quantities on a regular basis.

The sewage crisis is not only a result of poor maintenance, for the population of Gaza has increased from 380,000 in 1967 to nearly 1.5 million, therefore adding pressure to an already insufficient sewage system. The ongoing violence and security situation has been an ongoing threat and hindrance to the sewage crisis as well, for resources are being directed elsewhere.

The Israeli embargo limits the amount of aid and supplies that can be imported, therefore acting as a significant prevention to resolving the issue. The humanitarian situation in Gaza is exacerbated by the sewage crisis, for it has fomented issues with clean water and sanitation.

There are three treatment plants in Gaza: one in the north, Beit Lahiya, one near Gaza City and one near Rafah. The treatment plan in the south, near Rafah, is the primary treatment lagoon; however, it lacks the capacity to treat a majority of the sewage it receives. Citizens near Khan Younis are still using septic tanks, and the overload on the Beit Lahiya plant led to the creation of a “great lake” of waste water that multilateral bodies and nongovernmental organizations are attempting to slowly drain. Five people have died in a torrent of filth from a smaller lake in 2006.

According to the ICRC, “The environmental situation in Gaza is bad and getting worse…While exact statistics are unavailable, 30,000-50,000 cubic meters of partially treated waste water and 20,000 cubic meters of raw sewage end up in rivers and the Mediterranean Sea. Some 10,000-30,000 cubic meters of partially treated sewage end up in the ground, in some cases reaching the aquifer, polluting Gaza’s already poor drinking water supply.”

While there have been plans to build new plants or fix existing ones, the problem of sewage is critical. Most of the financing is currently coming from donors, though the medium and short term goals are to continue to drain the Beit Lahiya basins and work to at least partially treat all waste water. This approach, however, depends on the borders opening up and full donor cooperation, along with the willingness of companies to bid on tenders.

Neti Gupta

Sources: Electronic Intifada, The Independent
Photo: Flickr

poverty in chile
In late March, the U.N. Special Rapporteur reported that Chile, a state with one of the highest levels of inequality in the region, will have to confront its poverty problem in an effective way. Despite the global perception of Chile as a stable and progressive state, it still has much more progress to make.

The Special Rapporteur elucidates the importance of the national government to concentrate on the income gap and indigenous rights. In Santiago, the capital, the Special Rapporteur visited the Bajos de Mena social housing project where parts of the area rest on a former landfill. Many of the residents in these areas have disproportionately high health concerns. The residents are socially and politically neglected and ignored. Very few political leaders have visited the area despite it being a well-known region where poverty persists. Also, the official made a visit to the San Francisco slum, in the Santiago Metropolitan region where 676 homes do not have basic needs such as running water and modern heating.

The poverty rates for indigenous peoples are twice as high than non-indigenous peoples. Particularly for the Mapuche indigenous group, land rights remain a sensitive and contentious issue that has not been resolved. Indigenous peoples comprise ten percent of the population, but as a whole, lack the political power needed for equality. The Special Rapporteur announced, “Suffice it to say that no serious effort to eliminate extreme poverty in Chile can succeed without a concerted focus on the situation of indigenous peoples.”

Statistics in the Metropolitan Santiago region show a six percent level in unemployment that has not changed in a year.

In Santiago, the government has taken steps to combat poverty. For example, the Santiago Metropolitan region published the Regional Development Strategy report. This report elucidates that the region will strive to support an integrated, diverse, fair and safe area by the year 2021. The main objective beyond these areas is for citizenry inclusiveness. The report also exposes its knowledge of the segregation realities for its residents. This document stresses the aims for political participation as a means for including residents within the region.

Santiago’s goals, as highlighted in its report, have been implemented and received positive results. In the Casen report of 2013, an annual report on social development in Chile, from 2006 to 2013 poverty rates in the Santiago Metropolitan region significantly dropped from 20.6 percent to 9.2 percent. This figure is not specific to Santiago, but rather most of Chile.

While there are six years remaining for the goal to be reached, the U.N. Special Rapporteur’s announcements form as humbling reminders to strive to close income gaps and support indigenous peoples rights to land.

– Courteney Leinonen

Sources: El Espectador, Gobierno Santiago, LA Nacion 1, LA Nacion 2, Obervatorio, OHCHR
Photo: Flickr

hunger in Mongolia
Since Mongolia broke ties with the former Soviet Union, it has been racked with instability and poverty. While the country enjoys democratic representation, its market economy has floundered and foreign assistance has become essential to Mongolia.

The U.S. government alone has appropriated over $11 million in foreign aid to Mongolia in 2014. That money has become an absolute necessity to the people of Mongolia, where 36 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.

One of the most striking problems this poverty has spawned is the issue of hunger and malnutrition in Mongolia. More than five percent of children under five are severely malnourished, and nearly 30 percent of the population is undernourished.

On top of that, Mongolia’s depth of hunger — a signifier of the intensity of food deprivation — is one of the worst in the world. Mongolia ranks 22nd in its depth of hunger rating, just behind North Korea.

While the incessant poverty in Mongolia is the primary cause of hunger there, a variety of other factors exacerbate the problem.

Its foremost problem is that of harsh winters which have devastated Mongolian livestock recently. In 2010, the UN allocated $3.7 million in emergency aid to Mongolia after a particularly cold winter that followed a summer drought. The winter consisted of heavy snowfall, high winds and thick ice.

All told, this winter — and recent winters like it — have killed approximately four million livestock, representing about 15 percent of national stocks. The loss of livestock has not only caused a national food shortage but a migration into cities which led to increased unemployment, inflation and poverty.

Inadequate preparedness for natural disasters is one of the primary causes of hunger in Mongolia. International efforts to stem the tide of malnourishment in Mongolia should focus on preparing the country for severe winter conditions in the future.

Though poverty remains a specter for Mongolia, if it cannot survive winters without suffering extreme depletion of its food stocks, the country will never be self-sustainable. Foreign aid to Mongolia must look to the root cause of its hunger problems rather than simply aim for generic poverty reduction.

Harsh winters have proven to be a major cause of hunger in Mongolia. Fortunately, it is a problem that can be overcome by establishing the proper protocol for disaster management.

– Sam Hillestad

Sources: Action Against Hunger, World Food Program USA, UN, Fact Fish, Foreign Assistance, The Guardian
Photo: Human Rights Brief

According to two U.N. agencies, progress getting African kids to primary school has faltered. Around 30 million children in Sub-Saharan Africa have been kept from the classroom due t0 a combination of conflict and poverty, and international aid must be increased if the region hopes to get more kids a primary education.

In 1999, UNICEF reported 106 million kids were out of school globally, and since then the U.N. Millennium Development goals have made childhood education a priority. Since the implementation of this push by the U.N., the number of kids kept from the classroom dropped to 60 million.

However, “declining international aid since the global financial crisis and an increase in conflicts have hindered efforts,” says Yumiko Yokozeki, a regional education adviser for UNICEF in West and Central Africa.

Household surveys reveal that more than 23 million kids in West and Central Africa who should be in primary school are not. Surveys in eastern and southern Africa report 19 million kids lacking a primary education.

Schools are closing due to threats from violence and out of safety concerns for the children. In particularly conflict-ridden areas, like the Central African Republic, families are fleeing their homes in fear.

Dangerous episodes in schools, such as the hundred of Nigerian girls kidnapped by Boko Haram while taking exams, further discourage families from sending their children to get an education.

Conflict isn’t the only thing keeping children out of school. Poverty continues to be the driving force behind kids dropping out. Children who have to work to support their families and themselves are much less likely to attend school, because getting food on the table is a higher priority than getting an education.

Any progress made in countries like Mali and Burkina Faso is difficult to maintain. Military coups bring chaos and instability, and education programs are difficult to maintain as well. In order to keep children in school, governments must commit more money to education budgets. This money is used to pay teachers, purchase classroom materials and reduce the burden of fees on families. In addition to these monetary necessities, grassroots efforts are required to “convince parents that education is accessible and worth it.”

Although help from agencies like the U.N. spurred an increase in support for primary education, the fact remains that one out of every five kids in sub-Saharan Africa who should be in primary school is not. Without increased aid from foreign countries like the United States, this number could easily rise.

 — Grace Flaherty