Solar-Powered Water PumpsAs much as one-third of territory in the Northern State of Sudan can support agriculture, a key industry for Sudanese living in poverty. However, unequal access to reliable electricity and water leads many farmers to rely on diesel pumps to irrigate crops. The introduction of solar energy, specifically solar-powered irrigation, reduces farmers’ reliance on fossil fuels. This technological advancement reduces the expenses of farmers while dramatically increasing agricultural productivity.

Risks of Diesel-Powered Irrigation

Solar-powered water pumps help farmers eliminate their dependence on fossil fuel and overcome energy scarcity. An estimated 20 million people live without access to electricity in Sudan, approximately 65% of the country’s population. In the rural regions of Sudan, that percentage is even higher. For instance, up to 80% of rural Sudanese farmers lack reliable access to electricity.

Due to this scarce access to electricity, many farmers rely on diesel-powered water pumps to irrigate their fields. Diesel pumps not only produce harmful greenhouse gases but also can reduce agricultural efficiency. Specifically, the expensive and fluctuating prices of diesel fuel limit growing seasons and prevents farmers from planting consistently. Furthermore, the pumps contribute to smaller-scale environmental hazards by contaminating the surrounding water and plants.

Benefits of Solar-Powered Water Pumps

Solar-powered water pumps overcome the issue of energy scarcity by powering irrigation without tapping into fossil fuels. This mechanism helps farmers by providing a fuel source for irrigation that is both stable and effectively cost-free aside from initial installation and regular maintenance charges.

Solar-powered water pumps also help farmers increase land cultivation. Confidence in the availability of energy to irrigate crops enables farmers to increase cultivation. One pilot program for the introduction of solar pumps in the Northern State, operated by the United Nations Development Programme, found that the introduction of solar-powered water pumps increased the amount of land cultivated by farmers by 47%.

For example, the dry summer months were previously not economically viable due to the need for increased water-pumping and therefore costly diesel fuel. Following the introduction of solar-powered water pumps, land cultivation grew by 87% during the summer. Overall, farmers reported dramatic changes regarding both savings and reductions in overhead costs for farm management.

Additionally, solar-powered water pumps allow farmers to enrich agricultural production with high-value crops. Although agriculture accounts for around 80% of employment and roughly one-third of GDP in Sudan, individual farmers are particularly susceptible to poverty and food insecurity. However, with extended growing seasons and cuts in the cost of irrigation, Sudanese farmers can produce higher-value crops such as lemons, mangoes and cotton.

The Future of Solar Irrigation in Sudan

The Global Environmental Facility granted 4.89 million U.S. dollars to install 1,440 solar-powered water pumps throughout the Northern State between 2016-2021. The statistics make it clear that the farmers involved in pilot programs experienced notable benefits by utilizing solar pumps.

In addition to these individual benefits, Solar-powered irrigation could have much wider implications globally. The Sudanese initiative alone is projected to ultimately eliminate 860,100 tons of CO2 emissions and save 268,800 metric tons of diesel. Applied on a global scale, this technology could serve to drastically reduce emissions from the agricultural industry as a whole.

– Alexandra Black
Photo: U.N.

Despite an aggregate economic growth, Vanuatu’s regions are developing unevenly, leaving some areas more vulnerable than others. To achieve its Millennium Development Goal of reducing poverty in Vanuatu from the current rate of 12.7 percent to two percent, both local leaders and international actors need to consider the country’s unique vulnerabilities and strengths.

According to the CIA World Factbook, 26 percent of the population lives in the urban centers of Port Vila (capital) and Luganville. Vanuatu’s population of just over 277,000 inhabits 65 of the 80 islands in the country’s archipelago.

This geography plays a key role in understanding poverty in Vanuatu. According to the U.N. Development Programme, geographic factors create a more statistically significant barrier to energy and basic goods than do vulnerabilities in population such as age, gender or income level.

Vanuatu’s geography is defined by dramatic tropical volcanic mountains that rise from shallow coastlines. It is along these edges that most of Vanuatu’s population lives, either in port towns or rural villages.

Even in a relatively small island nation, the plight of the urban poor and rural poor are not easily delineated. Indeed, different areas experience varied iterations of development. For example, from 2006 to 2010, rates of food poverty (not having sufficient access to basic food goods) declined from approximately five percent to three percent in Port Vila, but increased from approximately two percent to eight percent in Luganville over the same period. Similarly, while average poverty rates in Luganville increased from 2006 to 2010, overall rates of poverty in rural areas fell.

These discrepancies emerge largely because of geographic location, which determines principle economic activities such as fishing and tourism. Access to basic foodstuffs also depends on weather patterns and agricultural production, which are especially interdependent on small, shallow islands.

These coastal communities are threatened by rising sea levels and increasingly frequent tropical storms such as Cyclone Pam, which swept through the Pacific in 2015, destroying up to 96 percent of food crops on some of Vanuatu’s southernmost islands.
Although Vanuatu is susceptible to extreme weather, traditionally sound building practices offer light, but flexible, protection and help. These practices aid in minimizing fatalities in emergencies.

An increase in telecommunication infrastructure also proved to be life-saving. When Cyclone Pam hit, SMS text alerts notified island residents. In many cases, it was the only effective warning system that allowed citizens to prepare accordingly. This access to modern technology can help growing populations confront increasingly frequent extreme weather movements.

Despite these obstacles, the Asian Development Bank reports the overall poverty rate of Vanuatu as low relative to other small nations in the Pacific. Recently, increases in tourism, agricultural production and foreign aid and investment are reflected in Vanuatu’s positive economic growth.

USAID recognizes the delicate geographic circumstances of Pacific islands such as Vanuatu, as nearly 50 percent of the Pacific Islander population lives within a mile of a coastline. USAID is committed to alleviating poverty in Vanuatu by building infrastructure that will withstand pressures from both climate change and extreme weather.

By understanding the unique circumstances of island nations such as Vanuatu, the U.S. and other global economic powerhouses can allocate aid in ways that are both culturally and geographically appropriate, helping to lift these vulnerable populations out of poverty.

– Laurel Klafehn
Photo: Flickr

From Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals
The final report of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) says it has been the most successful anti-poverty effort in history. But despite significant gains, there are many global poverty issues that still need to be addressed. These include sanitation, gender equality, maternal and children’s health, and access to family planning, among others.

After 15 years, the transition from MDGs to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) begins. The new goals will be adopted this September at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit, which will provide a guideline for policy and funding for the next 15 years. There are set to be 17 goals and 169 indicators to measure the progress of these goals.

Among the proposed goals are the following:

  • No poverty
  • Zero hunger
  • Good health and well being
  • Quality Education
  • Gender Equality
  • Clean Water and Sanitation
  • Affordable and Clean Energy
  • Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • Reduced Inequalities
  • Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • Responsible Consumption and Production
  • Climate Action
  • Life Below Water
  • Life on Land
  • Peace and Justice, Strong Institutions
  • Partnerships for the Goals

The goals were conceived through a collaboration of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Development Group (UNDG), which undertook an unprecedented global conversation among a diverse group of stakeholders over the last three years. Stakeholders included women, young people, people with disabilities, the private sector and all levels of government.

For example, the UN’s online My World Survey, which asked participants to rank their six highest priority issues, gathered the ranked priorities for the future of 7.3 million people.

In addition, the UNDG collected the perspectives from over one million people on “the world we want,” eliciting 88 national consultations and input on 11 thematic dialogues.

“As member states consult on the shape and content of a successor framework to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) beyond 2015, it is hoped that the opportunity to listen to these voices will contribute to reaching consensus on what is needed to move towards a common sustainable future,” states the World We Want website.

Partnerships will be key to realizing the proposed goals. Some of the important players that will assist in partnerships and collaboration between different entities are the Department of State’s Office of Global Partnerships, which will work with public and private sectors. The U.S. Agency for International Development will work with corporations, foundations, NGOs and others in developing countries through the Global Development Alliance.

Looking ahead, the need to work together across stakeholder groups is paramount. “World leaders have an unprecedented opportunity this year to shift the world onto a path of inclusive, sustainable and resilient development,” said Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator. And the message from the global conversation was clear: People want to be involved in the process of accomplishing these goals and to hold governments and businesses accountable for their promises and commitments.

Paula Acevedo

Sources: Millennium Development Goals Final Report, Devex, United Nations Development Programme
Photo: Flickr

inclusive capitalism

Inclusive capitalism is becoming a frequently used phrase to describe a large number of economies around the world. However, in both developing and developed countries, the capitalist system in these places seem to be showing more holes. These economies that claim to support the entire people in a fair way are seeing greater inequalities than ever before.

In its most basic form, capitalism aims to uphold all citizens to the same standards, same opportunities and same rewards.

“[The capitalist system consists of] relative equality outcomes; equality of opportunity; and fairness across generations,” said Mark Carney, the Bank of England’s new governor.

The U.N. Development Programme found that income inequality in developing countries has risen by 11 percent over the past 20 years.

Undeveloped countries using a flawed capitalist system are caught in a bad cycle. The inequality seen in the economy creates a barrier for further development. However, a system that supports all citizens is far more likely to improve than one that focuses solely on the elite. Especially in countries that face severe poverty, if the low-end jobs are not supported by the government or provided substantial pay rates, then people will be less inclined to work in these positions. This deters the people in poverty from attempting to change their situation.

When a country emphasizes the importance of all workers, it provides an investment in its people and their labor.

Problems with capitalism are not contained to developing countries, however. Because 80 percent of countries around the world operate on a capitalist economy, it makes sense that ensuring the principles upon which the ideology is based should be a priority.

At the core of the problem, the effects on society that a person’s occupation has should be taken into consideration when determining pay rates. Often times, those who contribute to society most, such as teachers, nurses and farmers, are the people who are greatly underpaid.

“We should be rewarding those who grow our food and make our stuff, or teach the next generation of children, an amount that reflects the work they have put in, and the value we get out of it,” said writer Deborah Doane of The Guardian.

To achieve true inclusive capitalism, the salary gap between the CEOs and the average worker must decrease. The opportunities for both groups must be equivalent, and the current system does not allow for this equality.

“Inclusive capitalism needs to deconstruct and shed its attachment to the old-style competitive labour theory,”  Doane continued, “which suggests that if labour is in abundance, it should be paid cheaply.”

– Hannah Cleveland

Sources: The Guardian, The Vancouver Sun
Photo: Revive a Sunnah