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poverty in Bangladesh
About one in four Bangladeshis live in poverty, making poverty in Bangladesh an ongoing fight for the nation. However, there has been significant economic growth and improved education and infrastructure. With international development assistance, poverty in Bangladesh is on a downward trajectory, especially in rural areas. These seven facts about poverty in Bangladesh show the country’s improvements.

 7 Facts About Poverty in Bangladesh

  1. International Assistance. The International Development Association (IDA) has been a large part of Bangladesh’s success in education, health and infrastructure. Funded by member countries, IDA coordinates donor assistance. Additionally, IDA also works to provide development assistance to countries around the world. Bangladesh is one of the largest recipients of IDA funding, with its program totaling $11.3 billion. Multilateral organizations, like the Asian World Bank and the United Nations, have worked with the IDA to lower poverty in Bangladesh.
  2. Economic Growth. Through sustained economic growth in recent years, Bangladesh has made strides in alleviating poverty. Steady growth in its GDP allowed Bangladesh to reach lower-middle-income status in 2015. Bangladesh remains one of the fastest-growing economies among developing nations, and its GDP in 2018 was $274.02 billion, a 9.73% increase from 2017. With these steady increases, the GDP should grow another 8% in 2020.
  3. Education. Bangladesh has seen an increase in education enrollment and more girls are going to school. Enrollment rate at the primary school level increased from 80% in 2000 to above 90% in 2015, and from 45% to 62% at the secondary school level. Bangladesh has also achieved gender equality in education enrollment; it sent almost 6.5 million girls to secondary school in 2015. This makes the nation a frontrunner among developing countries to achieve gender parity in education.
  4. Health. Bangladesh has made important progress in its health indicators over the past few decades. This includes improvements in maternal and child health. There was a 40% reduction in maternal mortality, from 320 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2000 to 194 deaths in 2010. USAID has worked with local groups to provide high-quality reproductive services and bring integrated health care to Bangladeshis as well.
  5. Agricultural Growth. The agriculture sector is essential to Bangladesh, and its growth has been among the highest in the world for the past 25 years. Through IDA, more than 1 million households have modernized food practices and 500,000 households have increased grain reserve. Natural disasters are a primary threat to Bangladesh’s success in agricultural production. IDA is also financing almost $1.5 billion in aid to Bangladesh’s resistance against natural disasters. This leads to further increases in agricultural production and promoting food security.
  6. Sustainable Development Goals. According to the United Nations Development Programme, Bangladesh is making strides in attaining the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty and improve quality of life. For example, Bangladesh is well on its way towards reaching the access of 100% of households to electricity by 2025, which is SDG 7. Bangladesh has also seen improvements in sanitation and access to clean water, which the SDGs also include. In 2019, 87% of the population had access to clean water and access to sanitation increased by 26%.
  7. Rural Infrastructure: Efforts to alleviate poverty in Bangladesh have occurred in rural areas, and IDA has provided support to build roads and increase access to water in these areas. According to the World Bank, 1.1 million people in rural areas now have access to clean water, and support measures have led to the paving of 800 kilometers of new roads in these areas. This infrastructure allows for easier transportation to school and the creation of jobs for men and women, improving the quality of life in several rural areas.

These seven facts about poverty in Bangladesh show that efforts to alleviate poverty in the country have been remarkably successful in the past few decades. Still, much work remains essential in order to alleviate poverty in urban areas and bring about continued growth in Bangladesh’s economy, infrastructure and access to food security. However, with continued international assistance and Bangladesh’s commitment to reducing poverty, there is hope that Bangladesh will continue to be a global model for poverty reduction.

– Anita Durairaj
Photo: Wikimedia

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in Sao Tome and Principe
Sao Tome and Principe (STP) is a small island nation just north of the Equator. This formal Portuguese colony achieved its independence in 1975. As a Portuguese colony, from 1470 to 1975, people knew Sao Tome and Principe for its sugar production and trade. The slave labor utilized in the island’s sugar industry persisted into the 20th century. The country’s economy is largely dependent on agricultural exports, but the Sao Tome and Principe government is making efforts to diversify its economy. Here are the top 10 facts about living conditions in Sao Tome and Principe.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Sao Tome and Principe

  1. Life expectancy in Sao Tome and Principe is 70.2 years old. While this is lower than life expectancy in developed countries such as the U.S. or the U.K., STP’s life expectancy is higher than its neighbors. Compared to other developing nations in Africa such as Gabon, Angola, Nigeria, Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea, STP has a higher life expectancy.
  2. As of 2018, the literacy rate in STP was 92.8 percent. Primary level education, which lasts for six years, is compulsory and free of charge. This, combined with a high primary school enrollment of 97 percent, resulted in a high literacy rate. However, the quality of education and teachers raises some concerns. To remedy this, in cooperation with the Global Partnerships for Education (GPE) and the World Bank, the STP government is striving to improve the quality of education facilities and training of teachers.
  3. About 97.1 percent of the STP population has access to an improved water source. While STP has access to more than 50 natural water sources, these sources are unevenly distributed within the island. With the support of the U.N. Environment and the Global Environment Facility, STP enacted its first water law in January 2018. The new law guides the use and control of water with the aim of long-term water sustainability and access to water for all populace in STP.
  4. Sixty-eight percent of the population in STP has access to electricity. While 87 percent of the urban area has access to electricity, only 22 percent of the rural areas in the STP have access to electricity. This lack of access to electricity for the rural populace negatively affects the living conditions in Sao Tome and Principe. To remedy this, the STP government is cooperating with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in creating hydro-powered power plants which will utilize STP’s multiple rivers to generate power.
  5. Approximately 66.2 percent of the STP population lives below the poverty line. STP’s economic dependence on cacao export resulted in the country’s over-dependence on its agricultural sector. The majority of STP’s population depends on agriculture for their income. The recent fall in cacao prices severely affected the STP’s economy. To remedy this, the STP government is investing in the country’s tourism industry. STP is also co-developing the recently discovered oil in the Gulf of Guinea with Nigeria.
  6. STP relies on foreign imports to support itself. Living conditions in Sao Tome and Principe depend heavily upon foreign imports. The majority of food, fuels, manufactured goods and consumer goods enter STP as imports. This leaves STP’s economy and access to goods vulnerable to the fluctuating international prices of goods. For example, of the estimated GDP of $686 million in 2017, $127.7 million went into foreign good imports.
  7. STP also relies heavily on foreign aid. UNICEF’s 2018 report showed concern that the GDP of the STP is still heavily dependent upon foreign aid. According to the report, only 14.9 percent of STP’s GDP came from domestic resources. In 2019, 90 percent of STP’s country budget received funding from foreign aid.
  8. Infant mortality in STP is in sharp decline since 1992. Compared to the 69.5 per 1,000 infant mortality rate in 1992, infant mortality in STP declined to 24.4 per 1,000 as of 2018. In UNICEF’s 2018 annual report, UNICEF noted the continuous progress that the STP government is making in improving access to basic services, education, maternal health and treating HIV/AIDS and malaria.
  9. STP will graduate from the U.N.’s list of least developed countries. According to the World Economic Outlook report, STP and Angola will leave the U.N.’s group of least developed countries. Angola will graduate from the list in 2021 and STP will graduate in 2024. This reflects the continuously improving living conditions in Sao Tome and Principe and Angola.
  10. As of 2017, the unemployment rate in STP is 12.2 percent. This unemployment rate was a 0.4 percent drop from 2016. However, some experts wonder if this truly represents the living conditions in Sao Tome and Principe. Since many workers in STP work as farmers, experts are calling for improvements in STP’s manufacturing and tourism sectors.

Living conditions in Sao Tome and Principe are steadily improving. There are still many mountains that the STP government must climb in order to lead its country into a more prosperous future. While the STP economy’s dependence on agriculture and foreign aid is concerning, the high literacy rate in STP reflects the potential for growth. STP’s planned graduation from the U.N.’s list of least developed countries certainly seems to reflect this optimism. With this progress, a better future is surely coming for the people of STP.

YongJin Yi
Photo: Flickr

Poverty Reduction Advocacy in Pakistan
Pakistan is a South Asian country with a population of approximately 212 million people. According to the World Bank, the population of people living below the national poverty line in Pakistan decreased from 64 percent in 2001 to 24 percent in 2015. However, as of 2015, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) revealed that in rural communities in Pakistan, 35 percent of people lived below the poverty line. This highlights that rural communities in Pakistan need the most aid. However, there are significant examples of poverty reduction advocacy in Pakistan.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

IFAD is a U.N. based agency that focuses on helping rural communities. IFAD aids these communities by strengthening food security and local businesses. Southern Punjab, cited as the poorest part of Pakistan, is a major center point for IFAD in the country. In 2010, IFAD initiated the Southern Punjab Alleviation Project and it is still ongoing until 2020. The project seeks to enhance agricultural productivity in Punjab by aiding laborers, farmers and women-led households.

As of May 2019, working with the government of Punjab, IFAD raised approximately $195 million for the project—Punjab governmental and beneficiary donations included. IFAD reported in 2019 that 5,500 new community organizations started in Punjab, with 70 percent of women forming these groups. The report also cited that 50 percent of people became newly or self-employed after receiving vocational training from IFAD. Moreover, as of 2018, IFAD reached 92 percent of women-headed households. IFAD also uploaded a YouTube video in September 2018 to highlight specific people and families in Punjab that benefited from its projects. The organization prominently initiated poverty reduction advocacy in Pakistan.

The Ehsaas Program

The Ehsaas Program is a government-led poverty reduction program initiated in 2018. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Dr. Sania Nishtar are responsible for the program. Ehsaas focuses on economic growth and obtaining sustainable development goals in Pakistan. The program uses a strategy of four pillars that include addressing the elite and making the government system work for equality, as well as providing safety nets, human capital development and jobs and livelihoods.

The Ehsass Program will push to increase social protection funding by providing an additional $80 billion from 2019-2021. The Kafalat program will give around 6 million women financial inclusion through a one woman, one bank account policy. Nutrition initiatives will address malnutrition and health issues impacting stunted children. The Solution Innovation Challenge will address citizen employment by developing micro-credit facilities for daily wages so that those in poverty can afford monthly groceries. The Ehsaas Program plans on developing rickshaw garbage collectors to employ people and benefit the environment and water sanitation simultaneously. The Ehsaas Program also seeks to build 20 centers for physically challenged citizens and create orphanages for 10,000 homeless children. These are just some of the programs Ehsaas plans to initiate to implement poverty reduction advocacy in Pakistan.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Ehsaas Program

As of September 2019, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation supported the Ehsaas Program through a Memorandum of Understanding between Bill Gates and Khan. This collaboration prompted the Gates Foundation to plan on spending $200 million toward poverty reduction in Pakistan by 2020. Bill Gates and Dr. Nishtar conducted an interview in September 2019 with the U.N. SDG Action Zone to educate others about the Ehsaas Program and answer questions. This is an example of a multicultural support system toward poverty reduction advocacy in Pakistan.

To alleviate poverty in Pakistan, the government recently started initiatives that the people support. Examples such as the IFAD and the Ehsaas programs show that partnerships between governments, organizations and citizens work to tackle poverty. With these organizations and funds in place, poverty reduction advocacy in Pakistan has a positive outlook for the future.

Natalie Casaburi
Photo: Pixabay

Tourism and Poverty in ArmeniaArmenia is not the first country one usually thinks of for a vacation. Some world organizations are taking the initiative to develop a sustainable tourism sector in Armenia. Tourism and poverty in Armenia are considered related factors, and the growth of tourism can have a large impact on alleviating poverty in the country.

Integrated Rural Tourism Development

Unfortunately, in Armenia, there has been a widening disparity in income between rural and urban regions. To potentially alleviate the disparity, the United Nations suggested the development of the tourism sector in rural communities and stated that they would assist with this development because of the reduced tourism infrastructure in Armenia.

The United Nations Development Programme and the Development Foundation of Armenia created the Integrated Rural Tourism Development Program on January 28, 2016, to support the development of tourism in Armenia, which would further sustainable economic growth. The increase in the role of tourism in the country would provide sustainable income-generating opportunities for rural populations.

Local Economic Infrastructure Development

Additionally, the World Bank contributes to Armenia’s local economy by strengthening economic growth and livelihoods. They assisted the Armenian government in 2014 to identify regional, mostly rural, development inequalities and then help prepare a tourism strategy to increase economic development.

The World Bank’s board of executive directors authorized a $55 million loan for the Local Economic Infrastructure Development Project on December 22, 2015, to help Armenia advance its infrastructure services and institutional capacity for tourism. The project called for the development of tourist destinations in rural regions of the country, potentially assisting the rural economies and addressing tourism and poverty in Armenia.

Laura E. Bailey, the World Bank Country Manager for Amenia, described “one of the major strengths of the proposed project is that it motivates the communities to preserve their unique Armenian cultural heritage.”

My Armenia

Since Armenia gained independence in 1991 from the Soviet Union, the country has been receiving yearly aid from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Between 2005 and 2012, the USAID started long-term development initiatives to increase Armenia’s economic competitiveness.

My Armenia is a cultural preservation program implemented by the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, a research and education unit that advocates for a better understanding of cultural heritage in the United States and around the world through research, education and community commitment. The project is a collaboration between the people of Armenia, the Smithsonian and USAID.

The four-year My Armenia program, started on November 20, 2015, aspires to develop an understanding of the country’s living traditions and heritage sites. Long-term cultural vitality in addition to economic growth can be reached through the program’s methods of research, documentation, storytelling and capacity building.

All of the program’s methods assist in the main goal of My Armenia. Research and documentation in the program happens in collaboration with Armenian scholars and an extensive archival record. Cultural storytelling will delve deep into the intricacies of the culture not learned through general reading. Capacity building at local sites like museums and archaeological sites will build a repertoire of substantive historical material, leading to global interest and popularity.

Various international development organizations have implemented programs to help facilitate infrastructure in Armenia for sustainable tourism. The preservation of cultural heritage proves to instill cultural tourism that will assist in economic development. Tourism and poverty in Armenia are related through the benefits of sustainable tourism for economic development, especially in rural regions.

– Andrea Quade

Photo: Flickr

Development projects help sustainability in Belize

Belize is a country in Central America, which is located south of Mexico, bordering the Caribbean Sea. Being the last British colony in the Americas, Belize gained independence in 1981. Its 400,000 citizens rely on agriculture, oil production, and fishing as the main sectors in its economy. Unfortunately, poverty remains rampant throughout the country. On the positive side, there are numerous development projects in Belize which have sought and continue to seek sustainability and growth within the country. Here are five examples

Youth and Community Transformation Project

Little more than a third of Belizeans advance to secondary school. The lack of education coupled with the stark number of children coming from single-parent families, nearly 25 percent, has contributed to poverty and high crime rates among youth in Belize. To combat this trend, Belize’s Ministry of Human Development has created the Youth and Community Transformation (YCT) project. The YCT project serves to bridge the gap between youth and much-needed social services. It seeks to improve literacy rates and teach vocational skills, as well as to provide access to other assistance programs throughout Belize.

United Nations Development Programme

Since 1982, the United Nations Development Programme has worked alongside the government of Belize. Its purpose is to provide support and resources to development programs maintained by Belize, including better access to water, access to sanitation and health services, as well as supporting the empowerment of local leaders in rural areas. This partnership has been very successful since its origin and recently celebrated 35 years of cooperation. More must still be done, however, and a recent 16 million dollar allocation will seek to fight poverty, address climate change and improve security by 2021.  

Belize City Infrastructure Project

The 1990s saw a massive need for improvement to infrastructure in Belize City. To this end, The World Bank provided 20 million dollars. The project sought to improve drainage systems and most importantly, roads. The improved roads allowed for better networks for the delivery of goods and services and boosted Belize’s capacity for the booming tourism industry. This project set up Belize City for future success through improved systems and infrastructure management.

Primary Education Development Project

In congruence with the Belize City Infrastructure Project of the 1990s, The World Bank allocated seven million dollars to support Belize’s primary education development plans. The Primary Education Development Project focused on primary education to Belizean children. This included new teacher training systems, improved facilities, and strengthened management which helped improve the national system. Like the infrastructure project, the Primary Education Development Project created immediate fixes to the broken educational system and has impacted policies to build upon it for generations to come.

Growth and Sustainable Development Strategy

Each of the above development projects in Belize shares the common vision for sustainability and continuous improvement. Belize’s 2016 Growth and Sustainable Development Strategy (GSDS) serves the same purpose on a national scale. This plan, built upon the existing plan to create sustainable growth and development called Horizon 2030, focuses on a three-year window between 2016-2019. With it, Belize hopes to cut poverty and hunger, increase access to quality healthcare and education, and improve Belize’s environment, infrastructure and economy. While Belize is facing a tall order with this plan, it has been proven that it can be done through evidence of the country’s history of successful national projects.

Belize remains a developing country. Poverty, hunger, poor health, and poor education are immense problems throughout the Central American country. While these development projects in Belize are certainly making an impact, more must be done to ensure long-term sustainability and growth.

– Eric Paulsen

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in BurundiThe African nation of Burundi has had its share of troubles. It is one of the poorest countries in the world, with subsistence farmers making up 90 percent of the population. Despite its agricultural nature, Burundi is also one of the most population-dense nations in Africa. These reasons, along with years of civil war and hunger, are to blame for Burundi’s poverty.

The Burundian Civil War, fought along ethnic lines from 1993 until its formal conclusion in 2005, is one of the main reasons for Burundi’s poverty. From 1994 to 2006, poverty increased from 48 to 67 percent.

Another reason for the poverty in Burundi is rising food prices coupled with high population growth. Due to this, 53 percent of Burundian children suffer from stunted growth caused by malnourishment.

Natural disasters such as drought threaten Burundi’s critical agricultural sector, as well as the erosion and over-cultivation caused by poor farming techniques. Furthermore, because of the subsistence nature of much of the farming in Burundi, farmers often live on a small income, which also means they have little capital to invest in improved farming techniques or equipment, such as fertilizer.

While there are many reasons for the poverty in Burundi, there have also been a number of proposed remedies. The government has established Vision 2025 in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme and the African Future Institute and is seeking to reduce poverty to 33 percent by that year. The plan focuses on everything from sustainable land use to better governance and social cohesion. The government has also expanded various child protection measures and, in 2005, made primary education free. In addition, UNICEF has passed out nets laced with insecticide in an effort to fight malaria in Burundi and has helped the country expand its school infrastructure, including building 387 classrooms.

There is no doubt that many of the reasons for Burundi’s poverty are grave. However, the nation’s government seems to be aware that it has its work cut out for itself, and is taking the appropriate steps to rectify the situation on all fronts.

Andrew Revord

Photo: Flickr

A small Caribbean nation with less than 1.4 million people, Trinidad and Tobago faces a serious hunger problem that is afflicting its citizens. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), roughly 100,000 people are undernourished, which accounts for nearly 7.5 percent of the nation’s population. The rest of the Caribbean and Latin America has an average undernourishment rate of only 5.5 percent of the population, which signals how serious hunger in Trinidad and Tobago is.

One of the major reasons for the sheer amount of hunger in the nation is how much food it wastes every year. According to the World Bank, Trinidad and Tobago is the most wasteful country per urban capita in the world.

At a conference launching the nonprofit organization Nourish TT, Dr. Lystra Fletcher-Paul reported that the Caribbean and Latin America waste a staggering 78 million tons of food annually, which totals 6 percent of global food production, and Trinidad and Tobago is the most wasteful country in the region.

Fletcher-Paul said: “The FAO estimates that in T&T if we were to reduce the food losses at the retail level, we would have enough food to reduce, by 50 percent, the undernourished people in the country.” That only includes food wasted in retail. If waste from all sources could be eliminated, the FAO calculates, all the undernourished people in Trinidad and Tobago could be fed.

With a GDP per capita in the world’s top 60, Trinidad and Tobago has an economic infrastructure more than capable of feeding its citizens, yet more than one in 10 citizens goes hungry. Organizations such as Nourish TT are doing their best to help eliminate food waste and ensure that hungry people receive the nourishment they need.

Similarly, the United Nations Development Programme has implemented the MDG1 program to help eliminate poverty and hunger in Trinidad and Tobago as well as other nations. Programs like MDG1 identify areas of critical need such as improving education, growing non-fossil fuel industries and helping reform healthcare and workers’ rights. With programs such as these in place to eliminate waste, hunger in Trinidad and Tobago looks to be a problem on its way to ending.

Erik Halberg

Photo: Flickr

UNDP Supports Universal Immunization Program in IndiaWith high risks of communicable diseases like bacterial diarrhea, malaria, hepatitis A and E and typhoid, there’s a rising necessity for a proper immunization program in India. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has partnered with the Indian government and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to design and put into effect an Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network (eVIN). This project, known as Improving Efficiency of Vaccination Systems in Multiple States, has already run since 2014 and is to run until 2021 to strengthen the evidence base for policy-making related to vaccine delivery, procurement and planning, and ensure equity in availability.

As the world’s largest immunization program, eVIN technology has already shown results in enabling real time information on cold chain temperatures and vaccine stocks and flows in all 371 implementing districts in India. It has managed to achieve over a 98 percent reporting rate from vaccine storage areas, with over 2 million transactions logged each month, and developed the skills of over 17,000 government staff in store keeping, data operating or cold chain handling in over 550 batches of training programs.

The eVIN is setup on a mobile application that easily allows cold chain handlers to log stock positions at the end of each routine immunization day, which is then relayed immediately onto a web interface for assessment by health officials. In India, this can come to play an important role as geography and communications can pose an issue, like in the small hill-state of Manipur, where vaccine vials are carried over extensive distances to session sites by auxiliary nurses and midwives. Instances of stock-outs have decreased by more than six times here, and eVIN has enabled staff to learn how to use a smartphone and other technology, improving quality of work and management in the process.

This immunization program in India has also significantly empowered women health workers, giving them the opportunity to work with technology after attending regional and district eVIN training sessions. This allows them to manage stocks and temperatures themselves, bridges the digital divide in rural parts of India and ensures transparency alongside accuracy. Over 50 percent of cold chain handlers are women, and many are from older age groups.

EVin has taken India out of the unproductive days of delayed decision making, shortages and expirations, and has created an efficient health system that allows for valuable state-wide geographic, stock-out or excess stock and temperature overviews on each district’s centers. It also allows for large savings by reducing vaccine wastage and allowing for timely and quality injections, as in Rewa, where around $70,000 was saved after six months of eVIN activation.

Though led by the UNDP and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in India, the Universal Immunization Program is largely supported by GAVI, a global vaccine alliance established in 2000. With support from GAVI and the Indian government, the Universal Immunization Program in India has immunized at least 65 percent of India‘s children and expects to immunize 27 million more each oncoming year.

Zar-Tashiya Khan

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in Sao Tome and Principe

The most recent survey on the causes of poverty in Sao Tome and Principe, an island nation off the western coast of Africa, dates back to 1995. It showed that over 40% of the population was living below the poverty line, and 33% were living in extreme poverty.

Unfortunately, there is little household information about Sao Tome and Principe, but a decline in the nation’s per capita income through 1997 and difficult social conditions led to the increase in poverty since then. Specifically, fluctuations in the world’s cocoa prices triggered such conditions and have caused an influx of migration to urban areas.

In spite of this, its rank of 142 out of 188 in the United Nations’ Development Programme Human Development Index is relatively good compared to other Western African countries. This mostly stems from foreign investment in health and education between 1975 and 1985, but this aid slowed with economic instability in the 1990s.

This country struggles to develop largely due to its low income, which stems from a lack of assets and means of production. Without the ability to export, Sao Tome and Principe struggles to resolve its economic instability. Without tools or proper infrastructure, agriculture as an industry is unable to generate income.

Despite this, since 1990, Sao Tome and Principe’s Human Development Index rating has gone up from .454 to .574, which is an increase of about 26.4%. Progress in different areas has been seen, as the life expectancy has gone up by 4.8 years, as well as mean years of schooling increased by 2.4 years and expected years of schooling increased by 3.8 years. Sao Tome and Principe’s GNI per capita also increased by 55.6% since 1990.

Sao Tome and Principe is still below the average level of HDI rating of .631, but above the average of .523 of sub-Saharan African countries. One area it must work on is its gender inequality rating, as only 30.8% of adult women have received a secondary level of education. Further improvement in some of these areas will help limit some of the causes of poverty in Sao Tome and Principe.

Tucker Hallowell

Photo: Flickr

How to Help People in GuyanaA small South American nation of fewer than one million people, Guyana has faced a history of political and social turmoil that has left its economy and its people struggling in poverty. With a GDP per capita of a mere $8,000, Guyana ranks as the third poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, surpassed only by Haiti and Nicaragua.

A recent UNICEF study found that nearly 50 percent of the country’s children under 16 years of age suffer from poverty – a number disproportionately greater than the 36 percent of the entire nation’s population who live in poverty. Many of those who suffer extreme poverty are from rural areas, where they lack the infrastructure and resources necessary to provide for themselves and their families.

While initiatives that seek how to help people in Guyana will have to turn their attention to helping the nation as a whole develop, there are ways to get involved and help make a difference in the lives of people in Guyana.

  1. Consider volunteering your time with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which, last November, launched a $64 million project to aid and assist the youth of Guyana. USAID gladly accepts volunteers and partners who want to get involved and help reduce poverty across the entire globe.
  2. Some support organizations are already assisting the poor in Guyana, such as UNICEF and the United Nations Development Programme. These groups have strategies and goals for helping Guyana; they are outlined on their websites, so you can familiarize yourself with them and consider volunteering time or money to help make an impact.
  3. Write to your representatives in Congress to urge them not to support bills that would cut U.S. funding to Guyana, such as a recently proposed budget which would slash a great deal of federal funding. Many Guyanans feel this budget would likely end with a large amount of essential American aid being stripped away from them.
  4. Recently, Guyana was discovered to possess huge amounts of natural oil reserves – a resource that many companies are hungrily eyeing, particularly ExxonMobil, who already plans to drill in Guyana. Spreading awareness of the largely negative outcome of such drilling can help prevent Guyana’s environment from being destroyed and its people and economy from being further exploited.

While these may not be the most hands-on ways of lending aid, there are plenty of organizations who already know how to help people in Guyana most effectively. However, these groups also need support so they can expand their efforts and send more help to the people of Guyana.

Erik Halberg

Photo: Flickr