Ending Poverty, Updates on the SDGs in BoliviaThe first Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) is to “end poverty in all its forms everywhere” and requires every nation to develop a comprehensive plan to address systemic problems that contribute to the creation of poverty. This requires international cooperation. Although the United States appears to be a likely ally in Bolivia’s effort to eradicate poverty and accomplish its SDGs, America’s relationship with Bolivia has historically been imperfect.


In the 1970s, economists from the University of Chicago drove Bolivia’s economy into the ground with a series of free-market reforms that generated widespread poverty. More recently, the United States was accused of participating in a coup that led to the removal of President Evo Morales. Compared with less affluent nations, America’s disproportionate influence with the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund is worrisome to less influential nations, like Bolivia.

Bolivian officials brought their criticisms of the language used to write the introduction and preamble of the U.N.’s sustainable development goals to the U.N.’s attention, and revisions were made. Their chief complaint was, “That the preamble and the introductory section of the proposed document are setting out a western and anthropocentric mindset of the world, reinforcing a mindset which has originated the current problems of the world for not achieving sustainable development.”

This called into question the U.N.’s ability, functioning as it currently does, to address the global poverty and environmental crises.

National SDG Progress in 2021

Every few years, a group of U.N. member nations volunteer to present their progress on SDG goals. In July 2021, Bolivia will be among four other nations to present for the first time during the U.N. High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). This demonstrates Bolivia’s eagerness to cooperate with the U.N., despite stated differences in perspective and approach.

The first SDG goal will be emphasized by the forum, as well as goals 10, 12 and 13. These last three goals deal with issues related to ethnic diversity and environmental sustainability, which are at the forefront of Bolivia’s national development policy. Significantly, as a first-time presenter, Bolivia will have half an hour to present to the forum.

Rosa Vera Fund

As part of its updates on the first SDG goal in Bolivia to the United Nations, perhaps Bolivia will summarize the work done by the Rosa Vera Fund, which provides physical therapy to Bolivian children with cerebral palsy, epilepsy and physical disabilities. Through physical therapy, the Rosa Vera Fund ultimately helps children with physical disabilities lead lives with greater economic independence. In the short term, the Rosa Vera Fund works with children during hours when their mothers are at work, thus freeing many Bolivian women from the obligation to take care of their children during the day. This program leads to immediate and long term benefits for Bolivian workers.

In partnership with the Consejo de Salud Rural Andino Montero, the Rosa Vera Fund was established in 2005. It provides essential care to approximately 60,000 patients in Montero. While its impact cannot be measured in rough trends, the Rosa Vera Fund has impacted thousands of Bolivians’ lives. Its work seeks to reduce poverty rates for Bolivians with physical disabilities, as well as poverty rates for the mothers of Bolivian children with physical disabilities.

Recently, the Rosa Vera Fund acknowledged that it faced obstacles when it delivered service to its clients because of widespread unrest in Montero after the removal of President Evo Morales. The updates about the SDGs in Bolivia indicate some of the historical precedents for political unrest in Bolivia.

Regardless of political strife, the Rosa Vera Fund is confident in the ongoing viability of its mission: “As future political changes unfold, we are confident that the Rosa Vera Fund will be able to weather the storm and just keep plugging along, doing what we do best: Provide medical care and social interventions for children with special health care needs, who have no other options.”

– Taylor Pangman
Photo: Flickr

Permaculture in South AfricaIn South Africa, 25% of people are unable to afford enough food supplies to meet their basic physical needs. SEED Social Enterprise is a nonprofit organization based in Mitchells Plain, Cape Town. It combats food insecurity in South Africa by decentralizing food systems to local household and neighborhood gardens. Mitchells Plain, a township in South Africa, faces high rates of unemployment and poverty. This is due to post-apartheid socioeconomic disparities. As a result, a majority of the residents in Mitchells Plain lack access to employment opportunities and long-term food security. SEED alleviates the effects of poverty by implementing permaculture in South Africa. Permaculture design programs provide nutritious food and job opportunities.

Benefits of Permaculture

Permaculture uses holistic solutions to harvest and distribute the food, agriculture and energy within a cultivated ecosystem. The main goals of permaculture include restoring natural ecosystems, implementing zero-waste policies and participating in sustainable consumption.

Additionally, localized food systems provide access to nutritious food in impoverished communities. Permaculture design programs also provide economic, ecological and health benefits. The additional benefits of permaculture include reduced food insecurity and undernutrition and long-term environmental sustainability. They also include increased savings from reduced input costs, high agricultural yields and improved human health and well being.

Participation in community permaculture design and cultivation encourages residents to work toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDGs that address sustainability and poverty, such as responsible consumption and zero hunger, reflect the leading principles of permaculture; care for people, care for Earth and fair share. Resilient and diverse agricultural systems also promote economic and social equity through permaculture redistribution principles.

Nutrition, Human Health and Development

A majority of South Africa’s nutrition burden falls on the under-five population through development complications like child stunting and wasting. South Africa’s child stunting prevalence is 27%. This is approximately 2% above the national average for child stunting in developing countries. The prevalence of child stunting in South Africa indicates poor nutrition and diet during the critical stages of child development.

Improved diet through accessible and diverse food can reduce rates of child stunting and malnutrition nationwide. SEED permaculture in South Africa allows the community of Mitchells Plain to access nutritious foods like broccoli, carrots and turnips. As a result, human health and development improve due to reduced risk of infection, improved immune system function and increased cognitive development.

Investing in the Youth of Mitchells Plain

Furthermore, according to SEED, approximately 400,000 unemployed youth reside in Mitchells Plain. Nearly half of the unemployed youth population lives below the poverty line. As a result, food insecurity and malnutrition pose a threat to young adults. SEED plans to reduce poverty and food insecurity by introducing the township youth to permaculture design, urban regeneration and organic production.

Seeding Futures is a 15-week permaculture resilience program hosted by SEED. It teaches community development through sustainable agricultural practices. The Seeding Futures program covers permaculture design ethics and urban ecosystem regeneration. It also covers communication skills and self-care practices.

Students are encouraged to develop their strengths and explore employment opportunities within the local green community. During the last four weeks of Seeding Futures, students shadow local green businesses to gain valuable insight into the eco-friendly job market. According to SEED, approximately 89% of students who complete the program develop the skill set to grow food long-term. SEED uses permaculture in South Africa to provide sustainable solutions that address the intersection of poverty, unemployment and food insecurity in Mitchells Plain.

Madeline Zuzevich
Photo: Pixabay