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8 Quotes About How to End HungerMore than 820 million people are suffering from hunger. Further, 2 billion are suffering from malnutrition. However, there is enough food, knowledge and resources to end hunger. First, society must address the root cause to effectively end world hunger. Here are 8 inspiring quotes about how to end hunger.

8 Quotes About How to End Hunger

  1. “If with so little we have done so much in Brazil, imagine what could have been done on a global scale if the fight against hunger and poverty were a real priority for the international community.” -Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva. Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva is a former Brazilian president, with enormous popularity across Brazil. Lula Da Silva made the poor his central focus. He put into place many social welfare programs and was able to bring millions out of poverty.
  2. “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” -Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa is widely known for feeding the hungry one person at a time. She also set up programs that assisted in resolving world hunger.
  3. “You cannot tackle hunger, disease and poverty unless you can also provide people with a healthy ecosystem in which their economies can grow.” -Gro Harlem Brundtland. Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland was a physician and scientist for the Norwegian public health system and the Prime Minister of Norway. She later became the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO). Brundtland believes in being the moral voice in improving health and alleviating suffering for people around the world.
  4. “We cannot fight against the poverty and hunger in the world when our stomachs are full of delicious food… the fighters must feel the poverty not imagine it.” -M.F. Moonzajer. This quote comes from M.F. Moonzajer’s latest book titled “Love, Hatred, and Madness.” Moonzajer is a journalist and a former intern for the United Nations Secretariat in Bonn as well as a policymaker for an international NGO in Afghanistan.
  5. “Nowhere in the world, in no act of genocide, in no war, are so many people killed per minute, per hour and per day as those who are killed by hunger and poverty…” -Fidel Castro. Fidel Castro was the former Prime Minister of Cuba. Castro felt strongly about human rights, particularly the right to food accessibility. He accused wealthy nations of tolerating the genocide of starvation. He addressed the United Nations during the organization of a multinational force to aid “1 million Rwandan refugees in eastern Zaire where rebel fighting cut off the country’s food supply.”
  6. “When you see in places like Africa and parts of Asia abject poverty, hungry children and malnutrition around you, and you look at yourself as being people who have well being and comforts, I think it takes a very insensitive, tough person not to feel they need to do something.” -Ratan Tata. Ratan Tata is an Indian philanthropist working to improve conditions in India by honing in on the malnutrition of children, fortifying staple foods and aiming to alleviate poverty. The Tata Trusts are providing 60,000 meals a day.
  7. “If you want to eliminate hunger, everybody has to be involved.” – Bono. Bono is a band member of the group U2 and is a leading voice for the world’s poor. His efforts mainly pertain to fighting hunger and poverty, particularly for those in Africa. The musician donates his time to philanthropic causes such as creating charities such as the ONE Campaign and the clothing line EDUN to stimulate trade in poverty-stricken countries.
  8. “If everyone who wants to see an end to poverty, hunger and suffering speak out, then the noise will be deafening.” -Desmond Tutu. Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa is an advocate for human rights, particularly the right to food and clean water. Tutu received the Global Champion Against Hunger award from the United Nations World Food Program for his efforts to defend the weak and the hungry.

These 8 inspiring quotes about how to end hunger show that there are people in the world trying to make a difference. But, as Bono said, everyone has to be involved to truly end world hunger.

Na’Keevia Brown
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Sanitation in Morocco
Morocco has made significant progress in sanitation during the past decade. Although there are still many issues, improvements in water sanitation in Morocco are in the near future. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Morocco.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Morocco

  1. H2O Maghreb: USAID and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) implemented an activity called H2O Maghreb in order to help establish advanced and sustainable water management practices in Morocco. H2O Maghreb includes a two-year degree accredited by the government of Morocco. Furthermore, the H20 Maghreb activity provides training and job opportunities in waste management. About 80 percent of the students participating are women.
  2. The Douira Sea Water Desalination Plant: Morocco plans to build the world’s largest seawater desalination plant in the city of Agadir in 2021. The Douira Sea Water Desalination Plant will provide drinking water to the people of the Chtouka Ait Baha region in Morocco. Further, the Douira Sea Water Desalination Plant should be able to irrigate 15,000 hectares of land and produce up to 450,000 cubic meters of desalinated water every day.
  3. Dakhla’s Wasterwater Treatment Plant: Morocco is also building a wastewater treatment plant in Dakhla. The plant will help prevent wastewater from polluting groundwater resources. Additionally, the wastewater sludge can also act as a fertilizer.
  4. Improvements to the Wastewater Sector: During the past decade, Morocco has made many improvements in its wastewater sector. Of the 34 million people in Morocco, 25 percent of the people are not connected to the sewer network and 38 percent of the people are not connected to wastewater treatment plants.
  5. Leprosy: Leprosy is on the decline in Morocco. From 2000 to 2012, the number of leprosy cases decreased by 4.68 percent each year. In 2012, Morocco began a program to distribute rifampicin to help prevent the spread of leprosy. From 2012 to 2017, the number of cases of leprosy in Morocco decreased by 16.38 percent each year. The rifampicin program helped prevent leprosy and improved sanitation in Morocco
  6. Trachoma: Morocco eliminated trachoma in 2016. Trachoma is an infectious disease that causes blindness. Morocco implemented the World Health Organization-endorsed SAFE strategy in the 1990s. This included surgery for trichiasis, antibiotics to treat trachoma, facial cleanliness and environmental improvements to help prevent the spread of trachoma.
  7. Acid Mine Drainage: Acid mine drainage is an issue in Morocco. When people do not clean mine sites, the acid mine drainage at the mines can contaminate the land and the groundwater.
  8. Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Schools (WinS): Morocco implemented the program Water, sanitation and hygiene in schools (WinS) in order to provide clean water and improve sanitary facilities in 19 primary schools in the country. Improving sanitary facilities at schools can help prevent water-related diseases and encourage children to stay in school and graduate.
  9. European Space Agency Technology: The University of Kenitra utilizes technology developed by the European Space Agency to clean groundwater so that it is safe for people to drink. The water treatment facility will provide water for 1,200 students.
  10. Safely-Managed Drinking Services: As of 2017, 70.266 percent of the people in Morocco have access to safely-managed drinking water services. This also means that as of 2017, 29.734 percent of the people in Morocco do not have access to safely-managed drinking water services.

These 10 facts about sanitation in Morocco show that the water supply is improving and will continue to improve. As technology and new initiatives increase the water supply, more people will gain access to safe drinking water.

Frank Decapio
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Public Health Crisis in Syria
Syria has been the target of one of the most comprehensive and far-reaching sanctions campaigns worldwide. The U.S., the EU, the U.N., the Arab League, OFAC and several other entities have all applied economic sanctions against the country. The goal is to punish Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for his brutal violence against unarmed, civilian anti-government protesters. U.S. sanctions are also in response to the Syrian government’s support for terrorist groups and its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. Imposing these restrictive measures has been the preferred method of Western powers for decades. However, sanctions have continuously failed to stop Assad from doing business with the U.S. and hurt the Syrian public.

Sanctions’ Impact on Syria’s Economy

Sanctions have caused serious damage to Syria’s economy. These sanctions include oil embargos, restrictions on certain investments, travel bans, freezing the assets of central banks and export restrictions on equipment and technology. The country used to be primarily an exporter, but it now relies on imports, mainly from Lebanon, Iraq and China. Before the EU sanctions, 90 percent of its oil exports went to Germany, Italy and France. Since President Trump recently imposed sanctions on its ally Iran, Syria is suffering even more difficulty obtaining goods. The value of the Syrian currency has plummeted, while prices have sky-rocketed, especially because of restrictions on oil imports.

To continue prioritizing the purchase of guns and bombs from Russia, the Syrian government has simply removed the country’s safety nets. Further, the country has cut back on subsidized fuel, food and health spending. Living was less expensive for Syrians during the peak of the civil war. Technically, legitimate businesses and individuals in Syria should be able to undertake critical transactions. However, foreign suppliers are often unwilling to send anything to Syria. These suppliers do not want to risk triggering unexpected violations of the complex sanction rules.

Sanctions and the Public Health Crisis in Syria

Similarly, there are exemptions for importing pharmaceuticals and food. But in reality, health facilities are feeling the effects of sanctions just as much as the rest of Syria’s private citizens, with life-threatening consequences. The consequences of these sanctions have led to a significant public health crisis in Syria. For example, hospitals cannot import nitrous oxide necessary for anesthetics, due to the fact that others could use it to make bombs. Also, they cannot import helium for cooling MRI scanners for the same reason. The humanitarian exemption for exporting software to Syria for medical equipment requires a complicated application process. Thus, health facilities have little access to foreign life-saving machines, drugs and supplies.

Unable to obtain repairs for European dialysis machines, about 10 percent of people dependent on dialysis have died of kidney failure. Russia, China, Lebanon or Malaysia must now provide medical supplies rather than the EU. This further slows down the process and delays the treatment of those with chronic illnesses. Cancer medication, insulin and anesthetics are among the medications Syria relies on imports for. Now, there are shortages of these medicines, as well as in specific antibiotics, serums, intravenous fluids and some vaccines. This has resulted in delayed treatment for cancer and leukemia patients. The government’s health care budget cuts since the civil war began, combined with the detrimental effects of sanctions, have made most imported medicines unaffordable. Finally, only 44 percent of hospitals are now fully functioning and many of them have closed.

The Real Impact of Sanctions

Meanwhile, President Assad’s policies of violence against his people have not changed. The Syrian government, which still carries out million-dollar deals with the U.S. and other countries that applied sanctions, seems to have found ways to circumvent the sanctions and remain largely unaffected. Assad claims that the sanctions are simply creating more refugees. As the inefficiency of sanctions to reduce human rights violations and their drastic effect on public health becomes increasingly clear, Western powers should rethink their policy of sanctions on Syria.

Sarah Newgarden
Photo: Flickr

The Marshall Plan to Mobilize African Development
According to the Population Reference Bureau, Africa’s population will more than double by 2050, from 1.2 billion people to 2.5 billion. Africa already suffers from food, energy and job shortages, and its current population makes up about 17 percent of the world’s population. However, with this current growth, its population would balloon to an estimated 20 percent. As a result, Europe realizes that African development is going to have a large impact on the 21st century and that action is necessary. This action includes the Marshall Plan to mobilize African development.

The Solution

Although Africa struggles with the aforementioned shortages, it withholds 15 percent of global oil reserves. In addition, 40 percent of gold reserves and 80 percent of platinum reserves are located there. The largest expanse of agricultural land in the world is also in Africa. Based on this, Germany is spearheading the Marshall Plan initiative to mobilize African development and promote private investment on the continent. This is part of the G20 (EU in conjunction with 19 other countries). Africa currently relies on donors and other countries for support, but this new initiative will help Africa become more self-sufficient.

With the predicted population explosion, Africa must create more jobs and opportunities. To do so, the G20 needs private investment to make Africa appealing to potential investors. Other changes that will support this initiative include protecting human rights, strengthening the economy and implementing good governance. Through this, the G20 also needs to address and solve problems in Africa. These problematic elements consist of trade, arms sales to crisis areas and illicit financial flows. This will require strong international cooperation and partnerships between developed and developing countries.

The Marshall Plan includes ensuring food and water security, bolstering infrastructure, embracing digitalization, increasing access to energy, health care and education in Africa. To accomplish this, the G20 also plans to give Africa a seat on the U.N. Security Council. This will provide the country with heightened authority in international organizations and negotiations.

G20 Partnership Pillars

Partnership pillars that the Marshall Plan is prioritizing are promoting private investment, developing infrastructure and improving economic growth. Analyzing pre-existing initiatives will promote private investment. Promotion will also include tailoring country-specific measures to improve the framework, involving business and financing. Africa will develop infrastructure by expanding on pre-existing initiatives and sharing any knowledge on infrastructure investment and how to manage it and natural resources. Finally, the creation of an initiative to promote employment via skills development and training (Initiative for Rural Youth Employment) will improve economic growth.

Related Initiatives

Related initiatives include AU’s Agenda 2063, the Addis Tax Initiative, the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), the Sustainability, Security and Stability in Africa Initiative and the EU’s European External Investment Plan (EIP). For the Marshall Plan to succeed, it must fit in with the other initiatives and fill in gaps to promote change in Africa. Supporting organizations of the Marshall Plan include the African Union, the EU and the NEPAD Agency.

The Future

As of 2018, the cabinet has already passed the Marshall Plan to mobilize African development; however, it has not taken any further action yet. Experts worry that the plan could become obsolete if people have unrealistic expectations of what it will cover. A common misconception is that the plan will automatically secure peace and create jobs and growth for Africa. It is working towards that, but there is no guarantee. If action follows soon and private investment grows, Africa will be well on its way to self-sustainability.

– Nyssa Jordan
Photo: Flickr

Countries Affected by the Measles OutbreakIn 2019, countries around the world faced a significant increase in measles outbreaks. Besides cases in the United States, people in places like the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Brazil, the Philippines and Somalia have suffered from a resurgence of this preventable disease. There are many causes of the global measles outbreak including the mistrust of vaccines, inadequate access to health care and the global childhood immunization gap.

Measles is caused by a virus and spread through respiratory transmission. It is highly contagious but mostly preventable through childhood vaccinations. Mild symptoms of measles include high fever and a rash. More severe effects of the disease include pneumonia, diarrhea and even deafness.

4 Countries Affected by the Measles Outbreak

  1. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC): In the DRC, measles has killed 5,000 people so far in 2019, which is more than twice as many people as Ebola. More than 90 percent of these deaths are children under the age of 5. Further, the measles outbreak has spread throughout all provinces. Lack of access to health care and a shortage of measles vaccines contribute to these deaths. Additionally, weakened immune systems in malnourished children, deficiencies in vitamin A and diseases such as HIV/AIDS also lead to death. UNICEF and other NGOs have distributed more than 1,300 measles kits containing antibiotics, rehydration salts and other drugs to the most impacted areas. UNICEF has also advocated for a longer-term strategy to address the outbreak.

  2. Brazil: Though Brazil had been deemed free of measles in 2015, as of November 2019 the country has had an estimated 50,000 cases of the disease. The highest concentration of measles cases occurred in Sao Paulo, the state with the highest population. Brazilian officials are concerned that people in an isolated tribe in the Amazon may have contracted the disease. This is of particular concern since these people have a low resistance to measles and other diseases. Health officials in Brazil have implemented a measles vaccination campaign to vaccinate millions of young people between the ages of 20-29 in order to contain the outbreak.

  3. The Philippines: Yet another country that has faced a measles outbreak due to distrust in vaccines is the Philippines. The New York Times reports that measles vaccination rates in the country declined from above 80 percent in 2008 to below 70 percent in 2017. Officials have reported nearly 44,000 measles cases in Manila and the surrounding areas as of November 2019. In response to the measles outbreak, along with outbreaks of polio and dengue, the Philippines Red Cross has sought to expand its efforts. This will require recruiting and training some 2,600 volunteers. In the long-term, the Department of Health aims to increase immunization coverage so that 95 percent of children are vaccinated.

  4. Somalia: According to a November 2019 U.N. article, there have been 3,616 suspected cases of measles in Somalia in 2019. In particular, people in IDP camps (for internally displaced people), areas with high population density and nomadic communities are at greater risk. The illness is particularly deadly for children under 5 in Somalia. Unfortunately, one in seven of these children dies before they turn 5. To combat this outbreak, the Somali government has partnered with UNICEF and the WHO to launch a campaign to vaccinate 1.7 million Somali children.

Several countries have faced measles outbreaks in 2019. Increased immunization coverage during childhood could prevent these outbreaks. As these countries affected by the measles outbreak show, access to vaccines and health care is vitally important. In fact, these ailments are often a matter of life and death. Fortunately, NGOs and governments are working together to prevent future measles outbreaks.

Sarah Frazer
Photo: Flickr

Burundi's Health Care
Burundi is a Central African nation, bordering the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania and Rwanda. Those living within the nation face a plethora of challenges from civil wars to disease and a general state of civil unrest. On top of this, Burundi‘s health care requires efforts to reduce the spread of disease and provide better care to those affected.

The State of Burundi’s Health Care

The fear of communicable diseases grew exponentially following the multiple Ebola outbreaks in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo. This illuminated the glaring flaws in Burundi’s health care system and an overall lack of preparedness for such a potentially deadly epidemic.

USAID has stated that Burundi’s health care system faces a “lack of adequate infrastructure and human resources to meet urgent community health needs.” Although the inadequacies are plentiful and debilitating, with relentless efforts, some are providing hope by way of ingenuity in Burundi’s health care system

Malaria

There were reports of over 7 million malaria cases in Burundi within the first 10 months of 2019. This is roughly 64 percent higher than the total recorded cases for 2018. The cause of this spike is a subject of debate, with experts citing climate change and an unequipped health care system as possible culprits.

A protozoan parasite causes malaria. After a bite from an infected mosquito, the protozoan parasite invades the red blood cells. People infected with malaria often experience flu-like symptoms. In 2017, there were records of 219 million cases of malaria, along with approximately 435,000 deaths. The vast majority of these cases were in Africa.

Many Burundians have taken refuge from the malaria epidemic in neighboring Rwanda. Although advances in fighting the disease remain somewhat stagnant in Burundi, Rwanda is succeeding in limiting the outbreak. Rwanda began coating refugee camps and homes with indoor residual spray. Since then, Rwanda experienced 430,000 fewer cases after just one year utilizing this method. Burundi, with a similar socioeconomic state as Rwanda, leads many to believe these methods could be beneficial for great success in both countries.

Cholera

Beginning in June 2019, a cholera outbreak overcame the city of Bujumbura, the most densely populated city in Burundi. With over 1,000 cases recorded, this far exceeds the national yearly average of about 200 to 250.

Cholera is a highly contagious bacterial infection caused by coming into contact with fecal matter, which is commonplace in bodies of still water. The disease causes severe diarrhea, which almost inevitably leads to dehydration. It can progress exceptionally fast, necessitating medical care within hours of infection.

Even with cholera’s endemic level in the city of Bujumbura, there have been minimal deaths. This is in large part due to the development of three cholera treatment facilities within the area. Many of the medical facilities face the incapability of treating the disease. However, with minimal investment, the country could make drastic changes for the better.

Ebola

Although the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has not moved into Burundi as of yet, the risk is high. This is largely due to the fact that many Burundians work and trade in the neighboring DRC. The border town of Gatumba, for instance, averages 6,000 border crossings every weekday and 3,000 border crossings on the weekends.

Ebola, a contagious virus, spreads through contact with bodily fluids (such as blood, urine, breast milk, semen and fecal matter). Ebola is classified as a hemorrhagic fever virus. This is due to the fact that Ebola causes issues with the clotting of blood. The issues with clotting often lead to blood leaking from blood vessels within the body, causing internal bleeding.

In an attempt to spread awareness, a fleet of vans equipped with speakers and filled with UNICEF workers are traveling around Burundi and educating on ways to prevent the spread of Ebola. Many of those living in Burundi are unaware that things such as proper hand-washing techniques can be the difference between life and death. Through education and increased communication within the community, many are optimistic regarding Burundi’s fight against the spread of Ebola.

Although Burundi faces much to overcome, through proper allocation of resources and help from an international audience, Burundi’s health care system can flourish, saving countless lives.

Austin Brown
Photo: Flickr

UNICEF’s WASH Program
According to a joint report from the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO), one in four of the world’s health care facilities does not have adequate access to clean water and sanitation services, including sewer access. This means that about 2 billion people face a lack of clean water in their communities globally. Luckily, UNICEF’s WASH Program is in place to help remedy this.

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)

In 17 out of 69 impoverished countries, at least 20 percent of medical facilities had no water service at all in 2016. Therefore, by going to these facilities, there is a risk of further infection. Ironically, the condition the facility is attempting to remedy could worsen. In developing countries, people often have a concern that they could become sicker after visiting a hospital. UNICEF’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) program aims to bring water and means of sanitation to these at-risk health care facilities to create immediate benefits and establish an element of trust between medical facilities and the general population of impoverished countries. By doing so, projections determine that poor communities should increasingly report to medical professionals when they have a health concern, and many poverty-linked, poor-sanitation-caused diseases will receive better treatment and be better controlled.

UNICEF’s WASH program promotes education, fixing systemic issues and training. However, it mainly goes about achieving these goals by addressing issues on the ground level. Simply put, impoverished communities typically do not have easy access to sanitation measures and fresh water. Therefore, WASH has set out to directly fix the issue by installing facilities that can directly bring free, clean water to people in need. In certain areas that especially need better sanitation and water access, the program goes so far as to build physical water facilities.

How it Works

The facilities consist of a solar-powered borehole well that pumps clean groundwater from within the earth into 24-liter storage tanks above ground. These tanks keep the water clean and usable for whenever communities need it. There are no restrictions on the use of WASH facilities. Those who need it can use it to wash their hands, fill up bathtubs and draw water from their households, etc. In addition to supplying usable water to these communities, the WASH program also installs latrines. The latrines make use of the newly-supplied groundwater to reduce the amount of open defecation in impoverished communities.

WASH in Nigeria

A WASH facility in north-central Nigeria has seen exceptional progress after its installation. Like many poor Nigerian communities, there was little to no health care coverage. Further, the water was dirty and soil-transmitted helminths infected the area due to unsanitary defecation. Even the schools were a breeding ground for disease. Just by bringing clean water, WASH brought the rural community from an unsanitary village to an “open defecation-free” location. In doing so, they also slashed the prevalence of poverty-linked diseases.

UNICEF’s WASH program operates in coordination with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030. Two out of the 17 SDGs directly apply to WASH’s mission. First, ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. Second, ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. By making direct, measurable progress towards these goals, the U.N. can garner further support. Therefore, the world will be able to meet more SDGs, making the world a better place for everyone in the very near future.

Graham Gordon
Photo: Flickr

Solutions to Desertification
Desertification is the “degradation of land in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas,” according to the United NationsWorldwide, people are seeing the encroaching effects of desertification increasing due to factors such as climate change, overgrazing of pastoral lands, deforestation, over drafting groundwater and over-farming land. When clearing trees and using groundwater, soil begins to lose root systems and hydration, causing it to simply blow away.

According to the United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), one-third of the world’s land surface is susceptible to desertification. The issue is even more dire for areas already suffering from water scarcity, for when they lose their resources, there is often little rain or irrigation available to allow for the regeneration of forests and green lands. This then leads to subsequent food scarcity. However, many global initiatives exist to come up with solutions to desertification and its impact.

Technology

Satellite data has become an integral tool to map the spread and suppression of desertification globally. For 10 years, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) has worked with the European Space Agency (ESA). Its partnership involves efforts to monitor global desertification.

Satellites allow scientists a bird’s eye view to be able to strategize better and cut off desertification as it spreads. They can map the levels of moisture in the soil, allowing scientists the foresight into areas that may become more susceptible to desertification. Satellites are also offering scientists the ability to maximize their rehabilitation efforts. In doing so, they can gauge the number of trees an area can withstand. Planting too many trees in an area involves wasting time and resources, considering the trees will not survive.

Rehabilitation Efforts

Rehabilitation is critical in reducing desertification. In Africa, a plan that the African Union instituted will create a wall of trees stretching from Senegal to Djibouti. The Great Green Wall will reduce the spread of desertification across the African plains and create an ecosystem for animals to be able to return. With purposeful and considerate planning, the green wall should allow for the cohabitation of humanity and nature. The wall also offers industry. By planting fruit-bearing trees, local people will be able to see the trees as a profit rather than a hindrance.

As of 2019, these efforts have only resulted in the planting of 15 percent of the planned 8,000 km of trees due to monetary issues. In addition, the process of planting and caring for trees is very slow. In 2002, China began enforcing the Law of Prevention and Control of Desertification. This involved the world’s first integrated wall for the prevention and resolution of desertification. The law itself is rather vague, merely stating that “units or individuals that use desertified land have the obligation to rehabilitate the land.” However, that is intentional as it allows provinces affected to implement solutions to desertification that work for them, rather than trying to make the same program fit for a vast range of peoples and landscapes.

Education

In 1994, the United Nations instituted The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, held annually on June 17. Observing the day acts as a way to promote education on the impacts of desertification globally. It also serves as a reminder that land degradation neutrality is achievable through problem-solving, community action and consistent cooperation at all levels.

Desertification has become a growing global concern, but affected countries are keenly and routinely taking action to develop solutions to desertification. Through preventative initiatives, pushes towards clean energy and climate change reducing measures, the hope is that someday land can restore so that desertification will be a problem of the past. However, it will need a global effort invoking the power of nations and people to care for the planet.

Emma Hodge
Photo: Flickr

 Female Weaving Co-op in Mexico
Female weaving co-ops began to proliferate in Mexico in the late 20th century, especially in the country’s most impoverished areas. Indigenous Mexican women living in these areas found it imperative to collectivize to navigate an oppressive socio-political landscape. Vida Nueva is one example of a co-op that grew out of this context. This female weaving co-op promotes gender equality in Mexico in ways that people never before imagined.

How This Female Weaving Co-op Promotes Gender Equality in Mexico

Oaxaca is the second-poorest state in Mexico, with historically low GDP growth relative to the national average. In Oaxaca, 28 percent of the population lives in extreme poverty, a statistic due mainly to income disparities between rural and urban centers and the region’s low manufacturing capacity. In the small township of Teotitlán del Valle, Zapotec women feel social and economic marginalization the hardest, because they must contend with a communal infrastructure that favors men and limits their participation in municipal government. Until the 1990s, women could not pursue education or obtain a drivers’ license.

Today, many Zapotec women are still illiterate and bound to male intermediaries so they may engage meaningfully with the economy. This is especially the case regarding the textile industry, their principal export. Under these conditions, even their own reproductive health can present a source of ignorance.

Weaving Cooperatives as a Means of Social Change

The establishment of weaving cooperatives has benefitted Zapotec communities like Teotitlán in confronting the onset of globalization and neoliberal economics in Mexico. This phenomenon has proven to be damning to rural indigenous communities throughout the country. However, the biggest impact changes in textile production have been in improving gender relations in otherwise patriarchal contexts.

Since Zapotec women began weaving, their stake in local politics has increased, as well as their lobbying ability. Exposure to new markets through access to technology and travel has led to instances of financial and ideological independence. They have placed new importance on education and female empowerment, reshaping social norms to value female labor and domestic contributions at home.

Vida Nueva

Vida Nueva (New Life in Spanish) is an all-female weaving cooperative changing the social geography for women in Teotitlán for the better. The group comprises of solteras or unmarried women, widows and the wives of migrants, who banded together in an attempt to circumvent merchant control over their products. When starting, the women struggled to sell their rugs independently due to a language barrier (most do not speak any Spanish), stigmas against indigenous Mexicans in the city, exploitative bureaucracy and male backlash within their community.

A chance encounter with Flor Cervantes, a social justice promoter in Oaxaca with over eight years of self-esteem workshops under her guidance, gave Vida Nueva the architecture to develop into what it is now. Under Cervantes’ guidance, the women learned about their bodies, their business potential and how best to advocate for themselves. With this knowledge, Vida Nueva began to expand. It eventually gained recognition from the United Nations and the licensure to sell its goods worldwide. Through education and cooperative production, Vida Nueva regained control over the production and sale of its work.

While Vida Nueva’s biggest impact on gender equality in Mexico is qualitative, concrete change also exists. By 2004, nearly 15 percent of households in Teotitlán participated in textile cooperatives. This is a considerable increase since Vida Nueva’s inception in 1996.

According to the New York Times’ measure last year, the textile industry involves almost all of Teotitlán’s 5,500 residents in some way. Since the early 2000s, higher volumes of female co-op members received invitations to attend community assemblies. Now, it is commonplace for whole collectives to receive written invitations. This serves as evidence that a once-rigis, patriarchal local government is finding women to be more valued assets.

Giving Back

At no point in becoming independent artisans did the women of Vida Nueva compromise their practice. They continue to use the natural dyes (made from pomegranate, marigolds, pulverized insects, etc.) and the arduous weaving techniques that predated colonization. Vida Nueva is a community-driven project with a localized vision. Every year, the collective sponsors a new initiative to improve the quality of life in Teotitlán for all residents. Since starting, the group has championed recycling and forestation efforts, senior care services and feminism.

Elena Robidoux
Photo: Taken by Elena Robidoux

United Nations and Global Poverty Reduction
Since its establishment in 1945, the United Nations has had the responsibility of maintaining peace and stability across the globe. This governmental body is at the center of global disputes, such as the ongoing conflicts in Syria and Brexit. It can also exercise diplomatic abilities when it comes to enforcing economic sanctions against some of the world’s less democratic actors. The U.N. has fashioned a multitude of agencies and programs with the sole intention of bringing billions out of poverty and on the path to more sustainable and secure lives.

As a Nobel Prize-winning organization, the United Nations became the world’s first far-reaching diplomatic body. With the powers outlined in its charter, the United Nations is in a unique position to confront many of the world’s 21st-century woes. From global security to health emergencies, the U.N. has the ability to assist in a plethora of international issues.

Beyond Global Conflict

While vital in resolving global conflict, the United Nations and global poverty reduction are not solely peace-keeping endeavors. On December 22, 1992, through resolution 47/196, the U.N. reaffirmed its commitment to global poverty reduction and declared Oct. 17 the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. According to its website, “On that day, over 100,000 people gathered at the Trocadéro in Paris, where the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed in 1948, to honor the victims of extreme poverty, violence and hunger.”

While there is much optimism that one can find in the fight to end global poverty, such as the reduction of the global poverty rate by more than half since 2000., the U.N. is aware that to combat poverty, there is a need for global strategies, outreach and funds.

The Division for Social Policy and Development

The United Nations has developed programs within the organization with the primary functions of establishing the goals and parameters that will hopefully lead society down a path of complete poverty eradication. For example, the Division for Social Policy and Development (DSPD) acts as the primary arbitrator of programs that directly assist participating nations with policy initiatives that will put them on the road to being more secure, free and developed. It does this by improving standards of living and quality of life for billions of people through health and education outreach, economic development and an impassioned commitment to promoting security and harmonious societies.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

As a part of its commitment to poverty elimination and overall sustainability, the U.N. unveiled an ambitious plan. In September 2015, the U.N. began the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This daring strategy tackles issues that people universally share and provides a valuable road map to reaching their outlined goals. It includes 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs), as well as 169 global targets that the world intends to meet by 2030. This plan is different from past attempts because of its creative approaches and sheer scale. The United Nations and global poverty reduction efforts include goals to not only tackle the climate crisis but also boost renewable energies, ensure sustainable water and build resilient infrastructures.

As ambitious as this plan may seem, the United Nations sees no reason why it is not achievable. The size of the plan is equitable to the scale of the problem. Of the world’s population, 10 percent of the world or 700 million people still live in extreme poverty. Further, those in extreme poverty are living on $1.90 a day.

The United Nations is aware that while economic prosperity is vital to providing better circumstances, other factors play indirect roles. For example, the U.N. sees the current climate crisis as a clear impediment to achieving its development goals.

Impact of Climate Change

A U.N. report makes it starkly clear that the impacts of climate change and inequality are only exacerbating the already immense issues of hunger and could potentially undermine its goal of ending poverty by 2030. It also notes that the pace of poverty reduction began to slow down in 2018. This will dampen the U.N.’s ability to reach the SDGs and hinder resilience toward deprivation, political unrest and natural disasters.

While the United Nations is confident that it will meet its goals, it will undoubtedly meet new challenges. This was evident when The Borgen Project spoke to Aliyya Noor, a Communications Associate at the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Representative Office in Islamabad, Pakistan. For Noor, the path out of extreme poverty in Pakistan comes from within the global community through foreign aid.

When The Borgen Project questioned Noor about what the most pressing reason to donate to foreign aid is, she responded, “to eliminate global poverty, the disparity between immense wealth and extreme poverty is increasing day by day.” Noor believes the United Nations’ all-encompassing approach has the best chance of dealing with the multitude of issues the world faces today. “We can, and should, have more than one ball in the air at a time. Many of these problems support each other, so if we tackle one, we’ll have a good chance against the others.”

The United Nations’ Future Work

The United Nations and global poverty reduction efforts are not perfect, and some critics have even argued its ineffectiveness. However, it has made great strides in many areas of poverty reduction and global development. If the decline in overall global woes is any indication, the U.N.’s leadership in these areas appears to be working. The benefits extend to everyone, not just the nations and organizations involved.

When the Borgen Project asked Noor if she felt optimistic about the progress, she responded, “We could be doing more, of course. But, when you see the impact our people and programs can have on lives, you can’t help but feel optimistic.”

 – Connor Dobson
Photo: Wikimedia Commons