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Child Poverty in RwandaRwanda, an East African country, has a population of about 12.3 million. Around 45% of the country’s population, roughly 5.4 million, are under the age of 18. The rate of poverty has decreased from 59% to 40% since 2000. Additionally, the rate of extreme poverty was reduced to 16% from 40%. While the country achieved its Millennium Development Goals, child poverty in Rwanda continues to be a significant issue faced by the population. Therefore, Rwanda aims to end child poverty with one of its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets focusing on reducing the number of impoverished children by half by 2030.

The Effects of Child Poverty in Rwanda

The rate of impoverished Rwandan children ages 0 to 17 is 39%. Children disproportionately undergo the struggles of poverty and it significantly impacts their well-being since they lack basic needs. Impoverished families in Rwanda, especially in rural areas, experience high rates of mortality among children under the age of 5. About 50 children out of 1,000 births in the country do not live past the age of 5 years old..

Impoverished children also struggle greatly with malnutrition. As a result, many children face low birth weight and infections. Malnutrition creates lasting effects on children, specifically in terms of cognitive development and physical growth. Furthermore, Rwandan children struggle with the impact of poor sanitation. A clean and safe source of water within 500 meters of a house is only accessible to 47% of Rwandan households. Additionally, 64% of households own a latrine. Lack of access to quality sanitation and water sources contributes to 38% of Rwandan children being stunted.

Child Poverty in Rural and Urban Areas

In terms of deprivation of sanitation, water, housing, education and health due to poverty, there is a gap between children living in rural areas and children residing in urban areas. Moreover, 83.5% of the rural population in Rwanda consists of children. In urban areas, 38% of children ages 0 to 23 months undergo multiple deprivations as opposed to 61% of children in rural areas. Additionally, in urban areas, 22% of children ages 15 to 17 are considered “multidimensionally poor” with a deprivation rate of 16% among children ages 5 to 14. On the other hand, in rural areas, the deprivation rate of children ages 5 to 14 is 32% and 50% of children ages 15 to 17 are “multidimensionally poor”.

Government Solutions

The Rwandan Government has worked toward further developing its Vision Umurenge Social Protection (VUP) program by including child-sensitive social protection. In 2011, the government passed Law N.54 to protect children’s rights but there is inequality in the law’s implementation, which prevents children from receiving its full benefits.

While Rwanda has witnessed a recent decrease in child poverty, through a Multiple Overlapping Deprivation Analysis (MODA), UNICEF provides recommendations to further efforts to eradicate poverty among children. UNICEF suggests increasing the support provided by the Rwandan Government’s social protection program, VUP, to give children greater access to social services and to decrease the number of deprivations due to poverty. Furthermore, UNICEF recommends that the social protection program considers overlapping deprivations when providing services. UNICEF also emphasizes the importance of prioritizing the most vulnerable groups of children, especially those living in rural areas and children ages 0 to 23 months.

– Zoë Nichols
Photo: Flickr

the urban-rural poverty gap in morocco

Though Morocco’s economic and political status has improved as a result of King Muhammad VI’s reign, the North African nation remains impoverished. Specifically, the urban-rural poverty gap in Morocco is one of the nation’s most complex issues. Morocco’s larger cities, namely Casablanca and Rabat, are evolving into flourishing economic centers, attracting companies and tourists from around the world. Simultaneously, Morocco’s rural and agrarian communities–the Amazigh people–have found themselves stuck living with little access to modern commodities.

A First-Hand Account

Sophie Boyd, an undergraduate student majoring in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at Colgate University, studied abroad in Rabat last summer. Boyd provided the Borgen Project some insight into the poverty situation in the North African nation. “There was a huge disparity between the living conditions of Moroccans in cities compared to the rural Amazigh villages we visited,” Boyd said. “You could be wandering around the enormous shopping mall in Casablanca and still only be an hour drive away from people who live with almost no electricity. This extreme gap was unfortunate to see and these neglected and impoverished people desperately need more accessible resources and aid.”

The Amazigh People

Unfortunately, Boyd’s observations were fairly accurate and realistic, as Morocco’s Amazigh population has faced hardship and poverty for decades. Though there are about 19 million Amazigh people living in Morocco, which makes up approximately 52 percent of the nation’s population. Their language, known as Tamazight, was not even recognized as an official language of Morocco until 2011. Not only do the Amazigh people who occupy these rural communities not have adequate means to subsist on, but they had also lost their representative voice in the Moroccan government until recently.

Urban Gains

A 2017 study conducted by the World Bank and the Morocco High Commission for Planning found that poverty was actually decreasing at a much faster rate in urban areas than in rural communities. This makes sense considering there is more room for economic growth and consumption in urban centers. Still, this phenomenon contributes to the urban-rural poverty gap in Morocco and creates an even more drastic inequality between rural and urban communities.

Poverty Rising

Another aspect of the urban-rural poverty gap in Morocco that has continued to develop over time is the concept of subjective poverty. The subjective poverty rate refers to the percentage of people, in this case, Moroccans, who consider themselves to be poor or impoverished. The aforementioned World Bank study found that from 2007 to 2014, the subjective poverty rate in rural areas increased from 15 percent to 54 percent. This drastic increase can be partially attributed to the recent economic growth in urban areas. However, it may also have to do with the daily living conditions of the rural Amazigh communities. For example, CIA World Factbook states that only 68.5 percent of Moroccans are literate. This can make life for rural people trying to emerge from poverty increasingly difficult, compounding with other factors such as the infertile, arid land.

A Hopeful Future, Still

The Moroccan government has made it a point to address the urban-rural poverty gap in Morocco. The nation has already demonstrated its interest in resolving this gap through initiatives such as the National Initiative for Human Development Support Project, a plan launched in 2005 to try and close the poverty gap. Morocco will have to continue to work toward better living conditions in its rural communities. If the nation can fix issues like illiteracy and decrease the subjective poverty rate, then it will be well on its way toward closing the urban-rural poverty gap in Morocco.

Ethan Marchetti
Photo: Flickr

Africa_High_Rise
Popular visions of an agriculturally-centered and unmodernized Africa may now be a thing of the past. In recent years, international property developers and real estate moguls have shown interest in developing sizable urbanized settlements and satellite cities in African nations creating a possible high-rise Africa. These plans would include skyscrapers and boardwalks — the common American “white-picket-fence” ideal transplanted into major African metropolises.

However, many experts on city planning are critical of these planned satellite cities, which would largely be built near already established metropolises. Vanessa Watson, a professor of city planning, dismisses urban projects like Konza Techno City in Kenya and Eko Atlantic in Nigeria as “urban fantasies.” Critics cite the example of Kilamba, an urban project in Angola that is similar to those currently being developed in other African nations, which became a “ghost town” due to the unsustainable nature of the project. The town simply failed to deliver on its promise of affordable housing.

In spite of the fears that these urban developments would geographically widen the gap between the rich elite and the poor masses in Africa, many of the projects are well underway. Alfred Mutua, the governor of the county in which Konza City will be built, stated that he “doesn’t want bad politics to slow down this project and we are not going to allow people with vested interests to undermine the construction of Konza”. 1.3 billion Kenyan shillings have already been allocated for the development of Konza this year, which is seen as the flagship of the country’s beloved development program called “Kenya Vision 2030”.

Although the developers of projects like Konza are patiently aware of the criticism launched against their programs, they are steadfast in their belief that the satellite cities will only be a boon to Africa. Marketed as the “Silicon Savannah,” Konza is adamantly described as a “sustainable, world-class technology hub and a major economic driver for the nation” on the official website.

– Sagar Desai
Sources: CNN Konza City
Photo: International Business Times

Women Empowerment
With women projected to comprise a majority of the world’s urban dwellers and head increasing numbers of households, gender equality in employment, housing, health and education is vital to ensure the prosperity of the cities of the future, according to a new United Nations study. Female and women empowerment is more crucial than ever.

 

Economic Impacts of Women Empowerment

 

“Women are key drivers of economic growth and that wealth in the hands of women leads to much more equitable outcomes in terms of the quality of life of families and communities,” the study, entitled State of Women in Cities Report 2012/13, said. “Addressing the barriers to women’s participation in cities creates a situation where women’s potential is more fully realized and households, communities and governments also reap rewards.

“It is imperative that women and men should enjoy equal rights and opportunities in cities on moral/ethical, economic, and political grounds. This will not only engender women’s well-being but it will increase their individual and collective prosperity as well as the prosperity of the cities in which they reside.”

Produced by the Nairobi-based UN Human Settlements Programme, known as UN-HABITAT, which is mandated to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all, the report also stressed the need to address unemployment and other disadvantages that hobble urban youth.

The report called for policies to enhance gender equality, equity and prosperity of women in cities, noting that cities of the future will comprise a majority female component, especially among people older than 60 and even more so among those older than 80 years.

While underscoring the unpaid caring and social activities that women undertake, such as childcare, caring for the sick, disabled and elderly, washing, cleaning and other community services that allow the urban economy to function and prosper, even if this labour is seldom recognised or valued, the report stressed the “crucially important” economic contributions they make through their paid work

“The ‘feminization’ of the global labour force tends to be associated with urbanisation, with the related concentration of women in export-manufacturing, the service sector and Information, Communication and Technology (ICT),” it said, adding that women, especially the urban poor, are disadvantaged in terms of equal access to employment, housing, health and education, asset ownership, experiences of urban violence, and ability to exercise their rights.

UN-HABITAT’s State of Urban Youth Report 2012/2013 stressed that while the young are “society’s most important and dynamic human resource” – with 1.3 billion between ages 12 and 24, most of them living in urban areas – nearly 45 per cent of them, some 515 million, live on less than $2 a day.

It called for better aligning educational and training systems with the current and future needs of young people, so that they cannot only discern developmental issues but may even be capable of suggesting innovative solutions to deep problems of development and growth.

“Of paramount importance is access to education and opportunities for acquiring skills,” the study added, stressing that youth inequality in urban life is closely related to unequal opportunities in later life and calling for policies that include investment in economic infrastructure, tax incentives, vocational training schemes, and regulations that aim at a more equitable labor market for urban youth.

– Essee Oruma

Source: UN News Centre
Photo: Edumenical Women at the UN

namibia
According to a recent Namibia Population and Housing Census Basic report, approximately 80 percent of all Namibian households have access to clean drinking water. However, a great disparity is seen when urban and rural areas of Namibia are separated. Access to clean drinking water in urban areas rises to about 98 percent whereas the percentage of households with such water access drops to about 59 percent in rural areas.

The government of Namibia is now working on bridging this disparity, spending 2.6 billion Namibian dollars, which is approximately 283 million USD, to improve rural water access and sanitation. This will be done by providing households in rural areas access to toilet facilities (like flush toilets), as well as building a second desalination plant along the coast. A desalination plant removes the salt from seawater making it a useable water source.

As of now, approximately 16 percent of rural households utilize unsafe water from local water supplies, such as streams and rivers, while another 13 percent utilize unsafe water from wells. Lowering or eliminating these percentages is the goal and primary subject of the $2.6 billion Namibian investment into improving rural sanitation and water supplies. Through improving access to safe water, improvements in health and the decrease in the spread of disease will also occur. Eliminating these conditions will lead to major improvements in health, even helping combat the prominence of diseases such as diarrhea and cholera.

– Angela Hooks

Source: AllAfrica
Photo: Guardian