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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 Among Indigenous Peoples in Central America
Indigenous people in Central America have struggled against prejudice and a lack of visibility for hundreds of years. This struggle to maintain their place throughout the region has taken a toll on the living conditions and health among their communities. Here is more information about poverty among indigenous peoples in Central America.

Costa Rica

Approximately 1.5 percent of the population of Costa Rica is made up of indigenous people. They are considered among the most marginalized and economically excluded minorities in Central America. Approximately 95 percent of people living in Costa Rica have access to electricity. The majority of indigenous peoples in the country are included in the remaining five percent. Many believe this is due to a lack of attention from the government in the concerns of indigenous people and the living conditions in their communities.

A lack of education is also a problem among indigenous peoples in Costa Rica. The average indigenous child in Costa Rica receives only 3.6 years of schooling and 30 percent of the indigenous population is illiterate. In the hopes of reaching out to indigenous communities and reducing their poverty rates, the University of Costa Rica instituted a plan in 2014 to encourage admissions from indigenous peoples from across the country. By 2017, the program was involved in the mentoring of 400 indigenous high school students and saw 32 new indigenous students applying for the university.

Guatemala

Indigenous peoples make up about 40 percent of the population in Guatemala and approximately 79 percent of the indigenous population live in poverty. Forty percent of the indigenous population lives in extreme poverty. With these levels of poverty among the indigenous people, many are forced to migrate, as the poorest are threatened with violence among their communities. Ninety-five percent of those under the age of 18 who migrate from Guatemala are indigenous.

One organization working to improve the living conditions for indigenous people in Guatemala is the Organization for the Development of the Indigenous Maya (ODIM). ODIM, which was started with the intention to support the indigenous Maya people, focuses on providing health care and education to indigenous people in Guatemala. One program it supports is called “Healthy Mommy and Me,” which focuses on offering mothers and their young children access to health care, food and education. These efforts are benefiting 250 indigenous women and children across Guatemala.

Honduras

In Honduras, 88.7 percent of indigenous children lived in poverty in 2016. Approximately 44.7 percent of indigenous adults were unemployed. Nineteen percent of the Honduran indigenous population is illiterate, in comparison to 13 percent of the general population. Despite the wide span of indigenous peoples across Honduras, they struggle to claim ownership of land that belonged to their ancestors. Only 10 percent of indigenous people in Honduras have a government-accredited land title.

Due to the poverty indigenous people in Honduras face, many seek opportunities in more urban areas, but the cities simply don’t have the capacity to support them all. As a result, many settle just outside of the cities to be close to opportunities. There are more than 400 unofficial settlements near the capital of Honduras, Tegucigalpa. Despite the difficulties they face in living just outside of a city that has no room for them, being in urban areas does have its benefits for indigenous people. Ninety-four percent of indigenous people living in urban Honduras are literate, versus 79 percent in rural areas.

For those among the indigenous peoples in Honduras who struggle with poverty, Habitat for Humanity has put a special focus on indigenous people in its construction programs. Habitat for Humanity worked with different ethnic groups within the indigenous community to provide homes for those most in need, reaching 13,810 people throughout Honduras.

Panama

Poverty affects more than 70 percent of indigenous people in Panama. Among their communities, health problems and a lack of access to clean water are common.

In 2018, the World Bank approved a project to improve health, education, water and sanitation among 12 different indigenous groups in Panama. The Comprehensive National Plan for Indigenous Peoples of Panama aims to implement positive development in indigenous communities while protecting and maintaining the culture within those communities.

The aim of this project is to create a positive relationship between indigenous peoples and the government in Panama to further developments of their communities down the road. It is projected to assist some 200,000 people through improved living conditions and infrastructure among indigenous communities.

With poor access to an education and a certain level of prejudice fueling a wage gap between indigenous and non-indigenous people, natives globally face a unique challenge in their efforts to escape poverty. In many countries around the world, indigenous people are forgotten and often fall to the bottom of the socio-economic ladder. This creates particularly difficult circumstances for indigenous peoples of regions that already have high poverty rates overall. However, people like those who work with the World Bank are working to see a reduction in poverty among indigenous peoples in Central America and see that indigenous people are not forgotten and are no longer neglected.

Amanda Gibson
Photo: Flickr

Listen Up to Fight Poverty! Three Podcasts about Poverty
Podcasting is growing more than ever around the globe. In 2019, 51 percent of the U.S. population listened to a podcast. Latinx communities are the fastest growing communities of podcast growth. Experts have cited countries such as Peru, Mexico, Chile and Argentina as having the highest podcast listener growth. Meanwhile, more than half of South Korea listens to podcasts.

All around the world, there are people, companies and organizations venturing into the waters of podcasting. Podcasts can be an interesting, new and engaging way to learn about how the world is fighting global poverty. This media can be a very convenient way to learn about poverty as consumers can listen to it while doing other tasks such as chores, driving and even brushing their teeth. Here are three top podcasts about global poverty.

3 Top Podcasts About Global Poverty

  1. World Bank Development Podcast – The World Bank is one of the world’s largest sources of development assistance and knowledge. The World Bank emerged in 1944 to reconstruct WWII war-torn Europe and works in over 100 countries today. It seeks to fight global poverty by partnering with developing countries and providing these countries with the financial boost needed to reduce poverty. The World Bank aims to help people help themselves and their environment by sharing knowledge and providing financial and technical assistance. The World Bank has 189 member countries, staff in over 170 countries and offices in over 130 locations. Some of its successes include expanding access in Haiti to primary education to 240,000 children, 50 percent of which were girls. The Development Podcast, a new podcast from The World Bank, just launched at the end of January 2020. The podcast discusses some of the biggest challenges facing the global community and some of the solutions that people are developing. The podcast seeks to get the on-the-ground perspective alongside a larger umbrella holistic view. Issues it has discussed so far include obesity and the best and worst places to start a business around the globe. Each podcast is around 25 minutes. One can listen to this podcast while getting ready in the morning or on the daily commute to work or school.
  2. From Poverty to Power – Anthropologist and activist-researcher Maria Faciolince and Duncan Green, Strategic Adviser at Oxfam GB and professor at the London School of Economics, run this controversial podcast about poverty. The podcast explores the latest thinking around development and discusses issues of poverty, politics, hope and justice. The podcast has discussed topics such as decolonizing academia and democracy.
  3. Build Relationships Break Poverty – Children’s HopeChest owns this podcast. This organization aims to create a more sustainable approach to child sponsorship. It does this by building upon existing resources in communities, creating community-to-community relationships and giving children a choice on who will be their child sponsor. The podcast challenges the Western perception of international poverty by elevating the voices of local leaders and processing how people can help to alleviate poverty without harming those living in vulnerable communities. The podcast believes that building two-way relationships will break the cycle of poverty. The podcast discusses a variety of topics related to poverty such as how music can unlock the potential of children living in poverty and human profile pieces.

Start listening to these three podcasts about global poverty and see how integrating podcasts into a daily routine can be easy and informative. These three podcasts about global poverty are uncovering and disseminating information about poverty to listeners all over the world.

Emily Joy Oomen
Photo: Pixabay

 

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Croatia
Croatia is a small country in Southeastern Europe’s Balkan Peninsula on the Adriatic Sea. It is about 56,594 square kilometers, which is smaller than West Virginia and has a population of about 4.2 million. As of 2018, Croatia’s overall GDP was $60.8 billion, according to the World Bank. The country’s economy received a boost from joining the European Union in 2013 that helped facilitate its recovery from the 2008 global financial crisis.

However, the country still faces challenges. Due to factors including an aging population, increasing levels of emigration and a declining birth rate, Croatia’s population has been in decline for decades. After reaching a peak of 4.7 million in 1990, the population dipped back to levels that the country saw in 1960. Many expect Croatia’s population to slip to 3.4 million by 2050. Enmeshed within the discussion of Croatia’s population is the aspect of life expectancy. Croatia’s average life expectancy is 77.8 years. Here are 10 facts about life expectancy in Croatia.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Croatia

  1. Life expectancy has steadily increased over time. The average life expectancy in 1960 was 64.6. The age has increased ever since with just a few exceptions. There was a slight dip between 1977 and 1985, again between 1991 and 1992 and again from a peak of 78 in 2016 to what it is now.
  2. Croatia’s medical advancements and increased life quality have helped improve life expectancy. Total Croatia News also reported that declines in the past were because of “extraordinary situations” including wars or disasters. The declines in the early ’80s and early ’90s coincided with rising tensions linked to Croatia’s 1991 war for independence from Serbian-controlled Yugoslavia. There have been no recent major events in Croatia.
  3. Life expectancy is higher for Croatian women than men. Echoing the commonality for male versus female life expectancy across the developed world, women in Croatia have a higher life expectancy. For women, the average age of death is 80.9 years old compared to 74.9 years for men.
  4. Historically, life expectancy has differed for Croats living on one of Croatia’s 1,000 islands than those living on the mainland. In the past, male Croatian islanders lived three to 10 years longer than mainland men, while island women lived two to seven years longer than mainland women, according to a study that the Croatian Medical Journal published in 2018. However, researchers found the gap in life expectancy for islanders versus mainland Croats has shrunk, with islanders having lost mortality advantages due to diminishing adherence to a traditional Mediterranean diet and lifestyle.
  5. For the past decade, the leading causes of premature death in Croatia have been ischemic heart disease, stroke and lung cancer. The rate per 100,000 people of deaths due to ischemic heart disease as of 2018 was 1,907.6. Further, the rates of deaths stood at 1,000.5 and 726.8 for stroke and lung cancer respectively. As smoking and diet flaws play a substantial role in these figures, the Croatian government and leading health organizations are gradually working to address these issues. In the early 2000s, the Ministry of Health commissioned its first national survey examining cardiovascular risk problems and formulated a health care intervention program based on the results. In recent years, Croatia created a heart health-focused national e-campaign to reduce salt consumption in diets and other initiatives.
  6. While the leading causes of death have remained stagnant, there have been sharp changes in the top causes of death. Road incidents went from Croatia’s seventh-highest cause of death in 2007 to 13th highest in 2017. A study credits this to the government’s implementation of a new road safety program and enhanced enforcement of laws linked to key problem areas. These areas include speeding, drunk-driving and failure to use motorcycle helmets, seat-belts and child restraints. Meanwhile, Alzheimer’s disease has moved from the eighth highest cause of death to the fifth, which echoes a global rise in the prevalence of the disease.
  7. Concurrent with declining birth rates, infant mortality rates have steadily declined over the last three decades. Croatia’s birth rate per 1,000 people stood at 8.9 in 2017 compared to 14.6 in 1981. During the same time period, the infant mortality rate per 1,000 live births improved to four from 20.7 in 1981.
  8. Croatia stacks up fairly well against other countries. Croatia’s life expectancy is average compared to its bordering Balkan neighbors. Based on 2017 data, the country’s life expectancy is on par with Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro. Croatia has a higher life expectancy than Serbia and Hungary and a lower one than Slovenia. Croatia ranked as the 31st healthiest nation in the world in 2019 and its capital city Zagreb ranked as the 16th healthiest capital city in Europe.
  9. There have been reports of problems with health care for women. In 2018, a Croatian parliament member shared a story on the parliament floor about a poorly handled abortion procedure, re-igniting a longstanding national debate about health care for women. The BBC subsequently produced a story on how the member’s story inspired hundreds of other women to share their own experiences.
  10. Croatia’s health triumphs could be a result of its health care system. Croatia has a universal and mandatory health insurance scheme. The program utilizes both private and public care providers and the national Croatia Health Insurance Fund funds the system. The country’s health care system is so well regarded that medical tourism in Croatia continues to grow in popularity.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Croatia show that the health care system is not perfect, indicating life expectancy is not as high as it could be. However, the nation does boast several positive characteristics. The evolving internal and external economics and unfolding policy initiatives in the country are likely to impact life expectancy, as well as other quality of life elements.

Amanda Ostuni
Photo: Flickr

Health Improvements in Afghanistan
Conflict has torn Afghanistan apart. Like all conflicts, it is the innocent civilians that suffer the most. Afghanistan continues to face a great amount of insecurity within its borders. Yet, despite the harsh conditions that are an everyday reality for civilians, the country continues to make additional health improvements. Here are seven health improvements in Afghanistan.

7 Health Improvements in Afghanistan

  1. Increased Health Facilities: Readily available health facilities initiated health improvements in Afghanistan, according to the Senior Health Specialist at the World Bank, Ghulam Dastagir Sayed. As of 2003, there were only 500 health facilities available for Afghan civilians. As of 2018, that number skyrocketed to 2,500 facilities. These facilities are located all over Afghanistan, but USAID makes it clear that low-income populations and rural areas are the most important to reach.
  2. The International Midwife Association: NGOs in Afghanistan have trained over 4,000 community midwives around the country and provided them with the necessary information to provide anti-natal care, postnatal care,  deliveries and immunization services to the people of Afghanistan. The NGO International Midwife Association has helped women in Afghanistan. Before it provided this help, many women did not have the necessary knowledge and help to have a safe pregnancy.
  3. Infant Mortality Rate: Afghanistan has the highest infant mortality rate in the world. However, from the year 2003 to 2015 the number of children dying before their 5th birthday has dropped by a total of 34 percent. This has lowered deaths from 137 per 1,000 births to 91 per 1,000 births. Health services and a better health care system in Afghanistan have caused these numbers to drop.
  4. Pregnant Women: Health care available to pregnant women in the country has also been among the health improvements in Afghanistan. From 2010 to the year 2018, health professionals have seen pregnant women at an increase of 3.5 percent each year. Additionally, women’s use of contraceptives and the number of births that professionals aided increased by 2 percent during the same eight years. The Afghani government has launched effective national health campaigns that have educated Afghani women and led them to seek out professional help during pregnancy. Women in the country are benefiting greatly through these increased health services. From the year 2003 to 2015, the number of women dying per 100,000 births has reduced by 64 percent. Similar to the improved child mortality rate above, a better health care system that reaches and educates Afghan women about their health has caused these improvements.
  5. The Afghanistan Development Association (ADA): NGOs are working to contribute to health improvements in Afghanistan. Seventy-two percent of the NGOs in the country are Afghan and are on the front lines providing medical treatment. One such NGO is the Afghanistan Development Association. ADA provides development and humanitarian aid to the country of Afghanistan.
  6. Drug Availability: Drug availability has risen in the country. It rose from 13.8 percent in the years from 2004 to 2010 and an additional 0.6 percent in the years 2011 to 2016. The government established the National Medicine and Health Products Regulatory Authority (NMHRA) that regulates medicines and other health products. This is one such program that is helping medicinal drug availability. Many Afghans have had to resort to smuggling medicinal drugs from neighboring countries or rely on traditional medicine. While Afghanistan has improved this problem, it can only continue its progress through programs like the NMHRA.
  7. Patient Counselling: Patient counseling is an important part of health care. From 2004 to 2010, patient counseling saw an increase of 6 percent annually followed by an additional 1.3 annually between the years 2011 and 2016. Patient counseling is important in the realm of family planning and child services.

While Afghanistan is still a country with many problems, one cannot deny that the progress it is making deserves celebration. The Afghan government partly made many of these improvements by actively engaging NGOs to tackle the health issues within its borders.

Jacob E. Lee
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

 

Benefits of EducationMany consider access to education a basic human right, yet education is out of reach for some children and teens in underdeveloped and impoverished countries. But prospects for children around the world are looking better as organizations like the World Bank and USAID continue to fight for universal access to quality education. The following are the top 10 benefits of education.

10 Benefits of Education

  1. Secondary education can cut poverty in half: According to UNESCO, poverty could be more than halved if all adults received a secondary education—that is 420 million people around the globe. Secondary education provides people with skills that open up employment opportunities with higher incomes. When organizations tackle the issue of access to education, they also tackle global poverty which is why this falls at number one on this list of 10 benefits of education.
  2. Closing the education gender gap reduces child marriage: Child marriages force girls around the world to abandon school. But many countries are tackling the issue of child brides in innovative ways. For instance, Uganda’s girls’ clubs run by BRAC Uganda have reduced child marriage rates by providing sex education and vocational training to young aspiring female entrepreneurs. A two-year membership in the clubs makes girls 58 percent less likely to become victims of child marriages.
  3. Education reduces violence: According to the Global Partnership, if the secondary school enrollment rate is 10 percent higher than average, the risk of war decreases by 3 percent.
  4. Education lets children reach their fullest potential: The Sahel Women Empowerment and Demographic Dividend (SWEDD) project is providing “safe space” programs for girls and includes financial incentives to encourage them to stay in school. Programs like these allow children to learn without worrying about money and give them the ability to reach their full potential.
  5. Protects children from trafficking: Trafficking affects at least 1.2 million children each year. Global March is working to reduce child trafficking and believes that one way to achieve this is through making education more accessible.
  6. Education helps the environment: The 2010 International Social Survey Programme showed that those who are more educated are more politically active when it comes to environmental issues. In Germany only 12 percent of respondents with less than a secondary education took action, but it rose to 26 percent of those with secondary education and 46 percent with tertiary education. Providing education to all creates healthier earth which is why helping the environment is an extremely important benefit on this list of 10 benefits of education.
  7. Reducing child labor: Child labor often places children in hazardous working conditions to support their families at a young age. Every day an estimated 152 million children work as child laborers. A contributing factor to child labor is the lack of access to education. Global March is assisting governments to reduce vulnerabilities like this that make children more susceptible to child labor.
  8. Education is improving world health: Universal access to education could reduce rates of STDs such as HIV and AIDS. Organizations like SWEDD are working to expand access to reproductive, child and maternal health services as well as education services. Sex education and health services could greatly reduce STD rates and improve world health, especially in impoverished countries.
  9. Universal access boosts the economy: Access to education provides students with skills and knowledge that make job opportunities with higher incomes available to them. In sub-Saharan Africa, women are not encouraged to go into STEM careers, which tend to have higher earnings. This can be explained by limited role models and a lack of information about opportunities in these male-dominated fields. Education can encourage women to join these fields and create a more diverse and flourishing economy.
  10. Inclusive education is giving disabled children a chance: Between 93 and 150 million children around the world under 14 are disabled according to the 2011 World Report on Disability. Many of these children grow up and struggle to make a living for themselves because of their lack of access to education limits their job opportunities. Access to inclusive education would give these children the tools they need to succeed. In 2017, the World Bank and USAID established the Disability-Inclusive Education in Africa Program which is a $3 million fund that aims to make education more inclusive for those with disabilities.

While many areas of the world might be far from achieving accessible education, circumstances continue to improve for children thanks to the work of organizations that are fighting to ensure that education is no longer a privilege but a human right for everyone. These 10 benefits of education provide only a small insight into what amazing gains are made for the world when everyone is able to receive an education.

– Hannah White
Photo: Flickr

Energy in PeruAccess to electricity is oftentimes the precursor to further development of a region or country. Without electricity, there can be no significant upgrades in sanitation, health care, education, productivity, cooking, modern technology and internet access. Many of the sectors listed require development; however, much of Peru does not have access to these modern standards. As a result, Peru has begun to critically focus on energy accessibility in recent years.

Energy Access in Peru

The population percentage that has access to energy in Peru has increased from around 65 percent of people in 1992 to 95 percent in 2015. Much of the increase has come from Peru’s transition to mixing its energy sector with crude oil and natural gas thermal plants. Previously, Peru operated mainly on domestic hydropower plants.

Peru’s natural gas reserves primarily come from domestic sources. This includes sources such as the Camisea field and imports from Ecuador since the Andes have gas in abundance. Following natural gas, Peru’s oil sector is largely reliant on U.S. imports. From 2008 to 2014, the amount of crude oil imported from the U.S. has increased threefold.

Problems with Energy in Peru

Transitioning to a greater fossil fuel dependence is harmful to the environment; however, it has given the Peruvian population better access to electricity and has made energy in Peru much cheaper. Currently, the average price of electricity in Peru is around $13.4 c/kWh. Comparatively, the average price of electricity in the U.S. is about $13.19 c/kWh. Theoretically, once people have better access to electricity, their quality of life will improve. Additionally, incomes should increase, as well as further infrastructure development with greater energy access.

The biggest disparity of energy access is prevalent in the same regions with the biggest wealth disparities: rural areas. Only about 76 percent of those who live in the Peruvian countryside have access to electricity, as compared to 100 percent of those who live in cities. While 24 percent may not seem like a large number, this equates to about 1.6 million people that are still without electricity in rural areas.

Energy Improvement Initiatives

This does not mean that Peru is doing nothing to address the energy situation in rural areas. One such infrastructure overhaul initiative is the Peru Second Rural Electrification Project (RE2). This project follows up on RE1, which had already contributed to the increased regulation of the energy sector. RE1’s efforts also allowed for much more stable electricity access in rural communities. This was done through subsidizing solar home energy systems (SHS) and through developing online resources for private energy sources in order to more efficiently manage energy consumption.

RE2 expanded on RE1’s plan to increase physical electricity connections and promote self-sufficient energy sources like SHS’s. This is in addition to totally upgrading the Peruvian rural energy structure to grid extension and off-grid solar extensions. Ultimately, the plan brought electricity to more than 160,000 new people with roughly 48,000 of these people using SHS’s. The project, funded through the Peruvian government, loans/grants from NGOs and a $50 million loan from the World Bank, also takes the socioeconomic impact of increased electrification into account. Through the project’s provisions, those who have never used electricity in an extended manner before were educated on safe electricity use and how to limit consumption. In addition, 12,300 training kits were distributed to rural communities that have new access to electricity.

Future Access

Through efforts from the Peruvian government and international organizations, energy access in Peru has continued to improve over the past three decades. Not only is electricity more easily accessible for Peruvians, but it is also cheap enough to adequately distribute. By properly educating the rural population on the safe use of electricity, Peru has also better ensured a low level of electrical accidents. In this way, Peru is doing all the right things to facilitate a quicker, safe and ethical development of its rural communities that will ensure a better future for all Peruvians.

Graham Gordon
Photo: Flickr

poor in Myanmar
Agriculture is Myanmar’s most important sector and provides jobs for more than 60 percent of the population. Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, decreased its poverty rate from 48.2 percent in 2005 to 24.8 percent in 2017. One of the reasons for this huge reduction in poverty is its transition from a military-led government through economic reforms and development in sectors such as agriculture, finance, transportation and energy. The poor in Myanmar reside mainly in rural areas, and have poor education and employment in the agriculture field. By developing the agriculture industry, the government intends to continue to reduce its poverty.

Developing the Agriculture Sector

A 2018 report launched by the Central Statistical Organization, with technical support from the UNDP and the World Bank, provided data on poverty in Myanmar and what the country needs to do to continually reduce poverty. The report acknowledged the success of reducing the poverty rate in half, yet brought up challenges in alleviating poverty in rural areas such as the Chin State. The Chin State is a state in western Myanmar with about a 60 percent poverty rate. Approximately 500,000 live in the Chin State. Since the poor in Myanmar have employment in the agriculture sector, the key findings show that the country can achieve poverty reduction by focusing its efforts on improving agricultural productivity.

Myanmar is the second-largest exporter of beans and pulses and the ninth-largest exporter of rice. In 2016 and 2017, Myanmar exported agricultural products worth more than $3 billion, yet productivity was less than neighbors such as Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia. Low productivity has stalled poverty reduction in areas such as Chin State due to relying on crops that are expensive to maintain and less profitable than most other crops that endure the same climate.

How Exactly Can Myanmar Reduce Poverty?

Findings from a separate report delved into even greater detail about what Myanmar needs to do to improve agricultural productivity, and therefore, increase income for the poor in Myanmar. The report, Myanmar: Analysis of Farm Production Economics, stated that a single day’s harvest during the 2013/2014 monsoon season produced 23 kg per paddy. In comparison, Cambodia produced 62 kg, Vietnam 429 kg and Thailand 547 kg per day. Reasons for lower production of paddy than Myanmar’s competitors include poor seed quality, insignificant use of fertilizers and a lack of infrastructure.

The conclusion to the report mentioned the need for broad-based agricultural development, as most farmers in the country produce paddy and not much else. Paddy is more expensive to produce and less profitable than other crops in the region. A lack of infrastructure further impedes progress and causes farmers to seek employment in distant urban areas for higher wages. The poor in Myanmar could benefit from diversifying into low-cost crops, especially ones that can handle the typical monsoon weather that the country experiences.

Investors Taking Action

The government and private investors are currently investing in Myanmar’s agriculture sector, particularly the growing fertilizer sector. Myanmar Awba Group received a $10 million loan from the International Finance Corporation to construct a chemical plant that will produce fertilizer. The Hmawbi Agricultural Input Complex opened in August 2018 and is expected to meet 50 percent of the demand for fertilizer in Myanmar. The demand for fertilizer has increased in the country, attracting investors from across the world. The Japanese conglomerate Marubeni Corporation invested $18.5 million in a fertilizer facility in the Thilawa SEZ.

Myanmar is also dealing with infrastructure, low productivity and poor seed quality this year, 2019. In January 2019, CITIC Corporation collaborated with Myanmar Agribusiness Public Corporation (MAPCO) to invest $500 million into constructing high-end rice mills and agribusiness service centers across Myanmar. Ye Min Aung, the Managing Director of MAPCO, said, “The establishment of the high-end rice mills will boost both the local and export market.” Thanks to foreign investors and government initiatives, Myanmar is seeing action in poverty reduction by focusing efforts on improving the agriculture industry.

– Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr

environmental factors affecting impoverished communities
The environment can have profound effects on impoverished communities by being a huge force in either aiding or hindering developing countries. Those facing extremely impoverished conditions often rely almost solely on the health of their environment in order to sustain a clean, resourceful and plentiful living environment. An abundance of varying environmental factors like temperature, average rainfall, wildlife, water sources, soil nutrients and pollution levels can contribute to the general well-being of citizens in impoverished communities. Meanwhile, a lack of resources that could improve significant environmental factors in comparison to the more advantaged higher-class community can put impoverished communities at an automatic disadvantage. The quality of water, the availability of natural resources and the vulnerability to natural disasters are all aspects of how the environment affects impoverished communities.

Quality of Water

Water sources available to a community can come in many forms and are critical to the everyday life of communities in poverty; the quality of local water sources and the resources available to maintain good quality water are examples of how the environment can have an effect on poor communities. Citizens of impoverished communities often cook, clean, drink, fish, irrigate their crops and bathe in shared water sources. This shows just how critical the quality of this water can be to an entire community.

Low-infrastructure regarding water filtration and purification can cause an increase in health problems. One of these health problems can be cholera, a potentially life-threatening disease common in impoverished communities due to water contamination. The accumulation of trash, dumping of hazardous materials and daily reliance on a source of water can cause contamination.

Availability of Natural Resources

Natural resources also assist in a community’s prosperity and serve as an example of how the environment affects impoverished communities. A rural community often relies on natural resources like agriculture and soil quality, livestock and genetic diversity and forests and fisheries for multiple reasons. A study by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) revealed the positive effects of maintaining natural resources in impoverished communities. The study successfully expanded access to land in South Africa, increased access and management of forests in Bolivia, supported the sustainable management of watersheds in India, improved access and management of fisheries in Samoa and enabled the poor to be a part of the carbon market in Mexico. The FAO study also exhibits that an increase in natural resources can increase job opportunities for local citizens. More consideration and funding for natural resources, as well as education, can increase the well-being of an impoverished community.

Vulnerability to Natural Disasters

An impoverished community often faces increased vulnerability due to the devastating effects of natural disasters. Some natural disasters are hurricanes, tornados or tsunamis. The World Bank study reports that the effects of natural disasters cost the global economy $520 billion a year. This estimate is 60 percent higher than any previous estimate once it properly considered impoverished communities. Impoverished communities are especially vulnerable because there are few prevention and action emergency plans due to improper resources. Stronger government support and improved technology to better prepare for upcoming disasters could decrease the risk of detrimental effects.

A significant disadvantage low-class communities face compared to higher-class communities occurs because of an extreme lack of infrastructure, funding towards protecting natural resources and governmental prevention and action plans in the event of a natural disaster. Studies by the FAO and The World Bank demonstrate the importance of even one factor of the environment that affects impoverished communities. Once impoverished communities can put more focus into taking care of the environment, they can start building themselves from the ground up.

– Kat Fries
Photo Credits: Google

Top 10 Interesting Facts About Franklin Roosevelt
Born in February 1882, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, commonly referred to as FDR, served as the 32nd President of the United States from 1933 until his death in 1945. Roosevelt claimed the presidency at the height of the Great Depression and worked to alleviate the horrid lifestyles of millions across the nation. The following are the top 10 interesting facts about Franklin Roosevelt.

Top 10 Interesting Facts About Franklin Roosevelt

  1. Franklin Roosevelt was the only president in American history to have served more than two terms. In November 1944, the American people elected Roosevelt to his fourth term as president. In 1951, Congress passed the 22nd Amendment, constraining the presidential term to a limit of two terms.
  2. In 1921, Franklin Roosevelt atypically contracted polio, a disease that leaves the victim paralyzed. FDR subsequently removed himself from the political landscape and instead focused on his rehabilitation. Roosevelt exercised constantly, even when surrounded by loved ones and incorporated his family into his daily regimens. Roosevelt did not convey shame due to his inability to walk and the people elected him to the governorship of New York in 1928, before becoming president in 1932.
  3. In 1934, as part of his New Deal, Roosevelt enacted the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act (RTAA), which was to decrease global poverty and reduce international tensions. The RTAA significantly changed the U.S. trade policy. It gave the president the power to increase or decrease tariffs by up to 50 percent of the amount previously set in 1930. Because of the RTAA, Roosevelt was able to conduct trade agreements with 19 nations (many of which developing countries). Even after Roosevelt left office, the RTAA served as a precedent to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) that has paved the way for trade liberalization across the world.
  4. FDR proposed the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937 which targeted elderly Supreme Court Justices. For every justice over the age of 70 who had served 10 or more years, Roosevelt wanted to appoint up to six new justices. The goal of this proposition was to ensure that others did not strike down elements of his New Deal. His bill ultimately failed and the Supreme Court went on to deem a significant amount of his plans as unconstitutional.
  5. FDR was a proponent to the notion that the U.S. had a role to fulfill in international relations due to its status as a global power. He adhered to a concept named big stick diplomacy, which refers to the idea that a nation should use diplomacy but have a contingency plan (often involving the military) if things go wrong. Roosevelt also followed a good neighbor policy towards Latin American countries and removed the Platt Amendment which took away Cuban sovereignty.
  6. People widely regard FDR as a humanitarian because of his efforts to help Americans during the Great Depression. However, many people fail to note that FDR signed an executive order mandating the internment of Japanese-Americans shortly after the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. Many Japanese-Americans faced atrocious working conditions and unfair treatment from the guards at the camps. People deemed this unconstitutional in 1944. In 1988, the Reagan Administration issued $20,000 and a formal apology to the surviving Japanese-Americans who had to enter internment camps.
  7. While Roosevelt’s predecessor Hebert Hoover took the approach of non-governmental intervention when concerning the Great Depression, FDR vocalized his determined plan for the nation. From 1933 to 1944, Roosevelt gave a series of speeches conveyed through the radio (because it was the most popular medium of communication) called fireside chats. During these chats, he gave the American people information on the New Deal, the economy and unemployment during the Great Depression, as well as information about military progress during World War II. FDR’s fireside chats helped to heighten public support for his programs during the Great Depression.
  8. In February 1933, shortly after FDR became president, he suffered an assassination attempt. Giuseppe Zangara, a disgruntled worker, had a hatred for the wealthy and blamed FDR for making it difficult to make a living. Zangara did not succeed in killing Roosevelt but did hit five people. Mayor Anton Cermak sustained the most serious injury which ultimately led to his death three weeks later. Roosevelt maintained composure and conveyed to the world that he was a fit president amidst the chaos. FDR went on to implement policies that would directly attack the roots of the escalating economic and social problems across both the U.S. and the world.
  9. FDR was fundamental in the creation of the United Nations even though he died before its official implementation. Roosevelt coined the term to represent the 26 nations that fought to defeat the Axis Powers in World War II. From August to October 1944, Roosevelt and prominent leaders from the U.K., France, China and Russia worked to create a plan that would ensure peace in the world. This comprised of peacekeeping missions and efforts to foster effective international relations. The United Nations officially established on October 24, 1945, six months after Roosevelt’s death.
  10. FDR dedicated himself to free trade, believing that it would significantly enhance global economics and politics. In 1941, Roosevelt and Winston Churchill drafted the Atlantic Charter that outlined these beliefs. Roosevelt stated that global superpowers must work to adopt policies that would aid the growth of all nations, not just westernized ones. In 1944, at the Bretton Woods Conference, these ideas were integral to the formation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. The United States did not adopt the Bretton Woods Agreements Act and enter the IMF until after Roosevelt’s death.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a pioneer for a more egalitarian society that did not solely serve capitalist interests. Through the institution of various programs and legislation of the New Deal, Roosevelt championed the rights of the poor and working class. While Roosevelt did conduct some questionable acts and faced concrete political barriers, his legacy revolves around his tireless efforts to make America better for all. As evidenced in the top 10 interesting facts about Franklin Roosevelt, his idea that “we cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people — whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth — is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure” still holds true today.

Jai Shah
Photo: Flickr