Guatemala has the largest economy in Central America, boasting a total GDP of $86 billion and a per capita GDP of $5,025. Before COVID-19, the country experienced stable growth between 2010 and 2019. However, the pandemic caused poverty to surge to 59% in 2020. So far, the government’s response has helped mitigate the socioeconomic impact. And as a result, projections suggest a poverty rate decrease to 54.2% by 2024. Despite a decline of 1.8% in 2020, Guatemala’s GDP grew by 8% in 2021. Overall, the government continues to work toward breaking the cycle of poverty in Guatemala.

The World Bank’s Support

On Oct. 20, 2022, the World Bank approved a Development Policy Loan (DPL) of $250 million to support the poor and vulnerable in Guatemala, promote a “green recovery” and enhance public sector transparency. This loan is in addition to the $500 million loan granted in 2020. These funds aim to reverse the economic losses resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic by improving access to health care for all communities. One of the plans for the DPL is to support school feeding programs, where the goal is to increase the number of beneficiaries from 2.56 million as of 2019 to 3.01 million students by 2024. In 2017, the World Bank granted Guatemala a $100 million loan to address chronic malnutrition, as the country reported the highest malnutrition rates in Central America.

Efforts to Alleviate Malnutrition

The government of Guatemala faces the challenge of eradicating all forms of malnutrition by 2030. According to the World Food Program (WFP), half of the population cannot afford a basic food basket, with one in five children under 5 years old suffering from stunted growth. In the hardest-hit communities, stunting rates reach as high as 90% for all children. However, Guatemala launched the “National Strategy for the Prevention of Chronic Malnutrition” in 2016 and assigned the World Bank’s “Grow up Healthy” project. According to the Global Hunger Index, Guatemala’s score improved from 21.7 in 2014 to 18.8 in 2022. Additionally, the prevalence of stunting in children decreased from 45% in previous years to below 40% in 2022.

Food For The Poor (FFTP)

In 2022, FFTP partnered with Caritas Arquidiocesana to implement three water distribution projects in three Guatemalan departments. These projects aided 100 families, alongside helping an additional 332 families. The partnership also improved Los Anonos schools by replacing roofs, gutters and restrooms while upgrading water systems.

Furthermore, FFTP collaborated with Archdiocesan Caritas to construct 50 homes in Chiyani, 51 in Los Prires, 40 in the village of El Tablon and 45 kitchens in Hatio and Cofradias. FFTP has been supporting Guatemala since 1996.

Approximately 80% of Guatemala’s rural population lives in poverty. Organizations including Mercy Corps have been working to assist Guatemala since 2001 by addressing violence, improving health and providing economic opportunities for rural communities. In 2019, their services benefited more than 333,000 Guatemalans. In the agricultural sector, Mercy Corps is helping small farmers to differentiate and track their crops to improve crop quality and increase their incomes.

Looking Ahead

While poverty is still an issue in Guatemala, the country made some progress in the right direction. Communities, towns, villages and cities are seeing a reduction in child and adult malnutrition. With organizations such as Mercy Corps making contributions toward breaking the cycle of poverty in Guatemala, there is hope for even more progress.

– Joshua Rogers
Photo: Flickr

Health care in VietnamVietnam’s public health system has faced significant challenges in recent years, from diseases including tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and COVID-19. With the help of organizations including USAID and the CDC, however, Vietnam has also achieved a great deal of success in addressing these issues. Here are some important things to know about health care in Vietnam, and how foreign aid programs have contributed to its development.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The CDC’s partnership with the Vietnamese government celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2023. Since 1998, the CDC has supported Vietnam in establishing programs to improve the treatment of diseases including TB, HIV and influenza. The number of HIV sentinel surveillance sites, for instance, which help Vietnam detect and monitor patterns of infection have doubled since 2003. Furthermore, a clinical trial for a new TB treatment conducted by the CDC in Vietnam reduced the length of treatment from six months to only four; it was the first new treatment regimen, in any country, for the disease in three decades. The CDC has also aided in the creation of five emergency operations centers to support the country’s health care system in times of crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

The World Bank

In 2013, the World Bank funded a $126 million project to protect and improve the public hospital system in 13 provinces in North Vietnam. The North East and Red River Delta Regional Health System Support Project aimed to solve the overcrowding problem that many Vietnamese hospitals were experiencing. It was a success — nearly half of the 74 hospitals included in the program were awarded the Vietnamese Ministry of Health’s upper hospital classification, and patient satisfaction rates experienced a marked increase, reaching 88.5% at the district level. Almost 5,000 local doctors received training from Vietnam’s top medical specialists, learning around 3,000 new techniques to use in their own communities.


In an effort to ensure an effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic, USAID provided Vietnam with $12 million in aid in 2020. This included $4.7 million in funding for laboratory systems, public health screenings, infection prevention in health care settings and 100 ventilators. USAID also provided $5 million in support of the country’s economic recovery.

Other programs financed by USAID that support health care in Vietnam include Erase TB. This initiative has improved the country’s ability to detect and treat tuberculosis, contributing to a decline in cases of the disease in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Additionally, USAID’s Local Assistance to Develop and Deliver Excellence, Resilience and Sustainability in Vietnam (LADDERS) program helps high-risk people living with HIV, often living in remote areas, to access testing and treatment services.

The World Health Organization (WHO)

The WHO has supported Vietnam with the goals set out at the ninth Global Conference on Health Promotion, held in 2016. These are:

  • Good governance – promotes an approach in which health care is central to government policy and policies that protect citizens’ health and wellbeing are prioritized
  • Health literacy – ensures that citizens have the information they need to make healthy choices and to access health care.
  • Healthy cities – reinforces the need for high-quality health care services and planning at the local level, to improve the state of the country’s overall health care system.

Vietnam’s 1,332 hospitals, alongside its community services and laboratories, have significantly improved patient access to higher quality health care in recent decades. The work done, and aid given, from both American and global organizations has been vital to this record of success and continues to help Vietnam improve the standard of care that its citizens receive. Health care in Vietnam is more effective thanks to the enduring partnerships established between these organizations and the Vietnamese government.

Martha Probert
Photo: Flickr

SDG1 and SDG5In 2015, the leaders of 191 United Nations (U.N.) member states came together to develop the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of 17 global objectives that aim to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure peace and prosperity for all by 2030. Among these goals, SDG1 and SDG5 are particularly interrelated and mutually reinforcing. SDG1 focuses on eradicating extreme poverty and reducing inequality, while SDG5 promotes gender equality and women’s empowerment. According to the U.N., by tackling these two goals simultaneously, the world can achieve a more inclusive and sustainable development that benefits everyone, especially the most vulnerable and marginalized groups.

Patterns of Progress 

According to the U.N., global poverty has vastly decreased since the 1990s, with 44% of the population living below the poverty line in 1991 compared to 15% in 2016. However, the pandemic significantly reversed this progress, increasing global poverty by 9% between 2019 and 2020.

The progress of SDG5 mirrors this pattern. The U.N. reports that since 2000, there has also been a vast improvement globally regarding gender equality. For instance, women’s role and representation in parliament have increased from 9.1 % in 2000 to 20.9% in 2020. However, much like with SDG1, the pandemic significantly pushed progress backward

To achieve SDG1, U.N. Women emphasizes the importance of working toward a future free of gender inequalities and inequities. Ending poverty “in all its forms everywhere”, requires countries to make efforts towards reaching SDG1 and SDG5 simultaneously.

Country Insight: Bangladesh

According to the World Bank, Bangladesh is a developing country. One of the fastest-growing economies in the world, Bangladesh aims to become an upper-middle-income country by 2031. Regarding SDG1 and SDG5, Bangladesh has “significant challenges” along the way. Whilst encouraging progress has been made to eradicate poverty in the country, progress on achieving gender equality is slower. To achieve SDG1, Bangladesh must improve its score for SDG5. There were 1627 rapes reported throughout the country in 2020 alone, though it is widely known that many instances of assault go unreported.

Links Between SDGs in Bangladesh

Reports suggest that one of the ways that SDG1 and SDG5 can work hand in hand is through the introduction of women into an equitable and inclusive workplace. However, in the context of employment in Bangladesh, there are many instances of gender-based violence in the workplace. For instance, a report detailing the experiences of women working in the Ready-Made Garments sector in Bangladesh reveals that it is an industry rife with “sexual harassment, pay inequity and improper benefits”. Links between poverty reduction and equal opportunities for women are widespread in the literature, and women in Bangladesh have the opportunity to work. This highlights a need for the country to focus on women’s equality of voice and equality under the law.

Looking Ahead

In striving to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the interlinkage between SDG1 and SDG5 is crucial, as emphasized by the United Nations. While progress has been made globally in reducing poverty and promoting gender equality, the COVID-19 pandemic has posed significant setbacks. Bangladesh, a developing country, faces challenges in achieving both goals, with the need to address issues of gender-based violence and empower women in the workplace. Overall, acknowledging how SDG1 and SDG5 synergize could open up the path to a more sustainable and inclusive future.

–        Eloïse Jones


Photo: flickr

Impact of COVID-19 on Poverty in Serbia
The COVID-19 pandemic created a sense of instability across the globe, not least among those living on the edge of poverty. The immediate impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Serbia was predominantly apparent among particularly vulnerable groups, such as people working in the informal sector. For workers, COVID-19 heightened job insecurity despite the government’s efforts to constrain the rate of poverty in Serbia with generous financial packages.

The Informal Sector

On March 15, 2020, Serbia declared a national emergency due to COVID-19. To mitigate the negative impacts, the Serbian government focused efforts on financial aid packages for the public. However, this financial assistance failed to reach some of Serbia’s most vulnerable groups. This includes those employed in the informal sector.

The informal sector in Serbia includes jobs in agriculture, construction, admin support, retail trade and manufacturing. A survey from 2019 discovered that 18.7% of households had employment in the informal sector. Another research study indicated that one in five people in Serbia work informally. The informal sector is an unstable sector of the labor market due to poor worker regulations and job insecurity.

Even prior to the pandemic, those employed informally faced a higher risk of falling into poverty due to the instability of the sector. As COVID-19 arrived in Europe, many industries in Serbia saw thousands of job losses.  Many people reported a significant reduction in household income and increasing financial pressure but lacked access to the government’s financial aid packages.

Since the pandemic, informal employment has increased by more than 30%. This could be connected to the staggering loss of jobs among people previously employed in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and companies having to cut down employment hours.

These factors forced people to take up informal employment to maintain an income flow. Estimates indicated that more than 700,000 people who worked for SMEs found themselves unemployed due to the pandemic. The growth of these informal industries suggests that a greater proportion of the Serbian population now faces job insecurity and the risk of falling into poverty.

Small Successes

However, the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Serbia is not as intense as that of neighboring countries. Serbia had one of the lowest increases in poverty over the course of the pandemic. This is no small feat for a developing country with a significant proportion of people living close to the poverty line. Despite facing the most significant global crisis of the 21st century, Serbia’s poverty level post-pandemic remained the same as pre-pandemic levels, at 17.9%. While this is a noteworthy achievement, one should keep in mind that Serbia remains one of the poorest countries in Europe. However, the stabilization of the poverty rate during these last few years gives hope that Serbia can continue the pattern of gradual and consistent poverty reduction.

Looking Forward

Amid these small wins, Serbia is looking forward to recovering from pandemic stressors. Ongoing efforts are necessary to rebuild industries most impacted by the pandemic. Additionally, by renewing former jobs and creating more security in the informal sector, the risk of poverty will reduce. In 2021, Serbia received a €200 million loan from the EU Investment Bank for a project to help impacted SMEs recover post-pandemic. The initiative seeks to restore 47,000 jobs and create more than 5,000 new ones.

Serbia is seeing positive recovery results so far. A 2022 report by the EU found that participation in the labor market is increasing in Serbia as the country continues to economically rebound from COVID-19 and youth employment is on the rise. However, the report recognized that to significantly support SMEs in their recovery, further efforts are necessary.

– Ariana Mortazavi 
Photo: Flickr

global poverty reduction in 2022
As the year 2022 drew to a close recent data from the World Bank reveals that this is “the second-worst year” for global “poverty reduction in the past two decades.” The reasons for the “steep slowdown of the global economy” are many – the lingering effects of COVID-19, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, debt crises and many other sub-factors that exacerbate the situation. New projections show that 7% will still be living in extreme poverty by 2030 – considerably higher than the 3% goal. Global organizations such as Oxfam America, World Bank and its partners, have acknowledged the situation and launched various initiatives to support the poorest and most vulnerable.

The Global Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic had the biggest impact on the poorest people around the world. In comparison to pre-pandemic forecasts, the average income of those in the poorest 40% of the worldwide income distribution is 6.7% lower in 2021, while that of those in the top 40% is down almost 3%. The world’s poorest have not yet begun to make up for their revenue losses, worse yet the average income of the bottom 40% decreased by 2.2% between 2019 and 2021.

Due to the pandemic, an additional 163 million people live on less than $5.50 per day, bringing the world poverty rate from 7.8% to 9.1%. Moreover, an additional 97 million people live on less than $1.90 per day. The World Bank believes that three to four years’ worth of progress toward eradicating extreme poverty has been lost globally.

War in Ukraine

The ongoing war in Ukraine has also largely contributed to the rising cost of living and the slowdown of global poverty reduction in 2022. The repercussions of the war, the sanctions imposed on Russia, such as export bans, rose energy prices and caused huge supply-chain issues pushing 51 million people to fall into poverty according to UNDP.

The war has also led to 20 million people’s daily incomes in lower-middle-income countries falling below the poverty level of $3.20, increasing the percentage of the world’s poor to 9%.

Further data from UNICEF reveals that children carry the “heaviest burden of the economic crisis.” Children make up 25% of the world’s population and 40% of the further 10.4 million suffering from poverty in 2022. Estimates show that one in three children that grow up in poverty will continue to live in poverty for the rest of their adult life. According to UNICEF, children can benefit greatly from the introduction of poverty reduction methods, job initiatives and plans for economic growth.

Global Emergency Markets

Several causes, particularly the incredibly quick economic recovery following the epidemic, caused the energy markets to tighten up in 2021. But, once Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, the situation quickly worsened and turned into a full-fledged global energy crisis. Natural gas prices hit record highs, which had an impact on electricity prices in several markets. The price of oil reached its highest point since 2008.

In addition to making families poorer, forcing some factories to reduce output or even close their doors and slowing economic growth to the point that some nations are in the midst of a severe recession, higher energy prices have also led to uncomfortably high inflation.

Spate of Debt Crises

During the past year, developing countries increased debt loans in order to keep up with the rising cost of living and aggravated the debt crisis. The World Bank calculations show that 60% of the world’s poorest countries are “either in debt distress or at risk of it.”

Debt-ridden countries are incapable of making high-return investments in education, research and development, and infrastructure projects, significantly slowing down their economic growth and exacerbating global poverty reduction efforts.

Future Outlook

In the face of all the crises and uncertainties that the past few years have brought to the world arena, organizations like the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) are stepping up to “ensure the poorest aren’t left behind.” Its new $93 billion IDA20 package, which will run from 2022 to 2025, aims to help developing countries get to grips with the global crisis the world can’t ignore, the World Bank reports.

IDA wishes to prioritize investment in education and health, reinforce food security, take action on the undeniable threat that is climate change, help countries struggling with conflict and development and improve debt sustainability.

Similarly, The United Nations Secretary-General has set up a Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance in the U.N. Secretariat. Its goal is to help the world’s poorest by “making reserves available to countries at risk of hunger and famine, accelerating the deployment of renewable energy and urging international financial institutions to increase liquidity and fiscal space.”

The year 2022 saw an insecure and uneven economic recovery where global development faced a crisis and poverty reduction efforts took a hard hit. However, many international organizations have united in the common goal to create an ecological, more resilient and sustainable future.

– Ralitsa Pashkuleva
Photo: Flickr

poverty in Iraq
According to the World Food Programme (WFP), the poverty rate in Iraq reached 31.7% in 2020. Oil and gas production dominate many countries within the Middle East and gas production and Iraq is no different. The World Bank claims that Iraq is “one of the most oil-dependent nations” in the world, with oil revenues accounting for “99% of its exports, 85% of the government’s budget and 42% of Iraq’s GDP.” Unlike other oil-rich countries, Iraq has failed to turn the abundance of natural resources into profit and benefit the average Iraqi’s life. Corruption and conflict have decimated Iraq, displacing 1.2 million Iraqis and leaving 2.4 million people in need of food and livelihood assistance, according to WFP. Here is everything to know about poverty in Iraq.

Iraqi Civil War

Iraq has long been a divided country. Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) believes increased “levels of violence, sectarian and ethnic divisions, population pressure, religious extremism and intervention from outside states” as key contributors that empowered ISIS and helped lead Iraq to civil war.

“In 2014, the Islamic State advanced into Iraq from Syria” and took control of most of northern Iraq. The terrorist organization proceeded to use horrific acts of violence whilst it controlled major Iraqi cities such as Mosul. The U.S. “formed an international coalition that now includes nearly 80 countries to counter the Islamic State,” Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) states.

Whilst ISIS was eradicated from Iraq in 2017, the damage had already been done. Iraq is yet to fully recover from the conflict. CFR reports that “more than 2 million people remain internally displaced and 9 million remain in need of humanitarian assistance” following the conflict.

Many major cities face huge reconstruction due to the complete devastation caused by the war. The total reconstruction could cost at least $88 billion. This is a price that the Iraqi government simply cannot afford. Thus, much of Iraqi infrastructure is still not functional and many Iraqis are still yet to return to their original homes.

Oil and Corruption

According to Transparency International, Iraq ranks 157th in the Corruption Perceptions Index, having a score of 23/100 in 2022. The National Interest stated that Iraqi officials stole money that the country could have used to fight ISIS and rebuild the nation.

Estimates vary on how much money has gone missing in Iraq, but some suggest that the country has lost as much as $300 billion since 2003. This money could have helped rebuild Iraq after the conflict with ISIS, whilst also helping to tackle the ever-growing poverty crisis in Iraq.

With the majority of revenues generated coming from oil exports, the corruption in Iraq has significantly impeded the development of non-oil business sectors. Resulting in continual dependency on high oil prices.

Average Iraqis never seem to see the benefits of oil profits due to the ongoing corruption. The Iraqi government has seemingly failed to provide adequate basic services for the Iraqi population. Protests in 2019 appeared to engulf major cities such as Baghdad due to the failure of the government to provide jobs and life improvements to young people despite an increase in oil production.

According to AP News, overall unemployment in Iraq is 11% whilst “one-third of Iraqi youth are without jobs.” This is all while the World Bank expected Iraq’s GDP to grow by 4.6% due to increased oil exports.

Poverty and Unemployment

The World Bank stated that in 2021 Iraq’s unemployment rate was “more than 10 percentage points higher than its pre-COVID-19 level of 12.7 percentage points.” It also states that unemployment amongst the “displaced, returnees, women jobseekers, pre-pandemic self-employed and informal workers remains elevated.”

With the government’s decision to devalue the dinar against the dollar by 20%, as Iraq produces very little, the public has little choice but to buy imported goods which are now more expensive.

NPR believes that due to the government’s over-dependency on oil, it is imperative for Iraq to diversify its economy and increase its private sector. The result would be that many livelihoods would no longer be dependent on the state. Currently, when oil prices drop, unemployment and poverty increase.

Looking Ahead

Despite large oil profits generating substantial wealth, the money never appears for ordinary Iraqis who struggle to make ends meet. The failure to rebuild Iraq, large unemployment and violent conflict against ISIS have held Iraq back from becoming a more prosperous nation. A lack of action from the Iraqi government alongside systemic corruption has not helped the ever-increasing poverty epidemic in the country.

Although the future does not look too bright for the Iraqi people, the government has announced a reform plan. Finance minister Ali Allawi unveiled a plan to encourage investment by improving Iraq’s infrastructure, bumping up tax revenues and stimulating agriculture, NRP reports.

If the government has the will and determination to see through the reform plan instead of relying on oil money, there is a chance that the government can improve the livelihoods of many Iraqis. This could significantly reduce poverty in Iraq and many of the displaced people could return home.

– Josef Whitehead
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in Equatorial GuineaEquatorial Guinea is the third richest country in Africa with a per capita income of $8,462.30. Despite this figure, poverty in Equatorial Guinea is among the highest in the world. More than 70% of Equatorial Guinea’s population lives in poverty. With a majority of the population being less than 18 years old, child poverty in Equatorial Guinea is also among the highest in the world.

5 Facts About Child Poverty in Equatorial Guinea

  1. Prevalence of diseases and immunization – In Equatorial Guinea, relatively high income levels do not translate into lower levels of poverty. According to World Bank data from 2021, only 53% of children aged 12-23 months received vaccines against DPT (Diphtheria, Pertussis and Tetanus). Similarly, data from 2015 shows that only one in four newborns received a vaccine against polio and measles, while only one in three received a vaccine against tuberculosis. These numbers are among the lowest levels of child immunization in the world.
  2. Poverty and education – According to data from 2012, nearly 40% of Equatorial Guinea’s children aged 6 to 12 years did not attend school. Of note, in 2015, the gross enrollment rate of children in primary school was only 63% which is the second lowest in the world, ahead of Somalia. This is a worrying statistic as poverty levels have a direct effect on education levels which also affects the growth and development of children.
  3. Focus on economic growth and corruption – Extreme child poverty in Equatorial Guinea and its simultaneously high-income levels can be explained by the country’s sole focus on economic growth. For every $100 that the government spends, 80% of it is spent on infrastructure and only 2-3% is spent on health care and education. This is one of the reasons why Equatorial Guinea’s health care and educational parameters are often among the lowest in the world. The Human Rights Watch report also attributed this to some of the senior government officials accumulating a vast amount of wealth during the period of the oil boom.
  4. Social welfare measures – While the above figures paint a grim picture of the current state in Equatorial Guinea, there is still hope for the future. The government’s current social security system in the country reaches only a small portion of the population, with a limited number of social programs to assist the poor with health care and education. This means that if social welfare measures such as social insurance and health waivers fill this gap, there is a potential to drastically improve some of Equatorial Guinea’s social metrics. By ensuring a plan to redistribute its income, there is potential for rapidly improving not only child poverty but also the poverty levels of the entire population in the country.
  5. Support from nonprofits – The SOS Children’s Villages is a nonprofit established in 1949 that has its presence in multiple countries across the world, including in Equatorial Guinea. The organization actively supports children at risk of losing the care of their families and provides them with education and medical assistance. By addressing some of the key issues and with the help of organizations such as the SOS Children’s Village, there is no reason that Equatorial Guinea cannot be on a rapid road to progress.

Room for Improvement

Equatorial Guinea’s high-income levels also tell us that there is a potential to not only address its poverty issues but also other important problems such as education and health care. High levels of income inequality and limited penetration of social welfare have limited the progress of the country. However, as the report by the Overseas Development Institute suggests, by addressing these issues quickly, Equatorial Guinea could soon be on a rapid road to progress.

While this is what the government could do to improve the socioeconomic situation of its citizens, the work of nonprofits organizations such as the SOS Children’s Villages will go a long way to helping children in Equatorial Guinea.

– Ritvik Madhukar Annapragada
Photo: Flickr

Electricity in UgandaElectricity in Uganda remains a fundamental need many citizens live without due to poor infrastructure and high prices far outside the budget of average Ugandans. Uganda’s president has repeatedly complained about the electricity tariffs and soaring fees from private companies. As a result, the Ugandan government decided not to renew its contracts with Eskom, one of South Africa’s top electricity providers. The government is taking Eskom’s plants over with the Uganda National Electricity Company Limited (UNCEL) to control electricity prices, expand access to electricity and decrease multidimensional poverty in Uganda.

Overall, access to electricity is essential for economic growth. Without it, people are fighting to attain a proper education, access to social services, clean water and countless other necessities for living a life free of poverty. As access to these necessities expands, the quality of life could improve and so could the economic productivity of Uganda where 42.1% of people live in a complex web of multidimensional poverty.

Changing Infrastructure of Electricity in Uganda

Electricity in Uganda does not reach the majority of the population. Currently, around 42% of Uganda’s population has access to electricity, leaving the internet penetration rate at 26.2%. Electricity in Uganda has the opportunity to be innovative because it is typically non-reliant on fossil fuels. Uganda’s energy suppliers use biomass, hydropower and wind power more often than fossil fuels. Two hydropower stations are Uganda’s primary sources of electricity: the Nalubaale Power Station on the White Nile and the Kiira Hydropower station. Both hydropower stations have been under lease by the South African company Eskom since 2003. The lease will end in 2023.

Uganda’s government announced that it does not plan to renew the Eskom lease for the hydropower plants. Instead, it will take control of them through the state-run branch, the Uganda National Electricity Company Limited (UNECL). This decision stems from the incredibly high electricity costs limiting Ugandan’s electricity access.

Power Africa in Uganda

Power Africa is a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) initiative striving to bring electricity to all regions of Africa thereby ending energy poverty and improving well-being. Power Africa in Uganda has already brought significant improvements to Ugandans. To date, Power Africa in Uganda has increased electricity access rates by 63% in urban Uganda and 11% in rural Uganda, creating more than 1.5 million new electricity connections in the African nation.

Notably, Power Africa in Uganda has provided loan guarantees to several of the energy providers in Uganda to build miniature hydropower plants. It has also financially supported projects in Uganda to guarantee the building of full-size hydropower plants to secure funding from organizations such as the African Development Bank.

Implementing Plans

Much of the electricity in Uganda comes from hydropower plants. When drought hit in 2005, there was a severe shortage of electricity available in the years since there has been an incredible surplus and increased electricity generation. The surplus has caused high tariffs, making access to electricity challenging and continuing the limited access to the internet. The tariffs are set by Eskom and are free from government regulation, which is why the Ugandan government is taking control of the hydro plants to have proper access to expanding internet penetration at reasonable prices without tariffs.

The government has implemented many plans to boost electricity penetration rates. Coupled with help from USAID’s Power Africa initiative, the future looks bright for Ugandans.

– Clara Mulvihill
Photo: Flickr

 World Bank Report
A World Bank report released in October 2022 states worriedly that the progress toward achieving the U.N. Sustainable Development Goal of ending extreme global poverty by 2030 is off track. The report, “Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2022: Correcting Course,”states that around 7% of the world will still earn under $2.15 per day, the new extreme poverty standard. However, the World Bank has stated that this prediction may not come to fruition. The report lays out policies that could accelerate the decline in global poverty.

A 30-year Progress

In the past 30 years, the decline in global poverty has been nothing short of astounding. While nearly 1.6 billion of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty in 1990, the number is now only 8%. This 30-year period of unprecedented growth saw countries invest in social welfare programs. These social safety nets protect nearly 2.5 billion people and account for 36% of the reduction in global poverty as the World Bank stated.

The slowdown in the 30-year global poverty reduction progress has caused some concerns. From 1990 to 2015, the yearly poverty reduction rate generally remained above one percentage point, according to ODI. Today, the rate is now consistently under half a percentage point. Additionally, the fight against poverty has not had even distribution, with 700 million people in sub-Saharan Africa living in extreme poverty. Although the current definition is less than $2.15 a day, nearly half of the world lives with less than $5.50 a day which is an appallingly low amount. The COVID-19 pandemic appears to have worsened global poverty, at least in the short term. More than 70 million people lived in extreme poverty in 2020 alone, the largest single-year leap since 1990.

Takeaways From the World Bank Report

According to the World Bank report, the high inflation, shutdowns in COVID-19 economic programs and conflicts such as the war in Ukraine have slowed poverty reduction to a halt. Hence, although extreme poverty slightly decreased from 2020 to 2022, progress may stagnate. Given this new information, the World Bank report concludes that eliminating extreme poverty by 2030 is highly unlikely. For instance, many lower-income countries expect to see extreme poverty rates increase over the next few years. To achieve the goal of ending poverty, regions such as sub-Saharan Africa should develop at eight times the historical pace. As the report summarizes, ending extreme poverty by 2030 is already an ambitious goal and “recent setbacks have put this target nearly out of reach.”

The World Bank report is not all doom and gloom. With the exception of the Middle East and North Africa, the trend in extreme poverty is still one of decline. Most countries are exiting from their pandemic stupor and returning to normalcy. An earlier World Bank report stated that by 2023, the world economy would behave as it had prior to the pandemic. Growth may not be as high as in the rebound year of 2021 when the global economy’s GDP rose by 5.5%, but it will still increase by 3.2%.

Policy Changes

In addition, the World Bank report suggests a series of policy changes that could help steer extreme poverty reduction in the right direction. Even amid fears of a global recession and short-term crises, the World Bank has stressed the need to focus on long-term growth, including investments in education and health. They also have highlighted fiscal policy, manipulations of the money supply to change inflation and interest rates, as a tool to protect poor citizens. Borrowing for pandemic relief has been an effective way of preventing economic collapse, but doing this in the long term could lead to a strain on the budget, according to another 2022 World Bank report.

Continuing the Fight

The admission that one of the most important U.N. Sustainable Development Goals will not be achieved demonstrates how impactful the COVID-19 pandemic was, not just in the short term, but for ongoing projects since before the millennium began. At the same time, the World Bank report is a reminder that plans for the elimination of extreme poverty are always in flux, needing constant reworking to be effective and realistic. The 2030 goal may be out of reach, but the fact it was possible is a positive testament to successes in the fight against poverty.

– Samuel Bowles
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Ukraine
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022 and has resulted in thousands of deaths and casualties on both sides. The attacks left 8 million people displaced in Ukraine by May 2022 and 7.8 million Ukrainians fleeing the country as of November 2022. With more than 250 days of the invasion, Ukrainians are likely to live with a blackout until at least March 2022, the EU will give a further £2.2 billion to help with the reconstruction of the country and the Word Health Organization (WHO) warned that Ukraine’s health system is “facing its darkest days in the war so far.” All of the factors have undoubtedly increased the poverty rate in Ukraine to 25% and future estimates it could be rising to 55% or more by the end of 2023.

Increase in Poverty

The damage that the war inflicted on infrastructure and the economy has obviously increased Ukraine’s poverty. The unemployment rate has increased and is currently at 35% and over months some workers have seen their incomes reduced by as much as 50%. World Bank Eastern Europe Regional Country Director Arup Banerji stated that “As winter really starts biting, certainly by December or January, there may be another internal wave of migration, of internally displaced persons.” As a result of the displacement of more people from their houses and fewer jobs available, the poverty rate in Ukraine will worsen as Russia’s invasion continues.


The WHO and Ukraine’s Ministry of Health announced that 22% of people in the country are struggling to access essential health care and COVID-19 spreading with 23,000 new cases reported since October 2022. With a low vaccination rate minus booster, millions of Ukrainians are not immune to it which has therefore led to an increase in cases. UNICEF delivered 2.3 million doses of the vaccine through the U.S. government for distribution in 23 regions of Ukraine. Recently, the Biden administration wrote a letter to Congress requesting $38 billion to help Ukraine with efforts, with $9 billion going towards COVID-19 vaccine access and long-term research.

Infrastructure Damage

Within recent weeks, Russian missiles and drones have struck 40% of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure that have created blackouts across the country. Eighty percent of Kyiv residents have been deprived of water and 350,000 homes have lost all power. The World Bank believes that Ukraine needs $349 billion to reconstruct the country. The process of cleaning and clearing explosive remains of war will need $11 billion in the next two years and $62 billion in the next 10 years. Other costs such as the rebuilding of roads, schools and hospitals will need more funding and could take away from the government supporting residents then lead others into poverty, increasing the rate after the ending of the invasion.


Ukraine has received military assistance from other countries, the U.S. is the largest provider having committed $19.3 billion since the start of the Biden Administration. The Disaster Emergency Committee has helped 248,000 people in six months with food aid and opened 200 centers for displaced people. Similarly, the British Red Cross launched its appeal and described how it would use people’s donations. For example, £20 “could provide five blankets to families taking shelter.” Since its launch, the organization has helped 5 million people with emergency relief and 8 million with access to clean water.

Looking Ahead

The poverty rate in Ukraine has worsened significantly as it faces the impact of war. The country will need a complete rebuild that could cost more than $500 billion and leaves people in life-altering situations without homes and jobs. Russia’s invasion does not have an end date, it will continue to damage the economy and more importantly ruin the lives of Ukrainians.

– Mohamed Hassan
Photo: Flickr