Posts

Eight Facts About Education in TajikistanTajikistan, a country of 9 million people in Central Asia, recently created a new educational approach that will help address its ongoing struggles. The number of females enrolled in primary and secondary schools is significantly lower than males, and keeping children in school during economic or political crises is difficult for many families who rely on them for immediate financial returns. Despite gender and financial inequalities that still exist in educational institutions, however, many projects and investments are underway that will undoubtedly help reduce these discrepancies.

8 Facts About Education in Tajikistan

  1. Children are required to attend school between the ages of 7 to 15. Nonetheless, the number of out-of-school children in 2017 was 11,435, with girls accounting for more than 70 percent of this figure.
  2. Armed conflict during the 1990s meant that females in the region were 7.3 percent less likely to complete their education than females in non-affected areas. In the long-term, they also returned to school at a lower rate than males.
  3. The Global Partnership for Education, a funding platform that helps increase the attendance in schools in developing countries, works in conjunction with the Tajikistan government to increase access and quality of early childhood education. In fact, more than 18,000 children have benefitted from improved schooling conditions in 400-500 education centers.
  4. As of 2017, 5,400 primary teachers were trained and two million new learning materials were distributed to schools.
  5. Along with the addition of new materials, an enhanced curriculum that teaches practical applications and an interactive atmosphere are being used by 160,000 primary students.
  6. Location, gender and finances are the main obstacles to completing higher education. The proportion of students who complete higher education from the most well-off households is eight times higher than from the poorest families.
  7. Girls make up less than 30 percent of the overall number of students enrolled in universities. In fact, one in three women stops their education before completing secondary school.
  8. According to 19 percent of parents and out-of-school youth, the main reason for high dropout levels in females is marriage and avoiding “a bad reputation.”

As of 2017, the poverty rate in Tajikistan is 29 percent down from 37 percent in 2012 and education is one of the main factors that helped to reduce these levels. As described in these eight facts about education in Tajikistan, many new educational reforms are underway in Tajikistan that seek to alleviate the gender gap and create a system that benefits the community directly. Access to education will allow individuals to help lift themselves from poverty and contribute to the economy, which in turn will positively affect the global economy by reducing trade barriers and creating a more competitive global market. Investments in education have long-term payoffs that can make a tangible difference in the lives of people who live below the poverty line and create a more accessible and powerful global trade market.

– Tera Hofmann
Photo: Pixabay

 

improvingsierraleonesurbanmobilitySierra Leone is a country in Western Africa that borders the North Atlantic Ocean. It contains four pronounced physical regions: the coastal swamp, the Sierra Leone Peninsula, the interior plains and the interior plateau and mountain region. Currently, about 62 percent of people in Sierra Leone live in a rural area. These villages center most of their economic activity around rice farming while Sierra Leone as a country obtains most of its economic growth through mining, primarily iron ore. By improving Sierra Leone’s urban mobility, the country will be able to increase its economy.

Many of these villages, as well as the country itself, are still recovering from the civil war that dismantled many of their institutions. In the 1980s, the government of Sierra Leone initiated a program to modernize their road system, which had been used as a railway until 1975. However, the new road system was also a victim of the aforementioned civil war. Organizations like the World Bank are improving Sierra Leone’s urban mobility by improving infrastructure.

The Integrated and Resilient Urban Mobility Project

On June 13, 2019, The World Bank introduced the Integrated and Resilient Urban Mobility Project for Sierra Leone. Their objectives are to “improve quality public transport, address climate resilience, improve road safety in selected areas and enhance institutional capacity in the transport sector.” The Integrated and Resilient Urban Mobility Project is comprised of five main sections:

  1. Modernization and Professionalization of Public Transport Services: This section will “focus on Maximizing Finance for Development (MFD) in the sector”: This section will include a bus fleet renewal scheme with private operators in order to make improvements upon the current informal operator system as well as a bus to school program. The World Bank will be providing technical assistance to strengthen the Sierra Leone Road Transport Corporation, improve capacity building and training for transport operators and install ancillary facilities.
  2. Strategic Resilient Mobility Investments: These investments will be used to “improve access, climate resilience and road safety.” With this section, the World Bank hopes to improve the connection to international markets and the ferry for pedestrians and vehicles. It also plans to improve road conditions, drainage capacity, traffic management, signalization, parking and more while taking into account the country’s strategic city plans.
  3. Building Human Capital and Institutional Capacity: Here, the aim is “to promote public transport reform and operationalize the MFD agenda.” This section focuses on enhancing logistics and strategies for the country in the long term. The World Bank plans to improve road safety and road safety databases, enhance climate resilience by assisting pre-existing sectors as well as improve academic capacity, women’s empowerment and citizen engagement.
  4. Project Management: This sector aims to improve funding for “goods and services to support project management, financial auditing, data collection, monitoring and evaluation (M&E) and operating cost.” This section will also aid in refining project management, social and environmental safeguards, grievance redress mechanisms, response to sexual exploitation and abuse efforts and mitigation of gender gaps.
  5. Contingent Emergency Response Component (CERC): CERC will “enable the rapid reallocation of funding among project components following an emergency.” With a CERC, the World Banks hopes to strengthen disaster preparedness, both natural and manmade, and strengthen the response to conflicts, epidemics and economic shocks.

The Freetown Urban Transport Authority

One way to improve urban mobility in Sierra Leone is by improving infrastructure in the country’s capital, Freetown. The World Bank is working with Adam Smith International, an award-winning global company that specializes in the delivery of projects that improve economic growth and government reform initiatives. They created a six-month project in line with the current Integrated and Resilient Urban Mobility Project, which will improve urban mobility.

Together, they developed a fully integrated mobility plan that updates regulation and planning in the urban center of Goderich and Hastings. It will work to create the Freetown Urban Transport Authority. They are working to rebuild and refurbish new and existing infrastructure to make it more sustainable and improve the roads in Freetown, the Capital of Sierra Leone.

As a country with an initially weak infrastructure and poor economy, Sierra Leone has struggled to adapt its foundation to modern needs. As a country with a higher percentage of rural areas than urban, Sierra Leone has had trouble with their transportation system. However, organizations such as the World Bank and Adam Smith International are working towards improving Sierra Leone’s urban mobility in order to provide more functional and safer streets and easier access to economic and travel centers.

Jade Thompson
Photo: Flickr

poverty in panama
Panama has one of the fastest growing economies in the world and has made great strides in reducing poverty. However, some have called it a dual economy where the benefits of trade and commerce are felt in some urban areas but not by its most vulnerable populations, including its indigenous peoples. Here are ten disturbing facts about poverty in Panama.

10 Disturbing Facts About Poverty in Panama

  1. Panama has the second worst income distribution in Latin America— Although the country is rapidly growing in wealth, prosperity is not felt by all. According to the CIA, approximately one-quarter of the population lives in poverty. The richest 20 percent of the population controls half of the country’s wealth while the poorest 20 percent control only controls 12 percent of the wealth.
  2. Poverty in Panama is largely divided along urban and rural lines— The Panama Canal and its related sectors bring in more than 30 percent of the country’s annual economic growth through port activities alone. The total internationally focused service sectors account for more than 60 percent of the overall GDP. However, 21 percent of the population still makes its living in agriculture and does not see wealth generated by internationally focused services. Rural areas are largely inhabited by indigenous people who have limited access to resources and basic services. The Panama government, though, is working to improve access in these areas. Panama’s World Bank portfolio is $435.59 million USD, which includes seven active projects on social protection, governance, sustainable production, disaster management, wastewater management and indigenous peoples protection.
  3. The average life expectancy is much shorter for indigenous people— There is an 11-year difference in life expectancy between indigenous people and the general population. While the average life expectancy for the overall population is 79 years-of-age, the life expectancy for indigenous men and women who live in their original territories is 67.75 years.
  4. Access to healthcare is largely determined by location— Rural areas often lack medical infrastructures such as access to doctors and hospitals. This, as well as extreme poverty, takes a toll on the health of indigenous populations. Infant mortality rates among indigenous people are four times higher than urban Latino populations and 75 percent of Panama’s malnourished indigenous and non-indigenous children live in rural areas. To combat this, the Panama government has deployed its Coverage Extension Strategy by sending out mobile medical units providing basic care to 149,028 people from 47 poor rural communities. According to the World Bank, by 2014, 96 percent of children under the age of one received full vaccinations compared to 26 percent in 2010.
  5. The maternal mortality rate is much higher for indigenous women— The rate of maternal mortality for indigenous women living in their territories is five times higher than the national average. Nationally, the maternal mortality rate is 80 per 100,000 births, but for indigenous women, the rate is 462 per 100,000. Panama’s Coverage Extension Strategy has also been providing maternal healthcare with its mobile units by increasing access to prenatal controls. In 2010, only 20 percent of poor rural women had access to prenatal controls. By 2014, the number jumped to 86 percent of pregnant women in these communities receiving healthcare.
  6. Rural Panamanians largely lack access to education—A lack of infrastructure in rural areas makes it difficult for its largely indigenous population to gain access to a good education. While, in the year 2000, approximately 5.5 percent of non-indigenous adults couldn’t read, 37.7 percent of indigenous adults were illiterate. School attendance is also lower, with 78.7 percent of indigenous children in school compared to 96.8 non-indigenous. However, according to the CIA there has been an increase in secondary schooling lead by female enrollment in rural and indigenous areas, which will likely help to alleviate poverty.
  7. Access to information and communications technology (ICT) is largely determined by region— Access to communications technology such as computers and the Internet can be vital in improving education and opportunity. However, rural areas are often passed over by private companies who see little profit in creating the infrastructure that remote and impoverished regions need.
  8. Indigenous people’s rights are at risk— According to the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, in 2016, Interior Minister Milton Henríquez told the leaders of all the country’s indigenous congresses and councils that the country would only recognize the five original comarcas, or tribal regions, preventing the leaders of 30 indigenous territories from advocating for themselves in further consultations and negotiations.
  9. Indigenous tribes’ territories are being encroached upon—The Barro Blanco hydroelectric plant in the Ngäbe-Buglé territory is being implemented without the tribe’s consent. Communities were forcibly evicted from the project area, which then flooded homes, farmland and sacred sites. Additionally, many tribes have begun using drones to keep an eye on their rainforest territories and prevent illegal logging and mining on their land.
  10. The need for water in sustaining the canal often supersedes the needs of the rural poor—The Panama Canal requires the release of approximately 52 million gallons of fresh water daily. The water comes from two reservoirs, which also provides water for the city. The prioritization of water for the canal ignores the need of farmers, who, beginning in the seventies, were viewed as threats to the canal instead of partners in watershed management. Though improving water management is important, the poor have reaped few of the benefits and many of the negative consequences of these policies.

Although Panama is a wealthy nation, prosperity is not felt by all. Rural and indigenous people often lack access to education, health care and political efficacy.

While this list may look grim, Panama has done much to fight poverty. From 2015-2017, poverty in Panama has declined from 15.4 percent to 14.1 percent and extreme poverty has decreased from 6.7 percent to 6.6 percent. According to the CIA, from 2006 through 2012, poverty overall decreased by ten percentage points.

Although Panama has made great strides in reducing poverty, this list shows that there’s always room for improvement. Overall, the country has the potential to bridge the income inequality gap and make itself an equitable society for all, regardless of class, region or ethnicity.

– Katharine Hanifen
Photo: Flickr

Malnutrition in MadagascarMadagascar, a small island off the coast of Africa, is the fourth-most malnourished country in the world. Malnourishment can harm the immune system, bone structure and organs of the body. Below are five facts about malnutrition in Madagascar and solutions to malnourishment.

5 Facts about Malnutrition in Madagascar

  1. Natural disasters cause food insecurity. Madagascar experiences dangerous cyclones, floods and droughts every year. These natural disasters leave poor citizens in crisis (Phase 3) and emergency (Phase 4) phases of food insecurity, according to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network’s Integrated Phase Classification. This means that families struggle to have the minimum amount of food necessary for survival, and they experience high or very high acute malnutrition. USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP) is one organization that provides humanitarian aid to Madagascar. In addition to emergency food resources, FFP also introduces malnutrition recovery techniques and food-for-assets tasks in which a household member receives a supply of food in exchange for help with water management. As of 2019, USAID estimates that the regions of Madagascar that are hardest hit by natural disasters will decrease to the stressed (Phase 2) phase of food insecurity, thanks to humanitarian assistance.
  2. Malnutrition worsens the measles outbreak. As the measles outbreak continues to worsen in Madagascar, children are at the highest risk for disease. Seventy percent of deaths caused by measles complications are of children ages 14 and under, and nearly half of the child-aged population in Madagascar is still susceptible to the highly contagious disease. Direct Relief is working with the Ministry of Public Health to decrease malnutrition in Madagascar and to fight against measles. They have implemented Vitamin A vaccines to treat children with measles, and the vitamin also improves nutrition. Since 2013, Direct Relief has been present in Madagascar to help during epidemics and to support child health.
  3. Stunting is a dangerous effect of malnutrition. Stunting occurs when a child grows up to be too small for his or her age due to a lack of necessary nutrients in infancy. Infancy is a critical stage of development, and if a child is not properly nourished, he or she will face irreversible challenges throughout his or her life. For example, stunted children tend to have difficulty focusing on tasks. If a child is stunted, he or she will earn 26 percent less income than average. This is dangerous for Madagascar because seven percent of gross domestic product is lost due to malnutrition. World Bank initiated a 10-year Improving Nutrition Outcomes Program to decrease malnutrition in Madagascar by providing nutrient interventions in infancy. The goal is to decrease malnutrition by 30 percent.
  4. Anemia is another dangerous side effect of malnutrition. Regions of Madagascar with the highest levels of anemia also have the lowest consumption rates of healthy, iron-rich foods, suggesting a link between anemia and malnutrition. Anemia in children can lead to developmental delays and decreased adult productivity, but anemia in pregnant mothers can lead to early delivery, low birth weight and even infant death. USAID currently treats anemia in Madagascar with iron folic acid (IFA) supplements for women of reproductive age. Since its implementation, anemia in women has decreased from 46 percent to 35.3 percent. In children, anemia has decreased from 68.2 percent to 50.3 percent.
  5. The World Food Programme is working to improve conditions. The World Food Programme (WFP) provides humanitarian aid in Madagascar in many forms to combat malnutrition. So far, they have reached 650,000 of the 850,000 people living with food insecurity. The organization brings nutritional and cash assistance to those living with malnutrition, daily school meals for children and seeds in order for families to plant crops. The WFP may have saved the country from plunging into famine, but more can be done to eradicate malnutrition in Madagascar.

– Katherine Desrosiers
Photo: Flickr

Safe, Quality Drinking WaterOn May 24, 2019, thousands of residents from poor neighborhoods in Lima, Peru protested business litigation that has been obstructing their access to drinking water. The demand for safe drinking water, a necessity for any lifeform to thrive, is, unfortunately, a common obstacle in South America. Several countries struggle in providing this vital resource to its citizens, especially in rural areas with poorer communities. However, other countries are successfully paving a path to ensuring access to drinking water and sanitation facilities. Here are a few facts about safe drinking water throughout South America.

Access to Safe Drinking Water in South America

  • Peru: Thirty-one million people live in Peru, but 3 million don’t have access to safe drinking water, and 5 million people don’t have access to improved sanitation. While more than 90 percent of Peruvian residents have access to improved drinking water, in rural areas, access drops to below 70 percent. Likewise, urban areas offer sanitation facility access to 82.5 percent of the population, but barely over 50 percent of people in rural communities, highlighting the drastic disparity between socioeconomic and regional populations.
  • Brazil: Similarly, shortcomings in providing safe, quality drinking water exist in South America’s largest country, Brazil. With a population of 208 million, 5 million Brazilians lack access to safe drinking water, and 25 million people, more than 8 percent of the population, don’t have access to sanitation facilities. While 100 percent of the urban population has access to drinking water, in rural areas the percentage drops to 87. The numbers take another hit when it comes to access to sanitation facilities. Eighty-eight percent of the urban population has this access, but almost half of the people in rural populations lack proper sanitation facilities.
  • Argentina: A similar narrative occurs in Argentina, where urban populations might have decent access to safe, quality drinking water and sanitation facilities, but the numbers drop off concerning rural and lower socioeconomic communities which struggle in having their needs and demands addressed by the government. Typical causes for low-quality drinking water include pollution, urbanization and unsustainable forms of agriculture.
  • Uruguay: In stark contrast, Uruguay has available safe drinking water for 100 percent of urban populations, almost 94 percent in rural populations, over 96 percent for improved access to sanitation facilities for urban populations and almost 94 percent for rural populations. The World Bank participated in the success of transforming Uruguay’s access to drinking water, which suffered in the 1980s, by offering loans to the main utility provider. The World Bank and other developers financially assisted Obras Sanitarias del Estado (OSE), the public utility that now provides drinking water to more than 98 percent of Uruguayans, in addition to providing more than half of the sanitation utilities in Uruguay. In addition to finances, these partners aid in ensuring quality operation standards such as upholding accountability, preventing unnecessary water loss, implementing new wastewater treatment plants in rural areas and protecting natural water sources such as the Santa Lucia river basin.
  • Bolivia: Like Uruguay, Bolivia made recent strides in improving access to safe, quality drinking water. They began by meeting the Millenium Development goal of cutting in half the number of people without access to improved drinking water by 2015. President Evo Morales, “a champion of access to water and sanitation as a human right,” leads to a path for the next step which is to achieve universal access to drinking water by 2020 and sanitation by 2025. Bolivia also recently invested $2.9 billion for drinking water access, irrigation systems and sanitation. In 2013, Morales addressed the United Nations calling for access to water and sanitation as a human right. Dedicated to his cause, he leads Bolivia in surpassing most other countries on the continent in ensuring these essential amenities to his constituents.

Unfortunately, the progress of Bolivia and Uruguay doesn’t transcend all borders within South America, as millions still feel neglected by their governments due to not having regular, affordable, safe, quality access to clean drinking water.

– Keeley Griego
Photo: Flickr

Global Girls’ Alliance
On the International Day of the Girl, Michelle Obama, former first lady of the U.S., announced that she is launching the Global Girls Alliance, a program aimed at empowering adolescent girls through education around the world.

The Goal of Global Girls Alliance

The Global Girls Alliance is designed to support grassroots leaders around the world who best understand the unique challenges girls face in their local communities and the strategies needed to overcome them. Obama was inspired to start the alliance during her visit to a local high school in Liberia. Obama stated that the organization is seeking to empower adolescent girls around the world through education so that they can support their families, communities and countries.

She said that she is supportive of the girls that show up every day in school even though their families depend on them to take care of younger siblings, cook meals and ensure their household is running smoothly. They show up even though many are pressured to marry as adolescents, sidetracking their own goals for a man’s. Girls that attend secondary schools have higher salaries, lower infant and mortality rates and are less likely to contract malaria and HIV. Educating girls is not good just for the girl, but for wider communities as well.

Girls’ Educational Issues

According to a U.N. study, there are almost 98 million adolescent girls that are not receiving any form of education. In some countries, it is unsafe for girls to attend school as they can be subjects of sexual harassment, assault, or a dangerous commute. In addition, many adolescent girls are forced to miss school during menstruation due to lack of resources or stigma and some are expected to take on household responsibilities or get married. Child-marriage is also a big issue that perpetuates global poverty, and one major way to reduce child-marriage is to get more girls in school. Through education, women can be empowered and work to eradicate global poverty.

Successful Story

Mainly, the Global Girls Alliance connects with grassroots leaders globally to share ideas and strategies that best work for their community. Among these grassroots leaders is Eliakunda Kaaya from Tanzania, who was the first in her family to graduate from high school and college despite her family’s belief that women shouldn’t attend school. Kaaya has worked as an education mentor for girls and is currently working on girls on reproductive health sessions, as Tanzania’s education policy is that girls cannot attend school if they become pregnant, even after the child is born.

Kaaya hopes the Global Girls Alliance will help this movement move forward with more resources and by mobilizing more members of global communities to be involved in the issues surrounding girls’ education. Kaaya, like many other girls, grew up with this belief in her household and community, but sought education despite it and is empowering girls through education as part of the Global Girls Alliance. “Anything good you see in this world it is because women have been part of it,” Kaaya said in Webster’s interview, reflecting on her meeting with Michelle Obama.

GoFundMe

The program also has a GoFundMe page where donors can give financial support to these grassroots leaders, either as a general donation or to a specific project. Funding is used for scholarships, mentorship programs, entrepreneurship preparations and parental education to ensure girls are supported both at school and within the home.

So far, the campaign has raised $225,907 of their $250,000 goal. Specific project donations include Uganda’s Empower Girls through Education, Malawi’s CRECCOM Equitable Quality Education, India’s SHEF’s Education Initiative, Ghana’s Change the World, Educate a Girl! and Guatemala’s The Thousand Girl Initiative. These donations can reap a large return effect.

According to the World Bank, limiting girls’ education costs countries from $15 to $30 trillion in loss of lifetime productivity and earnings. Educating girls can improve health, economic well-being and overall livelihood of communities. The alliance also seeks to shift the paradigm of girls’ education by advocating for developed countries to spread the word and get involved by spreading awareness.

Education young girls and women, in general, is beneficial for women, but for the whole world as well. Empowering them to step out of their traditional roles and take command over their lives can directly impact GDP growth of the countries. Organizations such as Global Girls Alliance are realizing this potential and are making sure it is being utilized.

– Anna Power
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Estonia
Estonia, a small Baltic nation, is often perceived by the Western countries as the standard bearer of former communists values that took steps to embrace capitalistic and democratic ideals.

Be that as it may, poverty is still very prevalent in this European nation and living conditions in Estonia are certainly not ideal.

Top 10 facts about living conditions in Estonia, the most important facts, both positive and negative, within the context of Estonians’ access to shelter, education, transportation, health and general well-being will be discussed in this article.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions In Estonia

  1. According to the OECD index, the average Estonian household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is $18,665 a year. This number is significantly lower than the OECD average of $30,563 a year. This figure represents the amount of money available to be spent on necessary goods and services, such as food and heating. With this average, Estonia lacks behind countries such as Slovenia, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic.
  2. There is a considerable income disparity between the rich and poor in Estonia. The top 20 percent of the population earn more than five times as much as the bottom 20 percent. In an interview with Estonian Public Broadcasting, the CEO of Swedbank Eesti, Robert Kitt, said that though Estonia has a strong and thriving business sector inequality is also greater than ever before.
  3. Estonia has the most carbon-intensive economy within the OECD. However, with 51 percent of Estonia’s land being forest, Estonians are breathing well. The level of atmospheric particulate matter, air pollutant particles small enough to cause damage to lungs and make breathing harder, is well below the OECD average.
  4. Estonia provides hot school lunches, study books and learning materials for free to students in basic education. This is a standard since 2006 and is a clear step of the country in enabling education more equitable and accessible to everyone. And it has worked since Estonia has one of the highest levels of educational attainment, with 90 percent of people in the age group of 25 from 64 have completed upper secondary education. Estonian women perform exceedingly well in tertiary education with 45 percent of Estonian women completing the third level of education, compared to 28 percent of Estonian men achieving the same feat.
  5. A surprising fact about living conditions in Estonia is that a comparatively high percentage of citizens live below the poverty line. By estimation, 21.1 percent of the population lives under the poverty line, and by this regard, Estonia is similar to nations such as Ecuador and Venezuela, nations that are perceived as being economically unstable and inequitable.
  6. Not everyone in the country is covered by public health insurance. Although pregnant women, children and young adults up to the age 19, old age pensioners and students automatically qualify for Estonia’s public health care, others must work for an employer that pays a social tax to the national government in order to qualify for public health insurance. Otherwise, barring any disabilities, the citizens must purchase their health care privately (or pay a social tax to the national government if they are self-employed).
  7. Estonia has a very small homeless population. The Foundation Abbé Pierre and Feantsa estimate that around 1,371 Estonians are homeless. Lodging shelters, homeless shelters and resource centers have stepped in to help those that are indeed homeless, especially in the most populous city in Estonia, Tallinn, where there is the most need for this aid.
  8. According to the World Bank, in 1994, the average life expectancy of Estonians was at 66.5 years. In 2016, this number was at 77.8 years, Although the life expectancy rate has vastly improved, it still lags behind the average of the European Union. Estonia faces a shortage of nurses and family physicians, as funding for such services has dwindled in rural regions of Estonia. At 6.5 percent of its GDP being spent on health care, Estonia is short of the EU member-state average of 9.9 percent.
  9. About 94 percent of Estonians are insured. The others, uninsured, do receive emergency care, as well as take part in other public health programs and treatments in which the national or city government provides compensation or free care. Tuberculosis and HIV drug treatments are covered by the state in many cases.
  10. Bus transportation is free for Estonian citizens, as long as they are located in a territory that has accepted national government funds to do so. Because of this, travel from outer regions to urban centers such as Tallinn is very affordable, if not free, allowing for more movement of peoples and funds as well.

Like most Western nations, Estonia is no perfect place for all of its people. Poverty is high while general satisfaction is lower than average, but steps have been taken to ensure better living conditions such as access to transportation, education and health care.

In the article, both the negative and positive aspects of Estonia’s current living conditions are presented, as well as the comparison of these living conditions to other nations in order to allow one to more easily discern what life is like for those in Estonia and compare it to their own lives.

– Kurt Thiele
Photo: Unsplash

Sustainable Agriculture in Mauritania
Mauritania is a rather large country in western Africa that has abundant natural resources like iron, oil and natural gas. Unfortunately, water and arable land are not at the top of the list. Nearly two-thirds of the nation is desert. Despite the lack of water, nearly half of the nations 3.8 million people make a living from livestock and cereal grain farming. Sustainable agriculture in Mauritania is essential to put this land to its best use and help the rapidly urbanizing population economically.

Promoting Sustainable Agriculture in Mauritania

According to the FAO, the amount of food produced domestically in Mauritania each year only meets one-third of the country’s food needs, leaving the other 70 percent to be imported from other countries. The FAO has been working to increase crop output by promoting and supporting agriculture farming in Mauritania. One such program is the Integrated Production and Pest Managment Program (the IPPM) in Africa.

This program covers nine other countries in West Africa. Since its inception in 2001 as part of the United Nations new millennium programs, the program has reached over 180,000 farmers, 6,800 in Mauritania. In Mauritania, the IPPM program focuses on simple farming techniques to increase both the quantity and quality of the crop yield each year.

These techniques include teaching farmers how to chose the best seeds to plant along with the optimum distance to plant the seeds from one another. The program also educates farmers about the best use of fertilizers and pesticides. Overuse of these chemicals can pollute the already small water supply and harm the crops. The program also teaches good marketing practices to help with crop sales.

Programs Working With Government Support

It is not only outside actors that are promoting sustainable agriculture in Mauritania. The government has been helping as well. A report by the Guardian from 2012 explains the government’s new approach since 2011. The plan includes new irrigation techniques, the promotion of new crops, such as rice, and the training of college students in sustainable agriculture techniques through subsidies.

Data from the World Bank in 2013, showed that the program was slowly succeeding; however, too little water was still the biggest issue. The World Bank and the government of Mauritania are still working towards those goals by building off of the natural resources available. According to the CIA, a majority of the economy and foreign investment in Mauritania involves oil and minerals.

A Work In Progress

Data is not easy to find on the success of these programs after 2016. What can be noted, though, is that programs run by the FAO and other international organizations are still fighting for sustainable agriculture in Mauritania. They have been able to sustain using money from mining and oil that is coming in each year.

While these are certainly not the cleanest ways for a government to make money, it is a reliable way for the foreseeable future. The government has already proven that it is willing to spend this money on its people. Hopefully, the government will continue to invest in its people and sustainable agriculture in Mauritania.

Nick DeMarco
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Bangladesh
In the last decade, numerous methods, groups and programs have attempted to reduce poverty in Bangladesh. With help from its government, as well as other governments, the nation has managed to reduce its poverty levels by over half in the last decade and is working towards reducing it even further. The country has implemented several successful development innovations. On top of it all, the country is also providing asylum to almost one million Rohingya people.

3 Organizations Reduce Poverty in Bangladesh

What has been done to get Bangladesh to this point? These are three organizations and their efforts that helped reduce poverty in Bangladesh:

  1. BRAC: As of December of 2016, the national aid organization BRAC had reached over 90,000 families in Bangladesh suffering from extreme poverty. BRAC was founded in 1972 in Bangladesh with the goal of discovering the cause of extreme poverty in the nation and ways to relieve its people. The main aim of the organization was to empower the impoverished, especially women, through interventions described as a “poverty graduation” plan. The steps of the plan are as follows: target a group, transfer assets, provide weekly stipends, encourage members to begin a savings account, provide specialized training, introduce health care and integrate the group into society. The poverty graduation plan takes around two years to complete. What’s unique about this program is it provides people with the tools to make this lifestyle sustainable so they will not fall back into poverty (if the tools remain available). To date, more than 95 percent of the participants have reached graduation.
  2. The Grameen Danone Foundation: This foundation was established in 2007. It is a social business model that aims to reduce extreme hunger in Bangladesh through the distribution of affordable yogurt that provides missing nutrients to malnourished people. The foundation created jobs for local farmers and women looking to bring themselves out of poverty. To ensure lasting jobs, the foundation used as little machinery as possible so that production would be more hands-on. On top of such action, Grameen Danone paid laborers at top prices to boost the economy. When acquiring the materials for the yogurt, the foundation goes to local farms and businesses to keep the process at a grass-roots organization level. The main priority of the organization is to provide nutritious products to extreme poverty areas at an affordable rate, while also providing jobs to those looking to help themselves.
  3. The Poverty Eradication Program (PEP): PEP is a non-profit, non-governmental (NGO) organization operating at the national level in Bangladesh. PEP focuses on rural poverty in its most extreme variations and works with the people to provide them with resources that will allow them to rise out of poverty. The organization specializes in economic, social and environmental empowerment. For example, in some instances, PEP helps families start up small businesses that will not only empower them but the whole community they live in as well. PEP will provide the resources needed to start the business then watch as it flourishes. They accomplish such feats through grants, training or offering the tools required for business.

Daily Improvement

Organizations and charities recognized that investing in the people of Bangladesh was the best way to reduce poverty. World Bank group president, Jim Yong Kim, gave a speech in 2017 praising the efforts made by Bangladesh. One of his most important points was that between 2003 and 2013, women’s employment jumped from seven million to seventeen million.

Bangladesh aims to become a middle-income country by 2021 and to eradicate most, if not all, poverty by 2030. With the help and compassion from several organizations and the government, there has been great progress to reduce poverty in Bangladesh. Many other countries could follow suit and learn from Bangladesh’s poverty reduction efforts.

– Miranda Garbaciak
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in The Democratic Republic of the Congo
Poverty in the Democratic Republic of The Congo (DRC) can be interpreted as a combination of spillover conflict from neighboring African nations, as well as an embedded culture of governmental corruption. In the text below, the top 10 facts about poverty in the Democratic Republic of the Congo will address the underlying causes, as well as how DRC has been able to improve impoverished conditions in recent years.

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

  1. The Democratic Republic of Congo has a population of approximately 78 million people. Out of this number, 80 percent of the population live in extreme poverty. DRC is classified internationally as the country of medium concerning human development. Indicators of human development measure parameters such as population’s well being, regarding life expectancy, child/maternal mortality, infant mortality, malnutrition and mortality associated with a disease.
  2. Wealth is unequally distributed, far better in urban over rural areas and wealth is a determinant for access to sanitation and medical services. The poor in rural areas are most affected.
  3. Poverty is also a direct consequence of the political conflict that occurred during the 1990s, called the First and Second Congo War. The country has seen a dramatic transformation from a state engulfed in brutal genocidal violence into a relatively stable post-conflict society. Poverty is a byproduct of political violence that in turn has significant economic and social repercussions. The consequences of the war can be seen even today, as more than 900,000 people were displaced from the country. in 2016 War-torn communities have left approximately 4 million children orphans or living on the streets.
  4. Contrary to popular belief, poverty and development are linked. As African nations develop, their populations rise as a result. However, the flip side to this is that malnutrition and new diseases spread as the existing system of governance cannot keep up with the uptick of the population.
  5. DRC transitioned from a Marxist to free market economy that has relied heavily on wealth from the mining industry. Upon the transition, the new economy has not been managed appropriately, as wealth is spent lavishly on the patronage of government officials instead of humanitarian efforts.
  6. War impacted on poverty since infrastructure communities that rely on for clean water and sanitation were destroyed, contributing to the spread of disease. Waterborne diseases, such as diarrhea, cholera and malaria are the most common and deadly in the country. Less than one-fourth of DRC’s population has access to clean drinking water and sanitation services. DRC has a 45 percent inoculation rate of malaria, resulting from lack of access to cleaning drinking water and poor nutrition. Approximately 40 percent of deaths in the country is related to malaria.
  7. DRC’s governmental structure has had a tumultuous relationship with the population, engaging in genocidal violence during internal conflict, and an unstable kleptocratic government post-conflict system. Historically, the country functions under an economy and government of affection. Primarily, government investment is spent on personal relations to buy popular support, rather than on social programs that would earn support.
  8. The people of the DRC look to the international community and nongovernmental organizations for assistance. The Nouvelle Esperance (New Hope) program offered great assistance in the Millennium Declaration that is based in human development and humanitarian assistance but also has specific goals to eliminate poverty all together using a strategy that fosters national and international stability. The Global Partnership plays an integral role in improving education in the DRC, increasing access to education by providing $20 million in learning materials and renovating 728 classrooms. Other notable contributions have come from UNICEF and USAID that aid and monitor the quality of the services that the country’s government provides.
  9. Significant assistance programs have been provided by transnational banks such as the World Bank and the African Development Bank. African Development Bank’s helps reduce infant and maternal mortality rates through programs that equally distribute medical supplies. World Bank’s helps with the program aimed to increase standards of living through sanitation, energy and various accessible social services. World Bank has 29 total projects active in the country representing a total of $3.8 billion. World Bank has also funded medical projects assisting the DRC in the successful eradication of poliomyelitis. Since World Bank began humanitarian projects in the DRC in the post-conflict era of the 1990s, there is a vast improvement since the strategy has shifted away from emergency assistance programs to sustainable growth strategies.
  10. Different organizations are helping the country’s situation. With the help of the U.N. which the Democratic Republic of Congo joined in 2000, the country has successfully been able to demobilize and improve health and education opportunities. Britain’s Department of International Development has developed an initiative that aims to support long-term programs that tackle the underlying issues of poverty, with the goal of cutting the number of people in poverty in half, as well as ensuring all children have a primary education, sexual equality, a reduction in child and mother death rates and environmental protection. Other notable contributions have come from the French and Belgian governments that foster public management of resources as well as public administrative support.

These top 10 facts about poverty in the Democratic Republic of the Congo provide an understanding of not only how poverty developed in the country and the effects poverty has had on the people, but also working solutions to address this issue. The Democratic Republic of the Congo can also provide an example of success for other post-conflict societies in improving poverty rates.

– Kimberly Keysa
Photo: Flickr