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7 Facts About Sanitation in Syria
In Syria, unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene facilities kill more than 85,000 children each year. In contrast, the war kills approximately 30,000 annually. Without clean water, young children, specifically 5-year-olds and younger, are left vulnerable to malnutrition and preventable diseases such as diarrhea, typhoid, cholera and polio. Syrian families forced to flee due to the war are at a greater risk of contracting deadly illnesses. Here are 7 facts about sanitation in Syria.

7 Facts About Sanitation in Syria

  1. Damaged Infrastructure: The devastating use of explosives during the war in Syria has left basic infrastructure damaged beyond repair. In 2018, 50% were non-operational and more than 35,000 buildings were turned to rubble. As a result, the lack of access to clean water has become a growing problem.
  2. Water Mismanagement: Water researcher, Francesca de Châtel, believes Syria has mismanaged its water supply for 50 years. De Châtel says Syria has focused too much on large scale agriculture projects that have dried up rivers and wells. A lack of sufficient water has caused farmers to abandon their land and look for work elsewhere. This mismanagement also has nationwide impacts due to the amount of water waste.
  3. Risky Childbirth: Pregnant women are among one in every three families that are displaced from Syria. Often, they have little to no medical care because nearly 46% of health facilities are no longer functional and 167 are totally demolished. This has forced many pregnant women to give birth outside, under trees. They do not have a safe or sanitary place to deliver, which heightens the risk of delivering a unhealthy baby.
  4. Risk of Violence for Girls: While it may seem like an unusual correlation, lack of access to water in the home can put young girls and women at risk of violence. Since most households do not have clean sanitation facilities, girls and women venture out and travel miles to gather water. During their travels, they are vulnerable to violence, both physical or sexual. In fact, during the summer of 2015, the Syrian city of Aleppo faced a major water crisis and three children were killed while trying to collect water for their families.
  5. Contamination: Damaged infrastructure and the flooding of wastewater have contaminated water sources. In the northwest part of the nation, there is a high number of camps where displaced citizens have gathered. Here, these communities share latrines that do not meet the minimum humanitarian standards and are not segregated by gender, which can aggravate contamination. Paul Alcalde, who oversees water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programming believes, “Lack of sanitation and lack of means for basic hygiene practices is not only about meeting immediate needs and basic rights, but it matters for dignity.”
  6. Cost: Prices and exchange rates have made water too expensive and out of reach for the poorest families. Some families spend up to 25% of their annual income alone on access to clean water derived from water tanks.
  7. Overcrowding: Many shelters throughout Syria and the surrounding countries, which hold the two million citizens that have become displaced, are not meeting the water or hygienic needs of the refugees. These living conditions are unsanitary due to a small number of showers and toilets as well as a lack of products like soap. Water is also rationed, and people are often allowed less than 10 quarts a day. Some shelters have been accommodated to hold around 25,000 refugees but will overcrowd and house twice the amount.

The Good News

Although Syrians, displaced or not, are still facing a sanitation and hygiene crisis, many organizations around the world have been doing their part to help.

UNICEF, the leader of the Water and Sanitation sector, has provided some relief to the people of Syria. Since 2011, UNICEF has provided 22,000 people with drinking and domestic water, 225,000 people have received soap and other hygiene products and 17,000 people have gained access to toilets and sanitation facilities. Nine years later, UNICEF concluded its first phase of WASH by completely restoring major water and sewage pipelines. In turn, 700,000 people have more and cleaner water instead of contaminated sources. 

Another organization that has provided major support is World Vision. Its efforts have included installing 10 water tanks in a refugee camp in Azraq, 5,200 WASH structures above and below ground such as toilets and sewage pits and constructing 35 tap stands that are connected to water tanks underground.

While Syria continues to grapple with war and violence, it must not forget to also address sanitation. With continued help from organizations like UNICEF and World Vision, hopefully sanitation in Syria will improve.

– Stacey Krzych
Photo: Flickr

Forbes ranked Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania, the 20th dirtiest city as it lacks proper water management, which leads to famine and disease. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Mauritania. 
Mauritania is the geographic and cultural bridge between North African Maghreb and Sub-Saharan Africa. The Islamic nation has a population of around 4 million people. Located in northwest Africa, the coastal country includes 90% desert land. Mauritania is infamous for being the last country to abolish slavery — in 1981 — and slaves still make up 4% to 10% of the population. Meanwhile, Forbes ranked Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania, the 20th dirtiest city as it lacks proper water management, which leads to famine and disease. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Mauritania. 

10 Facts About Sanitation in Mauritania

  1. According to WHO, the lack of water sanitation causes nearly 90% of the 2,150 deaths from diarrheal diseases in Mauritania each year. Stagnant water breeds malaria mosquitos, parasites and other contaminants. With over 16.6% of the population below the extreme poverty line, many Mauritanians cannot afford to acquire clean water or proper healthcare.
  2. According to the Africa Development Bank Group, 68% of Mauritanians have access to potable water. In 2008, only 49% of the population had access to potable water. In isolated desert villages, citizens must trek miles to reach the closest water source. Meanwhile, in the capital city of Nouakchott, people in poverty often purchase water from vendors who hauled the barrels from a water supply several kilometers away.
  3. WaterAid determined that in 2017, 1,048,500 Mauritanian children under the age of 17 lacked a proper household toilet. Because people cannot afford toilets and lack access to running water, Mauritanians rely on latrines. In 2010, the government of Mauritania halted funding towards latrines, further stalling progress toward sanitation. However, UNICEF’s Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) initiative has improved 67% of latrines since 2009.
  4. As of June 12th, 2020, Mauritania logged 1,439 cases of the novel COVID-19. Although many facilities lack proper sanitation to handle the virus, the Mauritanian government enforced curfews, travel bans and shop closures. In hopes of preventing potential economic damage, the government also distributed food and exempted 174,707 households from paying electricity bills. Organizations like WHO and UNICEF responded to the situation by treating coronavirus patients and implementing sanitation facilities to contain the virus.
  5. In 2018, the Chinese company CTE subsidized $40.3 million toward a rainwater collection system for a new sanitary sewerage network in Nouakchott. Prior to the project, Nouakchott’s sewerage network served only 5% of the city’s households. Building better sewerage networks will allow Mauritania to bring running water to rural areas. Since the country is below sea level, sewerage networks can also help limit floods and stagnant water.
  6. The African Development Bank funded the National Integrated Rural Water Sector Project (PNISER) to install drinking water supply networks and solar pumping stations in rural Mauritania. The Ministry of Hydraulics and Sanitation is implementing the new networks in rural communities that lack water systems. Around 400,000 square meters of irrigated land will receive water availability, generating additional income for women and youth.
  7. World Vision initiated the WASH Mauritania program in 2016. It has provided three local villages with access to water, hygiene and sanitation resources. With funding from the U.S. and Germany, World Vision Mauritania “[rehabilitated] boreholes, water towers, water retention points, fountains and water network extension.” In the village of Maghtaa Sfeira, WASH benefited over 900 people and sponsored more than 200 children. As a result of this program, many women and children no longer have to seek unsanitary water holes or trek miles for water supplies.
  8. According to WaterAid, 60% of Mauritania’s schools lacked sanitation in 2016. When schools offer sanitation, not only can children practice good hygiene, but their school attendance increases.
  9. Because Mauritania is vulnerable to desertification, WHO partnered with the Mauritanian government in 2013 to ensure that schools, healthcare facilities and villages have proper water, sanitation and hygiene. WHO provided water basins, installed toilets and insured higher quality of food for schools. In addition, WHO equipped the country with six biomedical waste incinerators to dispose of hazardous substances. In one instance, transforming a Land Rover into a mobile water laboratory has enabled WHO to monitor the water quality of different villages.
  10. In 2020, the World Bank secured funding for the Water and Sanitation Sectoral project and the Mauritania Health System Support project. The Water and Sanitation Sectoral Project received an International Development Association (IDA) grant of $44 million to improve latrines, add hand-washing facilities and rehabilitate water systems. In the Hodh el Chargui region in eastern Mauritania, an additional $23 million IDA grant will increase the quality of reproductive, maternal, neonatal and child health and nutrition services. Together, these projects will benefit more than 473,000 people.

Improving sanitation in Mauritania can potentially have wide-reaching benefits — from raising incomes and boosting the national economy, to improving education and lowering mortality rates. It is imperative that the government and other organizations focus on providing sanitation resources to the people of Mauritania.

– Zoe Chao
Photo: Flickr

Illiteracy in Nepal
Nepal is a country of Asia that lies along the southern side of the Himalayas. It is a landlocked nation with a territory of just 500 miles east to west. Nepal has long experienced isolation under a series of rulers who favored isolationist policies and remained closed off to the rest of the world up until the year 1905. Today, Nepal is a country between two superpowers, India and China. As a result of this extreme isolation, it has become one of the least developed nations in the world. This underdevelopment has also led to a heavily illiterate population. Here are seven interesting facts about illiteracy in Nepal.

7 Facts About Illiteracy in Nepal

  1. Illiteracy in Nepal: As recently as 2015, Nepal had an illiterate population of 6,784,566 people. Luckily this statistic has been on a steady decline of about 2 percent every year since 1991.
  2. Literacy in Nepal: Nepal’s literate population in 2015 was at 55 percent. Although this means that just under half the population is illiterate, it is still an extremely large increase from the 1950s, during which only 5 percent of the population was literate.
  3. Women: Only 49 percent of women in Nepal are literate. The average literacy rate for women in Nepal is 20 percent lower than men. This may be a result of fewer women completing a full education than men, a statistic that is slowly becoming more equal and challenging illiteracy in Nepal.
  4. World Vision: Thankfully, literacy rates in Nepal are rising. An organization called World Vision has been working to eliminate illiteracy in Nepal. World Vision has been training teachers in Nepal to use more engaging methods to get their students more interested in reading.
  5. Reading Camps: World Vision has also created reading camps outside of school, in addition to encouraging parents to nurture a reading friendly environment in their homes so students are more willing to read. In just two years, the children involved in the program were one and a half times better at reading than children who did not attend the program.
  6. Room to Read: Another organization, Room to Read, has created a Girls’ Education Program that has helped nearly 5,000 girls in Nepal since 2001 to read and write. Children in Nepali schools with Room to Read libraries have checked out, on average, more than 16 books per student. Room to Read has been a catalyst in helping many children to appreciate reading.
  7. Five-Year Initiative: In 2016, Room to Read launched a five year initiative with the government of Nepal, USAID and the research group RTI International to improve the country’s primary grade literacy programs greatly. This initiative has the goal of changing the lives of 1 million students in grades one to three in order to combat illiteracy in Nepal.

Illiteracy in Nepal is an issue that has significantly decreased due to the actions of these, and many other programs and initiatives, all with the goal of improving literacy rates in Nepal. If it were not for groups like Room to Read and World Vision, the people, and especially the children, would still be stuck in the darkness of illiteracy.

– William Mendez
Photo: Flickr

Food Aid in Fighting World Hunger
Fighting world hunger is one of the most prominent issues activists tackle in the fight against global poverty. While famine and food shortages are a major contributor to hunger in impoverished places, they are not the only contributors. In working to lift themselves out of poverty, nations do not only lack funding, but also resources and opportunities.

If an impoverished nation has a limited set of food, it often has the dilemma of choosing between using its limited amount of food to guarantee its population meals or to export it in the hopes of generating capital and improving the country’s overall situation longterm. On the other hand, it is often difficult for a nation to maintain a healthy economy when the workers are too busy focusing on meeting their necessities.

Malnourishment in Eastern Africa

While the number of starving people decreased in the world overall in the past few years, eastern Sub-Saharan Africa still holds most of the world’s undernourished population. In this region, 30.8 percent of the population still suffers from a food shortage.

Eastern African countries like Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sedan and Tanzania have a primarily agriculture driven economy with coffee, cut flowers, tea, tobacco, fish and vegetables being its main exports.

In the East African Community (EAC), up to 44 percent of the GDP comes from agriculture, with 80 percent of the region’s population relying on agriculture for their livelihoods.

Producing food is not the problem itself, as having an agriculture-centered economy means that there is enough food to sustain an economy. However, when a bad season destroys a harvest, food prices suddenly soar as a result. This happened to Kenya in 1984 when a drought caused a food shortage. It previously grew food both for consumption and export, keeping pace with a growing population. When this happens, the people who are more reliant on this harvest as an accessible food source cannot afford it. Developed countries can afford to purchase these exports at inflated prices, though they are not reliant on them as their main food source.

The Weight of the Developed World

The developed countries are not ignorant of developing country’s food stability or quality of life and will often try to send direct food aid to assist hungry nations. When wealthier countries do try to help in the form of sending food aid, though, sometimes they wind up unintentionally causing more damage in the longterm.

Sending food aid to malnourished countries to help with fighting world hunger might help the starving population in the short term, but it does nothing to triage the bleeding infrastructure that exacerbated the food shortage to begin with. Reliance on food aid can depress the prices at which farmers sell locally grown crops, hampering production if no one buys what they are producing, which can further cripple the local economy in the long run.

World Vision

While there are some drawbacks with direct food aid, there are other means of aid that developed countries can send in addition to food. Investing in the country’s infrastructure so that farmers know how to grow more food more effectively can help protect them from food shortages if a poor growing season hits. Providing resources for impoverished countries to set up schools can allow the population to move away from a purely agricultural economy, and allow it to cultivate a more diverse one. This can, in turn, create more jobs for the people to earn an income with.

World Vision works to end global poverty and improve the welfare of families, women and children through long term programs and education. In Burundi and Rwanda, World Vision has been fighting world hunger by providing improved seeds and fertilizers to farmers, while also connecting them with markets to encourage turning a surplus of food into an income.

In providing individuals with access to credit and loans via Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs), the community can meet day-to-day needs while also supplementing other income-generating projects.

World Vision institutes and trains savings groups, who strive to help families within the community save money. World Vision also creates non-agricultural job opportunities.

Successes

As of 2017, more than 1,600 VSLAs’ stabilized the lives of 100,000 children. This means that 7,385 hungry children gained more than 400 grams due to health programs. Around 4,560 farmers trained in agricultural sustainability in Burundi whereas 20,244 did in Rwanda in both 2016 and 2017. In 2017, 22,522 farmers had the resources they needed to grow their crops while 14,611 farmers did in 2016 and 2017. The number of World Vision-created savings groups grew to 6,831 with 107,159 members, while the organization created 2,230 non-agricultural jobs.

As a result of World Vision’s work in Rwanda, families went from making $15.01 per month to $42.20 from non-agricultural endeavors. Around 73.5 percent of adolescents reported having sufficient food, which was a 32 percent increase from 55.5 percent in 2014.

In Kenya, World Vision works closely with the government, abiding by the Kenya Health Policy and the National Food and Nutritional Security Policy to encourage maternal, infant and young child nutrition, agricultural and livestock nutrition and education in nutrition.

A focus on productivity, sustainability and education can help a lucrative economy take root, and the proper guidance on how to maintain it can create a solid foothold for the nation to maneuver out of starvation and poverty.

– Catherine Lin
Photo: Flickr

Tackling Global Poverty
Through charity and missionary work, five NFL stars are tackling global poverty. Celebrities making substantial contributions to global poverty reduction is a sure-fire inspirational lift. These individuals also provide a refreshing glimpse into how NFL stars give back where it counts.

5 NFL Stars Tackling Global Poverty

  1. Tom Brady has appeared in the previous three Super Bowls and has walked away with six rings out of his nine historic appearances. In addition to these accolades and a Wikipedia page the size of a full-length novel, Tom Brady is accomplishing substantial impact off the football field. Tom Brady has participated in charity work with five different charities: Best Buddies International, Boys & Girls Club, Eastern Congo Initiative, Entertainment Industry Foundation and KaBOOM!. The Best Buddies International nonprofit organization, that Brady founded, dedicates itself to intellectually and developmentally disabled people. Brady works with Best Buddies International and has aided in fundraising of $20 million in the last six years.
  2. Chris Long, former Philadelphia Eagles defensive lineman and two time Super Bowl champion, has teamed with Doug Pitt, the Tanzania Goodwill Ambassador, to create the Waterboys initiative. The two football players have enlisted other players to raise resources and funds for the Waterboys, a clean water project in Tanzania. Long has personally raised over $543,000 for clean water sanitation. The initiative locates remote villages in need of clean water and hires crews to install solar-powered well, which provides clean water. Currently, the Waterboys have funded 83 wells that have impacted 345,000 people.
  3. Kelvin Beachum, an offensive tackle for the New York Jets, has a commitment to ending world hunger through charitable efforts. Beachum has worked with Bread for the World, World Vision and Feeding America. He has even donated his time by traveling to Honduras to aid World Vision. This nonprofit organization has helped over 3.5 million children in nearly 100 countries since 1950.
  4. Nnamdi Asomugha, a former cornerback for the Oakland Raiders, has set new heights by tackling global poverty through charity work. As the founder of the Asomugha Foundation, he established this organization to empower orphans and widows in Nigeria to pursue higher education. The core of the foundation is to bring about the opportunity of higher education to transform impoverished communities. The Asomugha Foundation also provides food, shelter and medicine to victims of poverty and abuse in Nigeria.
  5. Nate Sudfeld is another Super Bowl attending quarterback who knows what it takes to score big off the field. Sudfeld has been making contributions to the nonprofit Assist International. This nonprofit has 500 projects through 65 countries where Sudfeld has traveled to Romania, Africa and several additional countries to aid poverty reduction efforts. Such contributions have impacted people who lead poverty-stricken lives by improving the quality of life.

Five NFL stars are tackling global poverty while creating a powerful impression on the U.S. population. These players continue to make history on and off the field through charity where even the smallest contributions change human lives by reducing global poverty.

– Andre Davis 
Photo: Pixabay

Sanitation in KenyaLike many regions of Africa, Kenya is a country that has a history of problems regarding sanitation and access to clean water. As of 2019, the levels of clean water and sanitation in Kenya are still critically low but efforts are being made to change the status quo. Water.org and other organizations are responsible for many of these improvements. Below are 10 facts about the sanitation and water crisis in Kenya.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Kenya

  1. According to Water.org, 41 percent of people in Kenya rely on water sources such as ponds, rivers and wells. However, 71 percent use unimproved sanitation solutions. Water.org has also reported that only nine out of 55 public water services in Kenya have provided continuous access to water.
  2. In 2010, Water.org introduced a large-scale initiative known as “WaterCredit,” which provides small loans to enable greater access to clean water and sanitation services. Through this initiative, the organization partnered with microfinance and commercial financial institutions, managing to provide more than 425,00 Kenyans and Ugandans with access to clean water.
  3. The United Nations has classified Kenya as a water-scarce nation. This means the country has one of the lowest national water replenishment rates. Furthermore, only 56 percent of the nation’s citizens have access to clean water.
  4. In Kenya, 50 percent of people who check into a hospital due to preventable diseases suffer from illnesses related to sanitation and water.
  5. Approximately 50 percent of rural households in Kenya do not have toilet facilities. In addition, the ones that do have access are often known to be unhygienic.
  6. One program attempting to solve the issue of water and sanitation in Kenya is the Water and Environmental Sanitation program (WES). Their main goal is to increase the utilization of safe drinking water. They also aim to improve sanitation and hygiene practices in houses, schools and health facilities. The program has led to the adoption of the Hygiene and Sanitation policy.
  7. As of 2019, estimates show that less than 60 percent of people in Kenya have access to safe and basic drinking water. In addition, only 29 percent of Kenyans have access to safe and basic service sanitation.
  8. U.S. government agencies such as USAID have made various investments in Kenya to help solve the water and sanitation crisis. They utilize market-based models that aim to close financing gaps through sustainable business models, increased public funding and expanded market finance for infrastructure investments. These efforts will allow for universal access to water and sanitation in Kenya. By 2020, it is estimated that the USAID’s work will provide more than one million people in Kenya with access to basic water and sanitation supplies.
  9. Throughout 2018 and 2019, Kenya suffered from two seasons of poor rainfall. This resulted in deteriorating rates of water, hygiene and sanitation in Kenya’s arid and semi-arid areas. As a result, the Kenyan government reported worsening drought conditions in 20 ASAL counties. This also includes 15 counties in the Alert phase and 5 counties in the Alarm phase.
  10. Thanks to the organization, World Vision, it is estimated that around 15,000 people in Kenya have benefitted from clean water as a result of various boreholes, rainwater tanks and pipelines. Among these benefits includes the ability to shower and wash clothes.

A lack of access to clean water and sanitation in Kenya continues to affect much of the country. Thankfully, the efforts from organizations such as Water.org, USAID and World Vision are alleviating these problems. Like much of Africa, Kenya has a long way to go before reaching sanitation goals; however, hope remains a part of these organizations’ driving factors.

– Adam Abuelheiga
Photo: Flickr

starvation in Africa
In East Africa, hunger is a major crisis. In fact, about 20 percent of the entire African population experiences hunger daily. While the claim that African children die from malnutrition every few seconds is a bit exaggerated, the true number of deaths from starvation in Africa is still quite alarming. Here are the causes and facts about the African hunger crises, as well as potential solutions to ebbing them.

The Causes

Hunger and malnutrition are not instantaneous, and there are many factors involved, such as poverty, drought, conflict and governance. Historically, famines and hunger crises from drought or war have plagued Africa’s poor since 1968. More often than not, extreme weather and climates will yield unsuccessful crops, which in turn subtracts from the profit that families can make from farming.

People suffering from poverty often cannot afford to purchase food, both in quality and quantity. Conflict and violence further instigate the food crisis by causing food insecurities and lessening the availability of food imports and incomes. Lastly, insufficient access to food can also be the result of poor governance and policies. Without proper leadership and guidance from governments, conflict and poverty can affect the quality, availability and affordability of food.

The Facts

As aforementioned, 20 percent of the African population—257 million people—suffer from hunger and famine. In the Sub-Saharan alone, 237 million suffer chronic undernourishment. As of June 2019, nearly 60 million children in Africa are underfed despite the continent’s recent economic growth.

Statistically, nine out of 10 African children do not meet the World Health Organization’s criteria for a minimum acceptable diet, and two in five children do not eat meals on a regular or scheduled basis. Children who suffer from such hunger also experience stunted growth and impaired cognitive development.

In truth, this is due to malnutrition, which is different from hunger in that while a child can fill its stomach with food and water, he or she will still suffer from a lack of essential nutrients that do not exist in the food they are eating. This is true for adults in Africa as well. While the number of starving, malnourished Africans is alarmingly high and ranging in the millions, however, the number of deaths from starvation in Africa is surprisingly low at approximately 400,000 deaths per year.

The Solutions

In order to prevent these numbers from increasing, the poor and the malnourished require accessible, affordable, good-quality food, as well as innovations to improve the harvests. In fact, the nonprofit World Vision has been doing so for over 40 years, providing emergency aid and long-term assistance to African communities and families.

In the event of a food crisis, World Vision offers food assistance, including emergency feeding those who are starving and treating malnourished children. It also provides fresh, clean water and sanitation to those in need. For the long term, World Vision offers business training and equipment to families to prepare them for another onslaught of adverse weather and gives families cash to support and provide for themselves.

In other words, with the right assistance, families and communities can avoid another hunger crisis and ebb the number of deaths from starvation in Africa. People either downplay or exaggerate the hunger crisis in Africa. The truth about starvation in Africa needs to come out.

– Yael Litenatsky
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Economic Development in Central America
Central America, which includes Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama, is a diverse geographical region housing almost 50 million people. With a wealth of natural resources, Central America has the potential for sustainable and rigorous economic growth as it seeks to mitigate political unrest and economic inequality. Within this context, here are 10 facts about economic development in Central America.

10 Facts About Economic Development in Central America

  1. Central America is an Agricultural Powerhouse: The backbone of Central America’s economy relies on agricultural exports, such as coffee, bananas and pineapples. For example, agriculture comprises 24 percent of Costa Rica’s total GDP and 17 percent of Panama’s total GDP. In 2001, agriculture employed approximately 34 percent of Honduras.
  2. Central America’s Growing Tourism Industry: Belize and El Salvador contribute to Central America’s robust tourism industry. In Belize, tourism is the most important economic sector in the country next to agriculture. In 2017, El Salvador reported a 23.2 percent annual growth rate from domestic tourism. El Salvador expects to generate $75.5 million from its tourism industry in 2019.
  3. Severe Weather and Foreign Aid: In the wake of Hurricane Nate, Costa Rica alone reported $562 million in damages, severely crippling its agricultural and transportation industries. In response, USAID provided $150,000 to support immediate humanitarian efforts. More recently, in 2018, El Fuego erupted in Guatemala affecting approximately 1.7 million people. World Vision, a non-profit organization, responded by sending 30,000 boxes of medical supplies to affected regions.
  4. Tepid Economic Growth: One of the key 10 facts about economic development in Central America that informs policy-making is an analysis of GDP growth and poverty rates. As a whole, Central America has an average poverty rate of 34.2 percent. Guatemala has the highest rate of 59 percent as of 2014. Mitigating these poverty rates is difficult since GDP growth has slowly decelerated in many Central American countries. In the case of Honduras, declining prices for agricultural exports have left its main industries struggling. People expect Honduras’ GDP to grow with the decline in poverty. The nation’s poverty rate came down to 3.6 percent in 2019, from 4.8 percent in 2017.
  5. Political Uncertainty and Economic Expectations: Since 2018, many Nicaraguans protested the political oppression of their president, Daniel Ortega. They believe he is tamping out political opposition from human rights groups and using the poor to maintain political power. This recent political upheaval has alarmed investors, who have withdrawn an estimated $634 million according to Bloomberg. In this tumultuous climate, the International Monetary Fund believes Nicaragua’s economy could spiral into recession with unemployment climbing to 10 percent.
  6. Underinvestment in Infrastructure: Due to extreme weather and political upheaval, Central America often lacks the infrastructure to mobilize its economy. Central American countries spend only around two percent of their total GDP on transportation and infrastructure. Panama is a testament to the benefits of investing in infrastructure. The revenue generated from the Cobre Panama mine and the Panama canal gave the nation an average GDP growth rate of 5.6 percent over the past five years.
  7. Maintaining Trade Agreements: One way Central American countries have greatly benefited in terms of economic development is through maintaining trade agreements like CAFTA (Central America Free Trade Agreement). Between 2006 and 2016, Central America’s total trade with the U.S. increased by 17 percent and with the world, 20 percent.
  8. Grassroots Technology and Collaboration: Grassroots organizations have achieved economic success. For example, The International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) partnered with Nicaragua and Peru to promote agricultural productivity in its host country of Colombia. The CIAT has 51 active projects in Central America and 15 projects currently in Nicaragua. Such projects include investments in innovative technology that would make the rural family’s crops more resilient and more abundant.
  9. The Future is Technical: Costa Rica has successfully created a robust medical-device manufacturing industry dating back to 1987. It now generates $4 billion in exports for the country. Even more surprising, in 2017, medical device exports surpassed agricultural products for the first time in the nation’s history. Costa Rica boasts quality human resources and manufacturing and houses 96 operating firms in the medical device manufacturing sector.
  10. The Exemplary Success of Panama: Many expect Panama’s GDP to grow at six percent compared to 3.6 percent in 2018 and the country has cut its poverty rate from 15.4 percent to 14.1 percent. Panama’s performance comes from investing in industries like mining, transportation and logistics. In order to continue to compete in the global economy, Panama must continue to invest in education. One initiative in the U.S. that is investing in education in Panama is the Environmental Education Through the Transformation of Schools into Eco-friendly and Sustainable Schools program at Johns Hopkins University. Its goal is to educate Panama’s students on how to make their public school system more environmentally friendly.

Central America has positioned itself well for future economic prosperity based on this brief analysis of 10 facts about economic development in Central America. In order to accelerate Central America’s path of economic growth, World Vision has run a program in Guatemala since the 1970s that provides sponsorships, education, health and protective rights to children. Other organizations, like CIAT, have more than 60 programs in the Central American regions.

– Luke Kwong
Photo: Flickr

Reducing Poverty
Africa has a long and complicated history. From the Portuguese exploration of the continent in 1460 to the Atlantic slave trade and modern-day ethnic conflicts in Sudan, it is, unfortunately, no surprise that the continent has long-standing issues with poverty. Ethiopia and Ghana are changing this trend. New, innovative farming techniques such as flexible growing practices and government-sponsored programs are reducing poverty, and famine rates have been declining in these countries. Worldwide organizations such as Africa Renewal are hoping that the agricultural reforms taking place in Ghana and Ethiopia can spread throughout the rest of Africa to reduce poverty.

While the mining industry is important for African countries such as South Africa, agriculture is by far the most important economic sector for a majority of African countries. Not only does agriculture provide jobs for residents, but it also acts as the main food source for over 1.2 billion Africans.

Farming in Ethiopia

Ethiopia has relied on ox-driven plows for centuries. Ethiopian farmers are primarily field farmers, which means they grow their crops on typical farmland rather than other alternatives such as in water-soaked rice patties. Ethiopia has dealt with severe famine over the past several decades, and farmers have helped alleviate famine by being flexible. Over the past century, Ethiopian farmers have shifted their main food source from enset to tef-based crops. Another change Ethiopian farmers are adopting is more flexible growing practices, which means rather than growing one crop at a time, farmers are beginning to grow as many as 10 different crops at once. Flexible growing practices add diversity to the food supply and help fight against weeds and pests, leading to increased food supplies, ultimately reducing poverty.

Ethiopia’s government launched the Growth & Transformation Plan II in 2015 that aims to significantly increase economic growth by investing heavily in sustainable and broad-based agricultural practices and manufacturing sectors. The end result of this initiative is for the world stage to recognize Ethiopia on the world stage as a lower middle-income country by 2025. While no one will know the full results of this initiative until 2025, the preliminary data shows that the program has been helping with Ethiopia’s GDP increasing from $64.46 billion in 2015 to $84.36 billion in 2018.

These new farming practices, along with government investment into agricultural practices, increased Ethiopia’s GDP by nearly 10.3 percent over the past decade, which is one of the fastest growth rates in Africa. The new agricultural practices that are stimulating the economy are a significant reason why Ethiopia’s poverty rate has also fallen from nearly 40 percent in 2004 to approximately 27 percent in 2016.

Farming in Ghana

Like Ethiopia, Ghana also has a history of poverty, with 24.2 percent of all residents facing poverty as of 2013. Ghana’s approach to reducing poverty is unique because the country is using economic growth. While Ethiopia is also focusing on economic growth, Ghana is not utilizing new farming practices in order to achieve economic growth. Rather, Ghana is using increased GDP to revitalize its agricultural sector.

Ghana’s unemployment rate is 6.71 percent as of 2018. With many residents unemployed, the agricultural sector provides job opportunities. Approximately 40 percent of Ghana’s available agricultural land is still available for use, which means there are many opportunities for agricultural expansion. Today estimates determine that the agricultural sector employs 33.86 percent of all Ghanian workers, meaning agriculture is the country’s main source of income for a third of its residents. Alarmingly, though, agriculture makes up only 19.7 percent of Ghana’s GDP as of 2017, which is the lowest total since 1983, when agriculture made up approximately 60 percent of the total GDP.

World Vision, a non-governmental organization, has worked in Ghana since 1979. Currently, World Vision implements 29 area programs. One such project is the Purdue Improved Cowpea Storage Project that provides instruction to farmers on how to store cowpea without chemicals. Storing cowpea without chemicals helps reduce post-harvest losses and maintain cowpea’s nutritional value.

With vast amounts of land still available and with the GDP increasing by 6.7 percent in the first quarter of 2019, the unemployment rate will decline significantly as more residents head to the fields and plant crops. Agriculture’s share of the GDP will also rise, reducing the downward trend since 1983, and ultimately, put more money into resident’s pockets.

Reducing Poverty

Ethiopia and Ghana have made gains in their plans to reduce poverty among their citizens. Poverty in Ethiopia has fallen from 71.1 percent in 1995 to 27.3 percent in 2015, and Ghana’s poverty rate has fallen from 52.6 percent in 1991 to 21.4 percent in 2012. While these countries are making improvements, there is still a lot of work remaining before all of Africa’s citizens are free from poverty.

– Kyle Arendas
Photo: Flickr

annual races against global povertyFor runners (or aspiring runners) who hope to combat global injustices while running, the following annual runs against global poverty are an easy way to combine physical and humanitarian passions. Some occur across the United States, while others are international, bringing together participants thousands of miles apart. Starting with a race in which runners run with the recipients of their donations, this list concludes with an extremely long race for those who don’t want to train for one. Here are seven annual races against global poverty.

7 Annual Races Against Global Poverty

  1. In Kinyarwanda, “Komera” means “be strong, have courage.” The organization by this name sponsors female scholars in Rwanda, paying for their full tuition and school expenses, and provides them a community of support and sport as a form of development. Every June, Komera hosts a fun run in Rwanda in support of empowerment and education for girls. This event is mirrored in Boston and San Francisco on the same day, as well as any other locations where people choose to individually host.
  2. The Aga Khan Foundation is a humanitarian aid organization that works in more than 30 countries in both Africa and Asia. Its initiatives cover integrated development, civil society, early child development, access to electricity and economic inclusion. Not only do they have countless walks and runs across the country throughout the year, but also host golf tournaments.
  3. The global Christian humanitarian organization World Vision has been tackling poverty and injustice, especially affecting children, since 1950. They now help more than 3.5 million children in almost 100 countries. Their mission includes social and spiritual transformation of communities through public awareness campaigns, as well as emergency relief. Their Global 6K for Water occurs annually on May 4 in nearly every state (with almost 100 runs in California alone). Proceeds go to providing clean water to those who don’t have it; according to the organization, “every step you take is one they won’t have to.”
  4. RACE for the Orphans stands for “Raising Awareness Compassion and Education” about what orphans around the world need. Each run raises money in the form of grants for American families to help them afford adopting international orphans. RACE for the Orphans hopes to reduce the staggering number of orphans in the world (more than 150 million). Starting in 2013, the annual race in Georgia backs new adoptive families the first Saturday of May.
  5. Concern Worldwide is a humanitarian organization that works with people across the globe living in extreme poverty. This annual four mile run in New York City started in the 1990s to raise money for programs ranging from development work to emergency response. Dara Burke, the organization’s Vice President for Individual Giving & Events, told The Borgen Project that hundreds of “people from all walks of life show up” each year on a Saturday in April to deliver “tangible hope” to Haiti and other recipients of the run’s proceeds.
  6. Hundreds of people in Illinois participate in the annual 5K walk/run for education to support Food for the Poor and Hope for Haitians in May. Food for the Poor combats issues ranging from malnutrition to lack of medical care in 17 Latin American and Caribbean countries. Their partner, Hope for Haitians, focuses on building houses and establishing clean water sources while establishing community self-sufficiency through education programs particularly in Haiti.
  7. Knowing that it’s difficult to change one’s daily schedule to run a 5K, the American Foundation for Children with AIDS designed a virtual, collective “walk,” called #30000Miles, reaching the capitals of all countries in mainland Africa. The walk starts on September 1 and ends once the participants have reached 30,000 miles. The proceeds help the organization support HIV positive children and their families in four countries in Africa, providing medical and educational support, as well as emergency relief and livelihood programs.

These annual races against global poverty are in the United States, but there are countless races around the world. They are all a great way to combine fitness and poverty reduction and runners can raise much more for the organization by pushing themselves in their fundraising.

– Daria Locher
Photo: Pixabay