World Vision Birthday Celebrations
For many children, birthday parties are annual celebrations that children anticipate months in advance. But, for many children living in impoverished countries, a birthday celebration is a luxury uncommon to most. World Vision birthday celebrations work to change this and simultaneously eliminate global poverty.

Child Poverty is a Global Issue

When one thinks about aid for children living in poverty, thoughts go to efforts such as providing clean drinking water, administering vaccines, reforming education or other big-picture efforts. While these are all extremely necessary actions, recognizing the simple pleasures children of impoverished countries are deprived of can often be an afterthought.

Across the world, more than 700 million people live on less than $1.90 a day and children make up about half of this number. This means extreme poverty affects roughly 365 million children around the world. The total number of children living in poverty globally can fill up the National Football League’s largest stadium, the MetLife Stadium, more than 4,424 times. Child poverty is a significant issue, but according to UNICEF, few governments have declared child poverty a national priority. These millions of children live without access to basic needs such as education, health services, nutritional food and even clean drinking water.

Child Poverty Impacts Health in Adulthood

Not only does child poverty impact children’s health in the present time but it also can affect health during adulthood. According to a study by Dennis Raphael published in the National Library of Medicine, child poverty can increase the risk of noncommunicable diseases later in life. This refers to diseases that are not contagious but arise due to poor diet and lifestyle, for instance, cardiovascular diseases and Type 2 diabetes. This displays that child poverty has a far-reaching impact on a large part of the global population. Considering the severity of child poverty globally, World Vision addresses child poverty in several manners, such as through World Vision birthday celebrations.

World Vision’s Birthday Celebrations

World Vision is a global humanitarian organization focused on diminishing global poverty through donations from sponsors. It has worked to combat poverty since 1950, and, as of 2023, serves more than 3.5 million children in almost 100 different countries. World Vision implements programs that directly aid impoverished children, families and communities in the areas of health, education, clean water access, food and nutrition, child protection and more.

One of World Vision’s most interesting programs, funded by sponsors, is its annual communal birthday celebrations for struggling children in impoverished countries. The goal of these celebrations is to show impoverished children love and support while also giving sponsors the opportunity to meet the child they sponsor if they so wish. World Vision’s birthday celebrations host about 1 million attendees per year. Celebrations have taken place in Ecuador, Vietnam, Mexico, Ghana and Romania along with various other impoverished countries.

World Vision’s birthday celebrations consist of brightly colored balloons, dancing character animals, singing, games, sports and lots of cake. These celebrations provide a day full of laughter and joy, but also can bring families, and even communities, out of poverty.

The Far-Reaching Impacts of the Celebrations

Matthew Sakala, who was once also a sponsored child through World Vision, now runs World Vision sponsorship programs in Moyo, Zambia. In an interview with World Vision, he says he has personally seen growth in his community due to the resources provided through birthday celebrations and continuous donations from World Vision sponsors. Sakala speaks of various opportunities, such as a training base provided through sponsorship donations so community members could learn skills in plumbing, carpentry, baking and more. Birthday celebrations enable connection and fellowship between sponsors and residents, making donations all the more meaningful.

In addition to typical children’s birthday gifts, World Vision gifts, through the support of sponsors, including audiovisual equipment, educational tools such as books, games and backpacks and recreational supplies including basketball, soccer and volleyball equipment. Other necessities, such as blankets, bedding, computers and water purification systems, are also accounted for, depending on the needs of the community. These items all contribute to uplifting communities even after the celebration ends.

Recognizing the Simple Joys

World Vision’s effort to recognize the simple joy in a birthday party and the lack of these experiences for impoverished children has led to the creation of a unique and impactful program. World Vision birthday celebrations provide joy and care to impoverished children while also fostering opportunities for growth and poverty minimization in entire communities.

– Leah Smith
Photo: Flickr

Charities in AngolaAngola is currently one of the fastest-growing economies in the world and the second-largest oil producer in Africa. Despite its eye-catching profile, many challenges plague this sub-Saharan country, from severe humanitarian crises to serious human rights abuses. The country is also struggling to recover from the ruins left behind by a 27-year civil war. Angola’s dark years might not be over yet, but the country is moving in the right direction. A part of this positive momentum is driven by charities operating in Angola. These charities have brought hope, support and development to several marginalized and neglected groups in the country. Here are five charities transforming the lives of Angolans:

RISE International

RISE International was formerly called the African Refugee Committee (ARC). Founded in 2001, ARC started as a nonprofit organization that provided relief and support to people displaced by the Angolan civil war. In 2003, a year after the war ended, ARC changed its name to RISE International.

While RISE continued to provide relief to refugees, it added a new plan: rebuilding Angola by bridging the country’s education gap. RISE builds schools for children in rural areas that receive little to no attention from the Angolan Ministry of Education. Since its inception, the charity has provided education to over 140,000 Angolan children and built 194 schools, with several more underway.

Hope For Our Sisters (HFOS)

Hope For Our Sisters (HFOS) is an advocacy group for women’s health focusing on maternal care. The organization is working to eradicate fistula in Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Nepal.

Various factors can cause fistula depending on its type. This charity mainly focuses on obstetric fistula, caused by prolonged or obstructed labor and traumatic fistula, resulting from sexual violence and trauma. Women suffering from fistula are often abandoned by their loved ones and ostracized from their communities.

HFOS partners with other charities and organizations in Angola to provide rehabilitation, aftercare and empowerment for these shunned women. They also sponsor awareness campaigns to prevent the occurrence of the disease and provide treatments, including repair surgery.

It currently has two ongoing projects in Angola: the Ultrasound Empowerment Program and the Aftercare Program. The Ultrasound Empowerment Program helped 151 and another set of 50 women have been empowered to generate income through the Aftercare program.


Mothers2mothers is an award-winning charity that operates in several sub-Saharan countries. Driven by its commitment to eradicating AIDS and maternal and child deaths, the charity started working in Angola in 2019. Since then, it has partnered with the country’s government and the Ministry of Health to offer aid to more than 10,000 Angolans, as of December 2022.

The charity uses its innovative Mentor Mother Model in local communities to administer HIV tests and treatments to those who need them. This model involves selecting women trusted by their communities and training them to administer necessary medical care. Its efforts have also resulted in the virtual elimination of mother-child transmission of HIV among its beneficiaries.

World Vision International

World Vision is a global leader in humanitarian aid. Created in 1950, the charity’s mission was inspired by a homeless Chinese girl helped by Bob Pierce, its founder. Pierce got the idea to seek a permanent solution to poverty. That idea birthed the World Vision.

Today, the charity has helped over 200 million children escape poverty in over 100 countries worldwide. One of those countries is Angola. World Vision began operating in the sub-Saharan nation in 1989. Its Angola mandate is to improve food security, provide access to water and sanitation services and offer better education opportunities to disadvantaged children.

Every year, about 1 million people in Angola benefit from the charity’s programs each year.


UNICEF’s interventions in Angola have had profound and widespread outcomes over the years. In 2022 alone, the charity reached 214,449 people with clean and safe water and vaccinated over 270,000 children against measles, polio and acute diarrhea. And the list goes on.

Despite its huge success, UNICEF’s humanitarian impact in the sub-Saharan country remains limited due to inadequate funding. The organization currently needs $33 million to cater to the humanitarian needs of 1.5 million Angolans.

Providing a Brighter Future

These five charities operating in Angola have achieved commendable results. The commitment and actions of the nonprofits have helped to revive core sectors of Angola’s economy, including health care, agriculture and education. With more children in schools, Angola can envision a brighter economic future with fewer woes. Thanks to some of these charities, thousands of Angolan women are healthier and safer and can provide for their families and children.

– Amarachi Orjiude
Photo: Flickr

Pfizer is helpingAccess to good health care and proper medication is a problem for many countries. Nearly two billion people around the world do not have access to needed medication. This is due to issues such as accessibility, affordability and availability. Countries in poverty suffer the most from these difficulties, hitting the poorest of the population the hardest. But Pfizer, the drug manufacturer,  is helping by taking a step forward to help level the playing field in accessibility to medication. Recently Pfizer announced a new initiative, “An Accord for a Healthier World.”  The Accord will donate patented medicines and vaccines on a non-profit basis to some of the poorest countries in the world, helping 1.2 billion people in 45 low- and lower-middle-income countries.

Medicine Accessibility for Those in Poverty

The recent pandemic showcased problems when it comes to having medicine and vaccines available and ready for the public. But having a shortage of medication is only a piece of the puzzle.  Improvements are needed in areas including education, infrastructure, storage and diagnosis in order to balance health inequities around the world. “Inequities are everywhere. You can pick any disease and you will find inequities,” says Aida Habtezion M.D., Pfizer’s Chief Medical Officer.

Rwanda, Ghana, Senegal, Malawi and Uganda are the first countries to participate in the Accord. Eventually, the Accord will provide medication for 27 low-income countries and 18 lower-middle-income countries. Pfizer will assess best practices in providing medical infrastructure,  health education and diagnosis in the first five countries so it can make improvements when it rolls out the program in other countries.

Pfizer Foundation is Helping Elsewhere in Africa

The Pfizer Foundation has also recently committed to funding three separate humanitarian organizations that are helping with the refugee crisis in African countries. International Medical Corps, the International Rescue Committee, and World Vision are “working tirelessly to provide essential health care to the world’s most marginalized people” according to Caroline Roan, president of the Pfizer Foundation and Vice President of Corporate Responsibility at Pfizer.

All three of these organizations have their own roles to play in this cooperation. The International Medical Corps will focus on mobile health outreach and strengthening the community health center in the Central African Republic (CAR) in order to give nutrition and health services to those displaced. This includes 20% of the total population in CAR at the moment. The International Rescue Committee will aid in improving the quantity and quality of immunization coverage in the Hagadera refugee camp in Kenya. The camp currently houses 83,000 refugees. World Vision will be helping in CAR as well as in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to host people who cannot get access to healthcare. It will also work to increase protection for displaced children.

Beyond Donating Funds

These new initiatives are examples of how Pfizer is making a difference in the world, maximizing its resources as well as teaming up with other organizations. Eradicating poverty and its many repercussions takes more than just donating to the cause, but instead, it takes extensive research, follow-through and coordination to see how to solve the problem most effectively.

– Kelsy Jensen
Photo: Flickr

No nation avoided the horrific impacts of COVID-19. On the other hand, some nations managed to mitigate them. Taiwan held strong and the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Taiwan has been low to date.

The Yonsei Medical Journal states that Taiwan responded decisively to COVID-19, reporting less than 100 cases per million people until late 2021. However, in the same year, the population percentage below the poverty line broke 4% for the first time in five years from a previous 1.5%. Despite the significant increase, the relatively low percentage suggests an overall successful response.

A Swift Response to COVID-19

Taiwan had numerous advantages going into the pandemic. Yonsei states that one of the major factors was its experience with the SARS outbreak in 2003, which inspired the country to improve its public health systems to better handle infectious diseases. The private sector also followed suit, providing more health care options for all demographics including those living in poverty.

Furthermore, Taiwan’s government and health organizations communicated through daily press releases, social media and telephone to keep citizens up to date with COVID-19 developments. The government also used citizen identification through apps and other media for contact tracing.

Overall, despite inadequate testing in 2020, the low rates of transmission and accessibility to medical care helped to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Taiwan.

A Creeping Inequality Issue for the Poor

Still, according to Taiwan News, some groups are concerned about underlying issues. The humanitarian organization World Vision stated that recently more than 8,500 homes of the 25,500 families it aids in Taiwan experienced poverty. In addition, more than three-fourths of children are struggling to afford school materials, a potential impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Taiwan.

Additionally, the News Lens shows that Taiwan uses a national poverty line of less than $1.90 per day instead of the upper middle-income-country poverty line of $5.50, thus underplaying the number of impoverished in the nation. Notably, Taiwan’s minimum wage of less than $1,000 per month is significantly lower compared to other countries with similar GDPs per capita.

Societal Issues Compounding the Problem

The Taiwanese government has begun approving financial aid to the poor but in insufficient amounts, according to Michael Turton of the Taipei Times. One of its programs allows a trade-in of NT$1,000 for NT$5,000 in vouchers or approximately $33.53 to $167.66. In addition to being too meager, the vouchers can only be used for specific purposes, limiting the benefits for those who need it most.

Other criticized factors of Taiwanese aid include low business subsidies that are not enough to keep businesses afloat. Turton’s sentiment is that rather than long-term and generous aid programs, Taiwan’s government supports band-aid fixes. Turton believes this is because high tax evasion rates in Taiwan result in an underfunded government.

While the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Taiwan has not been catastrophic, it has nonetheless revealed existing flaws in the island nation’s society and stance towards the poor.

What Can be Done to Help

Due to these systemic issues, humanitarian programs such as World Vision are instrumental in providing aid that the Taiwanese government cannot. The organization established a Taiwanese branch in 1964, 14 years after its founding in 1950. Not long after, the organization successfully launched aid centers in remote areas and became an outlet for the Taiwanese to provide both domestic and international aid.

Today, World Vision also operates many other significant programs. This includes emergency relief systems for natural disaster response, care for foster children and indigenous peoples, and a 24-hour hotline that handles domestic abuse and other social worker issues. Finally, World Vision also provides numerous avenues for people to contribute to its cause that range from standard donations to child sponsorship, a system that lets a donor personally connect with a child in need.

Henry Bauer
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Organizations Working to End Child Labor
Around 160 million children around the world ages 5 to 17 are involved in child labor and more than 79 million of them are working in dangerous conditions that put their lives at major risk. Over the last four years, there has been an increase of 8.4 million children now engrossed in the act of child labor and that number is predicted to rise significantly even just for the year 2022. Despite this issue ascending, there is a multitude of organizations working to end child labor worldwide.

Child Labor and its Impact

Child labor is when someone exploits children into work that is dangerous and hazardous almost 50% of the time. This prevents them from having a normal childhood and leaves them unable to attend school. This issue is present in countries all over the world and sub-Saharan Africa has the most child laborers in the world with over 86.6 million, according to World Vision.

Poverty and poor schools are the two biggest causes of child labor in low-income countries. However, the problem is still prevalent in middle and high-income countries. “About 93.4 million children, 58.4% of child laborers, live in middle-income countries and 1.6 million child laborers live in high-income countries,” World Vision reported on its website.

Slavery, child trafficking, forced recruitment into armed conflict, prostitution and pornography, drug production and debt bondage are the worst forms of child labor, according to World Vision. The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that 22,000 children die each year at work due to unsafe environments. The most common form of child labor is agriculture work with more than 70% of laborers working in that field, World Vision reported.

One in three children in child labor is unable to receive an education due to how demanding their work schedule is, which is only going to continue the poverty and child labor cycle. According to UNICEF, there are 9 million additional children globally at risk of ending up in child labor by the end of 2022 as a result of the pandemic.” Luckily there are organizations working to end child labor, so hopefully, that number will not be as extreme.

The Global March Against Child Labour

The Global March Against Child Labour (Global March) is a global organization made-up of trade unions, teacher associations and civic organizations, with the purpose of ending child exploitation and trafficking, while focusing on providing quality education to all children. Global March began in 1998 when thousands of people, including world leaders came together to march against child labor in 103 countries to bring awareness to the problem.

The organization takes part in local, national, regional and global efforts in protecting and promoting the rights of children. Its goal is to change the system that compels children to have to work in the first place. Some of the issues it is addressing in order to improve children’s future: “the elimination of child labor, education for all and poverty alleviation.”

The organization has multiple programs in place as well as events aiding the end of child labor. It also has a current campaign called “Will you dance with us?,” which aims to show world leaders the importance of education and how many children in Africa (87 million) are working instead of going to school.


GoodWeave, an organization that began in 1994, “is the leading global institution with a mission to stop child labor in global supply chains through a market-based holistic and authentic system.” Since 1994, the organization has rescued over 6,700 children from child labor and provided educational opportunities to over 26,000 children. It reached more than 75,000 workers in supply chains in 2018. In partnership with more than 350 organizations worldwide, GoodWeave aims to heal and educate exploited children and address the root causes of child labor.

There is “The GoodWeave Label,” which is a label on products that means no child labor went into the creation of that product. The purchase of products with this label shows support for programs trying to educate children and ensure adequate work for adults. “GoodWeave makes regular, unannounced inspections of all production facilities that cover tier-one factories and all outsourced production, including homes, to verify compliance with this Standard,” the organization said on its website.


Rob Morris founded Love146, a global organization, in 2002 with the mission of ending child trafficking and exploitation. The values Love146 operates under are “defiant hope, steady perseverance, deliberate collaboration, relentless advocacy, intentional thoughtfulness and unfiltered joy.” Services provided to positively outcome children include preventative education and supportive programming for financial independence, skills and resources.

There is a current project in the Philippines to provide holistic care to children in Love146’s care. The staff there created innovative ways to provide “education, recreation, health care and other services could be provided to children on-site,” according to its annual report.

Love146 reached more than 3,500 children through survivor care. It also reached more than 16,000 professionals, community members and caregivers to support Love146’s vision. Prevention and community education reached more than 63,000 children, thanks to Love146. “The trafficking and exploitation of children are one of the most severe human rights abuses imaginable,” Morris said on the organization’s website.

There are millions of children forced into labor each year and that number could only go up. By the end of this year, UNICEF predicts that 9 million children could go into child labor. This means they are most likely going to lose access to their education and have a poverty-based future, continuing the cycle between poverty and child labor. Child exploitation is an ongoing issue around the world, but these are just a few of the many organizations working to end child labor permanently around the world.

– Dylan Olive
Photo: Unsplash

Increases in Food Prices
The pandemic has been a source of economic stress for several industries globally, resulting in mass inflation and government intervention in order to alleviate the harmful effects of such rises in costs. A global index that the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization performed found that food prices in January 2022 were at their highest level since 2011 when Egypt and Libya experienced political uprisings. Former Chief Economist at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Maurice Obstfeld claims that it “wasn’t much of an exaggeration” to say that the world is approaching a significant global food crisis. Developing economies are experiencing some of the most severe increases in prices, which has detrimental effects on populations in poverty. Here is some information about how increases in food prices cause concern for the poor.

About the Food Crisis

Increases in food prices are not limited to one food industry. Foods are experiencing massive increases in prices. Cereal prices have increased 12.5% and dairy has increased 18.7%. From April 2020 to December 2021, the price of soybeans has risen 52% and coffee prices have risen 70% due to the pandemic. Supply chain issues have caused a struggle, especially for economies with high demands that are import-based during the pandemic. Spikes in all costs of goods are related to one another, which is evident in the rising oil prices.

Oil prices have risen to levels comparable to the oil crisis during the 1990s, which has raised food costs due to the energy industry’s involvement in transporting and producing food. Extreme weather conditions could be a factor determining food prices. For example, Brazil has undergone harsh droughts that prevent coffee beans from flourishing. Uncontrollable factors that target the poor have largely driven the food crisis.

How Those in Poverty are Most at Risk

Unfortunately, the nations that the increases in food prices have affected the most are the most vulnerable to economic crises and have large populations in poverty. According to World Vision, food prices rose by an average of 2.9% in the U.K., 3.6% in the U.S. and 4.8% in Japan and Canada between February 2020 and July 2021. On the other hand, prices increased in countries such as Myanmar which had price increases of 54% and Timor-Leste, which experienced increases of 17.7%. The nations have reported high levels of poverty during the pandemic, with more than 3 billion people not having access to healthy foods.

Food insecurity is running rampant in developing countries, while the United States is surviving flawlessly in comparison. One can see such disabilities simply in how the average citizens of each region spend their money. According to the IMF, people in Latin America and Africa are expected to spend 50%-60% of their wages on food while people in the United States spend about one-seventh of their income on food. A rise in food prices means that Latin American and African citizens will have to spend extremely large sums of their income on food.

A Nature food study found that by the end of 2022, more than 283,000 children under the age of 5 years old could perish from malnutrition as a result of this food crisis and 13.6 million children suffer from acute malnutrition. Certain areas in poverty in Asia do not suffer the implications of the increases in food prices because of their plentiful grains. However, Africa, South America and the Middle East region are most likely to feel the effects of food shortages because they are heavily dependent on food imports.

In addition, low-income nations including Brazil, Argentina and Turkey have suffered due to currency depreciation against the dollar, which is the standard for international food commodity prices. In Africa, bad weather and conflicts in the Dominican Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Nigeria and more have disrupted transportation routes and risen food prices. Developing nations are most at risk for increases in food prices, disproportionately affecting poorer global populations rather than populations in high-income countries.

Ways to Drive Down Food Prices

The pandemic is a special case of increases in food prices. However, there are at least two meaningful ways that could prevent massive spikes in food prices in the near future.

  1. Change global rules on food trade. Many governments are not as ambitious as they could be in reforming trade policies to prepare for price spikes. Measures that could reform trade include banning export restrictions on food staples while increasing individual government’s support for farmers domestically through new rules that protect producers in other nations. This would benefit food price stability and increase the predictability of the market to better prepare governments for changing prices.
  2. Increase public investment in farming and agriculture. A study from Cornell University found that if the United States increased public investment by $33 billion, hunger could reach a resolution. If other nations contributed to this effort, global poverty rates could swiftly reduce. Africa is especially in need of such kinds of investment, which is one of the nations that increases in food prices have affected.

The global increases in food prices rightly cause some serious concerns about food insecurity, especially for residents of developing nations that are in poverty. There are ways to create positive change to prevent crises from occurring again. Nations should concentrate on providing food to their citizens in need and high-income countries must prioritize the lives of the hungry abroad and domestically.

Rachel Reardon
Photo: Flickr

Every Last One CampaignWorld Vision is a humanitarian organization established in 1950 to help vulnerable people “reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.” Since its start, World Vision has assisted in several crises throughout the world such as the Ethiopian famine in the 1980s and the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa in the 1990s. In 2015, World Vision launched a campaign known as Every Last One. The campaign spans eight years and amounts to $1 billion. Overall, its goal is to provide relief, assistance and opportunities to approximately 60 million vulnerable people worldwide by 2023. The aid seeks to empower people “to lift themselves out of poverty.”

Campaign Context and Details

World Vision notes that around 689 million people all over the world live in extreme poverty. This specifically translates into subsisting on less than $1.90 a day. The COVID-19 epidemic has introduced additional challenges to vulnerable people across the globe. According to the World Bank, the COVID-19 pandemic could potentially thrust 150 million people into extreme poverty by the close of 2021. In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to reverse decades of poverty reduction progress globally as well as strides made in education and health.

For this reason, the humanitarian organization has framed its Every Last One campaign in terms of “life, hope and a future.” The life aspect involves providing people with “access to clean water and essential healthcare” services. Hope refers to training and equipping teachers, parents and pastors with the skills and resources needed to “protect children from violence” and supply emergency relief aid to people facing natural disasters and other humanitarian crises.

Finally, the concept of a future focuses on economically empowering people to create “improved and resilient livelihoods” through education initiatives, books and training as well as recovery loans for those affected by the pandemic. In all its work, World Vision strives for gender equality, acknowledging that empowering girls and women is essential for reducing global poverty. To date, the call for donations and investments continues.

Financial Transparency and Accountability

World Vision has provided evidence that the Every Last One campaign is economically viable. On its website, the humanitarian organization has posted its financial reports and financial highlights of 2020 as a gesture of accountability. These highlights indicate that the organization has dedicated 88% of its operating expenses toward initiatives that help “children, families and communities in need,” with the remaining 12% set aside for management and fundraising efforts.

Moreover, the organization’s financial reports indicate that it received a grand total of $1,233 million in revenue in 2020, the majority of which came in through “private cash contributions.” It has also worked on decreasing overhead expenses by 3% from 2019 through improved stewardship practices. These figures indicate that World Vision has a sustainable system in place to make the most impact and ensure that disadvantaged people receive the most benefit.

Contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals

World’s Vision’s Every Last One campaign may prove instrumental in assisting the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The U.N.’s target to end global poverty by 2030 is the first among the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) indicated in the United Nations’ Agenda. The Agenda itself recognizes that meeting such a goal within the given time frame would require massive global mobilization and collaboration among various groups and organizations. Therefore, World Vision’s own initiative may play a significant role in realizing the U.N. SDGs.

– Jared Faircloth
Photo: Flickr

Assistance to Haiti
On August 14, 2021, a powerful earthquake hit the Caribbean country of Haiti more than 11 years after the last devastating earthquake struck on January 12, 2010. Like its predecessor, the recent quake has brought about widespread destruction and loss in Haiti. Multiple organizations have stepped in to provide assistance to Haiti during this time of need.

Comparisons to the 2010 Earthquake

The 2010 earthquake that struck Haiti measured 7.0 on the Richter Scale, followed by multiple aftershocks. Recorded history indicates that the 18th century was the last time the country experienced such a powerful tremor. The quake exposed the weaknesses of Haitian building infrastructure due to the country’s “lack of building codes.” Haiti’s electrical power system was similarly unreliable. Estimates indicate that the 2010 catastrophe affected some 3 million people.

2021 Haiti Earthquake Facts

Measuring at 7.2 on the Richter Scale, the recent earthquake has led to the deaths of more than 2,200 Haitians. Around 12,200 people have experienced injury and hundreds of citizens are missing. Infrastructure wise, the earthquake destroyed and damaged about 132,000 homes, 20 schools and 25 medical centers. Of all the Haitian cities, the earthquake hit Jeremic and Le Cayes the hardest. According to seismologists, the earthquake epicenter was located some 78 miles west of Port-au-Prince. Experts also believe that the quake occurred along the same fault line as the region’s 2010 earthquake.

Assistance to Haiti

To date, search and rescue teams are working to locate and recover missing Haitians. Humanitarian organizations have also engaged themselves in relief efforts. One such organization, World Vision, has distributed emergency hygiene kits and food supplies to 6,000 Haitians. Across a five-year span following the 2010 catastrophe, World Vision made measurable impacts, providing millions of affected people with food supplies and hundreds of thousands with shelter, among other efforts.

Additionally, the organization built new schools and established feeding programs for the many displaced, hungry children. The severity of the recent earthquake necessitates similar aid. As such, World Vision’s next target is to provide medicine, shelters, food, water purifiers, agricultural support, child protection efforts and other forms of assistance to an additional 240,000 people.

How to Help

To ensure comprehensive aid, humanitarian groups welcome assistance to Haiti from third parties in the private sector. Organizations also encourage interested individuals and institutions to donate to their disaster relief funds. Another option for ensuring that Haiti receives aid involves sponsoring a child through these same organizations. Besides providing essential services for the child, the sponsorship also provides access to education and healthcare.

Humanitarian groups are coordinating relief efforts with partners to better assist those in need, especially in areas where essential goods and services such as food, water and electricity are in high demand. Many consider Haiti to be one of the most impoverished countries globally. The combined efforts of concerned individuals and humanitarian organizations can help promote the country’s long-term recovery from the cumulative effects of natural disasters, economic problems, the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread social unrest.

– Jared Faircloth
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty In SyriaFor the past decade, Syria has been the center of a brutal civil war. As a result, millions of Syrians face the everyday threats of violence, hunger and disease that wartime poverty brings about. Those most vulnerable to the effects of poverty include Syria’s children. A closer look at child poverty in Syria provides insight into the lives of Syrian children.

10 Facts About Child Poverty in Syria

  1. Roughly six million Syrian children rely on humanitarian assistance. Syrian children are among the most vulnerable groups in the Syrian civil war. The war has affected more than 11.1 million Syrians, almost half of whom are children.
  2. Children are unable to attend school. The civil war greatly fuels child poverty in Syria. As parents struggle to afford to send their children to school, many teachers are unpaid and destitute school buildings are collapsing. Nearly 2.5 million Syrian children are unable to attend school. This number does not include the 750,000 displaced Syrian children in nearby countries who also have no access to education. According to World Vision, the Syrian conflict has “reversed two decades of educational progress.”
  3. More than half of all Syrian children suffer from hunger. An estimated 60% of the nation’s children are suffering from hunger and 28% endure stunting as a consequence of malnutrition. The percentage of Syrian people suffering from food insecurity is currently the highest it has ever been since the beginning of the Syrian civil war in 2011. With 6.2 million children currently living in hunger, the numbers are only rising, having increased by roughly 35% from November 2020 to February 2021.
  4. Child labor is increasing. Faced with the threat of extreme child poverty in Syria, many school-aged boys drop out of school to support their families. These boys regularly work in unsafe situations for little pay. The research study “Survey on Child Labour in Agriculture in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon: The Case of Syrian Refugees” provides statistics on Syrian child labor. The 2019 study concluded that about 70% of Syrian refugee “children between 4 and 18 years old” were employed, “with an average age of 12.9 years.” Additionally, about 75% of these children worked in the agricultural sector. In this sector, about 30% of working children have experienced injuries.
  5. Boys are targets for child soldiers. As boys drop out of school to support their families, they are at higher risk of being recruited as child soldiers. With no income to provide for their children, many families resort to sending their young boys for training as child soldiers, believing that it is the best option. In 2021 alone, almost 840 children were recruited as child soldiers, among other roles, with 797 of these children being boys.
  6. Child marriage is rampant. Many families resort to child marriage to solve their economic situations. Sexual abuse of young girls also runs rampant in crowded refugee camps. Desperate to save their daughters from “child trafficking and sexual exploitation” and unable to economically provide for their children, many families arrange marriages for teenage girls. Out of girls aged 15-19, about 3.8% give birth every year.
  7. Weather has significant impacts. Millions of displaced and homeless children in Northwest Syria face brutal winters. Their only shelter from the harsh cold is often a tent or severely damaged and unsafe buildings that serve as emergency shelters. Roughly 75% of all Syrian children killed in 2020 came from this part of the country.
  8. COVID-19 exacerbates poverty: The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated child poverty in Syria. In addition to the 11.1 million Syrians already in need of urgent humanitarian aid, an additional 1.1 million Syrians have found themselves in poverty as a consequence of the pandemic. COVID-19 has also caused the gross domestic product to fall by up to 15% in the nation’s nearby countries, meaning that Syrian refugees seeking refuge in neighboring countries have fallen further into poverty.
  9. Infrastructure is failing. Only 53% of hospitals are currently in service, greatly adding to child poverty in Syria. Since the start of the war, more than 25,000 children have been killed, a number that is only increasing due to limited healthcare services and lack of access to clean water.
  10. Children are vulnerable to diseases. Poor sanitation caused by a lack of infrastructure, resources and clean water makes Syrian children vulnerable to cholera and other diarrheal diseases. The lack of accessible healthcare means many children miss their regular health checkups. Extremely cold weather in the northwest part of Syria also makes children susceptible to pneumonia.

Addressing Child Poverty in Syria

To address the issue of child poverty in Syria, UNICEF has sent humanitarian assistance on the ground. UNICEF’s efforts focus on children’s education, health and sanitation, among other goals. In 2020 alone, UNICEF “screened 2.6 million Syrian children and women for acute malnutrition,” improved water services for 3.2 million people and vaccinated roughly 2.6 million children against polio. UNICEF also “supported 2.2 million children with education services in formal settings.”

While the conflict in Syria continues, vulnerable groups are disproportionately affected. The efforts of UNICEF ensure the protection and well-being of millions of Syrian children, reducing child poverty in Syria.

– Caroline Bersch
Photo: Unsplash

water purification in LesothoLesotho is a small, mountainous country surrounded by South Africa. In recent years, the country has become a prominent player in regional water trading. Exports to South Africa and surrounding nations have provided a major revenue source, accounting for 10% of the country’s GDP. Despite this, clean drinking water is hard to access due to high levels of poverty. A lack of infrastructure and water purification in Lesotho means that the country’s most impoverished people struggle to obtain this critical resource. However, three companies, WASCO, Pure Aqua and World Vision, are working to solve this problem.

Water Purification in Lesotho

The United Nations reports that “In Lesotho, water, sanitation and hygiene lie at the center of the poverty cycle in which almost two out of every three Basotho live in poverty.” According to the World Bank, water is linked to the development of a country and is connected to almost every Sustainable Development Goal. Access to water is imperative for “protecting human health during infectious disease outbreaks” such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Explaining how water supports economic growth, the World Bank states that “water is a vital factor of production, so diminishing water supplies translates into slower growth.” As such, increasing access to clean and safe water directly correlates with global poverty reduction.

Hence, improving water purification in Lesotho as well as distribution and infrastructure are key to improving living conditions and fighting widespread poverty.

WASCO: Clean Water

Lesotho’s government is invested in improving water access for its citizens. In the year 1992, the Lesotho government created the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA). WASA’s goal was to provide water access and sewer services to the cities of Lesotho.

In 2010, the Water and Sewerage Company (WASCO) replaced WASA. According to the Lesotho Ministry of Water, WASCO provides safe drinking water to 300,000 city dwellers. Additionally, almost 50% of city locations have water connections manned by WASCO and another 13% connect to sewer systems maintained by WASCO.

WASCO’s work has primarily targeted urban centers. However, a large portion of Lesotho’s population lives in rural locations where infrastructure is nearly nonexistent. Moreover, “80% of the rural population” obtains their drinking water from unfiltered and unprotected water sources in these rural regions. The next step for WASCO is improving water purification in Lesotho’s countryside. Providing clean water access to those living in rural Lesotho will help end the ongoing poverty cycle in the nation.

Pure Aqua: Filtration and Cleaning Systems

Given that Lesotho’s water supply is larger than the country’s demand, providing water to those in poverty, especially in rural areas, is a matter of economically affordable innovation. Pure Aqua is a company headquartered in California that aims to provide “efficient, high-grade water treatment solutions for people and places all over the world.”

The company has more than 20 years of experience providing water purification systems to nations around the world. The company uses different technologies depending on the water source in a local area. For example, Pure Aqua treats surface water with its Ultrafiltration System, while brackish groundwater can be put through reverse osmosis or UV treatment, among other methods.

World Vision: Water for Children and Families

Lastly, World Vision is a global humanitarian organization that works to improve the welfare of children. One of World Vision’s main goals is providing access to clean water and improving sanitation standards. World Vision seeks to improve water purification in Lesotho by drilling new boreholes where people can draw water from the ground. These untapped sources are likely to be cleaner than surface water or previously available groundwater.

On top of this, World Vision performs repairs, upgrades and maintenance to existing infrastructure. With this support, the organization also aims to provide hygiene and sanitation education to children and adults. As a result of its work, World Vision reports that, in Lesotho, “33,874 people [have] gained access to clean water sources” and “18,780 people are benefiting from improved sanitation facilities.”

The Future of Water Purification in Lesotho

Fortunately, these technologies and approaches to water purification show that it is possible to improve the lives of those living in poverty with relatively inexpensive filtration systems, repairs, education programs and more. Overall, this work is certainly making a difference in Lesotho while upholding the fundamental human right to water.

– Julia Welp
Photo: Flickr