World News – BORGEN http://www.borgenmagazine.com Humanity, Politics & You Fri, 21 Sep 2018 08:30:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 Facts About Poverty in Nepal: Struggle and Progress http://www.borgenmagazine.com/facts-about-poverty-in-nepal/ Fri, 21 Sep 2018 08:30:16 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=129345 SEATTLE — Nepal is surrounded by two of Asia’s growing giants, India and China, and yet remains dwarfed by them economically. These facts about poverty in Nepal illustrate the different ways in which its people are affected by poverty. Facts About Poverty in Nepal Nepal is the fourth poorest country in Asia, with a GDP [...]

The post Facts About Poverty in Nepal: Struggle and Progress appeared first on BORGEN.

]]>
SEATTLE — Nepal is surrounded by two of Asia’s growing giants, India and China, and yet remains dwarfed by them economically. These facts about poverty in Nepal illustrate the different ways in which its people are affected by poverty.

Facts About Poverty in Nepal

  1. Nepal is the fourth poorest country in Asia, with a GDP per capita of merely $2,573. This explains why 25 percent of Nepalis live below the poverty line in Nepal, which amounts to ₨19,261 per year for every person, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics. This is around $225, meaning anyone who earns above $0.60 per day is above the poverty line and thus not considered “poor” in a Nepali context. This is far below the World Bank’s poverty line of $1.25 a day.
  2. The second of the facts about poverty in Nepal is that contrary to popular assumptions about urban poverty decreasing at the highest rate when a country develops, poverty in Nepal increased by 5.46 percentage points in 2010-11 compared to 2003-04. This complicates the government’s attempts to reduce poverty, as many of those who live in urban areas are involved in the informal sector of the economy, making it extremely difficult to provide them with social security.
  3. The country has experienced a long spell of political instability which hindered economic progress, such as the civil war between the government and insurgent Maoist rebels from 1994 to 2006. The war finally ended in November 2006, when Prime Minister Koirala and Maoist leader Prachanda signed a peace deal, with casualties of around 13,000. In 2008, economic growth was also disrupted by protests by the hill tribes.
  4. Nepal is heavily affected by natural disasters, such as the 2015 earthquake which affected not only infrastructure but also homes and economic growth. The effects of the earthquake were exacerbated by Nepal’s existing problems, such as persistent power shortages and underdevelopment of roads and transportation infrastructure. Fortunately, the earthquake triggered a swift international response to the crisis. Seventeen countries sent not only monetary aid but also military troops to aid the search and rescue efforts.
  5. Four-fifths of Nepal’s population still lives in rural areas, making it a largely agricultural economy. In 2017, agriculture made up 27 percent of the Himalayan country’s GDP, while services made up 51.5 percent, yet only 19 percent of the population is engaged in the service sector and 69 percent in agriculture.
  6. In 2017, Nepal experienced an economic growth rate of 7.5 percent in addition to producing 5.2 million tons of rice, the most ever recorded. This saw a marked reduction in poverty in Nepal as inflation rates were stabilized, helped by the significant amount of remittances sent by Nepali foreign workers.
  7. Education was traditionally restricted to members of the upper classes until 1951. Following this change, the Nepali government began expanding the development and reach of education in order to reduce poverty in Nepal. However, private education was introduced to Nepal, which widened the gap between rich and poor children. Poor children still have low rates of access to education, and one in four of the poorest children do not attend school. 
  8. Poverty in Nepal is also geographically segregated. Nepal is divided into three geographical regions; mountain, hill and Terai. The mountain region is rugged and the land is not conducive to agricultural activities. Due to this, the 42.27 of the local population lives in extreme poverty. This figure is 17 points higher than the national average.
  9. The caste system has a symbiotic relationship to poverty in Nepal. The Muslim and low-caste populations are among the poorest in the country. The Musahar community is a Hindu scheduled caste largely considered to be “untouchable”, and has the lowest education and literacy rates in the country. To reduce this, the government established a school in the community, but failed to follow through with high-quality teachers and sustained efforts.
  10. Poverty in Nepal is worsened by the fact that women are generally left illiterate. Only 5 percent of Nepali households with at least one girl or woman with education at grade 11 or higher are below the poverty line. Nonetheless, women’s education only has an impact on poverty if she has received an education above grade 5 and is not merely literate. 

The issues contributing to these facts about poverty in Nepal are many, but progress is being made as well. The country’s poverty rate has seen significant improvement over the past two decades, and recent economic successes should continue that trend, leading to better quality of life for more and more Nepalis.

– Maneesha Khalae
Photo: Flickr

The post Facts About Poverty in Nepal: Struggle and Progress appeared first on BORGEN.

]]>
Facts About Living Conditions in North Korea Illustrate Its People’s Struggles http://www.borgenmagazine.com/facts-about-living-conditions-in-north-korea/ Wed, 19 Sep 2018 14:30:10 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=129379 SEATTLE — At the end of World War II, the Korean Peninsula was split in two, with the northern half falling under the control of an oppressive communist regime. After failing to take control of South Korea in 1953, North Korean leader Kim Il-sung adopted a policy of economic and diplomatic isolationism meant to minimize [...]

The post Facts About Living Conditions in North Korea Illustrate Its People’s Struggles appeared first on BORGEN.

]]>
SEATTLE — At the end of World War II, the Korean Peninsula was split in two, with the northern half falling under the control of an oppressive communist regime. After failing to take control of South Korea in 1953, North Korean leader Kim Il-sung adopted a policy of economic and diplomatic isolationism meant to minimize outside influence. This policy has since greatly contributed to substandard living conditions for the nation’s people.

Facts About Living Conditions in North Korea

  1. North Koreans regularly fall victim to food shortages, which result as much from a lack of resources and poor farming practices as they do environmental factors. The latest information from the World Food Programme (WFP) deems a third of North Korean children as chronically malnourished to the point of stunting. The WFP also reports that 68 percent of the population is dependent on government-distributed food rations, which have decreased in recent years. This has led to people to rely on the black market for food.
  2. Failure to maintain water and sanitation systems has left many of them in disrepair. Census data showed that, in 2008, 30 percent of the rural population and 18 percent of the urban population were forced to retrieve water from outside of their homes. Rudimentary sanitation systems fail to keep human waste from contaminating the environment, and the wells that people are forced to construct in order to gain access to water are often vulnerable to contamination, giving rise to waterborne illness.
  3. By 1960, North Korea had developed a comprehensive healthcare system that was free for all citizens. The system began to collapse in the 1980s due to the government’s inability to provide hospitals with basic medicine and equipment. Many North Koreans were consequently forced to buy medicine for high prices on the black market and pay doctors for informal consultations. This practice still continues today, with much of the population harboring distrust against the ill-equipped, state-run healthcare system.
  4. About 18.4 of the 25 million people who live in North Korea go without electricity. According to 2013 data, 41 percent of the urban population had access to electricity, compared to only 13 percent of the rural population. Even for these people, access is intermittent, as power outages are common and often long-lasting.
  5. While North Korea has an adequate telephone system, much of the population does not have access to it. According to estimates from July 2016, only 14 percent of North Koreans had mobile cellular service. At around 5 percent, even less had subscriptions to fixed lines.
  6. Although there is no data regarding the percentage of people who fall below the poverty line, unemployment rates in 2013 were at an estimated 25.6 percent. The CIA World Factbook estimates that the country has one of the lowest GDPs in the world.
  7. Freedom of information is virtually nonexistent in North Korea. Although North Koreans do have access to the internet, it is highly controlled by the state, and they need government permission to own a computer. The state owns all of the country’s media outlets, and must sanction any content that those outlets put out to the masses. Viewing, reading or listening to any unauthorized content is considered a crime against the state.
  8. Freedom of expression is equally oppressed. North Korea’s official religion, Juche, is centered around communist ideals and Korean nationalism. Those found practicing Christianity, which is considered a Western religion, risk imprisonment in one of the nation’s labor camps. Assembly, organized political opposition and any action that challenges government authority are also forbidden.
  9. The North Korean government uses a system called songbun to classify people into one of three categories: loyal, wavering or hostile. This classification figures into a person’s employment opportunities, residence and education. Family members may also face discrimination due to association.
  10. Forced labor is a possible reality for many North Koreans. As many as 100,000 people are held in prison camps, forced to work 12-hour days, seven days a week. Immediate family members may be deemed guilty by association and held in these camps for up to three generations. According to the CIA World Factbook, North Korea has been known to contract citizens to work in Russia and China, with no power to decide the work they are assigned or change their work assignments. In its 2018 report, Human Rights Watch likewise cited allegations of the government forcing children to participate in unpaid labor.

The state of affairs goes beyond what these facts about living conditions in North Korea can begin to cover. In light of this, the U.N. Security Council has for the past several years made it a priority to address the country’s human rights violations. And, on March 24, 2017, the Human Rights Council took the first steps toward prosecution of the leaders and officials responsible for these violations. If the current situation is bleak, the outlook for the future, at least, is better.

– Ashley Wagner
Photo: Flickr

The post Facts About Living Conditions in North Korea Illustrate Its People’s Struggles appeared first on BORGEN.

]]>
Peace Through Education: Helping the Girls of Kashmir http://www.borgenmagazine.com/girls-of-kashmir/ Wed, 19 Sep 2018 08:30:37 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=129429 SEATTLE — Ever since the lines of partition were drawn in 1947, Kashmir has been the epicenter of conflict between two nuclear powers: Pakistan and India. Here, Kashmiris have witnessed decades of struggle between Indian, Pakistani, Chinese and local separatist groups vying for control of the valley. From these clashes, the girls of Kashmir have [...]

The post Peace Through Education: Helping the Girls of Kashmir appeared first on BORGEN.

]]>
SEATTLE — Ever since the lines of partition were drawn in 1947, Kashmir has been the epicenter of conflict between two nuclear powers: Pakistan and India. Here, Kashmiris have witnessed decades of struggle between Indian, Pakistani, Chinese and local separatist groups vying for control of the valley. From these clashes, the girls of Kashmir have suffered immensely.

How Instability Affects the Girls of Kashmir

Violence in the region has prevented these girls from pursuing their goals and aspirations. It has been reported that of the 2,000 killed between 2011 and 2016, 69 percent have been civilians and 88 percent of these causalities occurred in populated areas such as schools, hospitals and villages.

In addition to this, the girls of Kashmir are disproportionately affected by sexual crimes. This is especially true when examining the militarized atmosphere of the region. There are an estimated 500,000 Indian soldiers (not including Pakistani, Chinese or separatist troops) currently stationed in Kashmir; equal to about 81 troops per square mile. Moreover, a Columbia University survey from 2013 projected that 80 percent of schools located within the valley were within one kilometer of a military base. Of these, some schools were recorded as being directly bordered, or occupied, by military forces.

Due to this constant state of conflict and tension, in 2017 the U.S. State Department released a statement explaining that Kashmiri girls and women were especially vulnerable to sexual violence. Rape and other abuses by armed forces have seriously deteriorated the security of girls and women alike.

The continuous war in Kashmir has not only impacted the physical well-being of young girls, but it has also brought down the educational system around them. Throughout 2016, upwards of 300 schools at a time were shut down in the regions of Kashmir and Jammu due to artillery barrages and border skirmishes. In Indian territory, these disruptions ultimately led to schools only being able to teach for a total of four months during the 2017 school year. Many classes had learned less than 50 percent of the required curriculum for the academic year.

The continual threat of sexual violence and destruction of infrastructure has led to a 67 percent decrease in girls’ enrollment in school from 2013-14 (296,535) to 2015-16 (96,896). However, the girls of Kashmir are not alone anymore. U.S. nonprofits and their partners have increasingly stepped up for these girls where local and foreign governments have failed to do so.

Kashmir Education Initiative

The Kashmir Education Initiative (KEI) is perhaps one of the largest nonprofits aiding the girls of Kashmir. KEI is a joint operation between two differing entities: KEI USA and KEI Kashmir. KEI USA sponsors projects while KEI Kashmir executes them on the ground level. Since 2007, they have achieved remarkable success:

  • High School Scholarships Program (HSSP): HSSP can be considered the flagship program of KEI. According to their success report of 2017, 600 youth (including around 300 girls) were awarded $140,000 in scholarships in order to pursue coursework after high school. This is especially significant when the average household from this group survives on less than $2 a day.
  • Undergraduate Scholarship Program (UGS): UGS has sponsored 45 college-level students through schooling that focuses on engineering, medical and agricultural programs. These programs were specifically selected in order to train future leaders for building a new Kashmir free from violence and poverty.
  • Self-Study Pilot: This project began in 2017 by giving 100 laptops to 11th and 12th graders. These laptops are loaded with educational materials and lectures in order to lessen the burden of disruptions caused by the conflict.
  • To date, 3,012 scholarships have been awarded, totaling to $645,656. In addition to this, $859,810 has been raised through donations, with 82 percent of the sponsored youth graduating high school with high distinction.

Miracle Corners of the World

Miracle Corners of the World (MCW) is a U.S. nonprofit that focuses on improving education, health and economic security by empowering current and future leaders through programs and summits. MCW has established a strong bond with KEI in order to empower the girls of Kashmir to become advocates for peace and change.

In 2017, Aiman Bradley and Bazila Ajaz (both KEI scholars) were selected to participate in the MCW Young Leaders Access Program. This program lasts about a year and it brings together young advocates and leaders from all over the world to deliberate on how to better their communities. From this experience, Aiman and Bazila discovered their respective interests in empowering female expression and making sure women’s voices are spoken, heard and valued in Kashmir.

Kashmir Family Aid

Kashmir Family Aid is a nonprofit that was founded in Oregon with the goal of improving education in Kashmir and Jammu. It has built and sustained schools in multiple rural communities throughout Pakistan-controlled territory. Kashmir Family Aid also partners with local Oregon businesses in order to construct new schools, supply chairs and other materials and support information exchange between children in Kashmir and those in Oregon.

These are but a tiny fraction of nonprofits helping the girls of Kashmir. They share a common vision that if these young girls are protected and given a chance to learn and become leaders, peace is possible through education. Or in the words of Ifat Idris (former Capacity Development Specialist for the Asian Development Bank): “Denial of education opportunities often means denial of future for young people–thereby perpetuating the negative effects of conflict.”

– Tanner Helem
Photo: Flickr

The post Peace Through Education: Helping the Girls of Kashmir appeared first on BORGEN.

]]>
A Look at the Most Common Types of Human Trafficking http://www.borgenmagazine.com/common-types-of-human-trafficking/ Wed, 19 Sep 2018 08:30:33 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=129356 SEATTLE — Human trafficking has become a common topic of issue in the human rights and global poverty conversation. There are multiple elements of human trafficking to be aware of, such as what is done, how it is done and why it is done that all combine to create trafficking. The act involves recruitment, transport, harboring and [...]

The post A Look at the Most Common Types of Human Trafficking appeared first on BORGEN.

]]>
SEATTLE — Human trafficking has become a common topic of issue in the human rights and global poverty conversation. There are multiple elements of human trafficking to be aware of, such as what is done, how it is done and why it is done that all combine to create trafficking. The act involves recruitment, transport, harboring and receipt of people. The means include the threat or use of force, coercion, abductions, fraud, deception, abuse of power or vulnerability and giving payments or benefits. The purpose of human trafficking is exploitation, including prostitution of others, sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery or similar practices, removal of organs and other types of exploitation. It is important to be able to recognize the common types of human trafficking in order to prevent exploitation.

The Human Rights Commission proposed three common forms of human trafficking: sex trafficking, forced labor and debt bondage. Knowing these types is the first step in the prevention of future human trafficking events.

Sex Trafficking

When thinking of human trafficking, sex trafficking is the first form that typically comes to mind. This type of trafficking affects women and children more than any other subsection of society. It involves forced participation in commercial sex acts. According to the Human Rights Commission, “In the United States, any child under the age of 18 who has been involved in a commercial sex act is considered a trafficking victim.” This is despite the presence of coercion. Women and children account for 80 percent of those who are trafficked between countries. It is important to note that forced prostitution is only one aspect of human trafficking. Also, many believe that women and girls are the only victims of sexual trafficking, but men are also perpetrated against in this form of trafficking.

Forced Labor

Another common type of human trafficking is forced labor. The Human Rights Commission gave an example of situations that lead to forced labor: “A family gives up a child to an adoption agent in Nepal because they cannot afford to care for him. He is then, in turn, sold to a sweatshop owner who forces the child to learn to sew garments without pay for hours each day. The child receives minimal nutrition and does not attend school.” Forced labor may come in the forms of domestic servitude, agricultural work, manufacturing, janitorial services, hotel services, construction, health and elder care or hair and nail salon work. Although this form of human trafficking is vastly different from sex trafficking, it is very common. Forced labor is often a cause of poverty, since they are being forced to work for little or no pay.

Debt Bondage

Lastly, debt bondage is a common form of human trafficking that occurs worldwide. The U.S. State Department describes debt bondage as “the use of a bond, or debt, to keep a person under subjugation. … Many workers around the world fall victim to debt bondage when traffickers or recruiters unlawfully exploit an initial debt the worker assumed as part of the terms of employment, or when workers inherit debt in more traditional systems of bonded labor.” This form of human trafficking is crucial to address since it is directly linked to an individual’s financial success. When a person is being exploited for a debt, they become trapped in a cycle of poverty.

Signs of Common Types of Human Trafficking

While being educated in the common types of human trafficking is important, it is more crucial to be aware of the signs of human trafficking in order to stop trafficking in its tracks. As the Human Rights Commission explains, “a person who has been trafficked may show signs that their movement is controlled, have false identity or travel documents, not know their home or work address, have no access to their earnings, be unable to negotiate working conditions, work excessively long hours over long periods, have limited or no social interaction, have limited contact with their families or with people outside of their immediate environment and think that they are bonded by debt.” Recognizing these signs of human trafficking and being aware of the common types of human trafficking are crucial first steps in eradicating these harmful occurrences in society.

– Jenna Walmer
Photo: Flickr

The post A Look at the Most Common Types of Human Trafficking appeared first on BORGEN.

]]>
Five Female Pioneers Improving Girls’ Education in Cameroon http://www.borgenmagazine.com/girls-education-in-cameroon/ Mon, 17 Sep 2018 14:30:28 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=129361 SEATTLE — Cameroon has made great strides in improving children’s access to education in the past decade. With a promising net primary school enrollment of 88 percent, the country’s figures rank among the highest in west and central Africa. Despite this, there remains a notable gender gap: between ages 6 and 14, only 80 percent [...]

The post Five Female Pioneers Improving Girls’ Education in Cameroon appeared first on BORGEN.

]]>
SEATTLE — Cameroon has made great strides in improving children’s access to education in the past decade. With a promising net primary school enrollment of 88 percent, the country’s figures rank among the highest in west and central Africa. Despite this, there remains a notable gender gap: between ages 6 and 14, only 80 percent of girls attend school in comparison to 94 percent of boys. Subsequently, the overall literacy rate of Cameroonian girls is 68.9 percent, a contrast to the 81.2 percent literacy rate for boys.

The inhibition of girls’ education in Cameroon largely stems from cultural expectation. “Forty percent of girls abandon school before they reach the fourth and fifth years of primary education,” Daouda Guindo, UNICEF’s Cameroon operations chief, told VOA News. “Thirty-one percent of girls get married before the age of 15.”

To parents, prioritizing male education is often seen as a better long-term allocation of resources, because social factors will inevitably relegate girls to cooking, cleaning and premature marriage. In order to achieve gender equality, this cultural narrative needs to change. Fortunately, there are women in Cameroon that have triumphed against the odds and broken the glass ceiling. These five individuals not only challenge the socially presumed capacity of female potential, but they are now using their authority to spearhead educational opportunities for girls.

Hawou Adamou Fights Child Marriage in Cameroon

Adamou’s story is an echo of the adversities endured by many other girls and women in her country. Growing up, she was barred from attending school, and instead worked in the local market until entering an arranged marriage at the age of 16. Following her husband’s death, her family-in-law spurned her because she could not work. She had never been given the tools to be self-sufficient. Adamou has since founded the Hausa Women’s Association for Development to prevent other girls in her region from experiencing the same plight. Her association teaches parents the value of girls’ education in Cameroon, gives women a foothold towards financial security and actively advocates for the abolishment of child marriage.

Rose Leke Promotes Gender Equality

Dr. Leke, the 2018 Heroine of Health recipient, has been a professor of medicine and biomedical sciences at the University of Yaounde for nearly three decades. In addition to teaching, she runs a malaria research program and is involved with polio eradication efforts across all of Africa. She is also a strong proponent for gender parity, as shown through her work with the Higher Women Cameroon Consortium, which provides mentoring and skill-building opportunities for women.

Persis Mbangsi Encourages Women in Science

As the only woman among 500 engineers at the aluminum plant where she works, Mbangsi is keenly aware of Cameroon’s gender disparities. To combat this, Mbangsi established a social media initiative called Hidden No More Cameroon. The platform showcases the accomplishments of women and girls in science and technology. Mbangsi hopes to confront the current cultural precedent, motivate the younger generation and celebrate the hard work of other women presently working in male-dominated fields.

Janet Fofang Organizes STEM Education

Fofang is the director of Girls in Tech Cameroon, a program affiliated with the NexGen Technology Centre. Here, young girls can learn to write code, develop advanced computer skills and craft robots. It is one of the many initiatives Fofang has organized, including a technological school for 800 pupils, a women in STEM event meetup and a personally mentored team that went on to compete in the inaugural FIRST Global robotics competition in Washington, D.C.

Leila Kigha Helps Fund Girls’ Education in Cameroon

Kigha volunteers for several humanitarian organizations in Cameroon, but is perhaps best known for coordinating the ShineALight Africa initiative, which unites women in a cooperative through which they can sell their farm produce as a group. The generated income will help pay fees to keep girls in schools. She credits the initiative to her grandmother, Nsaigha Thecla, who repudiated social norms and sent her daughter (Kigha’s mother) to boarding school for a quality education in Cameroon. Kigha emphasizes that her grandmother ultimately opened the door for her by breaking tradition. “I honor and celebrate my grandmother, a woman who defied all odds to educate her daughter. The ripple effect of her investment in her girl child is still being felt and is waxing stronger today,” she wrote in an article for Time.

Improving girls’ education in Cameroon is a critical step in creating more ripples like the ones above. Female innovation is an anomaly by construct only. By providing a comparable amount of resources and opportunities to women, the threshold for human development rises.

– Yumi Wilson
Photo: Flickr

The post Five Female Pioneers Improving Girls’ Education in Cameroon appeared first on BORGEN.

]]>
Expanding Conservation Agriculture in East Africa http://www.borgenmagazine.com/conservation-agriculture-in-east-africa/ Mon, 17 Sep 2018 08:30:30 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=129353 SEATTLE — Conservation agriculture in East Africa is a simple, yet transformative process to increase crop yields while preventing environmental degradation. It comprises three practices: minimizing soil disturbance without tilling or plowing the soil, maintaining soil cover by leaving crop residues or a growing ground cover crop and rotating the types of crops. Together, these [...]

The post Expanding Conservation Agriculture in East Africa appeared first on BORGEN.

]]>
SEATTLE — Conservation agriculture in East Africa is a simple, yet transformative process to increase crop yields while preventing environmental degradation. It comprises three practices: minimizing soil disturbance without tilling or plowing the soil, maintaining soil cover by leaving crop residues or a growing ground cover crop and rotating the types of crops. Together, these practices help retain the moisture and nutrients in the soil.

These conservation agriculture practices have both economic and environmental benefits. Conserving water is especially important in the semi-arid environments that many of the targeted farmers live in. The more efficient use of water and nutrients helps increase the farmer’s crop yields. By minimizing nutrient depletion and controlling weeds, conservation agriculture requires less fertilizer and herbicide. The practices used in conservation agriculture also reduce the time and labor required by farmers.

Conservation agriculture in East Africa is especially important, as farmers are increasingly feeling the effects of climate change. The practices implemented will help farmers mitigate the effects of warmer temperatures and a decreased water supply.

Regional Project Targets Smallholder Farmers

With funding from the Canadian government, the Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB) launched a five-year project in 2015 called Scaling Up Conservation Agriculture in East Africa. This project can multiply the proven benefits of conservation agriculture and is aiming to reach 50,000 smallholder farmers in Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia.

The 11-partner organizations work directly with the farmers to provide training and support for those interested in adopting conservation agriculture principles. The project also works to increase farmers’ access to and knowledge of markets so they can translate their increased produce into increased income. The other aspect of CFGB’s work on scaling up conservation agriculture practice is political; they work with leaders and decision-makers at all levels to advocate for the farmers.

The technical team is based in Nairobi, Kenya and is managed by Mueni Udeozor, the program coordinator. Speaking to The Borgen Project, Udeozor highlighted the viability of scaling up conservation agriculture. The practices they teach are similar to the traditional farming methods used before colonialism. Many of the older farmers were excited to implement the techniques they remembered their parents using. According to Udeozor, one of the greatest successes of this project has been the willingness of farmers to start a test plot, and then expanding the plot size as they see the benefits of conservation agriculture. Many of these small-scale farmers are even stepping up to help spread these practices in their communities.

Obstacles to Expanding Conservation Agriculture in East Africa

However, there are some challenges involved with implementing conservation agriculture. For example, farmers are hesitant to leave crop residue on their fields because it can also be used as a food source for livestock. Another practical challenge is the inaccessibility of the machines required to plant seeds in untilled fields. The imported zero-tillage machinery is too expensive and complex for smallholder farmers. Investing in local tech industries can be a solution to this challenge.

Changing mindsets and habits is one of the biggest challenges faced by organizations trying to implement conservation agriculture in East Africa. For impoverished smallholder farmers, investing in new technology and utilizing new methods can be incredibly risky.

This is why, according to Udeozor, convincing farmers to try conservation agriculture practices on a small plot of land is one of their major successes. Farmers are then able to experience firsthand the increased productivity and conservation of water and nutrients. As farmers see these successes, they gradually increase the size of their test plots.

There are several organizations within East Africa working to increase the number of farmers using conservation agriculture techniques. In order to be effective, Udeozor says CFGB is committed to using these networks and capitalizing on the strengths of like-minded organizations.

Canadian Foodgrains Bank Continues to See Success

CFGB is currently undergoing a midterm analysis to measure the impact of the Scaling Up Conservation Agriculture in East Africa project. So far, 31,605 farmers have participated in training on conservation agriculture techniques. A little over half of these farmers are women, and 24,718 farmers have implemented at least two of the conservation agriculture practices.

The project also aims to provide support for these farmers as they implement more efficient and effective practices. To this end, the project is linked to 960 savings groups made up of 19,707 members. These savings groups help provide financial and social support to members. These groups are especially important to the 14,868 female members because the increased access to credit empowers the women in their households and communities. There are also 150 farmer market aggregation groups in the project sites, which help connect farmers to the markets and vice-versa. On a national level, three network hubs have been established to share information, coordinate policies and facilitate collaboration on issues surrounding conservation agriculture.

Increasing the scale of conservation agriculture in East Africa is having dramatic effects. By providing higher crop yields, these simple practices significantly increase both food security and income for the poor smallholder farmers that this CFGB project works with. As Udeozor explained to The Borgen Project, this means having a consistent, year-round food supply for everyone in the family. Conservation agriculture can reduce poverty in Africa in many ways, as transforming agriculture in Africa improves food security, boosts economic growth and addresses climate change.

– Liesl Hostetter
Photo: Flickr

The post Expanding Conservation Agriculture in East Africa appeared first on BORGEN.

]]>
The Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco Fights Poverty http://www.borgenmagazine.com/centro-de-textiles-tradicionales-del-cusco/ Sat, 15 Sep 2018 08:30:20 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=129337 SEATTLE — Though Peru has experienced development and economic growth in recent years, severe poverty and inequality remain issues for the country. There exist troublesome contrasts between the rural and urban populations, as well as the male and female populations. Extreme poverty is primarily a rural phenomenon in the country, where 32.9 percent of the [...]

The post The Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco Fights Poverty appeared first on BORGEN.

]]>
SEATTLE — Though Peru has experienced development and economic growth in recent years, severe poverty and inequality remain issues for the country. There exist troublesome contrasts between the rural and urban populations, as well as the male and female populations. Extreme poverty is primarily a rural phenomenon in the country, where 32.9 percent of the population is affected compared to only 3.5 percent in urban areas. Additionally, high levels of gender-based violence, unequal access to resources and teenage pregnancy have led to alarming gender gaps in Peru. However, disheartening though the statistics may be, one organization in Peru, the Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco (CTTC), has been committed to improving conditions for victims of rural and female poverty for more than 40 years.

The Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco is a nonprofit, indigenous weaving collective based in the Cusco region of Peru. It was created in the 1970s when a group of indigenous women weavers came together to study and learn about the slowly disappearing traditional textile designs of their culture. The women pioneering this effort also hoped to market their high-quality textiles to the developing tourism industry in Peru and help support weavers, most of whom live in extreme poverty. Today, 40 years later, the members of the CTTC are still weaving and reclaiming their culture.

Recently, The Borgen Project had the chance to speak with Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez, the founder and director of the Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco. Alvarez discussed the important role that the CTTC plays in the communities that it is a part of and the various programs that the organization operates throughout the greater Cusco region.

The Borgen Project: What issues was the Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco created to address?

Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez: The CTTC began informally in the 1970s as a group of indigenous women weavers in Chinchero who saw their textile traditions disappearing before their eyes. They decided to work together to recover the designs, techniques and styles that were being lost, and began to meet in each other’s houses to study old textiles and speak with elders. Their second goal was to sell their textiles in the budding tourism market in order to earn an income independently of their male family members.

After years of hard work, the women eventually founded the CTTC as a nonprofit in 1996, with the idea of addressing the same two problems: recover and revalue traditional Cusqueñan textiles that were in danger of disappearing forever, and support the weavers, most of whom live in extreme poverty, through the sale of their textiles at a fair price. Today, we work with 10 communities spread throughout the region.

TBP: How have the 10 communities who have partnered with the CTTC benefited from its services and its role in their communities?

NCA: Through the sale of their textiles at a fair price, many of the weavers and their families have been able to greatly improve their quality of life. They are able to invest their new income in their children and land. More children are able to complete high school, and now many young people are even going to university or institutes in the city of Cusco. Families can access better health services and improve their homes or even buy more land.

The weavers are now proud of their traditions, of their textiles and of themselves. After centuries of discrimination and abuse, many indigenous people no longer wore their traditional clothing. Today, the CTTC weavers are proud to use their traditional clothing and are proud of their work to recover their traditions and the influence they have had on others.

TBP: Lastly, can you speak about the education department run by the CTTC and some of the programs and functions of this branch of the CTTC? I was particularly impressed by the “Young Weavers Groups”; can you talk about this program?

NCA: The Education Department in the CTTC includes our two museums, Weaving Lives located in Cusco on Av Sol 603, and our recently inaugurated Weavers House in Chinchero. [It also includes] national and international fairs, exhibits and events, a small library on textiles and related subjects, the permanent collection of textiles, […] Tinkuy: Gathering of the Textile Arts (an international conference we organize every four years or so) [and]three yearly events: one for the adult weavers, one for the young weavers and one for the general public.

In the last few years, we have been focusing more on the Young Weaver Groups. Each of the 10 communities works with a group of young people who are between 6 and 30 years old. Each Saturday or Sunday, they meet in their community weaving center to learn to weave from their elders. In this way, the next generation will be able to continue traditions on into the future.


Despite the challenges that Peru faces, the Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco is working to improve the lives of many in their home country. It is often easy to become jaded when looking at the the multitude of inequalities that exist in our world today. But in order to measure our progress towards making the world a more equal and fair place, it helps to see some of the good work being done to make impactful change.

Clarke Hallum
Photo: Flickr

The post The Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco Fights Poverty appeared first on BORGEN.

]]>
Facts About Poverty in India: Progress and Challenges http://www.borgenmagazine.com/facts-about-poverty-in-india/ Wed, 12 Sep 2018 14:30:27 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=129185 SEATTLE — India’s economic power is growing at unprecedented rates. However, despite being one of the world’s fastest growing economies, India has a long way to go to tackle poverty and ensure decent living standards for all. These facts about poverty in India delve into the country’s varied successes and obstacles in fighting poverty. Facts [...]

The post Facts About Poverty in India: Progress and Challenges appeared first on BORGEN.

]]>
SEATTLE — India’s economic power is growing at unprecedented rates. However, despite being one of the world’s fastest growing economies, India has a long way to go to tackle poverty and ensure decent living standards for all. These facts about poverty in India delve into the country’s varied successes and obstacles in fighting poverty.

Facts About Poverty in India

  1. A majority of the population of India does not have access to adequate healthcare.
    Of the many facts about poverty in India today, healthcare is perhaps the most important. India ranks 145th out of 195 countries regarding quality and accessibility of healthcare, based on the Global Burden of Disease study published in 2018. There are huge disparities within states and income groups in the country, and India lags behind other BRICS countries. In 2018, the government launched a National Health Protection Scheme called Ayushman Bharat, which aims to assist approximately 100 million people residing in underprivileged communities.
  2. Inequalities persist in access to education.
    The literacy rate in India has risen from 68.2 percent in 2001 to 74 percent in 2011. However, there is a wide gender disparity; 82.14 percent of men and 65.46 percent of women are literate. The quality and availability of classrooms and teachers help explain the low literacy rates. Social barriers prevent the expansion of education among women. A deeply entrenched patriarchy restricts women from achieving higher education, especially in rural parts of the country.
  3. There is high unemployment in the country.
    Unemployment rates have been increasing gradually, leaving nearly 31 million Indians out of work. As of August 2018, the unemployment rate in India is 5.7 percent; this rate fluctuates widely from month to month. The social security network that was traditionally provided by the joint family system is now being eroded.
  4. There is pervasive homelessness across the country.
    As of 2011, there were 1.77 million homeless people in India. There is a wide disparity between urban and rural areas; urban areas saw a growth of 36.78 percent in homelessness, whereas rural areas saw negative growth. Most government assistance is targeted towards rural areas. According to Mohammed Tarique, coordinator of Koshish, a TISS Field Action Project on Homelessness and Destitution, economic migration from rural to urban areas may be a contributing factor to this, as rural areas continue to lack basic infrastructure and employment opportunities, particularly in the secondary and tertiary sector.
  5. Sanitation conditions are getting better.
    According to the Economic Survey, the number of people who engage in open defecation has declined to 250 million in 2018 from 550 million in 2014. The decrease has been credited to the Swachch Bharat Mission, a sanitation program introduced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, huge sections of the population are still denied access to basic sanitation, especially vulnerable groups.
  6. Hunger rates are still high.
    India’s hunger problem is driven by a high rate of child malnutrition. India ranks 100th out of 119 countries on the Global Hunger Index, which measures undernourishment, child wasting, child stunting and child mortality. The lack of access to nutritious food leads to susceptibility to disease. Increasing numbers of farmer suicides occur due to the burden of rural indebtedness.
  7. India lacks sound infrastructure.
    According to the Asian Development Bank, India’s poor infrastructure contributes to slower growth and development. Investing in infrastructure, such as creating better facilities for transportation, communication and agriculture will lead to further employment and productivity. Financing of rural infrastructure projects depends on a sound banking system, which at present is heavily compromised by bad loans.
  8. There is widespread corruption.
    India ranked 81st on the 2017 Global Corruption Index released by Transparency International. Bribery, money laundering and tax evasion stall the growth of the country and negatively impact social welfare programs. The government has distributed identification cards with biometric information in order to reduce this problem, but endemic corruption still pervades the system.
  9. Social exclusion reduces opportunities for many groups.
    There are structural inequalities embedded within the country, where women and certain castes and classes of people are systematically discriminated against. While there has been progress in the inclusion of these groups, there is still a long way to go. Gender and caste inequalities are still pervasive and critical legislation on women’s empowerment is pending in the legislature.
  10. Poverty in India is declining.
    Despite the above, studies show that the population of India is slowly escaping extreme poverty. In fact, the World Poverty Clock predicts that less than 3 percent of the population in India will live in extreme poverty by 2021. Participatory development due to well-established governance systems, an independent judiciary and a proactive media provide hope for India’s poor.

There is hope that significant numbers will emerge out of grinding poverty and that future generations will not be subjected to crippling childhood illnesses. These facts about poverty in India illustrate that key challenges can be dealt with through education, political will and women’s empowerment.

– Isha Kakar
Photo: Flickr

The post Facts About Poverty in India: Progress and Challenges appeared first on BORGEN.

]]>
A New Way to Help in Malawi: Village X’s Impact http://www.borgenmagazine.com/village-xs-impact/ Tue, 11 Sep 2018 14:30:56 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=129175 SEATTLE — Malawi’s misuse of aid is notorious. The sheer size of scandals in the country over the last few years is a testament to that. In 2011, aid to Malawi was stopped because a private jet for the president’s personal use was purchased using about £8 million of funds provided by multilateral institutions such [...]

The post A New Way to Help in Malawi: Village X’s Impact appeared first on BORGEN.

]]>
SEATTLE — Malawi’s misuse of aid is notorious. The sheer size of scandals in the country over the last few years is a testament to that. In 2011, aid to Malawi was stopped because a private jet for the president’s personal use was purchased using about £8 million of funds provided by multilateral institutions such as the World Bank.

In 2014, a scandal that came to be known as Cashgate erupted. Members of former Malawi president Joyce Banda’s cabinet had been caught misappropriating financial development funds for the sake of personal profit. The amount lost came to $45 million.

The EU and the U.S., two of the largest donors of aid to Malawi, have raised questions about Malawi’s abuse of aid. The U.K., in a sign of resilience against the 2011 incident, decided to cut aid to Malawi. The result was turmoil, as stability was held together by aid. Fuel shortages led to civil unrest, which was violently put down–an action that resulted in the U.S. pulling aid as well.

Urban areas in Malawi have been seen improvement. However, on the whole inequality in Malawi seems to be getting worse, with most of Malawi’s poverty seen in rural areas. It is easy to attribute corruption and the disparity between the rich and poor in Malawi to greed, but a more thoughtful analysis shows that aid may not necessarily go where it needs to go. In Malawi’s case, funding primarily goes to urban areas and not rural villages.

Village X Tackles Poverty in Malawi with Innovative Methods

Michael Buckler, the CEO of Village X, a nonprofit organization, talked to The Borgen Project about a new way of work around Malawi’s misuse of aid. He explained that while corruption is rampant, the solution is easy to get around. Rather than going through the government, why not go through the tribes and villages?

Based on research done by Dr. Kate Baldwin of Yale University on traditional chiefs being more accountable and more present than elected officials, Buckler set off on an experiment after quitting his job at a law firm.

“We went to… Malawi to figure out whether the model could work there or not, whether villages were interested in it or not, with outsiders coming in and crowd raising funding for their development projects and whether they were willing to provide some of their own money for the impact and how we were going to track impact,” Buckler explained. His experiment has turned into an organization that helps fund more than 30 villages, each with a population of at least 1,000 people.

By providing aid directly to villages to develop ideas selected by group consensus of the village, Village X’s impact is a more democratic way of approaching the issue of poverty. In Buckler’s eyes, the traditional NGO methods of addressing a particular issue often do not work because most NGOs fail to consider the ecosystem surrounding the issue.

“NGOs make this mistake all the time, where they go to a village and say, ‘We are not going to charge you for our services, we are going to give it to you for free and this is all we do. We focus on clean water or girls’ education or women’s empowerment,’” Buckler continued. “And they do their little intervention, [but]it’s not coordinated in a way with what the villages want or other interventions that would amplify what they were doing.”

The process of Village X’s impact is as follows: First, an impoverished village is identified through word-of-mouth or poverty maps. Then, a village meeting is called to explain the model. Next is the crux of the method: listening. A local field agent for Village X listens carefully as the problems within the village are identified by the villagers.

After a brief period to allow the village committee to put together a proposal and its monetary contribution to the project, the remaining funds are raised through partnerships with NGOs or on site. After completion, Village X monitors the success of the project and how, in its words, the project “disrupts extreme poverty.”

This process seems like it would take a long time, but a nursery school was set up in Siyabu village in six months. Saiti village took seven months to construct a borewell for clean drinking water, and Nakhwala village took only one month to increase its food production.

How Does Village X’s Impact Stack Up Against Other NGOs?

During his time as a Peace Corps teacher, Buckler witnessed firsthand the issues of government-partnered NGOs. As an example, he spoke about Plan International working with the government of Malawi to set up a girls’ school in the village he was working in at the time. The result was a cancellation of the process after two years and $60,000 lost on the project due to misappropriation of funds by the contractor, Buckler said.

Village X’s impact is so large because its model provides low cost and a high impact, which can be scaled significantly. Buckler explained, “The idea is that if you can do low-cost and high-impact projects, then you can scale. You can probably do projects in every underserved Malawian village for about $10 million, which is a drop in the bucket [and]is about 1 percent of the total aid Malawi receives.”

Buckler said that if things continue the way they are, with the rich continuing to disassociate from the rural poor, Malawi will never meet the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals–an opinion supported by the World Poverty Clock, which indicates that Malawi is already off-track in achieving its SDG targets.

With this in mind, Malawi’s elections are on the horizon. While voters rush to the booths to elect their new president and vice-president, Buckler’s hope is for a president who will disrupt the current system.

“Malawi’s VP, a relatively young guy with a legitimate corporate business background… announced that he was contesting the presidency against the sitting president. We’ve seen this before, but maybe a business guy will do things differently if elected,” Buckler said. With the possibility of a new and more transparent government in its future, Malawi can better take advantage of Village X’s impact and improve the lives of its rural population.

– Amal Goteti
Photo: Flickr

The post A New Way to Help in Malawi: Village X’s Impact appeared first on BORGEN.

]]>
The Struggles of Refugees in South Africa http://www.borgenmagazine.com/refugees-in-south-africa/ Sun, 09 Sep 2018 14:30:49 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=129251 SEATTLE — When people hear the term “refugee crisis,” most will automatically think of the Middle East, forgetting about the ongoing crisis happening in Africa. It has left hundreds of thousands displaced, and in South Africa alone there is a population of 586,000 asylum seekers and refugees living in destitute conditions, barely surviving. Life for [...]

The post The Struggles of Refugees in South Africa appeared first on BORGEN.

]]>
SEATTLE — When people hear the term “refugee crisis,” most will automatically think of the Middle East, forgetting about the ongoing crisis happening in Africa. It has left hundreds of thousands displaced, and in South Africa alone there is a population of 586,000 asylum seekers and refugees living in destitute conditions, barely surviving. Life for refugees in South Africa is rife with xenophobia and discrimination, in addition to dealing with a corrupt government which makes day to day life a constant struggle.

Coming from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and other countries in central and northern Africa, refugees flee for a myriad of reasons. However, most of the people fleeing are doing so to escape political instability and persecution, and yet, some are making the decision to return home because of the unlivable conditions.

Asylum Seeker and Refugee Process

Having hitchhiked or walked to the border, most of the asylum seekers and refugees in South Africa arrive with no papers. Upon arrival, an asylum seeker must immediately go to a refugee center or reception office to file for asylum seeker permits, which after further approval becomes a refugee permit. The process is fraught with issues, such as delays. An asylum seeker permit must be renewed every three to six months; however, decisions and renewals can take up to 12 months to process, leaving the asylum seekers without the right to work or study. This creates a cycle of hardships for asylum seekers trying to establish a new life.

Rises in deportations have refugees and asylum seekers questioning the longevity of their safety. It has been reported that between 50 and 150 asylum seekers are arrested and deported every day while filing for permit renewals. This has resulted in people being afraid to renew their permits, as the threat of arrest is too real. Because they cannot work or study without a valid permit or papers, it creates a cycle of poverty, and refugees and asylum seekers become the target of hate and violence.

Xenophobia Against Refugees in South Africa

The corruption within the South African government has left a nation of people frustrated and angered and pointing the finger at foreigners, in this case, refugees and asylum seekers. The government has struggled to acknowledge the violent attacks perpetrated by people who believe that refugees and asylum seekers are the cause of instability and poverty. Without the government’s acknowledgement or investment into the issue, xenophobic sentiment will continue to run rampant throughout South Africa and claim thousands of victims along the way. This makes it imperative that the issue is addressed to ensure the continued safety of displaced people.

Movements Fighting Xenophobia

Organizations such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) are on the frontline working toward the elimination of these injustices. UNHCR has created resources aimed at rehabilitating, empowering and integrating refugees and asylum seekers. Smaller organizations such as Sonke Gender Justice are working on a local level to facilitate movements to eradicate negative stereotypes and develop equal opportunities for all.

The lives of refugees in South Africa are riddled with violence and instability. The maltreatment of innocent refugees and asylum seekers is a phenomenon that is, at last, being recognized and fought. It is imperative that the South African government recognizes the lack of services for refugees and asylum seekers and ensures the establishment of resources.

– Trelawny Robinson
Photo: Flickr

The post The Struggles of Refugees in South Africa appeared first on BORGEN.

]]>