BORGEN http://www.borgenmagazine.com Humanity, Politics & You Tue, 23 Jan 2018 15:30:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.2 Development Projects in Grenada Preparing the Island for the Future http://www.borgenmagazine.com/development-projects-in-grenada/ Tue, 23 Jan 2018 15:30:27 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=124000 SEATTLE — Grenada, a small island located in the southeastern Caribbean Sea, suffered widespread damage from Hurricanes Ivan and Emily in 2004 and 2005. Among the most severely affected areas were education, health, environment, power and agriculture. For example, in the health and education sectors, 11 healthcare facilities—including the second largest hospital— and all but [...]

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SEATTLE — Grenada, a small island located in the southeastern Caribbean Sea, suffered widespread damage from Hurricanes Ivan and Emily in 2004 and 2005. Among the most severely affected areas were education, health, environment, power and agriculture. For example, in the health and education sectors, 11 healthcare facilities—including the second largest hospital— and all but two Grenadian schools sustained severe damage. The reconstruction of affected areas is complete; however, due to international relief assistance, Grenada emerges from the successive disasters with a very high debt burden. Currently, there are development projects in Grenada addressing economic challenges and other areas of development.

Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA)

CSA is agriculture that both sustainably increases agricultural productivity and resistance to climate change and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. CSA is the government’s strategy to raise incomes and provide jobs for individuals from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, improve food security and reduce poverty in Grenada.

In addition to economic development, CSA can effectively support social development and decrease youth employment rates in Grenada. “High levels of youth disengagement and unemployment constrain economic development and have negative social repercussions. These adverse impacts contribute to the creation and perpetuation of the cycle of poverty, increased crime and violence, and risky behaviors,” said George Yearwood at the Caribbean Development Bank.

Safe-Smart Hospital Project

The Smart-Safe Hospital Project’s objective is to upgrade one of Grenada’s hospitals, the Princess Alice Hospital, to a green facility, and is expected to have significant cost-saving health benefits for Grenadians.

The upgrade will include the installation of a new hurricane-resistant roof, improved safety features for the patients and staff, a new automated electrical backup power system and an improved water storage and supply system. With these changes, the hospital is expected to improve both its operations and service deliveries on the northern and eastern sides of the island and its capability to deliver care during times of disaster.

Geothermal Risk Mitigation Program for the Eastern Caribbean

The Geothermal Risk Mitigation Program for the Eastern Caribbean’s objective is to decrease dependency on energy imports in the Caribbean by increasing the availability of renewable energy through geothermal energy development. The program will provide up to 60MW of new capacity in Grenada, Dominica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The government of Grenada is looking to geothermal energy to help reach its development goal of reducing carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2025. By decreasing Grenada’s dependency on oil imports, geothermal energy development will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Integrated Solid Waste Management Project

The development goal of this project is to improve solid waste management in Grenada. The project involves research on waste resources and the commissioning of a new waste cell.

Grenada Education Enhancement Project

The Grenada Education Enhancement Project aims at expanding, rehabilitating and building schools in Grenada. The plan is to expand and rehabilitate six existing schools and to design three new schools. One part of the project is focused on enhancing the quality, relevance and effectiveness of teaching and plans to provide training and professional development for 1,700 Grenadian teachers and principals. Grenada has already demonstrated leadership in the education sector, achieving universal secondary education and gender parity in enrollment.

In recent years, Grenada has focused its efforts on climate change adaption, recognizing its link to economic, social and sustainable development. With these development projects in Grenada underway, the country continues to improve its capacity to address development challenges and constraints, to sustain growth and to build the resilience of socioecological systems and communities to climate change impacts.

– Gabrielle Doran

Photo: Flickr

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Bempu Bracelets Improve Newborn Care in India http://www.borgenmagazine.com/bempu-bracelets-improve-newborn-care-in-india/ Tue, 23 Jan 2018 15:30:08 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=123998 SEATTLE — Hypothermia is a leading contributor to newborn deaths that occur after hospital discharge. Bempu bracelets monitor a newborn’s core temperature and sound an alarm if the infant’s temperature drops too low. Since its inception, Bempu Health has helped 10,000 infants with its temperature-monitoring bracelet. In 2009, the number of newborn deaths decreased to [...]

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SEATTLE — Hypothermia is a leading contributor to newborn deaths that occur after hospital discharge. Bempu bracelets monitor a newborn’s core temperature and sound an alarm if the infant’s temperature drops too low. Since its inception, Bempu Health has helped 10,000 infants with its temperature-monitoring bracelet.

In 2009, the number of newborn deaths decreased to 3.6 million. Of the 3.6 million deaths, half occurred at home and nearly 100 percent occurred in developing countries. The average newborn mortality rate in developing countries is 33 of 1,000. In developed countries, this rate is only 4 of 1,000.

Bempu Health was founded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Grand Challenges Canada and USAID’s Saving Lives at Birth to find problems in newborn healthcare. The organization met with more than 100 pediatricians and neonatologists to assess newborn care in India and isolated hypothermia as a major concern. To combat this threat, Bempu Health rolled out the Bempu bracelet.

The Bempu bracelet is a temperature-monitoring device worn by newborns that alerts parents if the baby’s temperature drops to critical levels. If the baby is too cold, the bracelet flashes orange and sounds an alarm that only stops when the core temperature increases.

Bempu bracelets have batteries that last a month. Most newborn mortalities occur immediately after birth; between 25 and 45 percent of newborn deaths happen within the first 24 hours of life and 75 percent happen within the first week of life. Bempu monitors babies during the critical first month of life.

The bracelets are used by intensive care units and at home after the infant is discharged. Each bracelet costs only $28.

Hypothermia is rarely the direct cause of death for newborns. However, hypothermia contributes to severe infection, complications from premature birth and asphyxia. Severe infection causes approximately 36 percent of newborn deaths, complications from premature birth cause 29 percent of newborn deaths and birth asphyxia causes 23 percent of newborn deaths.

Low birth weight babies are particularly susceptible to hypothermia. Each year, approximately 18 million babies (14 percent) are born with a low birth weight. These infants account for between 60 and 80 percent of newborn deaths.

India has the highest number of newborn deaths caused by premature birth. Each year, eight million premature, underweight babies are born in India. Bempu Health has focused on improving newborn care in India; most of the 10,000 infants helped by Bempu bracelets live in India.

According to Gini Morgan, head of public health at Bempu Health, chaotic government hospitals mean fewer resources dedicated to newborn care in India. Babies are often discharged early to relieve overcrowding or because rural families need to return home.

An independent study conducted by Dr. Vishnu Bhat from the Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research in Pondicherry found Bempu bracelets gave an accurate temperature reading between 85 and 90 percent of the time.

The Bempu bracelet was named one of Time Magazine’s 25 Best Inventions of 2017. The company was also awarded a $2 million grant from USAID’s Saving Lives at Birth to expand distribution. With important support like this, the company can continue to grow and reach many more infants around the world.

– Katherine Parks

Photo: Flickr

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Sustainable Agriculture in Mali Benefiting Women Farmers http://www.borgenmagazine.com/sustainable-agriculture-in-mali/ Tue, 23 Jan 2018 09:30:59 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=124002 SEATTLE — Mali is one of the poorest nations in the world, with an estimated 60 percent of its population living below the poverty line. It is situated in West Africa, and like many other developing nations, Mali depends heavily on agriculture for food security and economic growth. However, conditions such as climate change and [...]

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SEATTLE — Mali is one of the poorest nations in the world, with an estimated 60 percent of its population living below the poverty line. It is situated in West Africa, and like many other developing nations, Mali depends heavily on agriculture for food security and economic growth. However, conditions such as climate change and population growth threaten agricultural production in the country, making sustainable agriculture in Mali a crucial goal.

The main issues that threaten sustainable agriculture in Mali include soil fertility decline and food deficits. Since 2001, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has been carrying out several Integrated Production and Pest Management (IPPM) programs in the country and supporting the government’s agriculture-related programs and policies in order to ensure sustainable agriculture in Mali.

The IPPM was created with the intention of improving “farming skills and raising smallholder farmers’ awareness of risks from and alternatives to toxic chemicals.” The three main goals include developing farming capacity, improving food security and livelihoods and raising awareness.

The FAO has worked with several foreign partners in order to carry out IPPM activities in Mali that help farmers improve efficiencies, production and profits for cotton, rice, vegetables and a variety of other crops. Additionally, the IPPM efforts also include a project on climate change adaptation, which works with communities in the country to explore ways to adapt to climate change effects such as droughts and flooding.

The IPPM activities aim to increase household incomes, improve diets and promote a sustainable environment. So far, one-third of the 85,054 farmers trained by the IPPM program have been women.

In addition to erratic climate changes, Mali also suffered from the 2007-2008 food crisis that hit most of West Africa, when international food prices reached their highest levels in 30 years. In response, FAO launched the regional initiative called APRAO (2010-2013) to aid the governments that were most affected, which included Mali. This program focused on the entire rice value chain and promoted successful technologies and approaches developed in the IPPM program.

Similar to the initiatives by FAO, CARE has also been working to promote sustainable agriculture in Mali with a special focus on women’s empowerment. Despite women’s notable contributions to this sector, Malian patriarchal society hinders them from significantly benefiting from agriculture.

CARE’s Nyeleni was launched to ensure gender equality in sustainable agriculture in Mali. The project is being implemented in four regions and focuses on farming, aquaculture and livestock rearing. The main objective is to “enable more productive and more equitable participation of selected segments of poor women smallholder farmers in sustainable agriculture within three livelihood systems”. Nyeleni is estimated to directly impact 39,000 extremely poor rural women and 167,500 other members of their households.

A huge percentage of Malians depend on agriculture, and the sector accounts for 38 percent of the country’s GDP. Hence, it is crucial that investment in sustainable agriculture in Mali does not fall short. The fact that Mali is considered the poorest West African nation makes continued efforts in this sector all the more important.

– Mehruba Chowdhury

Photo: Flickr

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Improving Education Opportunities in Tanzania http://www.borgenmagazine.com/education-opportunities-in-tanzania/ Tue, 23 Jan 2018 09:30:07 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=124006 SEATTLE — Education has been a priority for Tanzanians since the country’s independence in 1961. However, millions of Tanzanian children are left without secondary education or vocational training. This leaves many children with no choice but to work in exploitive, abusive or hazardous environments in order to support their families. However, progress is being made [...]

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SEATTLE — Education has been a priority for Tanzanians since the country’s independence in 1961. However, millions of Tanzanian children are left without secondary education or vocational training. This leaves many children with no choice but to work in exploitive, abusive or hazardous environments in order to support their families. However, progress is being made to improve education opportunities in Tanzania.

Since 2015, Halotel Telecom Company (HTC) has provided free and fast internet services to 450 Tanzanian schools. Joseph Julius, a student at Lugoba High School, said that HTC has helped him and other students have access to downloadable textbooks, full-color content, articles and high-definition videos. Joseph remembers how his class used to see DNA drawings in only black and white, but they can now use the internet to view DNA in various forms, colors, videos and other mediums. “There are new software updates every day,” said Emmanuel Muhizi, a computer teacher pleased with HTC’s help in introducing Tanzanian students to the world’s unfolding technologies.

In November 2015, Tanzania’s government issued Circular 5, which directs the country’s public bodies to ensure that secondary education is free for 11 years for all children. “Provision of free education means pupils or students will not pay any fee or other contributions that were being provided by parents or guardians before the release of new circular,” reads the Circular. Students will only need to pay for school books, uniforms and pens.

In February 2016, the College of New Caledonia (CNC) began a plan with Canada’s College of the Rockies to conduct a three-year capacity-building project for Tanzania’s vocational training programs. Funded by Global Affairs Canada, the project will bring advanced trade instructors to Tanzania’s vocational institutions. “This is a great learning opportunity for students and faculty both at CNC and in Tanzania,” said Frank Rossi, CNC’s Dean of Trades.

In April 2017, the organization FHI 360 established an education management information system in seven of Tanzania’s poorest regions. Once the system is taken to scale, it could support more than 10 million students and 25,000 schools. FHI 360 is also using a geographic information system, K-Mobile, to map 5,500 schools in the impoverished region. The mapping has improved the Tanzanian government’s capacity to budget and plan for future EMIS efforts.

In May 2017, the World Bank approved a credit to create more education opportunities in Tanzania. Worth $80 million, the credit will provide primary and secondary education to millions of the country’s children and help Tanzania’s most vulnerable households. “We congratulate the government on removing obstacles to school attendance, especially among the poor, and for its focus on education quality,” said Bella Bird of the World Bank.

At a press conference in October 2017, Stanbic Bank announced plans to offer Tanzanian students financial assistance for university-level education. “It is a flexible solution that allows parents to support their children’s higher learning needs by meeting their financial obligations for fees, books and accommodations,” said Lilian Mtali, the bank’s head of personal markets. The bank will also offer graduates cost-free transactional accounts for managing their finances.

Technological developments have greatly served efforts in improving education opportunities in Tanzania. However, opportunities for secondary education and vocational training may continue to be greater challenges facing Tanzania’s youth. Projects in other categories, not just technology alone, may also be needed to continue strengthening the country’s education sector. Financial assistance such as the World Bank’s $80 million credit could play a key role in filling these gaps.

– Rhondjé Singh Tanwar

Photo: Flickr

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The Success of Humanitarian Aid to Papua New Guinea http://www.borgenmagazine.com/success-humanitarian-aid-papua-new-guinea/ Mon, 22 Jan 2018 15:30:44 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=123988 SEATTLE — Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a country in the southwestern Pacific that is known for its wide range of biological diversity, active volcanoes and thriving coral reefs. However, with a population of approximately 7.3 million and over 800 spoken languages, PNG faces many internal challenges, mostly characterized by weak public service and gender [...]

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SEATTLE — Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a country in the southwestern Pacific that is known for its wide range of biological diversity, active volcanoes and thriving coral reefs. However, with a population of approximately 7.3 million and over 800 spoken languages, PNG faces many internal challenges, mostly characterized by weak public service and gender inequality as well as environmental disasters and lack of infrastructure.

PNG’s economic partner and neighbor, Australia, has been dedicated to helping PNG in its quest for a more stable economic and societal structure. In fact, for the 2017-2018 period, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is investing an estimated $546.3 million into the country’s infrastructure and strategic planning to lead to more successful humanitarian aid to Papua New Guinea. In their Official Development Assistance (ODA) plan, DFAT laid out three main objectives:

Promoting effective governance

One of Papua New Guinea’s main struggles is developing a stable rule of law. DFAT believes that this would not only enhance PNG’s economic growth, but it would also reduce poverty rates by strengthening the effectiveness of the public sector.

Together, the two countries drafted the Pacific Leadership and Governance Precinct, a plan that was first introduced in 2014. The hope is that it “will build a new generation of leaders, both men and women, giving them ethical, practical and intellectual framework to lead Papua New Guinea into the future.”

Additionally, stemming from the Pacific Leadership and Governance Precinct, the two nations began developing the National Public Service Gender Equity and Social Inclusion Policy in 2012, which was launched to create guidelines and a framework to offer a more inclusive workplace for all citizens of PNG. This policy targets those living with disabilities, HIV/AIDS and those who face discrimination based on sex, gender or other personal attributes.

 

While the policy is expected to be in full effect in 2050, the country has already begun to see positive change in the workplace in terms of more companies offering equal access to opportunities.

By developing a stable rule of law through providing leadership instruction and a more inclusive workspace, the hope is that the country will see more success in terms of humanitarian aid to Papua New Guinea.

Enabling economic growth

The next objective of Australia’s ODA plan is to help Papua New Guinea develop a more expansive economy that promotes a healthy workforce. One of the two major steps Australia is taking towards improving PNG’s economy is by investing up to $400 million into PNG’s Transport Sector Support Program.

So far, over 70 percent of Australia’s spending in Papua New Guinea’s transit sector has been directed towards rebuilding and resurfacing the country’s primary roads. This is a major factor in allowing citizens to travel to work without road delays or closures and ensuring safety on commonly used routes. Already, this investment has supported about 50 percent of the country’s road network in 12 provinces.

The next major improvement within the plan for economic growth is an additional $100 million investment that is geared towards the PNG-Australia Incentive Fund, which is a fund that “supports high performing organizations to expand their operations in order to improve service delivery capacity and promote economic growth.” This incorporates church and research organizations, as well as education and health initiatives, and the money will be mainly dedicated to acquiring better IT management to ensure that all business and services are done efficiently.

The hope is that by 2019, both the Transport Sector Support Program and the PNG-Australia Incentive Fund will not only improve Papua New Guinea’s economic standing but also lead to more successful humanitarian aid to PNG by creating safer roads for people to use in their daily lives.

Enhancing human development

Although PNG’s health sector has improved over the past several decades, their health systems and services still face challenges in terms of providing quality access and education for all citizens, regardless of economic standing or geographical location.

Since 2012, Australia has invested $609.1 million, and many of these funds have been allocated towards providing better quality care for women and children, which is one of the most pressing concerns within the realm of extending humanitarian aid to Papua New Guinea.

For example, the Maternal and Child Health Initiative had graduated 152 midwives by the end of 2012 and 451 by the end of 2015, with all the graduates having learned standard midwifery clinical practice. The program proved to have positive effects, as at the end of 2010, the maternal mortality rate per 100,000 live births was 238, and at the end of 2015, the maternal mortality rate per 100,000 live births was 215.

Australia has provided humanitarian aid to Papua New Guinea that has been a key factor in the nation’s quest for peace, stability and prosperity. The hope is that in the coming years, the programs enacted through the Australia-PNG partnership will help PNG reach new, greater heights in terms of citizen health and happiness.

– Alexandra Dennis

Photo: Flickr

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Outsmarting Poverty: Projects Improving Education in the Philippines http://www.borgenmagazine.com/improving-education-in-the-philippines/ Mon, 22 Jan 2018 15:30:31 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=123979 SEATTLE — Within the cluster of islands known as the Philippines, poverty-stricken families and governments struggle to give children a proper education. Various conflicts disrupt educational opportunities, such as teen pregnancies, a lack of money, a lack of books and school supplies, undertrained teachers and an absence of early-stage developmental education for one to five-year-olds. [...]

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SEATTLE — Within the cluster of islands known as the Philippines, poverty-stricken families and governments struggle to give children a proper education.

Various conflicts disrupt educational opportunities, such as teen pregnancies, a lack of money, a lack of books and school supplies, undertrained teachers and an absence of early-stage developmental education for one to five-year-olds. As a result, about two-thirds of children, or 6.2 million, are denied an education, according to Save the Children. However, organizations are improving education in the Philippines by tackling these obstacles and creating sustainable solutions.

It is well known that the earlier a child receives education, the more developed they are in basic skills like reading and writing. In the Philippines, Save the Children works to educate children from ages one to five to enhance their reading and writing skills and allow greater opportunities for the child. Their Read First program does just this, as well as training parents on how to teach the basics. By training parents, Save the Children expands the possibilities for a child’s learning to time spent at home, greatly increasing children’s exposure to education.

Another project through Save the Children is KASALI, which assists children with disabilities in receiving a basic education. Currently, only 3 percent of children with disabilities in the Philippines have access to education.

Basa Pilipinas is another reading program in the Philippines funded by USAID. The program focuses on providing adequate learning materials, books and facilities as well as instructing teachers on more effective ways to educate. As of 2013, the project had trained about 19,000 teachers and distributed about 8.1 million reading materials, helping to teach 1.6 million new readers, according to USAID.

Assisting in improving education in the Philippines along with the educators, the Peace Corps assigns many volunteers to co-teach in Filipino schools. They also help teachers create effective language teaching curriculums and train educators on more effective ways to teach children. The Peace Corps also assists in high schools and universities, enhancing education at all levels.

Teenage pregnancy is perhaps one of the biggest inhibitors of young girls receiving an education in the Philippines.  According to World Vision, one of 10 girls in the Philippines is either a mother or pregnant. Along with causing a huge financial and social burden for young girls, pregnancy drastically reduces the chances of girls going to school, restricting the teenage mother’s possibilities later in life. Children International is working toward improving education in the Philippines by addressing teenage pregnancies.

According to Children International, their Youth Health Corps educates children on the dangers of pregnancy and implements programs to increase awareness in the community. One program entails children receiving a fake, electronic baby that they must care for. A program like this is meant to serve as an eye-opener, according to Children International.

Perhaps one of the simplest problems that prevent children from going to school in the Philippines is the cost. Many poor families cannot afford to pay for their children’s education and usually have the child work as a hand in the field or around the house. Cash grants, funded by the Asian Development Bank, give money to poor Filipino families who cannot afford to send their children to school. One example of these families is the Ewicans from the island of Bohol. They receive $65 every two months, allowing them to pay for their children’s education. The program does have conditions, mostly to ensure that the grant is being used productively and not going to waste. One condition is the requirement for parents to attend monthly meetings that teach the parents about topics ranging from sanitation to disaster preparedness.

These programs, along with others, are striving to create a sustainable education system for children. By improving education in the Philippines, these programs are contributing toward eliminating poverty at the roots.

– Austin Stoltzfus

Photo: Flickr

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The Astonishing Growth of Chinese Investment in Africa http://www.borgenmagazine.com/growth-chinese-investment-in-africa/ Mon, 22 Jan 2018 09:30:41 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=123976 SEATTLE — Chinese investment in Africa began in the early 1960s. While the United States and the Soviet Union vied for influence over the globe, including Africa, the Chinese government saw an opportunity to compete with the two dominant world powers, offering a third option to African countries who sought aid after gaining independence. While [...]

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SEATTLE — Chinese investment in Africa began in the early 1960s. While the United States and the Soviet Union vied for influence over the globe, including Africa, the Chinese government saw an opportunity to compete with the two dominant world powers, offering a third option to African countries who sought aid after gaining independence.

While the Chinese government has always sought to aid its partners in Africa, much of the aid comes in the form of investments, often as loans to the countries’ governments or business aid. When Chinese governments make deals with a nation’s government to mine or build in a country, in return Chinese companies employ and train the people of the country, both in skilled and unskilled positions.

This Chinese investment in Africa is viewed as both a blessing and a curse. Some say it is great that new money is being pumped into the African economy, new roads are being built and there are more jobs, but others see it as a form of neo-colonialism.

It cannot be denied that Chinese companies and in turn the government are concerned with the Chinese economy first. Chinese investment in Africa is based on the fact that China cannot meet all of its resource needs domestically. Energy is a major concern. In 2004, the Chinese bank Eximbank began to loan money to the Angolan government, backed by their oil reserves. In 2005, the Chinese oil company Sinopec began to acquire drilling rights for specific areas controlled by Eximbank in Angola.

As early as 2016, Angola began to see the pitfalls of an undiversified oil-based economy. The Angolan government struck similar deals with Western companies and Chinese companies. As the price of oil dropped, companies needed to extract more oil to continue loan repayment, leaving Angola vulnerable to these companies and governments. Much of Angola’s oil is used for debt repayment, so it was unable to extract as much oil for itself. Earlier that year, when China and Angola reached a new prefinancing deal, estimated to be worth $5 billion, Angola was left with little revenue of its own.

A similar deal was struck between the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Chinese government in 2008. The Chinese government would give the DRC $3 billion for mining and $3 billion for infrastructure development, to be used to build roads, hospitals, schools and dams. In exchange, the Chinese mining company Sicomines would be given access to DRC’s copper and cobalt reserves. Cobalt is an important mineral in the manufacturing of batteries and the DRC is in control of half of the world’s cobalt reserves. Unfortunately, from 2008 to 2015, less than half of the money earmarked for infrastructure improvement was spent on improvement projects. This is due to the high level of corruption in the Congolese government.

According to Amy Jadesimi, the managing director of Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics Base, a private company involved in foreign investment in Africa, China is improving its ability to work with local companies and governments under Chinese President Xi Jinping’s corruption crackdown, alongside select African nations’ similar crackdowns. She claims that this helps Chinese investment in Africa on two levels.

The first is that the money that China lends to nations in return for their natural resources will be used wisely, and not just to line the pockets of corrupt officials, bureaucrats and business owners. This helps the Chinese option look more attractive to other African nations that have yet to commit to large trade deals with China. Less corruption will also improve investment returns in both China and in Africa.

As population growth slows in the West, by 2050, 25 percent of the world’s population will live in Africa and the majority will be under the age of 30. By furthering closer cooperation between African governments and China, leading to an increase in effective Chinese investment in Africa, many opportunities will await these future generations.

– Nick DeMarco

Photo: Flickr

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Four Disability Rights Activists Making an Impact Around the World http://www.borgenmagazine.com/disability-rights-activists/ Mon, 22 Jan 2018 09:30:39 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=123962 SEATTLE — People with disabilities make up more than 15 percent of the world’s population, but their human rights are often overlooked. As a result of these inequalities and injustices, there are many people who dedicate their time and their voices to the cause. These four disability rights activists work toward equality for people with disabilities [...]

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SEATTLE — People with disabilities make up more than 15 percent of the world’s population, but their human rights are often overlooked. As a result of these inequalities and injustices, there are many people who dedicate their time and their voices to the cause. These four disability rights activists work toward equality for people with disabilities around the world.

Yetnebersh Nigussie

At the age of five, Yetnebersh Nigussie went blind. Born into a low-income family in a rural part of Ethiopia, Yetnebersh’s family thought it best if she enrolled in a boarding school for girls with disabilities.

Yetnebersh later studied law at Addis Ababa University with only two other women in her class. With a law degree under her belt, Yetnebersh set out to advocate for other people with disabilities by working for almost 20 activist organizations.

In 2005, she founded the Ethiopian Center for Disability and Development (ECDD). The organization fights for equal rights and equal access to opportunity for Ethiopians with disabilities. ECDD aims to improve the livelihoods of Ethiopian people with disabilities by providing vocational skills and job search training, and by issuing grants to working disabled individuals. The organization also fights to make healthcare and education more accessible to people, mainly women and children, with disabilities.

Yetnebersh’s hard work has not gone unrecognized. In 2017, Yetnebersh won the Right Livelihood Award, also known as the “alternative Nobel prize”, for her “inspiring work promoting the rights and inclusion of people with disabilities.”

 

Javed Abidi

Javed Abidi was born to a financially secure family in the agricultural trade city of Aligarh, India. At birth, Javed had sclerosis of the spine that was misdiagnosed and mistreated, causing him to be confined to a wheelchair for life.

Javed left for the United States for treatment and to study journalism and communications at Wright State University. Although he was a competitive applicant, Javed struggled to find employment in India, citing his disability as the biggest hindrance to being hired.

His activism helped pass the Persons with Disabilities Act in 1995 and he became the director of the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People in 1997. Currently, Javed also serves as vice chair of the International Disability Alliance, which fights for the rights of disabled people on a global scale.

In this role, Javed seeks to remind the public that more disability rights activists and movements need to focus on the global south: “15 percent of the world’s population live with a disability,” said Javed in an interview with Live Mint. “Of this, as many as 80 percent live in countries of the global south. Yet the leadership and the mechanisms that shape policies […] are controlled by people from the developed world, who have absolutely no idea what it means to be a person with disability.”

Tiffany Brar

Tiffany was diagnosed with a retinal disease after birth and lost her sight. After studying at many specialized schools in India, Tiffany went on to earn a degree in English literature from the Government Women’s College. Tiffany’s work with the visually impaired began immediately after graduation when she worked for Braille Without Borders.

Through this work, Tiffany discovered that few other visually impaired people living in India shared her fate. Most of the visually impaired individuals she encountered rarely left home, were undereducated or lacked the skills and training needed for employment. As a result, Tiffany founded the Jyothirgamaya Foundation, a school for the blind where students are taught computer skills, English and other academic subjects.

Tiffany states that her experience with visual impairment inspired her to focus on life skills at the foundation as well: “The only word blind people are taught is…you can’t…you can’t…you can’t. Even my father was very overprotective but I had it in me that I must walk alone, travel alone…live by myself …and now I want to empower others.” The students at the Jyothirgamaya Foundation are taught mobility and orientation so they can travel and live freely early in life, an experience that Tiffany was not able to have herself.

Peter Ogik

Disability rights activist Peter Ogik was born in Jinja, Uganda to two parents who had never seen someone with albinism before. As a result, Peter’s albino appearance at birth was a shock. While Peter’s family accepted and loved him fully, the rest of the neighborhood and his parents’ friends assumed Peter was cursed and distanced themselves from him.

Peter excelled in school despite the constant bullying and limited funds available for food and supplies. However, even after high school and university, Peter struggled to find work: “I remember applying for a job, and the owner of the business responded: ‘I can’t give you a job, you’d scare my customers.’”

In 2013, Peter, along with a few others from his university, formed the Source Nile Union of Persons with Albinism. The organization seeks to raise awareness about albinism in Nigeria and Uganda as well as providing materials for skin protection and skin cancer treatment.

Peter presents his disability activism in different forms such as film, music and entertainment and aims to demonstrate that the possibilities for people with disabilities are endless: “After all, it’s just a skin that is missing the color,” Peter says “but we have the potential to do everything.”

People with disabilities are more likely to have less education, fewer opportunities for employment, poor health outcomes and higher poverty rates compared to people without disabilities. Thanks to people like these disability rights activists, this group of disadvantaged people will have their voices heard and needs met.

– Danielle Poindexter

Photo: Flickr

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Development Projects in Kyrgyzstan Focused on Energy http://www.borgenmagazine.com/development-projects-in-kyrgyzstan/ Sun, 21 Jan 2018 15:30:37 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=123934 SEATTLE — Kyrgyzstan, formally the Kyrgyz Republic, became independent in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union. As a newly independent state, the landlocked Central Asian country struggles with issues of widespread poverty, cultural divisions and weak infrastructure. These are five development projects in Kyrgyzstan that seek to increase safety, productivity and quality of life [...]

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SEATTLE — Kyrgyzstan, formally the Kyrgyz Republic, became independent in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union. As a newly independent state, the landlocked Central Asian country struggles with issues of widespread poverty, cultural divisions and weak infrastructure. These are five development projects in Kyrgyzstan that seek to increase safety, productivity and quality of life in the country.

Sustainable Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Development Project

The now $58.5 million project recently received additional funding in 2017 and should have positive effects for an additional 100,000 people in Kyrgyzstan. The project will improve or replace the water supply infrastructure of participating villages as well as revamp sanitation facilities in clinics and elementary schools.

Project implementers not only rely on infrastructure changes to spark improvements in sanitation, but also education programs in universities as well as training programs for sanitation facility constructors and designers. Additionally, some households will be eligible for incentive grants that will be provided to families whose sanitation facilities meet an established hygienic standard.

The project was implemented in 2017 and will continue to assist people in remote areas of Kyrgyzstan until 2025.

Electricity Supply Accountability and Reliability Improvement Project

Approved in July 2014, the Electricity Supply Accountability and Reliability Improvement Project aims to enhance the presence and performance of the electricity supply in select project areas of Kyrgyzstan.

According to Senior Energy Specialist Ani Balabanyan, the electric supply will not hold up for long in its current state. In fact, the poor condition of the power sector infrastructure could lead to severe power shortages without the help of significant development projects in Kyrgyzstan in the next few years.

However, the $25.47 million project could achieve fewer instances of electricity loss and less customer dissatisfaction by 2019 through three project components. The first component involves improving infrastructure throughout the country by allocating more resources to the particularly structureless areas of Kyrgyzstan. Without proper infrastructure, an electricity supply cannot be supported. The second component aims to enhance the quality of services and improve customer satisfaction. The third component involves institutional changes that will improve customer support and business processes through changes such as implementing a 24/7 call center.

Urban Development Project

The Urban Development Project aims to improve municipal services, energy efficiency and seismic resilience of the Kyrgyzstan infrastructure by 2020 through improving solid waste collection and creating energy-efficient alternatives for city lighting and operations. Project implementers believe that through improved municipal practices and urban planning, the issues of poverty in the cities of Kyrgyzstan can be addressed.

According to Kremena Ionkova, the World Bank’s Senior Urban Development Specialist, the Urban Development Project should benefit 59,000 Kyrgyzstan citizens. The project could increase safety through infrastructure changes by increasing the availability of heating in schools and improving the lighting in public spaces. The World Bank aims to implement the project in particularly highly populated and low-income areas.

Heat Supply and Development Project

The objective of the 2017 Heat Supply Improvement Project for Kyrgyzstan is to improve the efficiency and quality of the District Heating system in Bishkeky, Kyrgyzstan in selected project areas by the closing date in 2023. The project goal is to improve access to adequate heating throughout Kyrgyzstan, especially in the brutally cold winter months.

For a portion of the 83 percent of residents that are not connected to the district heating system, the project implementers will introduce clean heating stoves to replace the outdated and inefficient fuel-fired heating stoves that are currently owned by 14,000 houses. While many houses that use these stoves are low-income, the average user of fuel-fired heating spends 45 percent more money for fuel.

Lastly, the project will focus on introducing energy-efficient alternatives and solutions for public buildings that utilize the most heat.

Kyrgyzstan Integrated Dairy Productivity Improvement Project

This is the most unique of the development projects in Kyrgyzstan. With a modest budget of $5 million, the Integrated Dairy Productivity Improvement Project aims to increase dairy animal productivity and milk quality on farms in the Issyk-Kul region.

The project will increase the production and quality of dairy products. Additionally, the project should increase the possibility of trade between Kyrgyzstan and other countries. The increased production, quality and trading will mean more jobs for people in agriculture as well as increased incomes.

The project should prompt positive changes for 12,000 household farms in the country. Given that agriculture makes up 15 percent of Kyrgyzstan’s GDP, this number should continue to increase, as well as making small improvements to agriculture during implementation.

The diversity of these five development projects in Kyrgyzstan shows that there are numerous ways to aid a country’s development. Hopefully in 2018, these projects will show progress toward their end objectives.

– Danielle Poindexter

Photo: Flickr

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Examples of Child Soldiers Escaping Their Captors http://www.borgenmagazine.com/examples-of-child-soldiers-escaping-their-captors/ Sun, 21 Jan 2018 15:30:00 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=123924 SEATTLE — On March 5, 2012, Kony2012, a short documentary filmed and produced by Invisible Children, was released. Its purpose was to get Joseph Kony, Ugandan guerrilla leader and head of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), captured and arrested before the end of 2012. The release of this film and the support of many organizations [...]

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SEATTLE — On March 5, 2012, Kony2012, a short documentary filmed and produced by Invisible Children, was released. Its purpose was to get Joseph Kony, Ugandan guerrilla leader and head of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), captured and arrested before the end of 2012. The release of this film and the support of many organizations have helped to aid and bring awareness to many of the examples of child soldiers escaping their captors.

For the past 27 years, Joseph Kony has been known as the self-appointed leader of the LRA. He has kidnapped over 30,000 children from their homes to strengthen his army, forcing the boys to become child soldiers and the girls to become sex slaves.

Invisible Children, among many other organizations, has worked to create and establish campaigns that motivate child soldiers to peacefully surrender. With every child they return home, Invisible Children has been able to slowly reduce violence, reunite families and bring communities closer to peace. The organization also highlights the many examples of child soldiers escaping their captors and shares the stories of these triumphs.

Edward’s Story

At the age of 13, Edward was abducted from his village in Uganda by rebels in the Lord’s Resistance Army. He recollected how those that were abducted that night were forced to kill the other children who tried to evade capture.

By the age of 16, Edward had earned the rank of sergeant. He learned quickly that the best way to stay alive was to keep his head down and do as he was told.

In 2006, Kony encouraged his top leaders to meet with their families during a round of peace talks. When Edward met with his mother and sister, they pleaded with him to return home, but he refused, saying that it would violate army codes. It was when he was leaving that he was able to whisper to his sister that he would return home one day.

The final straw came for Edward when Kony accused one of his closest advisors of sleeping with one of his reserved women. He ordered Edward and others to kill their own commander and display the body as a warning sign. That was the night Edward escaped.

Fourteen years had passed since Edward had last been to his village. With the help of World Vision, Edward became one of the many examples of child soldiers escaping their captors.

After prayers and songs underneath the shade of a neem tree, each villager lined up before Edward and sprinkled him with water from the branch of a calabash tree – signifying the community washing away his past and welcoming him home.

Opondo’s Story

On June 21, 1998, 10-year-old Opondo was kidnapped from Lamwolode, Uganda by the LRA rebels. Like every other captive, he was forced to kill innocent people and was brainwashed into believing that escape was inevitable.

After 15 years of continuous killing had passed, Opondo overheard a former LRA member call out to him by name on a UBC shortwave radio, urging Opondo to safely surrender and reassured him that no harm would be done to him if he did.

A few months later, a group of hunters ran into Opondo and the rest of the LRA members. They fled before any violence erupted. Later that day, a note was found from the LRA group indicating that they wanted to escape. Invisible Children heard about the letter and took action, attempting to rescue Opondo and the group by dropping over 20,000 “come home” fliers over Garamba National Park, where the group was suspected to be hiding.

On July 31, 2013, Major Odano, the leader of LRA groups in Garamba National Park, fought with a group of local hunters and was killed as a result. Upon hearing the news of his commander’s death, Opondo realized that he could finally use this opportunity to escape.

On August 21, 2013, Opondo surrendered to U.N. peacekeepers, holding both the flier that was released by Invisible Children and his shortwave radio in his hands. For the first time in 15 years, Opondo became free from the LRA.

Norman’s Story

Norman was 12 when he was forcefully recruited by Joseph Kony and his army. He was brutally beaten in front of his family and whisked away in the middle of the night, but later became one of the examples of child soldiers escaping their captors.

Two months into his abduction, Norman was forced to kill an LRA veteran who had attempted to escape. That was his first of many kills.

The more he killed, the more violent Norman grew and each kill was celebrated. He received full blessing ceremonies and was promoted in ranks from munitions training to special artillery training. Every time he killed, Norman noticed that he was slowly losing himself and becoming more immersed in the life of an LRA rebel.

During Norman’s time with the LRA, the worst violence he experienced occurred during the Kitgum massacres in Uganda. The rebels moved through the villages of the region, slaughtering all the villagers.

This was the opportunity to escape that Norman had been waiting for. He took his chance and surrendered himself to the Ugandan soldiers, who then transported him to a treatment center in Gulu, Uganda. It took Norman years of therapy in order for him to rebuild his life. Today, Norman is a happily married father of two.

The most effective solutions to violence and exploitation experienced by these examples of child soldiers escaping their captors must be crafted by a collaborative society, with those most vulnerable to the injustices at the center.

– Zainab Adebayo

Photo: Flickr

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