BORGEN http://www.borgenmagazine.com Humanity, Politics & You Mon, 16 Jul 2018 08:30:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.7 $15 Million to Be Raised by Artists for Safe Water Initiatives http://www.borgenmagazine.com/safe-water-initiatives/ Mon, 16 Jul 2018 08:30:20 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=128205 SEATTLE — One Drop, an international water foundation, is partnering with Phillips Auction House to present Art for One Drop. The auction will feature contemporary art that will be auctioned off to raise funds for safe water initiatives in Latin America. The charity auction will begin on September 21 under the orders of Phillip Kaiser, a distinguished curator [...]

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SEATTLE — One Drop, an international water foundation, is partnering with Phillips Auction House to present Art for One Drop. The auction will feature contemporary art that will be auctioned off to raise funds for safe water initiatives in Latin America. The charity auction will begin on September 21 under the orders of Phillip Kaiser, a distinguished curator and critic. It will be open for public viewing from September 15 through September 21 at the Phillips Auction House in New York.

Most of the artwork has been donated by famous artists, such as Barbara Kruger, Kara Walker, Ed Clark, Nicolas Party and Tracey Emin, along with 45 others who created art that “embodies our shared ambition to make a difference and bring positive change to the global water crisis,” as the Phillips Auction House described it in a press release about the event.

The One Drop Foundation

One Drop was established in 2007 by Guy Laliberté, the founder of Cirque du Soleil. It focuses on making safe water available in Latin America, India and Africa. The foundation has created 13 active water access projects in these countries, which will reach more than 1.3 million beneficiaries once the projects are completed. In order to complete these projects, however, they must raise the funds needed, which is where the arts come in.

More than 2.1 billion people worldwide do not have access to safe drinking water. One Drop has taken an innovative stance on fundraising by linking it to something people are already passionate about, such as art. In doing so, the One Drop Foundation has made international development, specifically sanitation and safe water initiatives, something that is intriguing to get involved with.

The Results to Come of This Partnership

All funds raised at Art for One Drop in the Phillips Auction House will go toward the Lazos de Agua program, which is working to provide more than 200,000 citizens with safe water in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Mexico, Paraguay and Colombia. The Lazos de Agua program holds a multi-stakeholder partnership between One Drop, IDB, Fundacion Femsa and the Coca-Cola Foundation. These organizations are all working together to attain three objectives:

  1. Encourage sustainability by cooperating with community leaders and governments to bring about lasting change.
  2. Use One Drop’s innovative water, sanitation and hygiene program and other global practices to change behaviors and protect water sources.
  3. Better the standard of living and health of those in poor and vulnerable communities.

How to Get Involved with Safe Water Initiatives

There are many ways for individuals to contribute to safe water initiatives besides art auctions. One Drop hosts many different events that can benefit from individual support, and encourages people to share news stories about the need for clean water with others in order to raise awareness of this key global issue.

International development is not an easy task to work on. This is precisely why it is so important that events such as Art for One Drop exist. By combining events that people would already attend with a charitable cause, the monetary goals that make programs such as Lazos de Agua possible are much more attainable.

– Raven Patzke 
Photo: Google

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Committees on Foreign Affairs and Relations: Duties and Differences http://www.borgenmagazine.com/committees-on-foreign-affairs/ Sat, 14 Jul 2018 14:30:46 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=128283 WASHINGTON D.C. – The two major committees within Congress that focus on ending global poverty and hunger are the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Due to the fact that these committees come from different chambers of Congress, they differ in their practices, goals and methods of passing bills through. Each [...]

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WASHINGTON D.C. – The two major committees within Congress that focus on ending global poverty and hunger are the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Due to the fact that these committees come from different chambers of Congress, they differ in their practices, goals and methods of passing bills through.

Each committee also has different roles in the fight against global poverty. Congress’ committees on foreign affairs divide up the organizations and duties that each must create legislation for, and together, form the foreign relations system of the United States.

The Committees on Foreign Affairs in the House and Senate

The House Foreign Affairs Committee debates and evaluates bills that that impact the Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Peace Corps, the United Nations, the enforcement of the Arms Export Control Act and the Foreign Assistance Act. It also focuses on the promotion of democracy, peacekeeping and international development.

A few of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s major areas of jurisdiction that aid in the fight against poverty include economic, military, technical and humanitarian assistance to foreign countries, foreign loans, international activities of the American National Red Cross, international law as it relates to foreign policy and the International Monetary Fund.

Congress’ committees on foreign affairs may be different as far as their duties, jurisdictions and areas of interest, but how different are they regarding formation, passing bills and effectiveness?

To find out more about the inner workings of Congress’ committees on foreign affairs, The Borgen Project reached out to Breanna Wright, a professor of political science at Stony Brook University on Long Island, New York. Professor Wright’s areas of expertise are in American politics, specifically Congress, election laws, voting behavior and political psychology.

The Borgen Project: What is the process of forming Congress’ committees on foreign affairs?

Breanna Wright: There are no significant differences in how committee membership is decided for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee. In both the Senate and the House, committee membership is determined in very similar ways. In general, the partisan balance of committees reflects the partisan balance of each chamber. Each party creates a Committee on Committees, which is a committee that is created to determine and assign committee membership. After the Committee on Committees assigns members to each committee, the membership assignment made by the Committee on Committees is voted on by their respective party. After the membership assignments are approved by each party, the membership assignments are voted on by the full chamber.

TBP: What is the basic process for the formation of bills within each committee? How likely are they to be passed through?

BW: After a bill gets assigned to a committee, the legislation typically goes to a subcommittee before being considered by the full committee. In the subcommittee, the legislation is marked up and voted on. Once it is voted out of the subcommittee, it goes to the full committee for a vote. In general, most legislation does not make it out of committees. Thousands of bills were assigned to committees in the Senate’s last congressional session and only approximately 500 bills made it out of the committees.

TBP: After bills are passed through each committee, what is the next step?

BW: In the House, after legislation is voted out of a committee, it goes to the Rules Committee. The Rules Committee sets the rules for debate (e.g., how much time is allowed for debate, whether amendments are allowed). Once the rules for legislation are set, the bill can be placed on the legislative calendar and scheduled for debate and vote.

In the Senate, after legislation is voted out of a committee, it is placed on the Senate’s Calendar of Business. There are two options for legislation to reach the Senate floor: through the majority leader via a motion that the Senate proceed to consideration of the bill or through unanimous consent. In general, the Senate prefers to bring legislation to the floor for consideration via unanimous consent due to the threat of a filibuster.

TBP: How much power do committees have over congressional decision making, generally?

BW: Committees have a significant amount of power over congressional decision making. Committees determine what legislation even reaches the House or Senate floor. Committees also have a significant amount of say in what a given piece of legislation contains, although the content of legislation can be modified significantly through the amendment process.


Congress’ committees on foreign affairs are not only in charge of a great deal of legislation that can help end global poverty, but are also instrumental in ensuring that these important bills reach each chamber’s floor for consideration. Thus, these committees are a vital piece of the United States’ role in the international effort to promote peace and prosperity around the globe.

– Theresa Marino
Photo: Flickr

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Door Step School Brings Education to Out-of-School Children in India http://www.borgenmagazine.com/door-step-school/ Sat, 14 Jul 2018 08:30:02 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=128280 SEATTLE — “If children cannot come to school, then let’s take the school to them”. This is the motto of the Door Step School, an organization started in 1988 by Rajani Paranjpe and her former student Bina Lashkari in Mumbai, India. In developing nations like India, making education accessible to the poor and marginalized is [...]

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SEATTLE — “If children cannot come to school, then let’s take the school to them”. This is the motto of the Door Step School, an organization started in 1988 by Rajani Paranjpe and her former student Bina Lashkari in Mumbai, India.

In developing nations like India, making education accessible to the poor and marginalized is still a challenge. Despite the many efforts undertaken by the government, about 1.7 million children remain out of school in India. As a solution to this issue, the Door Step School group started going from door to door offering education to the poor and the marginalized.

Rajani Paranjpe: The Brain Behind This Innovative Model of Education

Rajani Paranjpe has always desired to be a change maker. She has a master’s degree in social work and more than 20 years of teaching experience. She is a retired professor who has taught at the College of Social Work in Mumbai and the Shikoku Christian University in Japan. During her teaching career, she also got involved in many social projects and felt the need to devise practical solutions to problems faced by the government in the educational sector.

The Idea of the Door Step School

During her first years as a social worker, Paranjpe started assisting the Social Service Centre at Colaba Municipal School in Mumbai with the problem of school dropouts. There, she realized that the greatest challenge was convincing families to send their children back to school so that they could complete their education. She also discovered that many children remained deprived of an education due to the needs and limitations of their families. The obstacles ranged from having to assist their parents with daily labor, taking care of younger siblings while their parents are at work, a lack of access to resources and the inability to pay for schooling.

These issues became the genesis of the Door Step School. Paranjpe’s belief was that if children could not come to school, schooling should be provided wherever they are. Paranjpe, along with a few of her colleagues and students, began by offering informal education to the underprivileged, conducting classes in slums, constructions sites, footpaths and railway stations.

While the organization started its work in Mumbai with just 50 out-of-school children, slowly this easy-to-access alternative schooling method garnered the attention of many who could not otherwise learn. This led to the growth of the organization and it started spreading its benefits to children in other locations as well. The organization started operating in Mumbai in 1988, and in 1993 it was able to open another branch in Pune to cater to the needs of the underprivileged there.

The initial focus was on improving literacy rates among the underprivileged. The idea was to enable children to read newspapers and books at a basic level and gradually get them interested in learning the various subjects that would contribute to their overall development. The Door Step School defined several main objectives:

• To make 100 percent literacy a reality
• To provide primary and secondary education to all children between the ages of 3 and 18
• To bridge the gap between the government and the underprivileged by improving enrollment rates in schools
• To help children get a proper birth certificate, which is a primary requirement for admission to school
• To prevent students from dropping out of schools
• To ensure the overall development of children through training and coaching

The School on Wheels

Reaching out to children and starting a class anywhere was not without challenges. In order to overcome the environmental problems of heat, rain, wind and dust and to reach as many children as possible, the organization came up with the idea of the School on Wheels.

School on Wheels is a bus that goes from place to place to conduct classes. It has a blackboard, fitted cabinets for stationery, books and toys; fans and curtained windows with students’ artwork hung on them. The bus is headed by one driver, one teacher and a roving supervisor. It can accommodate about 50 students at a time. It is one of the most convenient ways to offer education to many children in a short span of time.

Currently, it offers classes four times a day, with each class being 2.5 hours long. This pioneering initiative has helped reduce school dropout rates significantly.

The Impact of the Door Step School

The Door Step School has had a huge impact in Mumbai and Pune by changing the lives of more than 50,000 children since its inception. Currently, the projects undertaken by the organization cover a population of 235,000 impoverished children. The organization now has a team of 1,000 volunteers and teachers, and every year it transforms the lives of more than 70,000 children.

According to Paranjpe, the first generation of students who benefited from the school now ensure that the second and third generations are enrolled in school and obtain a complete education in order to achieve a brighter and secure future. The impact, therefore, is a long-lasting one. Thus, the vision of one woman is slowly bringing about a transformation in the lives of the poor in Mumbai and Pune by spreading the light of education to the darkest corners of society.

– Shruthi Nair
Photo: Flickr

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Humanitarian Organizations Help Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh http://www.borgenmagazine.com/rohingya-refugees-in-bangladesh/ Fri, 13 Jul 2018 14:30:37 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=128261 SEATTLE — Since August 2017, Bangladesh has accepted approximately 693,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, more than half of whom are children. Hundreds more arrive each week, fleeing state-sponsored violence against their ethnic group. Many Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh live in overcrowded settlements, while others reside within local communities. Their presence has greatly impacted Bangladesh and [...]

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SEATTLE — Since August 2017, Bangladesh has accepted approximately 693,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, more than half of whom are children. Hundreds more arrive each week, fleeing state-sponsored violence against their ethnic group. Many Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh live in overcrowded settlements, while others reside within local communities. Their presence has greatly impacted Bangladesh and its citizens, and organizations including UNHCR, UNICEF and Oxfam are working diligently to improve their conditions and find a long-term solution to this crisis.

The Struggle to Accommodate Large Numbers of Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh

Seventy-three percent of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are living in spontaneous settlements, while 13 percent live in makeshift settlements, 9 percent reside among host communities and a mere 5 percent live in official refugee camps. Most of the refugees are living in Kutupalong-Balukhali, the largest refugee camp in the world, located within Cox’s Bazar, a district along the coast of Bangladesh that borders Myanmar. In two areas within Cox’s Bazar, Ukhia and Teknaf, refugees now outnumber locals two to one.

Bangladesh is both overcrowded and under-resourced, making it unable to adequately support the large number of refugees within its borders. In the hopes of preventing the Rohingya from staying long-term, Bangladesh has banned the creation of permanent settlements and is ensuring that within local camps, the Rohingya are educated in English and Burmese, not Bengali.

Hard-pressed to find a solution, Bangladesh’s prime minister Sheikh Hasina has been working with Myanmar, and the two countries came to an agreement in November 2017 under which Myanmar would repatriate the Rohingya.

However, many Rohingya refugees are reluctant to go back without a guarantee of citizenship, safety and security. According to a UNICEF article, one 19-year-old refugee stated that she would “rather die in Bangladesh than be forced to return to Myanmar.” And despite assurances that Myanmar will allow the Rohingya to come back, little progress has been made, and Bangladesh officials are skeptical about Myanmar’s willingness to follow through with the agreement.

International Groups Initiate Multi-Faceted Efforts to Address Refugee Crisis

To help Bangladesh find long-term solutions, the Center for Global Development has published a brief recommending that the nation find ways to “look beyond aid” in its plan to handle the refugee crisis. To keep Bangladesh’s economy strong, the center recommends expanding trade preferences with the European Union, as well as increasing opportunities for migrant workers. It may also be advantageous for Bangladesh to partner with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which finances energy projects and could expand programs to include provisions for Rohingya employment.

Other organizations have focused more directly on the needs of the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh by providing life-saving services and supplies. UNICEF has been on the ground in Bangladesh, helping the government provide cholera vaccines to 900,000 children and adults and malnutrition screenings to approximately 263,000 children.

Additionally, UNICEF has dug hundreds of bore wells and installed thousands of latrines in the area to ensure access to water and sanitation systems. It has also created learning and recreation spaces for children, which have been expanded as the number of refugees has increased, but have unfortunately not been able to service everyone.

Oxfam has also been supporting the Rohingya refugees, concentrating primarily on sanitation and health. Oxfam is constructing a large sewage facility that will serve up to 100,000 people, as well as drilling wells, installing toilets and showers, providing chlorinated water and distributing soap and other hygiene products.

With the help of community volunteers, Oxfam has also been working to educate refugees on the importance of clean water and good hygiene, and has provided 23,000 households with vouchers for nutritious foods that can be used at local markets. Oxfam estimates that it has currently reached 240,000 Rohingya refugees.

Anticipating the Future Needs of Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh

In June 2018, UNHCR and the Bangladesh government began formally registering Rohingya refugees, collecting family and birth details, fingerprints and iris scans. The plan is to use this data to aid in the repatriation process, although the white registration cards refugees receive explicitly state that they are “protected from forcible return to a country where he/she would face threats to his/her life or freedom,” according to Reuters.

Registration will also help aid agencies, as they need to know how many refugees are in Bangladesh in order to provide adequate supplies. This is especially imperative now, as 200,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are under threat of anticipated monsoon rains and cyclonic storms this summer.

Approximately 900 shelters and 200 latrines have already been destroyed as of July 3, 2018. Most settlements are made of plastic sheets and bamboo, neither of which hold up against severe weather conditions. Aid groups are working to move families to safer ground, but the sheer number of refugees makes this a difficult task. There is also a growing concern about the spread of waterborne diseases, including cholera, with the increased precipitation and flooding.

According to UNHCR, conditions in Myanmar are not yet safe for the Rohingya to return. Even if Myanmar does repatriate the refugees and give them rights and citizenship, it remains to be seen whether they will be willing to go back. With an uncertain future, Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh continue to rely on humanitarian assistance, which can help them make the most of their current situation.

– Sara Olk
Photo: Flickr

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Amazon Promise Improving Health in Iquitos, Peru http://www.borgenmagazine.com/health-in-iquitos/ Fri, 13 Jul 2018 08:30:13 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=128264 SEATTLE — Iquitos is a city in northeastern Peru, reachable only via water, air or foot transport as it is surrounded by wild Amazon rainforest and multiple rivers. This city of more than 400,000 residents is a hub for international travelers seeking to venture out into the wilderness beyond the city for various reasons, including [...]

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SEATTLE — Iquitos is a city in northeastern Peru, reachable only via water, air or foot transport as it is surrounded by wild Amazon rainforest and multiple rivers. This city of more than 400,000 residents is a hub for international travelers seeking to venture out into the wilderness beyond the city for various reasons, including meeting indigenous people in remote villages, volunteer work and studying wildlife, rainforest and waterways. Through experience and information sharing of such travelers and cooperation with the government, Amazon Promise, an international team of medical volunteers, is improving health in Iquitos.

Health in Iquitos Shaped by Poverty and Lack of Access to Care

The area of Iquitos considered by medical volunteers to be in the most need of help is the district of Belen, one of Peru’s poorest areas. Residents of the Belen district of Iquitos contend with many extremely difficult living conditions, particularly disease, flooding and lack of access to clean water. Most of Belen’s residents do not have plumbing or electricity. They have difficulty avoiding disease and obtaining medical attention. However, several volunteers have recognized the need for help and are offering assistance. Patty Webster, a volunteer in poor areas in Peru and the founder of Amazon Promise, spoke about her work in a video produced by CauseCentric. In it, she described the Belen district of Iquitos as “one of the most destitute areas I’ve ever seen.”

Webster, born in the U.S., initially worked as a wildlife intern and an adventure tour guide leading groups through Peru’s Amazonian nature. Even though she worked as a tour guide, not as a medical professional, locals brought their sick family and friends to her in the hope that she could help. Webster decided she needed to organize something more professional and extensive that would provide more than the mosquito nets and makeshift medical aid she could offer at the time.

Amazon Promise Brings Medical Care to Those in Need

Webster founded the nonprofit organization Amazon Promise, which she runs from her residence in Iquitos. Amazon Promise is a U.S.-based medical team of volunteers who travel to Peru’s poorest areas to provide healthcare. They care they provide includes prenatal care and general exams, but most often the patients are suffering from illnesses such as malaria, tuberculosis, parasites and snake/animal bites. Amazon Promise also trains local health workers and educates residents about sanitation and disease prevention practices. Webster and her team have reached thousands of patients since 1993 as they work towards improving health in Iquitos. Amazon Promise is growing through the participation of medical volunteers from the U.S. and local Peruvians, and recently the government of Peru became involved with Webster’s work.

As a result of the positive impact she has had on the local community through Amazon Promise, the Peruvian government recently donated land to Webster in order to build a clinic for the people of the Belen district of Iquitos. Webster explained that people in Iquitos are often sicker than people living in the remote jungle villages, and she has long hoped to open a permanent clinic specifically for the people of the Belen district who are in dire need of medical attention. With the Peruvian government’s donation of land for the project, Webster and her team managed to build a temporary clinic and are working towards realizing the construction of the permanent building.

The Larger Impact of Improving Health in Iquitos

One of Webster’s colleagues, Celine Cousteau, pointed out the positive effects that efforts to help the people of Belen can have in the area along the tributaries of the Amazon River. She told CauseCentric, “The communities out here – the indigenous people – are really the caretakers of the Amazon. So, hopefully, by taking care of these people, taking care of their health, we’re also in the long run taking care of this environment.”

As a city surrounded by the thick and wild Amazon rainforest, waterways and small remote villages of indigenous people, Iquitos is of great importance to preserve and strengthen. Patty Webster and her Amazon Promise team are diligently working to improve health in Iquitos, and hopefully, others will recognize the importance of assisting the medical missions in Iquitos. As Webster explains, “Health is the most important [issue]. Education is up there, but if you’re not healthy, you can’t study. You can’t educate yourself or be educated if you’re not healthy.”

– Emme Leigh
Photo: Flickr

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Two Healthcare Pioneers Transform the Lives of the Poor in India http://www.borgenmagazine.com/poor-in-india/ Thu, 12 Jul 2018 14:30:09 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=128241 SEATTLE — Very few people have the courage to give up a comfortable life to work for a social cause. Two such people who have devoted their time and energy to uplifting the rural poor in India are Dr. Rani Bang and her husband Abhay Bang. Dr. Rani and Abhay Bang Rani and Abhay Bang [...]

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SEATTLE — Very few people have the courage to give up a comfortable life to work for a social cause. Two such people who have devoted their time and energy to uplifting the rural poor in India are Dr. Rani Bang and her husband Abhay Bang.

Dr. Rani and Abhay Bang

Rani and Abhay Bang both have MBBS degrees from Nagpur University in Maharashtra, India, as well as masters in public health from Johns Hopkins University. These two professionals decided to embark on a lifelong journey to help transform the lives of the rural poor in India.

Dr. Bang started her career as a gynecologist three decades ago in Gadchiroli, one of the most underdeveloped districts in Maharashtra, India. She was the only gynecologist in the district then. Through her work, she saw that many women in the district had absolutely no knowledge of gynecological health. Due to poverty and lack of accessible medical facilities, they did not address their concerns with a medical professional, making them more vulnerable to infections and illnesses.

On examining the women in the area, Dr. Bang saw that many women suffered from sexually transmitted diseases, urinary tract infections, obstructed labor and infertility issues. Among these, the women considered infertility the most serious concern. Dr. Bang was curious about this because infertility is not a life-threatening issue, as opposed to the many other health problems that they faced. On questioning the women in the villages, she discovered that they were all victims of patriarchy. If a woman was unable to conceive, she would be thrashed by her husband and in-laws and looked down upon by society. This brought to light the conservative nature of society and the lack of understanding about male infertility.

The Beginning of SEARCH

Dr. Bang was very moved by the plight of the women in Gadchiroli and decided to find a solution to their problems. She and her husband Abhay are followers of the Gandhian principle of “evolutionary revolution” and took it upon themselves to create initiatives to transform the lives of the poor in India.

In 1986, the Bangs founded the Society for Education, Action and Research in Community Health (SEARCH). A survey conducted by SEARCH revealed that about 92 percent of women in Gadchiroli suffered from various gynecological problems, mainly STDs. Teenage pregnancies were on the rise, as the villagers lacked proper sex education. The survey also brought to light the increased occurrence of pneumonia in children, which was one of the major causes of child mortality.

Dr. Bang also discovered that the problems that women faced went far beyond their immediate health concerns, as alcoholism was a major issue among the male members of the family, which affected the family’s wellbeing.

Reaching Out to the U.N. and Other Women’s Groups

Dr. Bang decided that the issues faced by women in Gadchiroli needed to be addressed on a bigger platform in order to find immediate and effective solutions. She presented the reports of the SEARCH survey to various organizations, including the U.N. At the meetings, she conveyed her opinion that the focus of health organizations should shift from maternal health to women’s health, as it was necessary to take into consideration the overall wellbeing of women rather than just their gynecological wellbeing. Her views received appreciation from many women’s groups, as prior to this, nobody had emphasized the importance of this shift.

Dr. Bang’s study was soon published, and she was invited to conferences and seminars to present her findings. In 1992, she had an opportunity to present her research studies at the World Health Assembly, where ministers from various countries learned about the importance of widening the scope of women’s health. These conferences and seminars enabled her findings to receive international recognition.

The Founding of Shodhgram to Help the Poor in India

In 1993, Rani and Abhay set up Shodhgram, a hospital and rehabilitation center, to help improve the health and living conditions of the poor in India. The center was modeled after the structure of the tribal village in order to make it more welcoming to the local population. The campus includes a research center, a training center, an alcohol addiction center, a pharmacy, a kitchen and dining hall, a meeting hall and quarters for staff and visitors.

The initiative taken by the Bangs became a boon for the poor in Gadchiroli who had lost all hope of transformation. Now they can receive medical care at affordable rates. The health of women has improved and with the opening of the addiction center, the problem of alcoholism has been brought under control.

This inspiring doctor couple has won several state and national awards for their humanitarian work. In early 2018, they received the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in India, for their extraordinary social work.

Thus, with their dedication, hard work and relentless commitment to working for the welfare of the people, these two doctors have brought about a huge transformation in the lives of the poor in Gadchiroli. If the government encourages similar initiatives, many more rural villages in India will see the light of development.

– Shruthi Nair
Photo: Flickr

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How the Senate’s Foreign Operations Bill Impacts Global Development http://www.borgenmagazine.com/foreign-operations-bill/ Thu, 12 Jul 2018 08:30:49 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=128203 WASHINGTON – On June 21, 2018, the Senate cleared the FY2019 State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Act, which allocates funding for different initiatives nationally as well as overseas. The Foreign Operations bill has new implications for efforts to reduce global poverty and increase the quality of life overseas, especially for developing countries. These [...]

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WASHINGTON – On June 21, 2018, the Senate cleared the FY2019 State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Act, which allocates funding for different initiatives nationally as well as overseas. The Foreign Operations bill has new implications for efforts to reduce global poverty and increase the quality of life overseas, especially for developing countries. These are 10 major ways the Foreign Operations bill works to improve lives worldwide.

Impact of the Senate Foreign Operations Bill

  1. Aid to Jordan
    The Foreign Operations bill allocates $1.5 billion for economic and military assistance to Jordan. This will work to improve the quality of life of citizens affected by war in the region. Additionally, if passed, this bill would supply $50 million in relief and recovery funds to the people of Jordan to assist those that are in the midst of conflict.
  2. Aid to Tunisia
    One of the bill’s highlights is its plan to give $165.4 million to Tunisia for assistance in alleviating the nation’s poverty. Tunisia would also receive $50 million in relief and recovery funds to help those that are in desperate situations.
  3. Aid for Liberation
    The Senate has proposed $250 million in relief and recovery funds for areas that have been liberated from extremist groups such as the Islamic State. These funds aim to help the liberated regions develop and grow democratically. This is part of an effort to prevent extremist groups from being able to overtake vulnerable nations. These funds would go toward strengthening the areas that would be most susceptible to extremist groups in the future, so as to prevent extremist groups from increasing in power.
  4. Spreading Democracy
    The Foreign Operations Bill allocates $2.4 billion to democracy programs that seek to promote democracy in regions that are suffering under oppressive regimes. Additionally, it would supply $170 million to the National Endowment for Democracy, a private, nonprofit foundation that works to grow and strengthen democratic systems globally. These allocations would result in a $91.5 million increase from the FY2018 levels of support for democracy internationally.
  5. Aid for Central America
    The FY2019 bill proposes $515.5 million in assistance to Central American countries. This is part of the U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America, which is a bipartisan, multi-year governmental plan. This plan seeks to promote institutional reforms in Central America that address developmental challenges, high rates of violent crime, weak judicial systems and extreme poverty. This proposition sees an increase of $80 million more than the budget request.
  6. Aid for Venezuela
    The bill will allot $20 million for aid to Venezuela to promote democracy and rule of law. This is to support the Venezuelan people, who are largely impoverished under the nation’s current regime.
  7. Assistance for Refugees
    The Senate has planned to assign $3.4 billion to migration and refugee assistance. This will work to protect those impacted by conflict and other disasters, both natural and manmade.
  8. International Disaster Assistance
    The FY2018 level of disaster assistance was $4.3 billion, but this year, the Senate has proposed an increase of $100 million, making the total number of funds allocated to international disaster assistance $4.4 billion.
  9. Global Health Programs
    The Foreign Operations bill includes a total of $8.8 billion for global health programs. This includes efforts to fight malaria ($755 million), HIV/AIDS ($6 billion), polio ($59 million), tuberculosis ($275 million) and neglected tropical diseases ($106 million). Maternal and child health would receive $829.5 million, and $135 million would go to nutrition assistance.
  10. International Security Assistance
    This bill would provide $8.8 billion for counterterrorism and nonproliferation programs ($860.7 million), peacekeeping operations ($477.4 million), international military education and training programs ($110.7 million) and foreign military financing programs ($5.9 billion). These efforts will help nations that are vulnerable to extremist regimes to be able to fight against those that would perpetuate poverty, hunger and oppression in their nations.

The FY2019 State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Act is currently not yet law. However, if passed, this bill will result in great improvements to the fight against poverty and deprivation worldwide.

– Theresa Marino
Photo: Flickr

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Solving the Sanitation Crisis in India http://www.borgenmagazine.com/sanitation-crisis-in-india/ Wed, 11 Jul 2018 14:30:43 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=128219 SEATTLE — Sanitation is described by UNICEF as a comprehensive term referring to “interventions that reduce human exposure to diseases by providing a clean environment”. Certain poor and developing parts of the world are in dire need of such interventions, as human exposure to fecal matter has been responsible for large numbers of illnesses and [...]

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SEATTLE — Sanitation is described by UNICEF as a comprehensive term referring to “interventions that reduce human exposure to diseases by providing a clean environment”. Certain poor and developing parts of the world are in dire need of such interventions, as human exposure to fecal matter has been responsible for large numbers of illnesses and deaths among children due to intestinal infections and food and water contamination. It is estimated that 1.4 million children die each year due to diseases caused by unsafe drinking water and poor sanitation. At present, 2.4 billion people do not use proper sanitation. Worldwide, 946 million people practice open defecation; 564 million of these live in India. The sanitation crisis is so pronounced in India that nearly half of its 1.2 billion people do not have toilets at home.

Clean India Campaign a Major Effort to Combat Sanitation Crisis in India

While India has been grappling with the problem of poor sanitation since its independence, a significant step was taken in 2014 when the current Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, launched the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (SBA), or Clean India Campaign. The campaign aims to build 100 million toilets in the country by 2019 to tackle the problems associated with poor sanitation, especially open defecation, which is practiced by 44 percent of the population.

It is estimated that since then, sanitation coverage has increased from 41.92 percent in 2014 to 64.18 percent in 2017. In 2017, the government also managed to reach the halfway mark by building more than 50 million toilets in the country and seven states/union territories were declared Open Defecation Free (ODF). Under the SBA campaign, 475 cities have been certified ODF.

Urban Areas Work to Build Adequate Sanitation Infrastructure

However, the government’s attempts at creating awareness, building community latrines on a large scale and providing subsidies for constructing latrines in homes have not ended the sanitation crisis entirely. With the influx of people into cities, there is not only a shortage of space but also of sanitation facilities. Currently, 157 million people in Indian cities lack access to private toilets. Most drainage and sewage systems are outdated and not equipped to process the large amounts of human waste produced by the cities and their innumerable informal settlements. There is also a lack of adequate waste treatment plants, which results in massive quantities of waste being dumped into rivers. Untreated sewage from urban centers ends up polluting rivers and causes further health risks when it contaminates groundwater supplies.

One part of the SBA involves the cleaning up of rivers, which is intrinsically related to improving the sanitation crisis in India. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, under its Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Programme, has also been working on developing innovative technologies to tackle solid and septic waste management and sewage treatment in select cities (Pune, Warangal, Dungarpur and Trichy) in India.

In 2015, the government of India launched a program called the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation, aimed at creating proper sewage networks, septic management and water distribution for 500 cities across the country. The government also allocated funds to the states in order to make them equal partners in the planning and implementation of such projects under the State Annual Action Plans. States like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Odisha have already issued state-level septic management policies. In addition, the National Policy on Faecal Sludge and Septage Management by the Ministry of Urban Development in India aims to bring together the central government, states and local bodies to ensure proper implementation of onsite sanitation services and fecal sludge and septage management across urban India.

Rural India Looks to Eliminate Open Defecation

The obstacles to improving the sanitation problem in rural India include poverty, cultural prejudices, lack of awareness, and a shortage of running water, among others. Sixty-five percent of the rural population in India either practices open defecation or has inadequate access to toilet facilities. Cultural prejudice often hinders villagers from using toilets inside their homes, as toilets are considered unclean spaces that pollute the rest of the house.

In 2016, the state of Chhattisgarh saw an improvement in sanitation as the number of ODF villages increased from 20 in 2014 to 1,644 in 2016. However, despite improvements, India still falls behind countries like Vietnam, which are close to eradicating open defecation completely. Though a lot still needs to be accomplished, the Swachh Bharat Gramin (Rural) Mission has been working towards accelerating sanitation coverage and motivating communities to adopt proper sanitation practices through information and health education. It is estimated that since 2014, 394,462 villages have been rendered ODF.

In the same year, Narendra Modi recognized Kunwar Bai, a 105-year-old woman, as a mascot for the Clean India Campaign when she inspired her village and subsequently a district of 800,000 people to end open defecation by investing in building toilets.

The awareness programs under SBA have been making a huge impact on the infrastructure and behavioral practices of sanitation. Many businesses, nonprofit organizations and leading organizations such as the World Bank, the World Health Organization, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, USAID, UNICEF and the United Nations have been supporting the Clean India Campaign and are contributing to solving the sanitation crisis in India. Though some large states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have shown slow progress, the SBA remains undaunted in its attempts to improve the quality of sanitation practices in the country.

– Jayendrina Singha Ray
Photo: Flickr

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How to Reduce Poverty Through Tourism in Nepal http://www.borgenmagazine.com/reduce-poverty-through-tourism-in-nepal/ Wed, 11 Jul 2018 08:30:17 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=128215 SEATTLE — Tourism is growing in Nepal. In 2017 alone, a record-setting 940,218 tourists visited Nepal, a 210,668 increase from the previous year. As a result, an additional $1.9 billion was contributed to the Nepalese economy. Furthermore, 1,027,000 jobs were supported by the tourism industry. Given the industry’s expansion, it can be an incredibly effective [...]

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SEATTLE — Tourism is growing in Nepal. In 2017 alone, a record-setting 940,218 tourists visited Nepal, a 210,668 increase from the previous year. As a result, an additional $1.9 billion was contributed to the Nepalese economy. Furthermore, 1,027,000 jobs were supported by the tourism industry. Given the industry’s expansion, it can be an incredibly effective strategy to reduce poverty through tourism in Nepal.

However, mainstream tourism oftentimes leaves this potential untapped. Frequently, those living in poverty are disconnected from the tourism industry. Instead of providing a source of income to the roughly 15 percent of Nepalese that are living on less than $1.90 a day, the majority of tourism revenue ends up in the pockets of already well-to-do businessmen and investors. To make things worse, the increased volume of people can place further strain on resources. Already limited access to food and water is diverted from the struggling poor to the profitable tourist centers.

That being said, tourism can be a great source of poverty alleviation. Tourism has the potential to introduce much-needed economic opportunities to local villages. If managed properly, it can sustain a market in which locals support themselves through entrepreneurship, and it can provide an influx of funds that allow villages to invest in local infrastructure.

3 Sisters Adventure Trekking and Empowering Women of Nepal

The Chhetri sisters are three women who have decided to reduce poverty through tourism in Nepal. Lucky Chhetri, co-owner of 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking, told The Borgen Project that “tourism can be a great development tool for all the third world countries because a destination where there is a challenge will be the best tourism destination.” She explains that the natural landscape of these developing countries can be the country’s best asset. Tourists are willing to invest a lot of money and time in order to travel to these countries and tackle the challenges that the terrain presents. Lucky believes that tourism is one of the best strategies for alleviating poverty in developing countries.

In 1994, Lucky, Dicky and Nicky Chhetri founded the 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking agency and the NGO Empowering Women of Nepal. Through these companies, the Chhetri sisters began training local women to become adventure tour guides in the city of Pokhara. The city contains an entrance to a popular Himalayan hiking trail called the Annapurna Circuit. Over the past 25 years, the company has expanded to include locations in Everest, Langtang, Helambu, West Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan and India.

The company was inspired by conversations the sisters had with single women who stayed the night in the sisters’ lodge. The sisters were stricken by the number of single female travelers who confessed that they felt unsafe because their male tour guide had behaved inappropriately. Lucky thought of a solution: if women did not feel safe traveling with male trekking guides, why not create a company staffed by female guides?

Lucky’s solution was controversial. In the 1990s, Nepalese women were discouraged from venturing out of their houses, let alone leading an expedition up one of the world’s highest mountain peaks. But having completed her own mountaineering training only four years before, Lucky saw no reason why women could not overcome the social stigma. Recognizing the potential to provide women with a chance for self-sufficiency in a male-dominated economy with limited employment options, the sisters reached out to the women of the local communities and let them know about this new program.

Job Training Programs One Way to Reduce Poverty Through Tourism in Nepal

The opportunity that 3 Sisters offers consists not only of skills-based training but also access to free education. For the first four weeks, women are enrolled in English language courses. While learning the necessary mountaineering and trekking skills, the women also take courses in women’s health, environmental preservation, geography and more.

After completing the necessary training courses, the women are offered a six-month paid apprenticeship to allow the women to gain work experience in guided trekking. For the duration of their apprenticeship, the women are provided with housing accommodations.

In this final stage of the program, the women are offered salaries that are competitive with the salaries of experienced male trekking guides. The salary is enough to not only covering trekking costs but also allows the women to put money into savings. Furthermore, the position offers insurance benefits and access to the necessary trekking equipment.

After completing the program, the majority of these women have gone on to careers in the trekking tourism industry. Some have continued their education through refresher courses provided by Empowering Women of Nepal. Others return to their home villages where they share the knowledge they have gained. No matter what path they take, the one thing that all these women have in common is financial self-sustainability and a lasting sense of empowerment.

In 1994, the Chhetri sisters set out to “extend educational, employment and entrepreneurial opportunities to marginalized or disadvantaged women from all over Nepal,” as Lucky described it. Since then, thousands of women have taken advantage of the opportunities offered by the Chhetri sisters. Given the extent of its social impact and the financial success of the business, 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking is a useful model for how to reduce poverty through tourism in Nepal.

– Joanna Dooley
Photo: Flickr

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Trash Robots Saving the World’s Water http://www.borgenmagazine.com/trash-robots/ Tue, 10 Jul 2018 14:30:45 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=128184 SEATTLE — Clean water is a basic necessity that 2.1 billion people on the planet do not have access to. The lack of clean water leads to poor health, which prevents people from being able to work or become educated, thereby continuing the cycle of poverty. Lack of clean water can be caused by pollution, [...]

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SEATTLE — Clean water is a basic necessity that 2.1 billion people on the planet do not have access to. The lack of clean water leads to poor health, which prevents people from being able to work or become educated, thereby continuing the cycle of poverty. Lack of clean water can be caused by pollution, climate change, disease, water stress and shortages because of growing demand. In many cases, humans play the biggest role in creating these issues and are also the ones that can ultimately solve the problem.

The Impact of Ocean Pollution

Approximately 1.4 billion pounds of trash ends up in the oceans each year. Oceans are connected to all of the Earth’s other bodies of water, meaning that any trash commonly found in the ocean can be found in a river or a lake and vice-versa, which affects the already small percentage of fresh water available. Of the 1.4 billion pounds of trash, the main contributor is plastic. If ingested via polluted water, plastic particles can lead to inflammation, which is an immune response that if prolonged can cause extreme damage. It can also bind strongly to other toxins like mercury and pesticides, chemicals which can affect body cells. leading to an increased risk of cancer as well as reproductive and developmental problems.

It further affects human populations through food consumption in the form of aquatic life. Plastic pollution has negatively impacted 267 species worldwide through ingestion, starvation, suffocation and infection. It also reduces biodiversity, as many species become extinct. This decline in aquatic life affects the livelihoods of subsistence fishers and those who depend on fishing to earn a living, making it harder for them to rise out of poverty.

Rise of the Trash Robots

Two Australian surfers took a step towards combatting pollution in 2015 with the invention of the Seabin. Seabin is a garbage can designed to collect trash in the ocean, rivers and other bodies of water. It is connected to a dock which has pumps that remove floating trash by sucking it into a bag and then releasing the water. It has been estimated to catch 1.5 kg of debris a day, or half a ton a year, and its water pump uses about $1 in energy consumption.

Eco-Business reported that the most common objects caught in the bag are cigarette butts (29 percent of all trash collected), plastic fragments (28 percent), food wrappers (26 percent), foam particles (5 percent), bottle caps (4 percent), straws and stirrers (2 percent) and plastic bags (1 percent). Where the Seabin falls short is that it can only collect the garbage around where it is stationed, limiting its potential.

To address the need for mobile trash collection, Urban Rivers recently completed a Kickstarter campaign to bring its very own Trash Robot to life. This design allows the device to move across bodies of water, which increases the range of collection. Another difference from the Seabin is that there is no bag that needs to be emptied, as the robot can deliver the trash to a collection location for removal.

In the simplest terms, Urban Rivers’ Trash Robot is basically a remote controlled truck on water. Urban Rivers is capitalizing on the ease of controlling the robot by incorporating it into an online game that allows anyone to control the robot. This is an interactive way to get individuals involved in protecting bodies of water and consequently promoting pollution-free water.

The team of designers is hoping to increase the number of trash robots in rivers, as well as add features like stronger WIFi connectivity, a stationary trash can and tracking capability. If improvements continue, it could lead to a substantial decrease in the amount of trash present in bodies of water, which means decreased contamination and an increase in clean freshwater.

Looking Ahead

The trash robots are a great step forward in combatting pollution, the major cause of water scarcity. However, it could also be a method of improving the lives of individuals in developing countries. The most direct effect of decreased pollution is improved health as a result of increased availability of clean water, but the proliferation of trash robots could lead to economic opportunities as well. In order to deploy trash robots across the world, people will be needed to maintain them and remove the trash they collect. This illustrates the multi-faced benefits trash robots can have in helping to lift people out of poverty.

– Stephanie Singh
Photo: Flickr

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