SEATTLE — Poverty in Paraguay remains a widespread issue despite the country’s recent economic growth. Inequality and corruption coupled with insufficient taxation have made the government unable to support poverty reduction programs. However, new programs making use of advanced technology are being implemented to eliminate poverty in innovative ways.
Over the past several years, Paraguay has experienced a period of rapid economic growth. Despite this, extreme inequality has left out much of the country from the benefits. More than 30 percent of the population lives in poverty in Paraguay.
Paraguay’s economic boom has been driven by agricultural exports. However, much of the economic growth comes from advancing agricultural technologies, which fail to create new jobs. Very few landowners control most of the arable land in Paraguay and corruption adds to this unequal distribution of land. The strong reliance on agriculture also makes the economy largely subject to changes in weather that affect crop growth.
Circumventing the lack of government resources, one organization has taken matters into its own hands to eliminate poverty in Paraguay. Foundation Paraguay works with local agencies to eliminate poverty in various countries through small loans. The foundation visits impoverished families to conduct surveys about their situation and provide individualized solutions. Originally, workers would conduct three-hour surveys and return to the office to manually input information into a database.
New technology has improved Foundation Paraguay’s process tremendously. Workers use an automated system on the cloud to collect data, which is far less time-intensive than handwritten information. Workers can complete many more surveys per day and do not need to return to the office to upload the data. The foundation’s database then identifies trends and changes to maximize the benefits of their resources for those in poverty.
The founder of Foundation Paraguay has also taken the use of technology a step further by introducing Poverty Stoplight. This program allows families to assess their level of poverty using a smart device interface and view a dashboard that provides specific ways to help them overcome problems with the help of community resources. This provides significantly more autonomy for heads of households than having external organizations make decisions separately.
Many corporations in Paraguay are becoming involved in these programs. The foundation works with these companies to provide services to impoverished employees based on their specific needs. The program is also helping to bridge the gap between the government and its citizens by providing data that demonstrates the outcome of policies and how to improve upon them. The organization hopes that its technology can become even more widespread and that users will be able to access these tools even without the presence of workers from the foundation.
By making use of new technologies, these programs provide new forms of assistance to those in poverty. This is an extremely efficient way of overcoming the government’s inability to provide sufficient assistance to its citizens. Programs like these provide hope that poverty in Paraguay and elsewhere can be eliminated with simple solutions.
– Lindsay Harris