Poverty and health

Women farmers feed the world
Hillstrom C: Yes Magazine, October 2011

As African farmers experience escalating anxiety over the appropriation and control of land, seeds and farming techniques by foreign governments and corporations, the multi-million dollar Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa – a Gates Foundation-funded initiative – promises to increase food production and defeat poverty in Africa by implementing vigorous Western-style agricultural techniques and genetically modified crops. Modelled on the previous Green Revolutions of Latin America and the Indian sub-continent, the African Green Revolution should heed the environmental devastation these previous experiments in agriculture have wrought, the author of this article cautions, such as seriously depleted water tables and impoverished soil. Although new seeds and tools may bring higher production in the short term, some Africans are concerned about the consolidated control that foreign corporations will exercise over food supply, as well as the precarious dependence on large amounts of water and energy inputs, and the environmental toll such methods may eventually take. A growing movement of local farmers – largely led by women – argues that the surest path to food security is ensuring food sovereignty. The article points to a number of international organisations and alliances, like Via Campesina and Groundswell International, which advocate for community-level control over food production. These organisations target primarily women farmers who, according to the article, are responsible for up to 70% of food production in the developing world. The author asserts that supporting small-scale women farmers is crucial to ensuring food sovereignty in poor countries.

Women who live on the margin of society: A dialogue with Tshepo Jamillah Moyo
Mogami G: Africa In Dialogue, 7 June 2017

Born 1994, Tshepo Jamillah Moyo (TJ) is an unapologetic black Pan African Inter-sectional Feminist performance artist. Her work centres on the exploration of black African womanhood. In this conversation, she discusses her provocation at a recent march in Botswana on the 3rd of June where human rights and gender activists, and fellow women marched in the RIGHT TO WEAR WHAT I WANT walk, which aimed to highlight that no one has the right to violate another human being based on what they are wearing. Moyo argues that there is a need for an intersectional feminism that thinks about every single woman, and all the intersections of her life where oppression derives from.

Working together to reduce harmful drinking
Grant Marcus and Mark Leverton (eds): The International Centre for Alcohol Policies, October 2009

According to this book, the abuse of alcohol has drastic consequences on the safety and health outcomes of nations. Road accidents, family and sexual violence and homicide and foetal alcohol syndrome, are some of the occurrences where alcohol tends to have a direct role. Working Together to Reduce Harmful Drinking contains nine chapters written by experts in the alcohol industry, government and academia. It seeks to contribute to a global strategy to reduce irresponsible and harmful alcohol consumption and its attendant risks.

World Bank finds poverty is down

Rapid economic growth in East and South Asia over the last couple of decades has been responsible for a decrease in the number of people living in extreme poverty in developing countries, from 40 percent of global population in 1981 to 21 percent in 2001. However, Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe and Central Asia are still far from reaching the U.N. Millennium Development Goal of halving poverty levels by 2015, says a new World Bank report. According to World Development Indicators 2004, East and South Asia, particularly China and India, have lifted 500 million people out of extreme poverty - those living on less than $1 a day - in 20 years.

World Bank updates poverty estimates for the developing world
World Bank, September 2008

New poverty estimates published by the World Bank reveal that 1.4 billion people in the developing world were living on less than US$1.25 a day in 2005, down from 1.9 billion in 1981. These revised numbers reflect improved household data from a greater number of countries. They are based the International Comparison Programme (ICP) and 675 household surveys covering 116 countries and spanning the period 1981 to 2005. The new numbers show that poverty has become more widespread across the developing world over the past 25 years than previously estimated, but also that there has been strong – if regionally uneven – progress toward reducing overall poverty. On the other hand, they also demonstrate that the developing world is still on track to meet the first Millennium Development Goal of halving extreme poverty by 2015.

World poverty could be cut in half if all adults completed secondary education
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation: UNESCO Policy Paper 32, Fact sheet 44, New York, 2017

This UNESCO policy paper reports that the global poverty rate could be more than halved if all adults completed secondary school. Yet, new data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) show persistently high out-of-school rates in many countries, making it likely that completion levels in education will remain well below that target for generations to come. The paper demonstrates the importance of recognising education as a core lever for ending poverty in all its forms, everywhere. The analysis of education’s impact on poverty shows that nearly 60 million people could escape poverty if all adults had just two more years of schooling. Despite education’s potential, new UIS data show that there has been virtually no progress in reducing out-of-school rates in recent years. Globally, 9% of all children of primary school age are still denied their right to education, with rates reaching 16% and 37% for youth of lower and upper secondary ages, respectively. In total, 264 million children, adolescents and youth were out of school in 2015. UNESCO argues that education must reach the poorest households to maximise its benefits and reduce income inequality.

World's poor to suffer most unless developed countries act fast on climate change
Khan A: Pambuzuka News, December 2017

Storms and hurricanes are becoming more severe due to warmer sea temperatures. Low lying island nations, like the Maldives, now experience annual flooding with the seawater contaminating groundwater supplies. Whether flooding, drought or other climate-related catastrophic events, the author observes that low income countries nations and their populations suffer most, given their lack of resources, infrastructure, emergency services and preparedness. They also point to a further consequence relating to the quality of food. Rising CO2 levels speed up plant growth increasing carbohydrates through plant sugars and diluting nutrition due to reduced minerals and protein. The nutrient quality of our food is expected to fall as CO2 levels rise this century. The effect will be worst felt by the world's poorer populations relying on a plant diet. Extreme weather events affect production, distribution, spoilage and contamination. The author notes that those most affected will be people in Africa, Asia and the Americas.

Young, poor and sick: socioeconomic inequities and child health in rural Tanzania

What effect does the degree of a family's poverty have on the health of young children? Are girls the losers when it comes to healthcare in Tanzania? The Ifakara Health Research and Development Centre, together with colleagues from research groups in six countries, studied health care for children under five in poor rural areas of southern Tanzania.

Zimbabwe National Nutrition Survey 2010
National Nutrition Surveillance Assessments: July 2010

New data on the nutritional status of Zimbabwe’s children reveals that more than one third of Zimbabwe’s children under the age of five are chronically malnourished and consequently stunted. Zimbabwe’s current food production remains too low to meet national requirements. Years of persistent droughts and the downturn of the Zimbabwean economy over the past decade have adversely affected food availability in many homes in Zimbabwe. The report calls for accelerated action to reverse chronic malnutrition and maintain the low levels of acute malnutrition highlighted by the report. Chronic malnutrition poses long-term survival and development challenges for Zimbabwe. The survey also shows plummeting exclusive breastfeeding rates. However, the low and stable rates of severe acute malnutrition that were found are a sign that the food security programmes supported by the international community are reaping benefits. The report also acknowledges the tremendous coping mechanisms of the Zimbabwean people at a time of great difficulty.

Zimbabwe's children enter new phase of hardship
Schlein L: Voice of America News, 18 July 2007

The UN Children's Fund says the children of Zimbabwe have entered a new phase of hardship. UNICEF says millions of children are missing out on their most basic needs because of a severe drought and the dramatic deterioration of Zimbabwe's economy. The unprecedented hardship facing Zimbabwe is biting particularly hard among children and quality health care in the country's schools has all but collapsed.