Zero Poverty: Ending Extreme Poverty … in a Generation #2030Now #GlobalGoals #SDGs #Poverty #ZeroPoverty

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The Zero Poverty Project

1.3 billion people in our world currently live in extreme poverty.

From The Global Poverty Project:

These 1,300,000,000 individuals live on less than what you can buy in the US for $1.25 per day. You might think this buys more in a poor country than it does here, but actually, it’s a figure that’s been adjusted for purchasing power, which means that anywhere in the world, the $1.25 a day measure buys little more than enough basic food, clean water and cooking fuel to make two simple meals.

In the last 30 years, the proportion of the world’s population that live below this line has halved – from 52% in 1980, to 25% today. That’s a decline from 1.9 billion people down to 1.3 billion people.

At the Global Poverty Project we’re passionate about communicating these amazing achievements, and highlighting the opportunity we have to bring this number down to zero – within a generation.

This post summarizes how we can each play a part in realizing this opportunity – moving a world without extreme poverty from its current status of ‘improbable possibility’, to ‘likely reality’. This list is designed to introduce you to the key themes and issues related to ending extreme poverty.

How we think about extreme poverty

We know ending extreme poverty is a big and complex challenge. It has many causes, and there’s certainly no silver bullet or single solution, but we don’t think that this complexity means the challenge cannot be overcome. There are a huge number of smart and talented people all over the world in charities, business, academia, evaluation organisations,government and think-tanks who are building an evidence base of things that work, things that don’t and why.

The big three issues

To see an end to extreme poverty, there are three big issues that we need to see action on – governance, aid and trade. We know that we have the resources (economic, social, political and environmental) to see an end to extreme poverty. But, right now, the world works in a way that keeps some people poor, which is what we all need to focus on to see an end to extreme poverty.

Improving governance structures can ensure that decision-making works in favour of the world’s poorest people. At present, most discussions about governance are framed in terms of corruption. Rather than treating the problem of corruption as an excuse to stop investing in development efforts, we need to get behind those working in communities to counter corruption: by holding local leaders to account, increasing transparency, and ensuring that laws are applied. Corruption is not only a problem that needs to be tackled in poor countries. In rich countries we need to hold governments and businesses to account for any complicity in the process of corruption, or for unethically undermining poverty reduction through actions like avoiding tax or utilising vulture funds to recover illegitimate debts. We’ve posted more about corruption here, including an interview with leading experts here, or you can see the work being done by corruption-fighting organisations like Global Witness and Transparency International.

Next, we need to make sure that aid that’s given – whether through donations to charities or taxes to government – is spent on programs that really work. Foreign aid won’t end poverty – but it’s a vital ingredient that can be used to make investments in things like health, education and infrastructure – resources needed for countries and communities to lift themselves out of poverty and prevent dependence on aid in the future. We’ve written more about good aid here, here and here.

Ultimately, extreme poverty ends when local communities can trade their way to a better future. The amazing poverty alleviation that we’ve seen in the past generation has been led by countries who have joined global markets: in China 400 million citizens have been lifted out of poverty since 1980, South Korea has moved from aid recipient to aid donor by building industry and creating world-renowned brands, and Botswana has grown faster than any other country in Africa by wisely investing proceeds from its diamond mines. Currently, the potential of trade is limited by the rules which work against poor countries, and will need to be reformed before we will see an end to extreme poverty.

The Elephants in the Room

Beyond these three issues, climate change and resource limitations are the elephants in the room, threatening the potential end to extreme poverty. The impact of these issues can be seen in the Pakistan floods, and in the record food prices which will mean that 1 billion people go to bed hungry tonight. On both of these issues our challenge is distribution, not scarcity. We aren’t running out of food – there’s more than enough food on our planet to feed everyone. The problem is that the world’s poorest people can’t afford to buy enough of it. In order to realize the potential of developing populations, rich countries have to increase their efficiency in resource use, and support clean development.

Our role

All of the opportunities and challenges of fighting extreme poverty outlined above are technically possible and eminently affordable. Our role is to make them politically viable and increasingly probable.

We can make a start with simple changes to the way that we act on a daily basis and by learning more about the issues so we can make informed decisions, especially about the ethics of the products we buy and the effectiveness of the money we donate.

Beyond that, we can help others realise that it is possible to end extreme poverty, that we are already making significant progress, and that practical steps can be taken to overcome the challenges that remain.

From there, it’s about using your voice as a citizen to join the campaigns and initiatives of organisations fighting hard in your local community to change the rules and systems that keep people poor: ensuring that corruption is reduced, that aid is given in appropriate quantities in the right way to the right things, and changing trade rules to give the world’s poorest a fair chance to lift themselves out of poverty.

Most importantly, it’s about recognizing that the movement to end extreme poverty is led by people in poverty themselves. As we reflect on the changes of the last generation, we can look forward a generation and see a real prospect of extreme poverty not existing. Our role is to get behind the world’s poor, give voice to their aspirations, and work as citizens and consumers to make the end of extreme poverty the legacy that our generation leaves on this world.

Simon Moss, Co-Founder and Chief Operations Officer, Global Poverty Project

Women And Girls: Why Women Need Health Funding Now More Than Ever #GlobalGoals #SDGs #2030Now #SheDecides

Every girl and woman can decide what to do with her body, her life, and her future. #SheDecides

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Access to affordable, quality healthcare is a fundamental human right. Yet around the world, hundreds of thousands of women and girls die each year from a lack of access to healthcare, particularly a lack of access to reproductive healthcare.

The World Health Organization estimates that more than 800 women and girls die every single day of pregnancy- or childbirth-related complications. The overwhelming majority of these maternal deaths happen in developing countries, and many are preventable.

When Donald Trump took office in January 2017, he reinstated the Mexico City Policy (also known as the “Global Gag Rule”) restricting healthcare funding and making it even harder for women and girls to access adequate reproductive healthcare in developing countries that rely on US foreign aid. In response, the Dutch government launched SheDecides — a global initiative that calls on governments, businesses, and private citizens to step up and fill the funding gap to safeguard women’s health.

What is the Global Gag Rule?

Over the last 34 years, the Global Gag Rule has been alternately suspended by Democratic administrations and reinstated by Republican ones, and millions of people have suffered in the process.

The original policy, established in 1984, prohibits NGOs from receiving US foreign aid funding — from the State Department and the US Administration for International Development (USAID) — if they perform abortions, provide information about abortions, refer patients to other services for abortions, or even advocate for policies that support access to abortion.

This affects medical services offered through clinics run by NGOs, particularly in low-income countries and rural areas where such clinics may be the only form of healthcare available to communities.

How Is Trump’s Global Gag Rule Worse Than Previous Administrations’?

President Trump not only revived the original policy, but expanded its scope.

To be clear, US federal funding generally cannot be used to fund abortion services either within the US or overseas — and this has been the case since the 70s — even when the Global Gag Rule has been suspended.

The Global Gag Rule was last enforced under President George W. Bush’s administration and, as in previous administrations that used the policy, only applied to US family planning funds provided by the State Department and the US Administration for International Development (USAID) — about $575 million. Under the Trump administration, the Global Gag Rule’s restrictions have been extended to all US global health assistance (roughly $8.8 billion), affecting programs that provide HIV/AIDS support, maternal and child healthcare, and prevention and treatment for diseases like malaria and tuberculosis.

This greatly impacts healthcare providers in countries like Kenya, where NGOs operate 15% of clinics, and Nigeria — where 70% of contraceptives were provided by the UN Population Fund, from which Trump has withdrawn US funding, and 25% were provided by USAID in 2015.

What Is SheDecides?

SheDecides is not about changing or influencing domestic policies, it’s about governments, businesses, and individuals stepping up to support these healthcare programs in developing countries in the sudden, devastating absence of US funding support.

It’s also not about abortion.

Above all, SheDecides is about making sure girls and women around the world have access to vital reproductive and sexual healthcare and that they are treated as people with the power and agency to decide what to do with their own bodies.

And that’s about more than just abortion — it’s about access to contraceptives and testing that help prevent HIV/AIDS, obstetric care that improves maternal and infant survival rates, it’s about keeping girls in school.

“Evidence shows that by blocking funding to the world’s largest NGO providers of modern contraception, unintended pregnancies and abortions go up,” Marjorie Newman-Williams, vice-president of Marie Stopes International, an NGO that provides contraceptives and safe abortions through clinics in 37 countries, said in a statement. “As a result, women and girls are less likely to complete their education, have a career, or pursue their dreams for the future.”

Every girl and every woman has the right to decide if, when, and with whom she wants to have children.

Why Do Women Need Access to Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare?

Hundreds of women die every day from complications linked to pregnancy and childbirth, but access to prenatal and postpartum healthcare can save the lives of both mothers and children.

According to the UN Population Fund, “214 million women who want to avoid pregnancy are not using safe and effective family planning methods.” Many of these women lack access to safe contraceptives — which can help prevent sexually transmitted infections like HIV/AIDS — while others lack the information about such resources.

A lack of information, reinforced by gender discriminatory norms, can strip girls and women over the power they should have over their own bodies, putting them at greater risk of sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancies, early marriage, and unsafe abortion.

To date, SheDecides has raised around $400 million, contributed by governments — including Belgium, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Norway, and Sweden — as well as organizations like Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and individual donors.

The funds are being managed by Rutgers, a Netherlands-based sexual and reproductive health rights NGO, and will be distributed to organizations impacted by the Global Gag Rule so that they can keep their clinics open and provide necessary sexual and reproductive health services without restrictions.

Sustainable Cities & Communities: This African City May Be the First Ever With 100 Million People Living in It {Lagos!!}#GlobalGoals #SDGs #2030Now

It would be the biggest city in a world of 14 billion people, according to a new study.

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By Henry Ridgwell

LONDON—The world could see its first city with a population of 100 million by the end of this century. That is the conclusion of new research into the speed of urbanization in many fast-growing countries in Africa and Asia, which suggests even small cities could balloon into huge metropolises in the coming decades.

By the end of the century, the world’s population is forecast to reach up to 14 billion. Eighty percent of those people will be living in cities, according to new research from the Ontario Institute of Technology.

“We are now seeing the urbanization wave headed through China, it is toward the latter part of its urbanization. And now it is headed for India, and then we will see it culminate in the big cities of sub-Saharan Africa,” co-author and professor Daniel Hoornweg told VOA via Skype.

That could mean the first 100-million population city, and the top candidate is Lagos, Nigeria.

Africa and cities

Today its population is 20 million, not the largest, as that accolade belongs to Tokyo with about 38 million people, but one of the fastest growing. In two generations, Lagos has grown a hundredfold. By 2100 it is projected to be home to more people than the state of California.

“Lagos, Dar Es Salaam, Kinshasa: These are the cities that are looking at four- to five-fold increases in population. By the end of the century, the lion’s share of large cities, the top 20 if you will, most of those will be in Africa,” Hoornweg said.

Lagos sprawls across 1,000 square kilometers, an urban jungle of skyscrapers, shanty towns and everything in between. Its population grows by 900 people per day.

The poorest residents, often migrant communities, live in slums by the lagoon. Amnesty International has warned of ruthless forced evictions to make way for new developments, which have left more than 30,000 people homeless and 11 dead.

Oladipupo Aiveomiye lives in the Ilaje-Bariga shantytown.

“The threat of being evicted, the threat of being chased away overnight has gripped people to the extent that they cannot even work or operate in this area,” he said.

Young continent

Across Africa the median age is younger than 20 and the fertility rate is 4.4 births per woman. Even small cities are forecast to balloon in size. Niamey in Niger could grow from less than 1 million today to 46 million by the end of the century; Blantyre in Malawi from 1 million to 40 million.

Asia, too, will witness huge urban growth, with Kabul in Afghanistan projected to hit 50 million people.

Hoornweg says despite the associated problems of slums, poor sanitation and pollution, increasing urbanization can be a good thing.

“Cities, by their nature, because of a more compact lifestyle, can provide a quality of life higher than anywhere else with less energy per unit of GDP,” he said. “So, cities actually provide a really important opportunity. We will not get to global sustainability without big cities.”

Many cities in the West are predicted to plateau or decline in size. By the end of the century, only 14 of the biggest 100 are forecast to be in North America or Europe.

Reduced Inequalities: Northern Ireland Just Took a Major Step Toward Passing Same-Sex Marriage #LGBT #LGBTQ #SDGs #GlobalGoals

It’s the only part of the UK where same-sex marriage is not legal.

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A bill to legalize same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland was introduced to the United Kingdom’s House of Lords Tuesday, and could now move to the House of Commons.

While the move brings the small country closer to passing same sex marriage, significant challenges remain — including the fact that Northern Ireland is currently without a government, which collapsed last January, The Journal, an Irish news site, reports.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that has not recognized same-sex marriage — even though it was the first to recognize domestic partnerships in 2005.

Neighboring Ireland recognized same-sex marriage through a referendum vote in 2015, Scotland did so in 2014, and the UK and Wales did so in 2013, according to BBC.

The new bill was introduced to the House of Lords by Lord Robert Hayward and will also be introduced to the House of Commons by Member of Parliament Conor McGinn on Wednesday, according to reports.

“[E]quality is not something you can pick and choose on around the United Kingdom,” Hayward told the BBC. “It should apply to all parts of the UK.”

He added that the introduction of the bill was met by an “audible ‘hear, hear’ from all sides of the chamber.”

On Tuesday, McGinn penned an op-ed in The Guardian calling on the UK to pass a bill guaranteeing same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland, saying: “Same-sex couples should not have to wait any more for this long overdue change and to enjoy the same rights as my constituents in St. Helens, or people in Dublin, London, Cardiff or Edinburgh.”

Part of the challenge any same-sex marriage bill faces in Northern Ireland is opposition from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

In 2015, the Northern Ireland Assembly passed a bill by one vote that would have legalized same-sex marriage, but it was blocked by the DUP, which filed a “petition of concern” that said the bill violated minority rights.

Now, however, the Assembly is stalled because the DUP and opposition party Sinn Fein failed to reach a power-sharing agreement — which gives the UK government the ability to pass laws in Northern Ireland if it can muster cross-party support.

Hayward said Tuesday he hoped the UK would “in one form or another… get this into law.”

Same-sex marriage has public backing in Northern Ireland, with more than two-thirds of people saying they support it in a 2015 poll

Good Health & Well-Being: What the Eradication of Smallpox Taught Us About Vaccines #Health #Vaccines #GlobalGoals #SDGs

Rumors once circulated that the smallpox vaccine could turn you into a cow.

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Smallpox is truly a disease out of a horror film.

Your body would erupt all over with fluid-filled bumps, both externally and internally, and 30% of those who caught smallpox died.

Over thousands of years of human history, this nightmarish disease killed the rich and the poor alike, from Egypt’s Pharaoh Ramses V to Louis XV of France to maybe even the Native American Pocahontas. Smallpox was one of the major reasons for the downfall of the Aztec empire.

As recently as the 20th century, as many as 500 million people died from smallpox — it killed more people than all of the wars in that century combined.

The only tool to fight smallpox was a vaccination that prevented you from getting the disease in the first place.

The vaccine was first scientifically tested by the British physician Dr. Edward Jenner in 1796, after he and others observed that milkmaids exposed to cowpox developed immunity against smallpox. The smallpox vaccine was the first use of vaccination to control an infectious disease. It launched modern-day immunology.

In the beginning, there were many doubters.

The vaccine was decried as unnatural and dangerous. Rumors circulated that it could maybe even turn you into a cow.

But as hundreds of thousands of lives were saved, communities and nations slowly began to embrace this life-saving tool.

Over the next two centuries, the scientific community figured out how to efficiently and cost-effectively produce the smallpox vaccine in larger quantities. By the middle of the 1950s, most of the developed world had eliminated smallpox.

Seeing that success, a band of doctors put forward a radical idea. They believed smallpox could literally be wiped off the face of the Earth. To achieve this goal, they launched the world’s first-ever global health campaign to attack the disease in its last stronghold: India.

Under the auspices of the World Health Organization, a diverse brand of rebel physicians and scientists moved to India to work with the Indian government.

This eclectic group included an elegant couture-wearing French physician, a Czech epidemiologist, a devout Christian who had spent his life in global health, and a young American anti-war protestor who had found his way to an Indian Ashram in the Himalayas.

Many in the establishment called them crazy, but, creating new models for public health engagement and breaking some rules along the way, they set out to do what had never been done before: eradicate a disease.

Critically, the Indian government joined hands with this unusual team, mobilizing 33,000 district health workers and 100,000 additional field workers in the largest public health campaign ever launched in a country.

This army of Indian health workers visited an estimated 100 million homes. In a time before cell phones and GPS, workers went door to door looking for smallpox. Every time they found a case, they vaccinated everyone around the affected person.

In four years, smallpox was eradicated from the Indian subcontinent. Shortly thereafter, a disease that had been the scourge of mankind for thousands of years was consigned only to history books.

So, what does the lesson of smallpox eradication show us?

It shows us that sometimes the impossible really is possible if you dream big, work relentlessly, and yes… maybe break a few rules. It tells us that a diverse group of people, even in the middle of the Cold War, can link hands and cross divides to save lives. And it tells us that countries like India can lead the way. Because of that, I now watch with admiration as Prime Minister Modi declares that India will try and eliminate tuberculosis by 2025, five years ahead of global deadlines.

Finally, in an age when many take for granted the value of vaccination, the eradication of smallpox should remind us that millions of us are alive today because of vaccines.

Good Health & Well-Being: Live Music May Help You Live Longer, Research Finds #Music #SDGs #GlobalGoals #Health #2030Now

A new study finds that music improves emotional wellbeing by more than 20%.

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That acoustic set at the cafe down the street may improve your overall health. The late-night hip hop show might help you feel more fulfilled. And a quick dip in the mosh pit at a heavy metal concert might be just what the doctor ordered.

Music has long been key to helping people manage their mental and emotional health, but a new study by behavioral science professor Patrick Fagan and the wireless company O2 — which coordinates concert series around the world — found that attending a live music show every two weeks might actually help people live longer.

“Our research showcases the profound impact gigs have on feelings of health, happiness and wellbeing—with fortnightly or regular attendance being the key,” Fagan said. “Combining all of our findings with O2’s research, we arrive at a prescription of a gig a fortnight which could pave the way for almost a decade more years of life.”

To conduct the study, Fagan strapped heart-rate monitors to participants and surveyed them after they completed activities associated with wellness, including concert-going, dog-walking and yoga. Fagan reported that taking in twenty minutes of live music every two weeks improves levels of self-perceived wellness by more than 20%

More than two-thirds of respondents said the shared experience of watching music with others made them feel happier and healthier compared to listening to music alone. Concertgoers reported a 25% increase in feelings of self worth, a 25% increase in closeness to others and a 75% in mental stimulation

While the report is encouraging, experts say more research — especially research that isn’t funded by a concert company — must be conducted to determine more conclusive results about the potential health benefits of live music

The report linking live music to improved mental health outcomes does, however, follow recent studies that associate emotional health with longer life expectancy.

For example, researchers in Finland found that “children who took part in singing classes had higher satisfaction rates at school” and music therapy has been associated with better sleep and mental health outcomes among people with schizophrenia. According to a five-year study by researchers at University College London, older adults who reported feeling happy were 35% less likely to die than their peers.

“We had expected that we might see a link between how happy people felt over the day and their future mortality, but we were struck by how strong the effect was,” Andrew Steptoe, the study’s lead author, told CNN.

 

Environment And Pollution: China Reaches 2020 Emissions Target* More Than 600 Days Ahead of Schedule #SDGs #GlobalGoals #2030Now

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*But it hasn’t actually reduced its total amount of emissions.

China, the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, says that it has already reached its 2020 goal for reducing carbon dioxide emissions* set under the Paris climate agreement, according to the state-run news agency Xinhua.

The government said that carbon emissions as a unit of gross domestic product have fallen by 46% compared with 2005 levels, while the 2020 goal was a 40% reduction.

The announcement was made Monday by Xie Zhenhua, China’s special representative for climate change, at the country’s Green Carbon Summit, according to The Hill.

*But, here’s where the asterisk comes in: the way the achievement is framed obscures the fact that China hasn’t actually reduced aggregate carbon emissions.

Instead, the country’s carbon emissions are increasing at a rate that’s slower than the economy’s growth — hence the “as a unit of GDP” framework.

While that means China’s economy is becoming more efficient, it doesn’t mean it has reached “peak carbon,” the point at which a country’s emissions begin to decline.

China currently emits more carbon than the US and Europe combined.

The country plans to max out carbon emissions by 2030, according to The Hill, and will continue to burn more fossil fuels in the meantime.

But if the government continues to pour money into renewable energy and efficiency measures, then this target may also be reached ahead of schedule.

Zhenhua said that the country was able to reach its 2020 goal thanks to a carbon trading program it put in place in 2011 that required manufacturing companies in several states to limit their emissions. That program was rolled out to the rest of the country last year, according to The New York Times.

The government has also begun to invest heavily in renewable energy.

In the last year, China announced a $361 billion clean energy investment plan, shuddered pollution-heavy factories, called for the end of gasoline-powered cars, and assumed a more prominent role in global climate talks.

Despite these advances, China has been criticized for not doing enough to mitigate climate change and many environmental advocates hope that the country will set more ambitious targets under the Paris agreement.

Good Health & Well-Being: Kenya Is Importing 100 Doctors from Cuba to Fill Gaps in Its Hospitals #GlobalGoals #SDGs #2030Now

Kenya has one doctor for every 24,000 residents.

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By Rael Ombuor

NAIROBI — Kenya has agreed to accelerate a health agreement it signed with Cuba last year and bring 100 doctors from the country to fill gaps in Kenyan hospitals. Fifty Kenyan doctors will also be sent to Cuba for specialized training.

The Kenyan government says the deal to import Cuban doctors would help counter gaps in Kenya’s medical facilities.

Kenya Cabinet Secretary for Health Sicily Kariuki explains.

“The target is to bring 100 specialized doctors from Cuba. One is because of the HR resource gap that we have,” said Kariuki. “We are careful not to crowd the place with general doctors and therefore the aim of my ministry is to bring forward critical care physicians at that level – family physicians, physicists, oncologists and surgeons dealing with plastic reconstructive surgery, dealing with orthopedic surgery and dealing with neurosurgery.”

Each Kenyan county is expected to get at least two of the specialist doctors.

But Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists, and Dentists Union chairman Samuel Oroko says the move will not address the systemic dysfunction in Kenya’s health system.

“There are no drugs, theaters are not functioning, laboratories are not functioning, so even if they come and the systems are not functioning, they are coming just to be idle and they may not get equipment to use to train our own,” said Oroko. “So we need to look at all angles of our health system, not just bringing them because of bringing, but to ensure the system is functional so that they can operate.”

The agreement will also see Kenya work with Cuba on collaborative research projects, training for healthcare workers, and collaborations in fields such as genetic engineering and biotech work.

Former Kenyan Minister of Medical Services, Professor Anyang Nyongo, visited Cuba and says Kenya will benefit from the agreement.

“As health minister I came here and we were trying to work things together and I actually proposed some things that we needed to do, for example malaria vector control, collaborating with teaching, engineering, and a biotechmology center, but unfortunately we did not get far,” said Nyongo. “What gives me satisfaction this time is that the president is determined we implement these long standing proposals of collaboration between us and Cuba.”

Oroko says the medical union is not against any collaboration or partnership with other governments.

“Our appeal and advice is that as we consider bringing expertise from other countries, we need to exhaust what we have locally,” said Oroko. “And if we lack capacity locally we should focus on training our own so that they can be able to manage the patients in Kenya.”

The union says more than 1,200 Kenyan doctors have been unemployed since May 2017.

“Equally we do have a number of doctors who have qualified, both general practitioners and specialists, who have not been employed and they are Kenyans,” said Oroko.

Kariuki says there are plans to absorb the graduate doctors into the healthcare system, but she says Kenya would still not be able to meet the recommended doctor to patient ratio.

Oroko says about 4,300 doctors work in the public sector for Kenya’s 38.6 million people.

“There is the required number of doctors we are supposed to have per facility, and it is public knowledge, the WHO requires that we have one doctor per 1,000 patients in any given population, currently in Kenya we have one doctor per 24,000 patients,” said Oroko. “… Where are they going to get the money to employ the ones coming from Cuba?”

The union blocked attempts by the government to bring in doctors from Tanzania at the height of its three month strike last year. The agreement ending the strike called for pay increases and medical rick allowances.

 

Women And Girls: In Uganda, Unmarried Women Are Fighting to Keep Their Homes #TimeIsNow #PressForProgress #SDGs #WomensHistoryMonth

Women’s rights to land are often undermined by patriarchal customs.

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By Amy Fallon

Kampala, UGANDA – After almost two decades living with a man nearly twice her age, who first got her pregnant when she was 15, Jane Zamukunda finally had one small comfort: a nice home that she felt was hers.

Her partner and father of her three children had bought a piece of land in the Nansana suburb of Kampala, where they built a house together. It was comfortable by most standards, with furniture and a TV. But most important to Zamukunda, now 28, was the fact that she had a key to the house: unusual in a country where it’s rare for a woman to own property.

“That was what I aspired to, to have a house for my children,” said Zamukunda, who works as a tailor.

Then one day in 2015, Zamukunda returned from work to find her home completely empty.

“[My partner] basically cleaned out the whole house,” she said.

Different variations of this scene play out every day across Uganda, where both official legislation and cultural laws deny women their full rights to own, inherit and control the use of land and property. Women make up more than 70 percent of the country’s agricultural workforce, but less than 20 percent of women own land in their own right.

The equal property rights afforded to women by law are often overruled by traditional customs. In a 2016 survey, respondents who were asked about 14 “serious” justice problems affecting Ugandans put land as the No. 1 issue.

A month after Zamukunda’s husband disappeared, during which time she and her children slept on the floor of their empty home, a group of men carrying padlocks confronted her and told her the house had been sold to them.

“They threatened to cut me up if I even went back to the house, so I had to run,” Zamukunda said. She took refuge in her brother’s one-bedroom house, about 10km (6.2 miles) away in Kawempe slum.

When Zamukunda went to local leaders for help, they told her, “Your man was right to sell, after all, you’re not even married.” She then went to the police who told her they would search for and arrest her partner. She has heard nothing from them – or him – since.

‘CULTURAL LAWS ARE INGRAINED SO DEEP’

Desperate to keep the home she had spent 10 years sharing with her partner, Zamukunda sought help from Barefoot Law, a Ugandan nonprofit social enterprise offering free legal guidance. Zamukunda said she feels she knows more about the law than many women, but Maureen Nuwamanya, a legal officer at Barefoot Law, said that even if Ugandan women are aware of their rights, that doesn’t guarantee those rights will be recognized.

“Cultural laws are ingrained so deep” that land disputes affect Ugandan women “regardless of the fact that you know your rights,” Nuwamanya said. “It’s a patriarchal society.”

Barefoot Law advised Zamukunda that, among other things, the men who evicted her had taken advantage of the fact that cohabitation isn’t recognized by law.

If a couple lives and buys property or land together without getting married and then separates, the woman usually has no claim to that property or land.

But even if women are married to their partners, their rights to land ownership and inheritance are often undermined by customary laws built on “dominant patriarchal mindsets [and] practices,” said Isaac Ssemakadde, CEO of human rights group Legal Brains Trust.

Most land tribunals consist entirely of men, who often discriminate against women when it comes to cases of property ownership. And women are also often disadvantaged by illiteracy, making it hard for them to fight for their rights, said Regina Bafaki, executive director of NGO Action for Development.

Bafaki receives daily queries from women over land conflicts and said her organization is one of several that offers property rights training for women. But home duties mean women often don’t have time to attend.

“I also think the other challenge is more or less lack of political will to support women in acquiring land,” Bafaki said.

A government spokesman did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

LONG-RUNNING LAND BATTLES

In Uganda, where women have protested over land rights in long-running disputes, there has been recent criticism from human rights groups, the church and the public over government plans to amend the constitution to allow it to take private land for projects.

Winfred Ngabiirwe, the executive director of NGO Global Rights Alert, said the amendment, if passed, would result in “legalized land grabbing,” adding that women would be most affected. “Land is for feeding, it’s employment, [children] go to school because mothers sell crops,” she said.

With help from Barefoot Legal, Zamukunda has won the battle for her property, at least for now. The organization referred her to the office of the district commissioner, who halted the eviction. Representatives from Barefoot Legal also accompanied her to meet with her neighbors and local leaders to explain that she would be moving back in and any issues should be directed to her lawyers. Zamukunda and her children were finally able to return to their home. She cut the padlocks off the door herself.

Zamukunda said she has not seen or heard from her former partner or the strangers who tried to evict her since the dispute began. She knows there is a chance they could reappear, but said if they do, “I have help.”

But more importantly, Zamukunda wants all women in Uganda to know their property rights and get help to fight for them.

“I saw a case on the news that is exactly like mine, so I’m not the only one affected,” she said. “I want other women to be empowered.”

Now she wants the government to make sure what happened to her won’t happen to other women. She wants the government to look at recognizing property rights between cohabiting couples.

Food And Hunger: Public Schools in Four Brazilian Cities Will Go Vegan by 2019 #GlobalGoals #Food #Hunger #SDGs #Brazil

It’s a world first.

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Schools in four Brazilian cities are going green.

But this move toward sustainability is not about building LEED-certified classrooms or innovative recycling programs. Rather, these schools are ensuring their cafeteria meals are 100% plant-based — marking the first time districts have gone entirely meat free.

The news was announced in a report from Humane Society International, which last week teamed up with public schools in the northeastern Brazilian cities of Serrinha, Barroca, Teofilandia, and Biritinga to launch the Escola Sustentável (Sustainable School) project.

The project will aim to replace all meat, dairy, and egg products with plant-based options by the end of 2019, according to the report.

“Providing our school districts with plant-based meals will help save environmental and public financial resources, allow for a future of healthy adults, and build a fair world for the animals,” said Leticia Baird, Brazilian public prosecutor for the environment in the state of Bahia, in a statement

The Humane Society estimates that this initiative will affect 23 million meals each year.

The four school districts, which are located in the region of Bahia in northeastern Brazil, may be the first to completely eliminate non-plant-based foods from their lunch menus, but they are not alone in fighting for environmental sustainability.

According to the Humane Society, schools in the district of Sao Paulo have celebrated Meatless Mondays since 2009 — serving more than 1 million plant-based lunches each month.

Around the world, farm-to-table programs like the Ghana School Feeding Programme; Model Vihti in Finland; Fresh Roots in Vancouver, Canada; and the Australian Organic Schools program are ensuring healthier, more sustainable meal options for students.

In the United States, plant-based lunch options have also begun to emerge across the country.

In 2017, more than 1,200 schools in New York City began to offer a vegan lunch option. That same year, in Calabasas, California, the MUSE School became the first primary or secondary school to offer a 100% plant-based menu, Huffington Post reports.

Brazil has been disproportionately affected by an obesity epidemic, despite high levels of poverty. But these cities are now showing what the next step of the fight for sustainable food systems can look like as they combat climate change, in accordance with the 11th Global Goal for Sustainable Development: sustainable cities and communities.

“It’s an honor to have worked with city authorities, nutritionists and school cooks on the adoption and implementation of this initiative, and we’re excited to continue working closely with them to ensure the success of this program,” Sandra Lopes, food policy manager for the Humane Society International in Brazil, said in a statement