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Poverty is not only an issue here in the United States. It is a global issue, affecting millions of people around the globe. According to the World Bank, 4 billion people across the world lived on an average income between $1.90 and $10.00 per day (No Poverty). That number alone is over half of Earth’s human population. There are many organizations that have chosen to devote their time to combating poverty through development projects in the third world. Five such organizations are Habitat for Humanity, USAID, The Kalu Yala Institute, the United Nations Development Programme, and Engineers Without Borders.
These organizations focus their efforts in a wide-variety of construction-based projects that will alleviate poverty in various parts of the globe.
Habitat for Humanity is an organization that many Americans are familiar with, and thousands of citizens across the country take the time to volunteer domestically with Habitat for Humanity either individually or with groups such as the Auburn University Honors College did during the 2017 Week of Service.
Some people may not realize that Habitat for Humanity also has a global outreach program, named Global Village, that sends volunteers to nearly thirty different countries to build homes for people in need. Founded in 1989, this organization not only plans trips year round to various countries in order to serve the people in those countries, but also collects donations and recruits volunteers to serve in those countries (Global Village FAQs). What makes this organization different is that the people receiving the homes are also required to help during the construction process.
This will allow the people to learn necessary skills in order to upkeep their home, and may even allow them to seek a construction job in their home country in order to further escape from poverty.
Most people associate Habitat for Humanity with home construction, which is where Global Village is mostly focused; however, Global Village also provides home repair, upgrades existing homes to make them safer and energy efficient, and advocates for policies and systems to be put in place in that country to further advance the opportunity for available housing (Global Village Trips). This aspect of Global Village’s approach is vital because it ensures that the country in which they are fighting poverty will not only have affordable homes for its impoverished citizens, but it will also now have new policies, standards, and practices put in place in order to continue providing safe, affordable housing for its citizens.
Another organization combating global poverty through construction efforts is USAID. The USAID, or the U.S. Agency for International Development, takes a different approach than Habitat for Humanity in that, instead of directly providing hands-on intervention, USAID works with governments to both fund and develop efforts to make necessary improvements in their countries. One of their focuses is on water and sanitation. According to USAID, “Globally, nearly 2.1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water in their homes and about 4.4 billion lack access to proper sanitation” (Water and Sanitation), which are both things people in the United States take for granted. What USAID does is meet with these countries and works within both their government and the private sectors within those countries to overcome this deficit.
According to USAID’s Report to Congress on the Design and Implementation of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Programs, one of their main goals is to build a local capacity to provide sanitation in these countries to train, and implement, if need be, government officials, regulatory agencies, and service providers in the proper ways to handle sanitation (Report to Congress on the Design and Implementation of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Programs). This will allow these countries an opportunity to learn how to install necessary systems such as sewers and septic tanks in their communities in order to ensure a clean water supply within their country. In this report, USAID lists similar programs in countries such as Rwanda, Indonesia, India, and Malawi as examples of places where plans are currently being implemented.
A third organization, The Kalu Yala Institute, takes a different approach to development through construction. Three founders, Jimmy Stice, Scott Romsa, and Kimberly Hall, decided to tackle the problem of sustainable living in Panama by creating a model community named Kalu Yala. This community is centered on the idea of minimizing imports and maximizing exports and providing an area where the people of Panama can come together to feel a sense of community (Learn About Our Plans). Kalu Yala provides 20 homes a year, and through several partnerships, they ensure that these homes are both safe and affordable for the people of Panama to live in. By being a new community, the founders of Kalu Yala are attracting businesses to create startups within Kalu Yala that will provide jobs for the people of Panama in order to further alleviate them from poverty (Our Homes). They also invite volunteers and interns from around the world to come and help create this safe, poverty free community as a model community that the rest of Panama can look to in order to improve their own communities.
One of the largest organizations helping combat poverty worldwide is the United Nations Development Programme. Guided by its three main objectives, “eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, accelerating structural transformations, and building resilience to shock and crises” (Our Focus), the UNDP makes its presence known in countries around the world as a force of hope and change. Through the UNDP Strategic Action Plan, they have outlined goals that they will seek to meet between the years of 2018 and 2021 that will prepare the development world to meet crises and changes that come with today’s world.
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