News / Africa

UN Utilizing Financial Inclusion Programs to Fight Rural Poverty

Marthe van der Wolf
Several United Nations agencies are investing heavily in so-called financial inclusion programs, designed to bring financial services to the poor and make them less aid-dependent. Although the efforts made so far have been sizable, observers are beginning to wonder if the programs can succeed on their own
 
The idea behind financial inclusion is making financial services such as credit, savings and insurance available to everyone - including poor people in Africa’s rural areas who live on just two dollars a day. It is believed that if these services reached the rural poor, their lives could improve tremendously.
 
Ertharin Cousin of the World Food Program said that financial inclusion should not be seen as another aid program.
 
“The goal is to create an opportunity where we begin a program that ultimately becomes a full agricultural value chain improvement that outlives WFP’s participation,” explained Cousin.
 
With a population of more than 84 million people, and more than 80 percent of them living in rural areas, Ethiopia was chosen for a three-day work visit on financial inclusion by the three U.N. food agencies: the World Food Program, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.
 
Seeds and fertilizer are provided to participating farmers by the FAO. Local cooperatives then purchase the harvest with funds that are indirectly provided by the IFAD. Meanwhile, the WFP gives schools budget help so they can buy locally made products for their school meal programs.
 
Organizers hope to make the programs self-sufficient, and there is a willingness among the farmers and the cooperatives to make it work. Alemetu Yohannes, the chairman of a women’s cooperative that received loans to purchase haricot beans, stressed the importance of self-reliance.
 
Alemetu said that local people want to create their own jobs and provide for themselves. She said they will stop taking the donations once they are no longer in need of help.
 
However, it is not yet clear if the rural poor can truly be self-reliant, because these projects have so far been run only on a very small scale.
 
Another part of the program focuses on financial literacy - educating those living on a few dollars a day of the potential gains from using not using all their money for daily expenses, but to save or invest a percentage of it as well.
 
Queen Maxima, the U.N.'s Special Advocate for Financial Inclusion, said that financial literacy is important to help people start saving to provide funds for future investments.
 
“Eventually, you should unleash domestic savings because of the domestic resources that should be put back in to productive loans so that people can actually make the investment, grow the production, increase employment,” said Maxima.
 
Ethiopia’s financial infrastructure is still very minimal; only eight percent of the population has a bank deposit account. While mobile banking has contributed to economic progress for the rural poor in other African countries, Ethiopia has only recently allowed a pilot project with mobile banking.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infectionsi
X
November 28, 2014 3:31 PM
South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infections

South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.

All About America

AppleAndroid