By Bonaventure Fandohan, Community Economic Development Manager at Rotary International
Livelihood prospects have changed since 2020 for developing and emerging countries. Conflict, extreme weather patterns, and disparities caused by economic shocks and health crises, including the coronavirus pandemic are the main drivers of that change.
According to OXFAM International, a non-governmental organization based in the UK, more than a quarter of a billion people around the world could be pushed into extreme poverty this year due to:
- A surge in global food prices after Russia invaded Ukraine
- The ongoing impact of COVID-19
- Rising global inequality
- Changes in weather patterns due to climate change
Loss of jobs, the rise of inequality, and hunger are real concerns for poor and underserved communities worldwide, especially for women, youth, and low-wage and informal workers. More than 48 million people are facing emergency levels of hunger, with the threat of acute malnutrition, starvation, and death, according to the World Food Program. The World Bank reveals that nearly 25 years of effort to reduce the number of people living in extreme poverty–earning less than US$2.15 per person per day–has been put at risk. This situation has created unprecedented economic damage, contributing to a significant slowdown and inflation. Global growth is projected to slow from an estimated 6.1 percent in 2021 to 3.6 percent in 2022 and 2023.
Moreover, the rising costs of fuel, fertilizer, and wheat, driven by shortages and sanctions arising from the war in Ukraine, are exacerbating the hunger crisis and creating the potential for mass starvation across hunger hotspots in multiple nations worldwide. This problematic situation has enabled Rotary members to invest more time and effort in people and communities to alleviate poverty, creating measurable and enduring economic improvements in poor and underserved areas. Through their work, Rotary members have contributed to improving livelihoods in countries where people are going through job loss, decreased incomes, and high levels of hunger.
What you can do to support community and economic development
If you want to be part of that group of Rotary members supporting individuals, households, or communities in dealing with the economic downturn:
- Start with a community assessment to identify a community’s needs and assets and discuss local priorities and long-term visions.
- Discuss the results of the assessment with a local expert from the Community Economic Development field, identified through your District Resource Network with the help of your District International Service Committee.
- Look for partners who share the same ideas and interests in the project.
- Approach your District Foundation Committee if you’re considering applying for a district or global grant to support your project. Consider sharing the community assessment results and the project idea with your Regional Grant Officer for feedback and ideas.
Remember to keep an open mind. Prioritize sustainability and community ownership in projects by involving stakeholders from the onset of your project. Stakeholders, however, should be partners and project co-designers from the community assessment stage and throughout every aspect of project planning, implementation, and long-term ownership and oversight.