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Almost 200,000 Kenyan Single Mothers and Widows lift themselves out of Poverty using Mobile Money Service

The impact was most dramatic among single mothers who used M-Pesa, a text message-based mobile payment system, after switching from farming to business and retail sales

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A man holds up his mobile phone showing an M-Pesa mobile money transaction page at an open-air market in Kibera in Kenya's capital, Nairobi, Dec. 31, 2014. VOA
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NAIROBI, KENYA, December 09, 2016: Almost 200,000 Kenyan households, many headed by poor, rural women, have lifted themselves out of poverty using mobile money services, experts said Thursday, calling for the technology to be introduced in other developing countries.

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The impact was most dramatic among single mothers who used M-Pesa, a text message-based mobile payment system, after switching from farming to business and retail sales, the journal Science found.

“What we saw over six years was impressive,” Tavneet Suri, associate professor of applied economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said in a statement. “When M-Pesa came to an area, women shifted their occupations and their savings went up.”

The expansion of M-Pesa, which is used in virtually every Kenyan home, lifted 194,000 households — or 2 percent of households nationwide — above the poverty line in six years, the study found.

It provides further evidence that mobile phone technology can help to bring financial services to the 80 percent of African women who do not have bank accounts and bolster growth of the world’s poorest continent.

M-Pesa is a cheap way of sending, receiving and saving money via more than 110,000 local agents, often operating out of tiny kiosks in remote parts of Kenya.

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Pedestrians walk past an M-Pesa shop in downtown Nairobi, Kenya, May 12, 2009 VOA
Pedestrians walk past an M-Pesa shop in downtown Nairobi, Kenya, May 12, 2009 VOA

It gives people who would otherwise be unable to access traditional financial services a simple, reliable and fast way of moving and saving money.

Mobile money’s impact on the lives of poor women was one of the most exciting aspects of the study, experts said, as policymakers have struggled to understand what kinds of projects are most effective at reducing poverty.

Researchers found that the number of female-headed households living in extreme poverty fell by 22 percent within a 1-kilometer radius of an area where six new M-Pesa agents opened between 2008 and 2010.

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There was no impact on male-headed households.

“Sometimes the poor, and poor women in particular, just need access to the right set of simple tools to help themselves,” said Annie Duflo, executive director of Innovations for Poverty Action, a research-and-policy group that took part in the study. “Hopefully, these results will inform and encourage the targeted scaling of mobile money services in other countries.” (VOA)

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World Hunger To Rise Due To Climate Change: WFP

The number of people suffering from hunger because of climate change-induced drought is rising particularly in Africa and Latin America.

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hunger, health care
Malnourished and displaced Somali children sit in a tent in their camp on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Somalia. VOA

The World Food Program warns climate change will have a devastating impact on agriculture and the ability of people to feed themselves. The WFP forecasts a huge increase in worldwide hunger unless action is taken to slow global warming.

The WFP warns progress in reducing global hunger is under threat by conflict and the increase in climate disasters. For the first time in several decades, the WFP reports the number of people suffering from chronic food shortages has risen.

This year, it says, 821 million people went to bed hungry, 11 million more than the previous year.

World Hunger, WFP
Gatdin Bol, 65, who fled fighting and now survives by eating fruit from the trees, sits under a tree in the town of Kandak, South Sudan. VOA

Gernot Laganda, WFP’s chief of Climate and Disaster Risk Reduction, notes the number of climate disasters has more than doubled since the early 1990s. He says extreme weather events are driving more people to flee their homes, leading to more hunger.

He told VOA the situation will get much worse as global temperatures rise.

“We are projecting that with a two-degree warmer world, we will have around 189 million people in a status of food insecurity more than today. And, if it is a four-degrees warmer world, which is possible if no action is taken, we are looking beyond one billion more. So, there is a very, very strong argument for early and decisive climate action,” said Laganda.

World Hunger, WFP
Faduma Hussein Yagoub, a polio sufferer, came with her family to Dadaab from Somalia. Her husband and two of her five young children died of hunger on the way. Despite the dangers thousands of refugees every week are making the journey, walking for weeks across the desert and braving attacks by armed robbers and wild animals:

Data from this year’s State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report by six leading U.N. agencies show the bulk of losses and damages in food systems are due to drought and most of these disastrous events occur in Africa.

Also Read: Australia Rejects U.N. Climate Report, Continues Using Coal

Laganda says the number of people suffering from hunger because of climate change-induced drought is rising particularly in Africa and Latin America. He notes that until recently progress in Asia had led to a reduction in world hunger, but that trend has slowed markedly. (VOA)