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Top 10 Economic Development Organizations Operating in the World's Poorest Regions

Here is the Western World, it is hard to imagine the extent of poverty that exists in parts of the developing world. It is almost unthinkable that people don't have access to fresh water and food, a decent education, or even satisfactory shelter. There are many people in this world that are born into unimaginable poverty through no fault of their own. Thankfully, there are many wonderful non-profit organizations that a working tirelessly to help these people, by supporting economic development.

Fostering economic development is so important as it will promote a more long term range than simply providing those struggling with supplies that offer just a short-term solution. The goal is not to relieve the problems caused by poverty for a short while, but to create solutions and initiatives that can help people better their lives, to get them out of poverty for the long term. Thanks to the important work of these organisations, extreme poverty around the world has been reduced by 50% since 1990. If these dedicated organisations persist their efforts, people in problem areas will continue to see improvements in water quality, health care, sanitation, food, education, work opportunities, and housing.

Although there are many other organisations that are working to support economic development around the world, these are ten of the biggest and most well known.

1 Oxfam Probably one of the best known non-profit organisations in the world, Oxfam has been fighting poverty in developing countries since 1942. Their mission is to address the underlying causes of poverty in these regions, including discrimination, unequal access to resources, and inequality. They believe that individuals have the right to a sustainable livelihood and basic social services, the right to life and security, and to an identify, and the right to be heard. By eradicating poverty, and enacting political change to narrow the gap between the rich and poor within nations, the positive steps can be made to meet these basic human rights.

Initially founded to provide famine relief, Oxfam has since developed to tackle the causes of famine and poverty. As well as providing food and medicine, the organisation also provides tools and organises craft markets and international trade, so people can become self-supporting. They aim to lift communities out of poverty in the long-term, provide sustainable solutions, and provide humanitarian support to those affected by natural disasters and conflict. Oxfam also sees the importance of educating those in poorer countries about their human rights engaging with other organisations at a local level.

Official website: Oxfam
2 United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) In the world's poorest regions and in areas of conflict, it is often the children that really suffer. When born into poverty they will have a limited access to education, clean water, and medicine. Furthermore, there prospects for the future are almost certain to be poor, if their economic environment does not improve. Since it's foundation in 1946, UNICEF has been working tirelessly to improve the welfare of children around the world, by providing humanitarian aid and developmental assistance to youngsters and their mothers.

Initially founded to provide emergency healthcare and supplies to the children affected by World War II, UNICEF have expanded it's actions to 190 countries and territories. They distribute vaccines and HIV medication, provide emergency shelters and nutritional supplements, reunite families, and give children access to educational supplies, and improve sanitation and hygiene. They also aim to encourage legislative changes and social services to protect and help children in need, so they can get a better start in life. Their ultimate mission is to save the lives of children, defend their rights, and help them to met their potential. Their motto is 'UNICEF for every child' and to fulfil this, they will continue to work, until their solutions reach children at all four corners of the globe.

Official website: United Nations Children's Fund
3 The Borgen Project Formed in Seattle in 2003, The Borgen Project is a non-profit organisation working to address hunger and poverty, with the ultimate aim of helping to put an end to both. Their primary mission is to fight extreme poverty, with a focus on global food security, improving newborn, child and mother survival, encouraging food aid reform, and access to clean water, proper sanitation and power. The organisation builds awareness of the global issues surrounding poverty, through their online activities and with a presence in communities.

The Borgen Project has the belief that developed countries have a moral obligation to help countries and regions experiencing extreme poverty. The seek to affect change through advocacy, liaising with policy makers at Capitol Hill, to advance policies and legislation to help those that survive on less than $1 a day. They campaign around the world to bring together people who are working hard to make poverty a political priority. Furthermore, the project teaches basic advocacy skills to groups and individuals, so they can communicate with their own governments.

Official website: The Borgen Project
4 The Hunger Project Founded in 1977, The Hunger Project is a non-profit organisation that is 100% committed to sustainable end of world hunger. The vision is: 'A world where every woman, man and child, leads a healthy, fulfilling life of self-reliance and dignity.' They recognise that poverty tends to be sexist towards women – for example, 60% of those affected by HIV or AIDS are women, as are over 65% of the world's illiterate population. The Hunger Project sees the empowerment of women as a key action to end poverty and world hunger. They pioneer women-centred sustainable strategies to end hunger and poverty, and advocate for their adoption in developing countries throughout the world.

The Hunger Project cooperates with organisations and individuals in 22 countries, including the likes of the Ford Foundation, 1,000 Days, Alwaleed Philanthropies, the Robertson Foundation, and The World Bank. This collaboration has enabled the support of the actions of more than 16,000 communities throughout the likes of South Asia, Africa, and Latin America, to affect their own change. This involves the implementation of what The Hunger Project calls the 'Epicenter Strategy', where 10 to 15 villages that are close together are organised to build community centres, partner with local government agencies, and found their own programs for education, health care, income generation, finance, and agriculture.

Official website: The Hunger Project
5 World Bank Group The World Bank Group is an organisation that is very involved in stimulating economic development throughout the world. They have two main goals: 'To end extreme poverty within a generation, and boost shared prosperity. The Group funds development projects throughout the globe, via traditional and interest-free loans, and grants. They are always on hand with advice and technical assistance, when it comes to the application process for loans for projects. Furthermore, they are responsible for leading research into development policies and programs.

The World Bank Group consists of 5 organisations, working towards a common goal, they are:

The International Development Association (IDA) – Provides grants and interest free loans to the poorest countries.

The International bank for Reconstruction and Development – Provides loans to governments of middle and low-income countries. Together with the IDA it makes up the World Bank.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) – Exclusively focused on the private sector, the IFC helps developing countries achieve sustainable economic growth by investing in, and advising governments and businesses.

The Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) – Created in 1988, MIGA promotes investment into developing countries, to reduce poverty and support economic growth, therefore improving people's lives.

The International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes – Provides international services for the arbitration and resolution of investment disputes.

Official website: World Bank Group
6 United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) The UNDP works in over 160 countries and territories, with the aims of eradication poverty, and reducing inequality and exclusion. They believe that every individual has the equal right to live with dignity and in safe conditions, as well as having access to opportunities. Their mission is for sustainable development through the foundation of new policies, that will lead to peace building, democratic governance, and better disaster and climate (e.g. drought, flooding etc. resilience). UNDP supports the Sustainable Development Goals of countries, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was signed by global leaders to end poverty and promote peace and prosperity.

The focus of the UNDP is on the least developed countries, with projects in poverty reduction, better prevention and treatment of HIV and AIDS, social development, energy and the environment, and the protection of human rights, as well as the empowerment of women in each of their programmes. However, this organisation only steps in to support economic development, if a nation requests it to do so.

Official website: United Nations Development Programme
7 Outreach International Since its foundation in 1979, Outreach International has been providing sustainable solutions to end extreme poverty throughout the world. Their focus is on people, investing in men, women and children, who haven't had the change to live up to their potential, intelligence and creativity. Outreach International currently works in 10 if the world's most impoverished countries, carrying out their mission of creating a permanent change and end to poverty. Reaching out to hundreds of thousand's or marginalised people, they provide communities with the tools and skills they need to build and maintain their own successes. This will provide a positive change for generations, as opposed to a short-term solution.

Outreach International fights poverty by focusing on six core issues: health, water, hunger, small businesses, education, and community initiatives. With each initiative they educate families with the knowledge they need to continue the improvement of their communities for many years to come, aiming to make a permanent change in this lifetime. Still a relatively new non-profit organisation, the countries they prioritise includes: The Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Zambia, Nepal, India, Nicaragua, Haiti, and Bolivia.

Official website: Outreach International
8 Concern Worldwide Founded in 1968, Concern Worldwide has been fighting poverty with a dual approach – responding to major emergencies (natural disasters, conflict etc.), and implementing sustainable, long-term development programmes. With a staff of almost 4,000, operating in 26 countries throughout the world targeting the most vulnerable communities. Concern Worldwide works towards long term solutions for poverty through projects in a number of different areas: Health and nutrition, HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment, creating secure livelihoods, education, emergencies, gender equality, and innovations to that communities have the new tools and skills to meet their needs.

Their efforts are concentrated in the worlds neediest regions in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean, working in collaboration with small community groups, local governments, and other global humanitarian organisations. Through their projects, the organisation helps around 8 million people in impoverished countries each year.

Official website: Concern Worldwide
9 U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Launched in 1961, USAID is an independent branch of the US federal government, which is responsible for administering important foreign aid and sustainable development assistance. The organisation leads international humanitarian efforts throughout impoverished countries, to not only save lives, but to enrich them by strengthening democratic governance, and finding long-term solutions to poverty. Additionally, USAID promotes broad -scale progress in underprivileged regions, by creating peaceful, free societies, as well as providing markets and trade partners for America.

They have operations in over 100 countries worldwide supporting global stability, promote global health, empower women and girls, tackling the root causes of violence, provide humanitarian assistance and support, and trigger partnership and innovation. Their areas of action include, Afghanistan, Africa, Pakistan, Asia, Eurasia, Latin America, parts of Europe, the Caribbean, and the Middle East. USAID works at all all levels, from individuals to families, communities to countries, so they can thrive and prosper in the long-term, establishing self-reliance and self-sufficiency.

Official website: U.S. Agency for International Development
10 Overseas Development Institute (ODI) Established in 1960, the ODI is an independent think tank, focusing on international development and humanitarian issues. Their mission is to reduce poverty and alleviate suffering, by inspiring an informing policy and practice, to achieve sustainable livelihoods in developing and impoverished countries. To achieve their primary goal, the ODI conducts applied research, to provide consultancy services, policy advice, and training services and programmes. They collaborate with partners in both the private and public sectors, in both impoverished and developed countries.

ODI has over 230 dedicated members of staff, which work on their flagship projects, the ODI fellowship scheme, and their 14 core research programmes, which includes:

Agricultural Development and Policy – Working to improve the sustainability of agricultural and rural livelihoods, to reduce hunger and poverty.

Climate and Energy – Carrying out high quality research and analysis on the issues linking climate development and poverty reduction, looking into green growth and natural resource management.

Chronic Poverty Advisory Network – Researching into why certain people and communities are trapped in poverty, fall into poverty, or find their way out of it. By better understanding the dynamics of poverty, they can better advise on policies to reduce and relieve it.

Official website: Overseas Development Institute

You can help these organisations in their vital work, by giving a small donation. If finances are limited for you, consider sharing their information on your social media pages, as it may inspire others to donate, or even to get involved by donating their time. Furthermore, you can help people in developing countries by visiting a micro loan site. Through these sites you can loan money directly to individuals in developing countries, to help them to start their own businesses.

Poverty is not something that is exclusive to the developing world. Whether you choose to see it or not, poverty exists on our own doorsteps too. It could be a person reduced to living on the streets after falling on hard times; a mother who forgoes food so she can feed her children; or an elderly person who suffers throughout the winter, as they can't afford to heat their home. Whilst it is important to support the organisations that are helping to stimulate economic growth in developing countries, it is also important to help closer to home.

If you can, donate essentials to food banks that help to feed thousands of underprivileged families every year. Buy a homeless person a hot drink or meal, and donate a few pounds or second hand warm clothing to a homeless charity. You could try to be more active in your community and take it upon yourself to check on an elderly resident in your neighbourhood. Small, but kind actions could make a huge different to those that are struggling with poverty.