Thursday, January 28, 2016

Niger: the worst place to live. The best place to work.

According to the United Nations Human Development Report 2015, when life expectancy, education, and standard of living are taken into account, Niger is pretty much the worst place to live. These dimensions are used to calculate the Human Development Index (HDI), and last year, Niger ranked dead last: 188 out of 188.1

HDI was developed in 1990 by Mahbub ul Haq, a Pakistani economist, and his team of developmental economists. At that time, monetary measures like GDP were being used to evaluate a country’s development, but many people, including these economists, found that the human element was missing from these calculations.

HDI attempts to measure the richness of human life. It gauges human opportunities and choices using calculations across three dimensions. The first is health, based on life expectancy at birth. The education dimension measures the schooling obtained by adults aged 25 years and more and expected years of schooling for children. Finally, the standard of living dimension is measured by gross national income per capita. 
To put this all in perspective, consider that the 2015 report ranks the United States at number 8 and Canada at number 9.  Niger has been ranked last for 3 consecutive years, and has always been among the lowest-ranking countries in the report.

Farmers of the Future - Niger
While Niger may be the worst place to live when it comes to HDI, it is most certainly one of the best places to work when it comes to eliminating poverty. John is planning a trip to West Africa in March, where he’ll be splitting his time between Niger and Benin. In Niger, he’ll work on Farmers of the Future, and in Benin, on the Songhai Women’s Capital Fund. You can read more about these projects by following this link, and also find notes and photos from John’s travels in upcoming blog posts.

Farmers of the Future nurseries - Niger

In an upcoming post we’ll look beyond Niger’s dismal HDI to explore the features of this country and point to opportunities EPN is creating there. John says it’s nicknamed “the frying pan of the Sahel” – and there’s got to be a good story behind that!

1Interested in reading the full report? Click here: 2015 Human Development Report

Monday, January 4, 2016

Signing in!

Hi EPN blog readers! I’m Jen, the newest member of EPN’s communications team. I’ll be bringing you EPN updates and stories, and continuing on in Jonathan & Dexter’s fine work. I especially loved reading their EPN Heroes series – they really captured the ingenuity, compassion, and hard work of these amazing Heroes. Thanks for the engaging reads, Jonathan & Dexter!

Posting great blog content was only part of what these guys did, though – Jonathan & Dexter also gave EPN’s website a major overhaul. It’s visually appealing, navigable, and full of great information about EPN – but don’t take my word for it – check it out for yourself if you haven’t already!  Hats off to you, Jonathan & Dexter!

Anna (right) and me (second from the right) with our
 fellow graduate assistants, Rachel and Lori, at VCFA 
And so now, a little about me: I am from Ottawa, Ontario, and I discovered EPN’s work when I met Anna Drury during my studies at Vermont College of Fine Arts (VCFA).

I have a background in psychology and environmental sciences (BSc), education (BEd), and creative writing (MFA). I’ve worked as a chemistry lab technician, elementary school teacher, and college professor. Today, in addition to my job with EPN, I work for the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and write children’s book reviews for a number of Canadian publications. Children, literacy, innovation, and education are my soft spots, and that’s why the work EPN does resonates so much with me.

I’m very excited to work with EPN and look forward to engaging with you online, too! Never hesitate to leave a question or comment – I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time,