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Why Eastern Europe?

Poverty affects every country and takes many forms. It troubles us that people tend to think of countries as if they were in some kind of 'league table of need', especially where these tables are based on indicators of national prosperity. Whilst economic indicators (like the UNís Human Development Index) are important they tell us virtually nothing about the circumstances or plight of those trapped in poverty, marginalised or excluded from society by their age, sex, health, education or income, or simply by virtue of where they happen to live.

This is the centre of Gradenice, a small Ukrainian village on the border with Transnistria. Not a lot for young people to do. We first went to Gradenice in Nov 08 after learning that it was facing serious public health and environmental problems. These concerns were confirmed by the Director of Public Health, who told us that skin, lung, breast and cervical cancer were considerably above normal. Locals blame a power station just across the border but no one really knows.

Poverty in the region takes a different form from that in Africa, but it is still poverty and it blights the lives of millions. We have been particularly concerned about the plight of those living in rural areas, where poor health, depression and alcohol abuse are prevalent, and divorce and suicide have risen dramatically. Many communities are fragmenting and the young are leaving in droves to seek a better life elsewhere. If one were looking for indicators of the spiritual and physical health and wellbeing of a nation and the case for development assistance it would be difficult to find better indicators than these. (There is more about poverty under issues.)

So this is why Powerful Information is working in Central & Eastern Europe.