Malaka Gharib

Malaka Gharib is deputy editor and digital strategist of Goats and Soda, NPR's global health and development blog. She reports on topics such as the humanitarian aid sector, gender equality, and innovation in the developing world.

Before coming to NPR in 2015, Gharib was the digital content manager at Malala Fund, Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai's global education charity, and social media and blog editor for ONE, a global anti-poverty advocacy group founded by Bono. Gharib graduated from Syracuse University with a dual degree in journalism and marketing.

Each year, the United States sends billions of dollars to poor countries. Does it really help them grow?

The question isn't new.

But it's taken on renewed urgency in the Trump administration. Last month, NPR's David Greene asked Stephen Moore, who advised Trump's campaign on economic policy, whether he supports the idea of cutting the U.S. foreign aid budget. His response: "100 percent."

Last week, it was your editors at Goats and Soda who were the curious goats.

We published a story on the huge gap in health care dollars for young and old in the developing world. A study looked at the $36.4 billion allocated by development agencies and nonprofit donors and found that a major share goes to children under 5.

When people find out that Malebogo Malefhe uses a wheelchair because she was shot by her boyfriend, the first question they ask is: "What did you do to him?"

Now Malefhe, who sustained eight bullets from her boyfriend of 10 years, wants to make sure that no woman who has faced domestic abuse is asked this question ever again.

The incident in 2009 nearly cost Malefhe her life. Since then, she has devoted herself to fighting gender-based violence in her native Botswana and teaching women that when men hurt them, it's not their fault.

A new report shows that the refugee crisis hasn't slowed down — and people don't always end up where you think.

The flow of refugees is steadily increasing, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR). As of mid-2016, there were 16.5 million refugees globally, 5 million more than in mid-2013. More than 30 percent of all refugees as of mid-2016 came from Syria, the largest source of global refugees.

Women won't be coming to work. That's what Americans may think that International Women's Day means this year.

The event, which has been celebrated for 106 years, has no single organizer or agenda. That's what makes it so effective, says Terry McGovern, professor and chair of population and family health at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. "There's not an imposed agenda. It allows women to define what the day means for them, and what needs to happen for them to achieve equality."

Can you capture the energy of a city in just one image?

That's the idea behind Metropolis, a book of photos of the world's megacities by Dutch photographer Martin Roemers. The images illustrate the rapid rise of global urbanization. In 1994, there were 14 cities with a population over 10 million. In 2016, there were 29, according to the U.N.

International humanitarian aid organizations say the travel restrictions issued by President Donald Trump on Saturday could have a dramatic impact on how they operate.

The Trump executive order temporarily bars all refugees and suspends — for the next 90 days — entry to the U.S. by citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The White House says the order was intended to protect the nation from "foreign terrorist entry."

The World Health Organization's next director-general will inherit an ailing institution with funding problems — and a bad reputation for how it's handled global health emergencies.

It's a shocking statistic that caught the world's attention last week: Just eight men own the same wealth as 3.6 billion people living in poverty — that's half the population of the planet.

This weekend, hundreds of thousands of Americans will be taking to the streets — some to celebrate, some to protest the inauguration and others to demonstrate for issues that the president-elect cares about.

If you happen to be one of those people, you might have this nagging question in the back of your mind: Will any of it make a difference?

Charts can seem dull. But not to data scientist Tariq Khokhar at the World Bank. When he looked through a year's worth of charts, graphs, maps and more, he was excited by the numbers.

For example, although the world's population has increased by 2 billion people since 1990, there are 1.1 billion fewer people living in extreme poverty, under $1.90 a day (highlighted in blue in the chart below). "I'm amazed at the progress," Khokhar says.

It's been used to buy drugs. Guns. Child porn. And to launder money.

But high-profile institutions like the World Bank, UNICEF and USAID think it could be a force for good, helping the poorest of the poor.

It's a technology called blockchain — a global, online ledger that's free for anyone to use and that isn't regulated by any one party.

Maybe you've heard of it. And maybe you don't know exactly what it is.

That's because it's not easy to define.

The world of global health and development loves its buzzwords — a word or short phrase that sums up a problem or a solution, like "food insecurity" or "gender equity." The problem is that buzzwords aren't always clear to the average global citizen. And some folks in the development world don't like them either. Here's The International Development Jargon Detector to prove it.

With so much attention paid to high-profile women in 2016, from Hillary Clinton to Wonder Woman, it's easy to lose sight of lesser-known women who are blazing a trail in low- and middle-income countries. In ways big and small, these women have moved the needle on gender equality by being activists, role models or simply taking a stand.

Here's a roundup of some of the many memorable women we profiled on Goats and Soda in 2016.

Great ideas are a dime a dozen. The question is: How do you get 'em to stick?

She has a skin color that you don't often see in films, fashion or magazines.

Khoudia Diop, a 19-year-old student and model from Senegal, has a hard time coming up with words to describe it. It's so dark, she says, it almost seems blue.

It's what shot her to the social media stratosphere recently. In August, she posed in a photo campaign with black women of all shades for The Colored Girl, a group that challenges society's beauty standards.

Can you find beauty in a life of hardship?

If the photos from the Siena International Photo Awards are any indication, the answer is yes. Last month, the winners and runners-up in 11 categories, including travel, nature, people and portraits, were announced.

Many of those top images were taken in the developing world, depicting lives affected by poverty and adversity — but not in the way you might expect.

No one knows what the Trump administration has planned for U.S. foreign aid programs and other global initiatives that fight poverty and disease.

There are some topics that Donald Trump has not addressed. Global advocacy groups such as the ONE Campaign have tried to get Trump to share his ideas of how to "tackle extreme poverty" on the record. After a year of campaigning, he still hasn't responded.

If I could pick when and where I was born, I'd choose 2016 and Hong Kong, instead of 1986 and the U.S.

That way, I'd have an extra seven years of life — the increase in life expectancy from then until now. As a Hong Konger, I'd have a good chance of living to 84 years old — that society has the highest life expectancy on record. And vaccines for deadly diseases like rotavirus and HPV would have already been invented.

Poorly managed projects. Questionable spending. Dubious claims of success.

That's how an NPR report last year described recovery efforts in Haiti from international humanitarian groups after the earthquake in 2010. That's why NGOs — nongovernmental organizations — helping out in the wake of Hurricane Matthew know they need to get it right this time.

Who will be the World Health Organization's next director-general? In September, the U.N. agency announced the six nominees, four men and two women, ranging from a cardiologist from Pakistan to a former punk rocker from Hungary. Over the next few months, WHO member-states will whittle down the list to one final candidate, who will succeed the current director, Dr.

On Thursday, the U.N. General Assembly welcomed Antonio Guterres of Portugal as the new secretary-general of the U.N., replacing Ban Ki-moon.

In a short speech expressing his "gratitude and humility" to the assembly for the five-year term, he highlighted his priorities: humility, empathy for the underprivileged and the "empowerment of women and girls."

Winter clothes, blankets, food and medical supplies. In an act of humanity, a U.N. aid convoy was carrying these precious necessities to a neighborhood in Aleppo, Syria, cut off by war. The convoy never made it.

It's a puzzling image — with a crime story behind it.

Women in colorful saris — hot pink, highlighter yellow, teal and royal blue — snake up a dusty gray quarry, carrying baskets of coal over their heads. It's early in the morning; they're stealing from the mine before officials come in for the day.

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