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89 posts categorized "Assets for the Poor"
Get ready. Next month Bread for the World and Concern Worldwide will team-up with other partners to celebrate the first 1,000 days of a global movement to make nutrition a key development goal. To update everyone on where our “Sustaining Political Commitments” event sits in “nutrition history,” we’ve put together an interactive timeline (above) that highlights some of the biggest moments since 2008. Use the side arrows to click through the slide-view, or click the "timeline" tab on the top left corner for a more linear perspective. Click on each event for videos, images, links, and a detailed description.
A lot has happened since September 2010, when developing countries founded the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement and donors—led by the United States, Ireland, and the United Nations—launched the 1,000 Days call to action to support it. What started as the recommendations of a scholarly series in a British medical journal has morphed into a global partnership. To date, 35 countries with high rates of maternal and child malnutrition have joined SUN. The movement has grown rapidly as governments and civil society leaders increasingly recognize the irreversible damage that early childhood malnutrition can inflict on whole generations—and conversely, the tremendous return on national investment in preventing this damage.
The 2013 Hunger Report is chock-full of stories on maternal and child nutrition, stunting, the 1,000 Day window, and the SUN movement. It’s all related to our recommendation for a bull’s-eye goal of ending mass hunger and extreme poverty by 2040.
Download the report at www.hungerreport.org to get the full story on Bread for the World’s recommendations regarding nutrition in the first 1,000 days.
Posted by Bread on May 20, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Hotspots, Hunger Report, Immigration, Inequality, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Challenge Account, Millennium Development Goals, Religion and Hunger, Trade, U.S. Hunger, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Good news for data nerds: The OECD has just released its latest disposable income, poverty and inequality numbers for all of its 34 member states. You can access the entire data set here, but don't miss the the fun interacive tools that were released along with it. OECD was kind enought to make them embeddable:
So what are the key stories in this beautifully arranged chart? You may not find them all that surprising:
- Poverty and inequality have grown in OECD countries since the global recession of 2007-2008.
- The United States still has greater-than-average inequality and relative poverty than the typical OECD country.
- The United States has less pre-tax/transfer poverty than most other countries.
- The overall OECD unemployment rate has eased slightly to 8.0%.
- Iceland, Slovenia, Norway and Denmark shared the lowest poverty rate of member countries, while Israel bore the highest at 21%.
This data release is well timed, just before the 39th G-8 summit to be held in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland between June 17-18. As member states gather to focus on shared global development goals like advancing trade, ensuring tax compliance, and promoting greater transparency, the OECD offers a humbling reminder that poverty, hunger, and inequality are on the rise across the developed world. A global committment to solving the poverty problem will require committment from all countries, regardless of income level. This is still everyone's problem.
Posted by Bread on May 16, 2013 in Asia, Assets for the Poor, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Report, Inequality, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Challenge Account, Millennium Development Goals, Trade, U.S. Hunger, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Developed and developing, north and south, rich and poor—these are some of the dichotomous terms we use to categorize a country's quality of life. Does any country, or any person, fit neatly into one category or another?
Increasingly, though, people are finding that development is more a continuum than an all-or-nothing condition, an up or down vote. Every country whether it’s been labeled “developed” or not, falls somewhere along that continuum. The 2013 Hunger Report acknowledged this point in its recommendation for continued universal ownership of goals after the expiration of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015. All countries face the same threats to their development to varying degrees.
The momentum behind this more inclusive way of looking at development and quality of life has been helped along by new concepts and tools. The old standards such as gross domestic product (GDP) or income per capita offer limited insight. Indices such as the Human Development Index (HDI) and the Multi-dimensional Poverty Index (MPI) point out the need for a more diverse set of indicators to complete the development picture, expanding it to include less obvious but equally important measurements like access to education, gender equality and greenhouse gas emissions.
Transparency is one of the more recent additions to the expanding development concept. It has only been a major priority of U.S. foreign assistance for a relatively short time. The Millennium Challenge Corporation only made “fighting corruption” an absolute requirement for funding recipients in 2002.
Short clip explains how Transparency International guages corruption and why it matters.
More recently, the push for open government has gained rapid momentum as citizens across the world discover promising new ways to track their leaders’ actions, their use of public resources, their campaign contributors, their vested interests in legislation, and more.
Organizations such as Transparency International and the Sunlight Foundation are leading a growing grassroots movement to open government data to public scrutiny. They’re ranking countries by degree of corruption, tracking political ad spending, and crowdsourcing to fill in missing information gaps. Perhaps most important, they’re collaborating internationally as they never have before. For example, Sunlight recently held its first Transparency Camp International, where members of civil society and government employees from 25 countries (of all income and “development” levels) gathered to join the global open government network and absorb the experiences and solutions of others.
The 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach: Global Development Goals, links open government and transparency to the end goal: good governance. “Improving governance is essential to progress on development,” it explains. “The corrosive effects of government corruption are just one example of how governance problems undermine progress. Good governance, on the other hand, is an enabling condition and a prerequisite to lasting change. Good governance includes many elements, but the most relevant for reducing poverty have to do with creating space for a strong civil society that can hold governments accountable for making progress; building effective institutions to manage and deliver public services; and respecting the rule of law—for example, by protecting the rights of minorities and ensuring that people have recourse to redress for injustices.”
“Most of the work to put these elements in place must be done by national governments and by civil society in developing countries. What the United States and other countries can do as a partner is set high expectations for levels of accountability and transparency. Additionally, they can provide technical know-how, strengthen global institutions that foster good governance, and support leaders who want to govern well. The United States itself must be an example of good governance and continue to work towards becoming more transparent and accountable.”
For more on the importance of transparency in the fight to end hunger, visit hungerreport.org.
Posted by Bread on May 13, 2013 in Africa, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Report, Inequality, Latin America, Millennium Challenge Account, Millennium Development Goals, Trade, U.S. Hunger, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
One of Bangladesh's main exports is fish. Photo credit: USAID.
Dr. Muhammed Yunus and the Grameen Bank are well-known pioneers of microfinance -- i.e., making modest loans to poor people that enable them to create sustainable improvements in their lives, largely by building small businesses. When Yunus founded the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh in 1983, the necessity of country-led development, let alone decision-making by poor people themselves, was not recognized. Lending a woman $75 to buy a sewing machine was a revolutionary concept.
Much has been written since then about the microfinance movement, its accomplishments, continuing debates, and more. Here, we emphasize one of Grameen's contributions to our understanding of global poverty: a very concrete definition that can help educate policymakers in donor countries about its realities and solutions.
In the United States, we tend to define poverty in terms of dollar income. So we readily understand the idea of an international poverty line -- originally $1 a day, now $1.25. Donors also realize that poverty has many implications for hunger, health, education, and other spheres. But the Grameen Bank recognized early on that poverty occurs in a context, and that communities themselves must determine who is poor and what it means to leave poverty.
Yunus and Grameen developed a checklist of 10 indicators that gauge whether a microfinance participant and her family have, in fact, escaped from poverty in Bangladesh. It's a helpful counterbalance to our sometimes abstract notions of who "the poor" are and what their priority needs might be. The specifics are:
- The family home has a tin roof or is valued at 25,000 taka or more (about $300-$325). Each member of the family sleeps in a bed rather than on the floor.
- The family drinks clean water -- either from wells, or boiled, or purified using arsenic-free tablets.
- All children age 6 or older are either going to school or have finished primary school.
- The microloan is being repaid in installments of at least 200 taka a week (about $2.50).
- The family uses a sanitary latrine.
- Family members have adequate everyday clothing, warm clothing for winter (such as sweaters and blankets), and mosquito nets.
- The family has a source of additional income, such as a vegetable garden or fruit trees, that they can fall back on when necessary.
- The microloan borrower maintains an average savings account balance of 5,000 taka (about $60-$65).
- The family has no difficulty providing each member with three square meals a day throughout the year.
- The family can afford necessary medical treatment if someone falls ill.
Grameen's indicators proved to be a reliable way of identifying those most in need and gauging their progress. Later, the indicators were broadened to form the Progress out of Poverty Index (PPI). The PPI uses similar data -- including what material a family's roof is made of -- to enable development organizations to calculate how likely it is that a given family lives below the national poverty line. So far, PPIs have been tailored to conditions in 45 countries.
couple of weeks ago, Yunus was here in Washington, DC, to receive
the Congressional Gold Medal. Along with the Presidential Medal of
Freedom, it is the highest American award for civilians. In 2006, Yunus and Grameen Bank won the Nobel Peace Price. Both have clearly made major contributions to Bangladesh's significant progress against hunger. For more on how that progress is being sustained, see the introduction to the 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach: Global Development Goals.
Michele Learner is associate editor for Bread for the World Institute.
It’s easy to forget that hunger and malnutrition are still big problems here in the Western Hemisphere. The focus tends to be on countries in Africa and South Asia, where malnourished women and children are more visible and international organizations more active. In previous posts on Institute Notes, I’ve written about traveling to Guatemala and described efforts now under way to reduce the country’s stubbornly high rates of maternal/child malnutrition.
Today 1,000 children will be born in Guatemala. If the past predicts the future, half of these babies will grow up stunted (far too short for their age). Stunting causes children to be more susceptible to illness and less likely to do well in school. People who are stunted have lower lifetime earnings than their peers, and they are more likely to raise stunted children themselves. Does this make you a little angry? When a national survey in Guatemala revealed that less than 1 percent of the respondents thought malnutrition was a problem in the country, it angered President Perez Molina more than a little. He ordered every member of his cabinet to spend time living with a family facing chronic food shortages and malnutrition. Many such families are indigenous Guatemalans in difficult to reach mountainous regions.
It didn’t stop with the cabinet. In the end, 6,212 middle- and high-income Guatemalans -- officials, families, members of church and civil society groups -- connected with some of the poorest people in their country. The result was a nationwide commitment to break the cycle of malnutrition and stunting. It’s an ambitious goal in the sense that malnutrition is an entrenched problem that has persisted for decades despite earlier attempts to solve it. In a country whose president is limited to one term (four years), it has proven difficult to muster the political will to initiate actions that might not be sustained. But the Perez Molina administration reconvened after the rural visits to launch a concerted nationwide effort to scale up nutrition in Guatemala. The Zero Hunger Pact was born.
“Zero Hunger” has two main goals: to reduce chronic malnutrition among children by 10 percent and to prevent deaths caused by acute malnutrition by focusing on seasonal hunger (the spike in hunger that generally comes just prior to harvest time). A series of specific actions to combat malnutrition and to encourage people to participate have been developed. The pact’s other areas of focus are to include promoting development and fighting poverty, especially among indigenous rural women. Activities have now begun in various parts of the country, and plans call for expansion in 2014 and 2015.
Last week, I attended a meeting about the Zero Hunger Pact at the State Department, along with Guatemalan government leaders; the State Department’s Acting Special Representative for Global Food Security, Jonathan Shrier; and USAID’s Assistant to the Administrator for the Bureau of Food Security, Paul Weisenfeld. With the strong backing of Guatemala’s president, leaders from government, the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, and civil society are working together on a plan to make sustainable improvements in nutrition.
Guatemala has been active in the global Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement, which now brings together 34 countries committed to improving maternal and child nutrition. The world now knows what to do and how to do it. What Guatemala has added is political will at its highest level, a national budget allocation, and public commitment.
The Zero Hunger Pact says it best:
“Today we dare dream about a different Guatemala, in which children with smiles are free from hunger and reach their full potential. We have launched the process of change and as a society we are ready to pay the cost for reaching our collective success. What used to divide us, brings us together now in the fight for one single cause: to eradicate malnutrition.”
So with this blog we can salute Guatemala for its efforts, along with other SUN Movement countries who are making political decisions and changing government policies to reduce malnutrition.
Posted by Scott Bleggi on April 15, 2013 in Agriculture, Assets for the Poor, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Hotspots, Hunger Report, Immigration, Inequality, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Development Goals, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
This is not to say, of course, that leaders in South Korea (and around the world) are or should be taking the threats lightly. But wider South Korean society now regards the North’s public pronouncements and brinksmanship tactics with more pity than fear. This shift in broader perception accompanies South Korea’s transformation from one of the poorest countries in the world in the 1950s to a leading developed economy today. It makes the contrast with North Korea’s widespread poverty and hunger all the more stark.
Hunger in North Korea is rampant. In 2011, 32 percent of the population didn’t always know where their next meals were coming from. Nearly one in five children was underweight, and one in three was stunted (that’s largely irreversible cognitive damage to 1/3 of children). The statistics are, sadly, amply illustrated by story after heart-wrenching story of famine, attempts to flee the country, and even cannibalism. Meanwhile, only miles away, South Korea has beaten back hunger to the level s of an industrialized country. The country was recently ranked just after the United Kingdom in food security – it’s the 21st most food secure nation in the world.
The existence of two very different Koreas is one of the strongest pieces of evidence in today’s world for Bread’s argument that hunger is not necessary. It is a choice made by national policy makers.
The 2013 Hunger Report includes a short account of the inspiring South Korean story and the lessons it taught the world about how country-led development and true partnership work:
South Korea’s transformation from one of the poorest countries in the world in the 1950s to a member of the OECD by the 2000s makes it a powerful symbol of the potential impact of effective aid. For decades, the United States, Japan, and other donors provided Korea with a steady stream of financial support and equally significant assistance in capacity building. Between 1962 and 1971, for example, 7,000 Koreans received training abroad, and from this group have come many of the country’s leaders in government, business, and academia.
The South Korean government and the United States did not always agree on the conditions attached to U.S. assistance. The Korean government wanted to focus on large-scale economic infrastructure, while the United States favored building up small and medium-size enterprises. It rejected the government’s request for financing a road project to connect the main port at Busan with the country’s major population centers, so the government spent a quarter of the entire national budget to build the road itself. Seven years after its completion, South Korea’s national income had quadrupled. Thus, it was particularly appropriate for the December 2011 Fourth High-Level Meeting on Aid Effectiveness to be held in Busan, Korea. Busan is now one of the busiest port cities in the world, and its success demonstrates why country-led development should be more than a slogan.
Each year, the U.S. government spends $18 billion on improving its workforce, and most policy makers agree that it’s one of the best investments our country can make. Any job in this modern economy requires a unique set of skills commensurate with essential training or education. And of course, a more highly skilled workforce is a key prerequisite to economic growth. But those who have tried to evaluate the effectiveness of current federal workforce development programs — including the Government Accountability Office(GAO) — report that it is not easily measured. There are at least 47 such programs, many of which serve overlapping purposes and offer inconclusive, poorly documented results.
The House took its first stab at sweeping workforce program reform last month with the passage of the SKILLS Act. This measure, passed largely against the will of House Democrats and President Obama, would consolidate scattered funding pools into a single “Workforce Investment Fund” from which block grants would be issued directly to states to be dispersed and managed in accordance with their plans. A Democratic alternative was also proposed, prioritizing funding for community colleges, training for high-growth industries, and programs targeted at low-income people. Both plans promise to reduce administrative overhead, build in more rigorous evaluation, and bridge the gap between the unemployed and the 3.6 million unfilled job openings in the United States.
A better educated and skilled workforce is always a good idea, not just for broad-based economic growth, but because a better trained worker is an empowered worker—more capable of finding and keeping a job that pays enough to keep a family out of poverty.
Chapter 4 of the 2013 Hunger Report, With Reach: Global Development Goals, explores the role of the labor market in fighting poverty:
Most of the changes needed to reduce the poverty that now exists in the United States, as opposed to preventing poverty for the next generation, must take place in the labor market. Clearly, there’s a lot of scope for government to make mistakes while trying to correct problems in the labor market, and in the end, government power in this sphere is limited. However, there are also improvements that could be made now. These include raising the minimum wage, indexing the minimum wage to inflation, and ensuring labor rights such as the right to organize and join a union. (Congress and the president have already taken some encouraging actions toward making the minimum wage a living wage.)
Government has failed workers—both low-wage workers and those who were once relatively insulated from eroding purchasing power. The GDP of the country continues to rise, yet real wages are now stagnant even for people with bachelor’s degrees. The most severe effects of the increasingly skewed labor market fall on low-wage workers. The work low-wage workers do is needed, and always will be: janitors, food-service workers, landscapers, farm workers, and others. And the people who have these jobs will, of course, always need to earn a living.
Thus, one essential response is to ensure that all jobs pay enough to keep employees above the poverty line. Government must do more to counter the downward pressure on wages. Human-capital development must be strengthened so that even if some jobs are dead-end jobs, no one is trapped in them for lack of alternatives.
See the rest of Chapter 4 for more on U.S. workforce development and education.
The world's poorest citizens are steadily moving into the global “middle class,” according to the recently released 2013 Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI). The report, an Oxford University poverty and human development initiative, predicts that countries among the most impoverished in the world could eradicate acute poverty within 20 years if they continue at present rates. Their tool for measurement, the MPI, is not only significant for its promising economic forecast, but for its groundbreaking multifaceted method of defining true poverty.
In recent years, especially since the launch of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000, economists and development experts have learned to expand their concept of development to encompass far more than traditional economic yardsticks such as GDP or income per capita. They've discovered that it is really about a human being’s quality of life, an appropriately more complex concept. In previous posts, we have discussed the ingenuity of new tools like the Human Development Index (HDI), which now help us more accurately track the many ways in which human beings can improve their livelihoods. Just as the HDI has redefined the end goal, which is development, the MPI has redefined one of the most urgent barriers — poverty.
The MPI uses 10 key indicators that complement traditional income-based poverty measures by capturing a number of severe deprivations that a person faces simultaneously. The result is a more complete poverty measurement that can identify the poorest among the poor and direct aid resources to them accordingly.
Perhaps the most encouraging outcome of the MPI, as the 2013 report shows, is that it is uncovering progress previously less visible in even the world's “poorest” nations. Read more about the MPI and its impact on the effort to end poverty and hunger in chapter 1 of the 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach: Global Development Goals.
Precise, complete, and up-to-date data. Everyone working on hunger policy knows how important it is. In fact, access to it would be a dream come true. Instead of wishing after the fact that we could have done more to prevent or at least mitigate hunger crises large and small, chronic malnutrition in the 1,000-day window before a child’s second birthday, and the micronutrient deficiencies that cause conditions such as rickets and intellectual disabilities, we would have the information available in time to “do something.”
We’re getting closer to that dream, thanks to ever-expanding global networks and the rapid progress of real-time communication technologies. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), arguably the most comprehensive and reliable source of international hunger and food security data, has just unveiled a promising new hunger tracking tool — perhaps its first true hunger tracking tool — which uses the new technology to speed up the collection of accurate data. FAO calls it the Voices of the Hungry Project. The name fits, since the goal is to lend a far more sensitive and responsive ear to people living with hunger.
Even at FAO, existing hunger data collection and analysis methods take as long as two or three years to bring accurate data from its source to world attention. By then it is often too late to respond effectively. Most FAO food consumption surveys are administered only every five years, and they don’t always include individual-level responses.
Twitter was all abuzz over FAO's new tool. Bread for the World Institute was talking about it too.
The Voices of the Hungry Project will select representative samples of 1,000 to 5,000 people per country, depending on the national population. Individuals will be asked to answer eight questions to gauge the depth and frequency of any food insecurity they experienced in the previous year. More specifically, the questions measure whether respondents are experiencing mild, moderate, or severe food insecurity on a “Food Insecurity Experience Scale.”
Respondents are asked to indicate whether, in the past 12 months, there was a time when, because of lack of money or other resources:
1. You were worried you would run out of food.
2. You were unable to eat healthy and nutritious food.
3. You ate only a few kinds of foods.
4. You had to skip a meal.
5. You ate less than you thought you should.
6. Your household ran out of food.
7. You were hungry but did not eat.
8. You went without eating for a whole day.
The survey results will be available in days rather than years, allowing FAO to take an almost real-time snapshot of a nation's food security situation.
Chapter 1 of Bread for the World Institute’s 2013 Hunger Report delineates the high costs of delayed data collection. It tells the story of FAO’s struggle to accurately track rising hunger and food insecurity during and after the food price crisis of 2008-2009. The data was not made available until a year or more after the crisis began. Moreover, some of it was later discovered to be significantly inaccurate.
The effectiveness of nutrition programs, the credibility of statements about progress or lack of progress on hunger, and the integrity of broader development initiatives such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) depend on reliable data. Measurable, accurate results provide the crucial backing to show whether a proposed solution is likely to work. FAO’s Voices of the Hungry Project will help get the facts about who is hungry out in a faster, more accurate way.
more about the food price crisis of 2008-2009, changing data collection
methods, and the MDGs in chapter one of the 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach:
Global Development Goals.
Although each of the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is important, some include more specifics than others. MDG 3 is to "promote gender equality" -- quite a sweeping task-- but its specific targets and indicators focus mainly on gender parity in education (at all levels -- primary, secondary, and tertiary) and a related indicator, the ratio of literate women to men in the age group 15 to 24. It's clear that education for girls is critically important and leads to improvements both in women's own lives and those of their children. By itself, though, gender parity in education is not enough to achieve gender equality.
Yet gender equality is not only a core development objective, it is also smart economics. Empowered women and men can improve a society's productivity, offer their children greater opportunities, and make institutions more representative. It benefits everyone.
Bread for the World Institute's 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach: Global Development Goals emphasizes both the intrinsic value and instrumental value of gender equality. Today, we know that removing barriers that prevent women from having the same access as men to education, economic opportunities, and productive inputs can generate broad based productivity gains -- gains all the more important in an increasingly competitive society. Additionally, leveling the playing field so that women and men have equal chances to actively engage socially and politically -- to make decisions and shape policies -- is likely to lead over time to more representative, and more inclusive institutions and policy responses.
Staggering evidence based on the upcoming 2012 Global Food Policy Report of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) reveals that almost 55 percent of the reduction in hunger from 1970 to 1995 can be attributed to improvements in women’s status in society. Additionally, it is estimated that global malnutrition could be reduced by 12 percent to 17 percent if gender barriers were eliminated and women farmers were able to match the yields of male farmers.
It is true that the lives of girls and women have changed dramatically over the past 50 years. While the pace of change has been astonishing in some areas, in other areas, progress toward gender equality has been limited — even in developed countries.
What is also becoming increasingly clear is that income growth by itself does not deliver greater gender equality on all fronts. In fact, where gender gaps have closed quickly, it is because of how institutions and markets — both formal and informal—have functioned and evolved, how growth has played out, and how all these factors have interacted through household decisions. For example, how has the global progress in girls' education come about? A combination of factors -- income growth (which loosens budget constraints), markets (which open new employment opportunities for women), and formal institutions (which expand school systems and lower costs) -- came together in a broad range of countries to influence household decisions in favor of educating girls and young women.
So is women's empowerment important? Yes -- in order to achieve the MDGs, we must redouble our commitment to support women and girls in achieving their full potential. We need to prioritize MDG 3 alongside the other seven goals.
Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do-- Johann Wolfgang