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88 posts categorized "Good Governance"
In May 2013, the High Level Panel on the post-2015 development agenda—a group tasked with advising the United Nations Secretary General—released its report A New Global Partnership: Eradicate Poverty and Transform Economies through Sustainable Development. The report advocates five “global shifts”:
- Leave no one behind;
- Put sustainable development at the core;
- Transform economies for jobs and inclusive growth;
- Build peace and effective, open, and accountable institutions for all; and
- Forge a new global partnership.
Bread for the World Institute's latest briefing paper, A Global Development Agenda: Toward 2015 and Beyond, emphasizes that the post-2015 development agenda provides an opportunity to promote equity and equitable growth in all countries. It is also an opportunity to recognize linkages across key areas: food security and good nutrition for all; agricultural development; women’s economic empowerment; and good governance and effective institutions. Goals should be formulated in ways that capture the great potential of coordinated approaches, which have proven to be highly effective in responding to multiple development challenges.
Last week in New York, a special event convened by the president of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) sought to review progress made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and to chart the way toward December 2015, the MDG deadline.The Millennium Development Goals Outcome Document released at the event calls on the global community to build on past achievements, redouble its efforts, and accelerate progress on the MDGs.
Last week, the United Nations Children'sFund (UNICEF) released its 2013 progress report Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed. The report details trends in under-5 mortality over the past two decades. It also provides highlights and statistics of the work that has already been to date. The big news in the report is that despite overwhelming odds, Ethiopia has already achieved the Millennium Development Goal 4 Target A: Reduce by two thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-5 mortality rate. This is worth celebrating given that the country faces a number of challenges, including a severe shortage of doctors and health professionals. For instance, with a population of over 80 million, there is one doctor for every 36,000 people. Additionally, Ethiopia is one of the 34 countries that account for 90% of the global burden of malnutrition.
Ethiopia's tremendous progress on MDG 4 has been made possible by its political commitment at the country level and external support, which have enabled use of innovative programs like frontline health extension workers within communities.
Photo credit: USAID
Other examples of country progress highlighted in the report include:
- In Bangladesh, under-five mortality rate decreased by 72 per cent from 1990 to 2012, mainly thanks to expanding immunization for children, delivering oral rehydration therapy to treat diarrhoea, and providing Vitamin A supplementation. Expanding a network of community health workers also improved the quality of healthcare and led to an increased use of health facilities. Women’s empowerment, education for mothers, improving mothers’ health and implementing strategies to reduce poverty also contributed to reducing child deaths.
- In Brazil, under-five mortality rate decreased by 77 per cent between 1990 and 2012, thanks to a combination of tactics. These include efforts to deliver healthcare at the community level, improvements in sanitation conditions, providing mothers with knowledge, promoting breastfeeding and expanding immunization.
a co-sponsor of the Call to Action, has recorded tremendous gains in
reducing the under-five mortality rate, with a dramatic 67 per cent reduction
since 1990. The health extension program implemented in Ethiopia is one example
of how critical community health workers are providing quality care to children
and mothers in remote areas. The program which was launched in 2004 currently
deploys 38,000 government-paid female health extension workers. UNICEF supports
the program by providing supplies including vaccine storage equipment, delivery
beds and medications, and supporting training for health workers. The program
also provides treatment of severe acute malnutrition, diarrhea, malaria and
World Bank President, Dr. Jim Kim comments on G-20 meetings in St. Petersburg. (World Bank)
The Group of 20 (G-20) wrapped-up its two-day leaders’ summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, last week. World Bank President Dr. Jim Kim cut to the chase about global poverty—reminding global leaders still uneasy about a sagging world economy that continued investment in the developing world is not only critical to ending poverty and hunger, but good for business. With little more than two years left until the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in December 2015, Kim challenged rich countries and private sector investors not to shy away from, but instead to redouble, financial commitments in poor countries.
Kim emphasized the increasingly pressing need for leaders to “grow our global infrastructure facility.” Infrastructure—both physical and financial—is still a key item on the G-20 development agenda. This is because improving infrastructure is a prerequisite for sustained progress on the MDGs. Though donor support for it is a stated priority for most developing countries, it has been largely absent from donors’ agendas. Agricultural development has its own speciﬁc infrastructure needs (e.g., storage facilities to preserve crops longer), as does the health sector (e.g., programs to train more health workers). Among the many physical infrastructure challenges, building roads to areas without access to services is one of the most important. Cross-sector infrastructure needs include collecting, analyzing, and disseminating data.
The G-20 agenda has included the problem of high and volatile food prices ever since the initial food price crisis in 2007. In June 2011, the G-20 agriculture ministers called for greater transparency in commodity markets and committed their countries to collectively establish an early warning system that would compile information on food stocks, crop supplies, and demand. The ministers also agreed to “ensure that national food-based safety nets can work at times when food prices rise sharply and governments cannot access the food required for these safety nets at an affordable price.”
Commitments to economic growth in the developing world can be easily derailed in the name of shorter-term goals. But as Kim pointed out, the G-20 must keep its priorities straight. Taking steps to help millions of people who need better economic opportunities should be at the top of its agenda.
Read more about the G-20 and investments to end hunger in Chapter 2 of the 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach: Global Development Goals.
Posted by Bread on September 10, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Hotspots, Hunger Report, Inequality, Malnutrition, Millennium Challenge Account, Millennium Development Goals, Religion and Hunger, Trade, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
When we look at ways to improve maternal and child nutrition, better availability and access to food first comes to mind. This has been the traditional response in agricultural development assistance, but evidence has shown that increasing farm yields, while increasing producer incomes, in and of itself will not improve individual and household nutrition status.
If providing more food alone won’t improve nutrition, what other interventions are needed? One is a direct, or “nutrition-specific”, intervention that addresses the immediate causes. These have been well-defined in the first Lancet Series on Maternal and Child Nutrition, and have a strong evidence base showing their effectiveness. Interventions such as providing micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) such as zinc, iron and iodized salt were shown to have a profound impact on childhood stunting and early childhood death.
The studies also showed that to be effective in the long-term, these interventions needed to be supplemented by improvements in the underlying, or indirect, causes of malnutrition. Bread for the World Institute published a briefing paper on defining these other types of interventions, and addressing malnutrition through “nutrition-sensitive” development actions. These can take place in multiple sectors, including agriculture. Interventions that address poverty, gender inequality, food insecurity, education, health and access to basic services can all improve nutrition.
An examination of 14 different studies on improving water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in ten low and middle-income countries shows that improvements in this area can “slightly improve height growth in children under five years of age”, which is a measure of malnutrition. Only slightly? Well, that’s disappointing. Lawrence Haddad reported in his blog that “we shouldn’t give up” on WASH interventions based on this lukewarm report for a number of reasons, including the fact that the study was only 12 months in duration. And the authors stated that “none of the studies is of high methodological quality”.
Are WASH efforts an effective way to improve nutrition? Yes! A number of current studies will add to what are the first data points in an evidence base of nutrition-sensitive development actions. The evidence base of successful nutrition outcomes based on these actions is being built. According to the second Lancet series on Maternal and Child Nutrition, nutrition-sensitive development actions “have an enormous potential to enhance the scale and effectiveness of nutrition-specific interventions”.
Key to sustaining improved nutrition outcomes is a combination of both nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive actions. Identifying, measuring and reporting on them across developmental assistance sectors in overseas projects will quickly build an evidence base of successful nutrition outcomes.
The U.S. Agency for International Development is developing its agency nutrition strategy, one that will eventually grow to be “whole of government”. Recognizing that many of its global development assistance activities, especially those in the Feed the Future Initiative, already have substantial nutrition-sensitive components should be an important part of developing that strategy.
Posted by Scott Bleggi on September 06, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Hotspots, Hunger Report, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Challenge Account, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have served as a shared framework for global action and cooperation on development since 2000.
Ahead of the upcoming United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) next month to define a new universal development agenda, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has released a report, A Life of Dignity for All. The report contains updates on the progress of the MDGs and his vision for the road ahead. While the report focuses mostly on accelerating the MDGs, it also emphasizes prioritizing of key issues including hunger and malnutrition, women empowerment, poverty and inequality.
With less than 1,000 days to the 2015 overall target date for achieving the MDGs, what is clear is that bold action is needed in many areas. For example, although progress has been tremendous on several goals, one in eight people worldwide still remain hungry.
Bread for the World Institute’s upcoming Briefing Paper will provide in-depth analysis and recommendations for the post-2015 global development agenda. It emphasizes that the post-2015 global development framework needs to build on MDG progress while simultaneously identifying new challenges and opportunities to ending hunger and poverty by 2030.
President Obama's full speech on the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. (Video credit: the White House)
Yesterday, President Obama ascended the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, to deliver a speech. The speech was given at nearly the exact place and time as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s monumental “I Have a Dream” speech, exactly 50 years later. An irresistable national discussion led up to that moment, comparing the two men and the two Americas of then and now.
Obama acknowledged the determination and resilience of King and his generation, especially those "whose names never appeared in the history books, never got on TV." He thanked them for dreaming big enough to envision, 50 years later, a black president and a more self-aware country that has started its journey toward equality.
The U.S. Census Bureau released a report last week to commemorate the 50th anniversary of King’s speech and celebrate the progress made since 1963. Here are a few examples of that progress:
- The median income of black Americans has nearly doubled.
- The black poverty rate has fallen by 14 percent.
- Twenty-six percent of blacks had high school diplomas in 1964; 85 percent did in 2012.
- The number of black college graduates jumped from 4 percent to 21 percent.
- The proportion of the African American population holding public office has more than tripled.
President Obama is arguably the most visible symbol of all that is to be celebrated. But yesterday he bore the challenge of going beyond one dream fulfilled to face the many deferred.
In many ways, African Americans still live on the margins of American society. Though the black poverty rate has declined, in 2011 it was still 27.6 percent — more than double the white poverty rate. It was even higher among black children — 37.4 percent lived in poverty. Food security (hunger) rates track the poverty numbers closely. And the unemployment rate is just as disturbing; today it is twice as high for blacks as for whites, and—reflecting the nation’s painfully slow recovery from the Great Recession-- even higher now than in 1963.
Not surprisingly, educational outcomes for blacks tell a similar story, with whites nearly twice as likely to graduate from college as blacks. And we know that poverty, hunger, and unemployment are inextricably tied to a student’s educational outcomes.
Rarely mentioned in the recent media coverage is the full name of the March on Washington: The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
As the president acknowledged, it is good jobs that all Americans, blacks especially, need most today to make the climb out of poverty and hunger. President Obama and Congress can do a lot to create jobs through policy. They can invest, first in the American people by providing more accessible high-quality education, and second in national infrastructure that can open opportunities for the private sector to drive economic growth. Yes, all investments demand an upfront cost, but if the investment isn’t made now, the cost to generations of Americans will be far greater. We can do the right thing in a fiscally responsible way.
The president and congress can and must choose to dream even bigger than Dr. King. We have all the policy tools we need to end U.S. poverty and hunger in less than a generation. Will an elementary school student who watches today’s speech on TV be the one to stand at the Lincoln Memorial in 25 years and celebrate such an achievement?
This week, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs introduced a new website, Outrage and Inspire, to serve as a launch pad for the work of Roger Thurow, senior fellow for Global Agriculture and Food Policy. Most recently author of The Last Hunger Season: A Year in an African Farm Community on the Brink of Change, Thurow is a long-time friend of Bread for the World and a true anti-hunger champion. He is a former writer for the Wall Street Journal and a senior fellow at the Chicago Council. The site will follow Thurow as he travels to a range of countries reporting on global hunger, poverty, and food and nutrition security.
For The Last Hunger Season, Thurow followed the lives of four farm families in western Kenya for a year, encompassing the cycle of preparing the land, planting the seeds, suffering through the inevitable “hunger season,” and finally harvesting the crops. He wrote about how the One Acre Fund has helped these smallholder farmers, mostly women, by providing training in essential practices such as obtaining high quality seed, planting in rows, and measuring and using precise micro dosages of fertilizer. Thurow’s book balances the horror of not being able to feed a child with the hope raised by economic empowerment. Changes are under way that just might end “hunger seasons” for good.
In his inaugural Outrage and Inspire post, “Making the Invisible Visible,” Thurow tells the story of a birth in rural India, interspersed with findings from the new Lancet series on maternal and child health. The woman giving birth has access to more modern medical facilities and knowledge about the needs of her newborn daughter than women in her village ever have before, but the research shows that both the mother and daughter can expect to encounter the reality of gender inequality, including unequal access to nutritious food.
The 1,000 Days – the critical window for human nutrition that lasts from pregnancy to a child’s second birthday -- will be the subject of Thurow’s next project and a major focus of the new website. By examining chronic malnutrition and the damage it causes in early childhood, Thurow will contribute to the important conversation on what is being done around the world to combat stunting and malnutrition among children, and what is still needed for communities to be able to prevent stunting and the lifelong damage it causes. In order to solve the problem, Thurow says, we will need “outrage and inspiration.”
Building champions for improving nutrition outcomes around the world is an effective way for advocates to advance the nutrition agenda, especially for improved nutrition in women and children. As we heard at the Bread for the World Institute and Concern Worldwide “Sustaining Political Commitments to Scaling Up Nutrition” meeting June 10, nutrition champions come in many forms. They can be grassroots organizers, Bread for the World members who contact their congressional offices, or people based in Washington, DC, who visit Capitol Hill or push the administration on nutrition policy issues. Internationally, champions may be members of civil society in countries with significant malnutrition. They can hold their governments accountable for funding and policy commitments to make progress against malnutrition.
Champions certainly include people like Thurow, whose commitment to ending hunger is clear through his efforts to “outrage and inspire” others to action. Congratulations to Roger Thurow on his new blog from his many friends in Bread for the World and the nutrition stakeholder community. We recommend it to all who would like to see a nutrition champion in action – and all who are not afraid to be outraged and inspired by examples of victories over food insecurity and malnutrition.
Posted by Scott Bleggi on August 14, 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, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Yesterday, the United States International Development Agency (USAID) announced the release of the most detailed data yet available on the Foreign Assistance Dashboard. USAID has added over 50,000 financial transactions reflecting spending as recent as June 30, 2013.
For the first time, members of the public can now search and visualize expanded, timely information about what, where, how, and with whom USAID programs work. The financial transactions include detailed information across 30 descriptive fields, including vendor, location, award title, descriptions, and more. The addition of USAID’s financial transactions is a significant milestone for U.S. Government foreign assistance transparency. The new USAID data is visualized on the site, can be downloaded in machine-readable format, and is included in the U.S. Government’s data files in the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) format.
The Foreign Assistance Dashboard displays data from the Department of State, USAID, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Treasury. The Dashboard continues to expand with the goal of including detailed foreign assistance budget, financial, and program data from all U.S. Government agencies that fund or implement foreign assistance in accordance with the Office of management and budget Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Bulletin 12-01. As new data are added to the Dashboard, the IATI data files will also be updated to reflect these new data.
To understand the information presented in the Foreign Assistance Dashboard, users are encouraged to read the supplementary information under the What You Should Know section of the website.
Posted by Faustine Wabwire on July 31, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Report, Immigration, Inequality, Latin America, Millennium Development Goals | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
A glimpse of worker protests at Union Square in New York City (video credit: Fast Food Forward).
Lines at fast-food drive-throughs across the country just got longer.
Workers from some of the largest U.S. fast-food chains are dropping deep fryers and abandoning cashier stations this week. A series of one-day walkouts are planned by employees of McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, and KFC in cities across the country including New York City, Chicago, Seattle, Detroit, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Flint, MI. And employees at retail outlets such as Macy’s, Dollar Tree, and Victoria’s Secret are poised to follow. More and more workers say that they don’t earn enough for them and their families to live on. And many protest stagnant wages – after several years of work, they have never gotten a raise.
The average income of the bottom fifth of U.S. wage-earners fell by nearly 6 percent in the 2000s. In that same period, the earnings of the top tenth rose by 8.6 percent. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that 28 million full-time U.S. workers earned an average annual income of $20,510 —not nearly enough to keep a family of four above the federal poverty line, which is set at a modest $23,550 a year for a family that size. Fast-food workers in many cities have it much worse than that. New York City fast food workers average an annual income of just $11,000.
A coalition of community groups, religious leaders, and national labor unions such as the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) are coordinating the series of strikes. In New York, a representative of Fast Food Forward, one of the leading organizing groups in the city, told CBS New York, "A lot of the workers are living in poverty, you know, not being able to afford to put food on the table or take the train to work… The workers are striking over the fact that they can’t continue to maintain their families on the wages they’re being paid in the fast-food industry."
Fast food is just the latest sector to face worker protests in the past year or so. Manufacturing, government, and retail have experienced repeated strikes by low-wage workers as well. All of the strikers demand the same thing — a livable wage.
The reality of American life is that all too many jobs do not pay enough, do not enable parents to balance work and family responsibilities, and do not allow workers the right to negotiate as a group for better pay or more flexible schedules. So far, federal government policies that try to respond to these problems are doing too little to make a difference. The top earners in the United States make more than the top earners in every other developed country, but our lowest-wage workers are worse off than their peers in all but a few of these countries.
Bread for the World Institute’s 2013 Hunger Report discusses the responsibility of the private sector (fast food included) to pay their workers fairly in order to do their part to reduce poverty. The social contract that links business, families, government, and civil society is the bedrock of our society. But over time, it has been eroded. U.S. government policy must reverse this trend and help labor regain its voice.
Read more about income inequality in the United States in Chapter 4 of the 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach: Global Development Goals, and keep a look out for the 2014 Hunger Report, coming Thanksgiving 2013!
Twenty percent of federally contracted workers fell below the poverty line and 40 percent earned less than a living wage in 2006.
A new report by the National Employment Law Project (NELP) introduces Americans to some of the individuals behind those numbers; employees contracted by the federal government who live at or near the poverty line -- a situation that not only keeps them from meeting their family’s immediate needs (like food), but leaves no room for the kind of investments (like education) that can lift them out of poverty. The report, titled Taking the Low Road: How the Federal Government Promotes Poverty-Wage Jobs Through its Contracting Practices, draws upon interviews with more than five-hundred contracted workers across the country, and sheds light into the dark corners of the federal government’s low-bid contracting system.
Graph from NELP Report shows growth of federally contracted jobs since 2000.
Nearly half of the federal workforce is hired through contracts—a system that too often leaves its workers earning near minimum wage, without access to basic benefits like healthcare or paid sick-leave. It also makes it much easier for workers to be let-go without notice or explanation. NELP’s collection of stories illustrates the toll this dysfunctional system takes not only on workers and their families, but on the national economy: “By creating hardship for millions of working families in the short term and delaying economic recovery and adding stress to safety net programs in the long term, these shortsighted policies inevitably lead to more government spending -- precisely the result advocates of low-bid contracting were trying to avoid.”
Here’s what some federally contracted workers interviewed by NELP said about their work experiences:
“This wage is not enough to afford food or even to pay for the subway to go to work...I only ask for a good wage and good insurance in return, so that my family can enjoy the fruit of my work. I dream of my eight-year-old son being able to go to college…I want him to work with a computer and not a broom.”
- Nelly Garcia, Janitor at Old Post Office Building in Washington, DC
“Now, I’m over 65 years old, and I guess I feel disheartened most of the time because I can’t get ahead. I do what I can, but mostly now I’m working for the medical insurance.”
-Lucy Johnson, A sewing machine operator in Knoxville who earns the minimum wage after over 25 years at work
“It is very difficult for me and my family. I must pay the rent, buy clothing for the children, and feed them. But my wages are not always enough. I wish that I did not have to depend on government help like Medicaid and food stamps, but without the help we would be homeless or starving.”
-Carmen Cortes, Janitor at Union Station, Washington DC
The 2013 Hunger Report reminds us that the most severe effects of our increasingly skewed labor market fall on low-wage workers in all sectors:
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. Secondly, 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.
The federal government must be a model good employer for the rest of the country. When it chooses to put its people first and uphold decent wage and work standards, it motivates public and private sector employers to do the same and encourages the kind of human capital investment that strengthens our economy and reduces poverty and hunger.
To read more about the relationship between labor standards and poverty and hunger, check out Chapter 4 of the 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach: Global Development Goals.
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