SubscribeSubscribe to this blog's feed
167 posts categorized "Millennium Development Goals"
Transparency in foreign aid is necessary so that both taxpayers in the donor country and nongovernmental organizations and citizens in the partner country are able to hold their governments accountable for how it’s used. Taxpayers deserve to know how their tax dollars are spent and what results they are achieving. And residents of the countries that receive aid should be able to tell what the aid is for and where it’s going.
Taking all opportunities to improve transparency and coordination is therefore important to ensure that scarce foreign assistance resources are used efficiently to make as much progress as possible against hunger and poverty.
In recent years, the U.S. government has started several new initiatives to improve the transparency and accountability of development assistance. In December 2010, the Obama administration launched the Foreign Assistance Dashboard as a “one-stop shop” to find data on all U.S. foreign aid spending.
The Foreign Assistance Dashboard was created to put into practice the principles of both the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and President Obama’s Open Government Initiative. The administration issued guidance on when and how agencies should report information on the website. These are steps in the right direction, but more can be done.
Part of President Obama's Open Government Inititiative: The newly launched data.gov, a one stop-shop for government and private sector information, including development data (screenshot).
Another initiative, on program evaluation, is off to a good start since both the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) have new evaluation policies. There are no standards on monitoring and evaluation for more than 20 other agencies that deliver U.S. foreign assistance. But help is on the way.
Last week, the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act, H.R. 2638, was introduced in the House with broad bipartisan support. The bill seeks to establish interagency monitoring and evaluation guidelines for U.S. development assistance programs and to centralize public access to subsequent data and reports.
H.R. 2638 directs the president to establish goals and performance and evaluation guidelines for U.S. foreign assistance programs, country assistance plans, and international and multilateral assistance programs. The administration should also establish a website to make publicly available information on U.S. foreign assistance programs.
The introduction of this bill with bipartisan support is a sign that the executive branch and Congress can establish a constructive partnership on aid reform. It would ensure that best practices in monitoring and evaluation for development results are adopted more broadly and that the administration continues to add new information to the Foreign Assistance Dashboard website, which has already provided an unprecedented level of transparency on U.S. foreign assistance.
Highlights from Malala Yousafzai's words at the U.N. headquarters in New York last Friday. See the whole speech here.
The United Nations declared last Friday “Malala Day” in honor of Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani student and education advocate who was shot in the head by a Taliban operative last October for what the terrorist organization called “promoting Western thinking.” Malala began promulgating her views on education for girls and sharing stories from her life under Taliban rule at the age of 11 via a BBC blog. After she recovered from the shooting, Malala has emerged an even stronger and more articulate representative of the global movement for girls’ education. On Friday, July 12 -- her 16th birthday -- she made an emphatic appeal (view highlights above) to the United Nations General Assembly, urging member states to redouble their commitments to equal education and challenging other advocates to “pick up [their] books and pens” in peaceful protest.
U.N. Special Envoy for Global Education and former U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown recently launched a U.N. petition in Yousafzai’s name, using the slogan "I am Malala" to galvanize momentum toward the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of universal primary education by the end of 2015.
Improvements in education and progress against hunger are closely correlated. It seems obvious that students with consistent access to nutritious food will go further in their education – and research suggests that the benefits flow the other direction as well. Analysts at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) looked back at the years 1970-1995, a period of significant reductions in child malnutrition. What made this progress possible? A larger supply of food available per person seems like a good explanation, and this was in fact something that helped. But the IFPRI analysis found that it was responsible for only about 26 percent of the improvement. Gains in women’s education explained 43 percent of it.
Sending girls to school was more effective in reducing child malnutrition than having more food available. Why? It’s largely because worldwide, women carry the major responsibility for providing for their families. Conditions that interfere with women’s ability to earn a living – such as lack of education -- contribute directly to hunger and disease among their children, both boys and girls.
According to the latest MDG progress chart, most of the world is not on track to meet the education goal. Malala and other advocates for girls’ education across the world know this. They realize that despite their best efforts, advancement will depend on the commitment of national governments to making it a top priority and on unwavering advocacy from the international community.
Let's renew our commitment to bringing change to the lives of the estimated 35 million girls of primary school age who still do not attend school. Their futures, and their children's futures, and in many ways their countries' futures, depend on getting into a classroom.
You can read more about the relationship between women’s education, ending hunger, and achieving the other MDGs in the 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach: Global Development Goals.
On June 11 -- the day after Sustaining Political Commitments to Scaling Up Nutrition, organized by Bread for the World Institute and Concern Worldwide -- the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Civil Society Network held its inaugural meeting. Having heard from government officials, nutrition experts, and fellow SUN country representatives about how sustained political commitments can lead to improved nutrition outcomes, civil society representatives gathered to share best practices and discuss individual country challenges to scaling up nutrition programs and policies.
By identifying and agreeing on key priorities for action, such as advocacy, the 66 representatives were able to begin developing effective strategies to help each other build capacity and maximize available resources in the fight against malnutrition. The Civil Society Network, like the rest of SUN, focuses on nutrition for pregnant women and children in the 1,000-day “window” between pregnancy and age 2. The civil society representatives came from organizations ranging from women’s rights groups and research entities to humanitarian aid agencies and trade unions.
This meeting addressed the critical need for cooperation and collaboration in efforts to truly improve nutrition by scaling up actions that are now available and known to be effective. With the active encouragement and participation of Bread for the World and many other international nutrition stakeholders, the Civil Society Network will advance SUN’s mission by coordinating efforts with national governments, donors, and UN agencies to maximize the impact of programs and encourage best nutrition practices. The network’s efforts are particularly important now, with about 1,000 days remaining before the December 2015 deadline to reach the Millennium Development Goals.
The importance of organizing Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) for more effective communication and cooperation must not be overlooked. The Civil Society Network facilitates these collaboration efforts across countries. For example, recently in Zambia, Bangladesh, Tanzania, and Nepal, CSO alliances worked with other SUN entities in their countries to organize roundtable discussions, public rallies, and other events aimed at bringing attention to hunger and malnutrition and calling on government officials to elevate these issues to the top of the national agenda.
At this inaugural meeting of the SUN Civil Society Network, CSOs affirmed their commitment to come together to align policies, speak with one voice, and work together to support, encourage, and mobilize the robust action and resources necessary to scale up nutrition.
Now that the SUN Civil Society Network is officially organized and its members have had some opportunities to talk with nutrition advocates from other countries, the network can begin to assist countries in developing individual plans to improve maternal and child nutrition. When countries in the network begin to interact with development assistance organizations working on nutrition programs, providing information based on their own experiences, it will be a great example of “country-led development.”
Posted by Scott Bleggi on July 10, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Development Goals, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Indian women and children bundle stalks of grain, which would become more affordable and accessible under the National Food Security Bill. (Photo Credit: Margaret W. Nea)
Last week, President Pranab Mukherjee of India issued an executive order to keep a longstanding promise: the poorest two-thirds of India’s population, 800 million people, will be guaranteed access to low-price grains. India’s new National Food Security Ordinance, if ratified by Parliament, will be the world’s largest social protection system -- much needed since nearly half of India’s children are undernourished.
Every month, each eligible person -- primarily residents of rural area -- will be entitled to purchase a package with 15 kilograms (about 33 pounds) of rice, wheat, and millet for the equivalent of 12 cents.
India is the world’s second-largest food producer and already grows more than enough to feed its population. However, the country lacks sufficient storage and adequate distribution infrastructure to move its crops to where they’re needed, when they’re needed. An estimated 30 percent to 40 percent of all crops grown spoils before it can reach consumers. Both of these factors drive up prices, making adequate food unaffordable for much of the population. And as in other parts of the world, the single greatest cause of continued hunger is widespread poverty and inequality.
Critics of the new food security ordinance argue that the national government is not capable of implementing such an extensive program; they speculate that the only reason Mukherjee signed the ordinance is to win last-minute political points ahead of the national elections scheduled for 2014. There is reason for skepticism; the Indian government has a corruption-tainted history of failed poverty reduction programs that stretches back over several presidential administrations.But supporters say that solutions, even if imperfect, cannot be put off: the country’s malnutrition problem is simply too widespread and urgent. Even if we set aside for the moment the immediate costs in human lives and health malnutrition is a problem India cannot afford. A recent report by Save the Children found that by 2030, malnutrition will have cost the world $125 billion in lost productivity—including nearly $46 billion for India alone.
The 2013 Hunger Report assesses India’s lagging progress in combatting hunger, compared to countries whose economies are developing in similar ways. India is the only country among the middle-income BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) that has not significantly reduced its rate of hunger since 2000. India’s lack of progress poses a serious threat to the world’s chances of achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of cutting extreme global hunger in half by the end of 2015. Hunger and poverty in India already weigh heavily in global statistics, and India’s impact on global statistics will only increase as it overtakes China to become the most populous country in the world.
MDGs aside, social protection programs such as the National Food Security Ordinance make key investments in future generations that can pay off later in higher national productivity and a more capable workforce. Research shows that every dollar invested in proper nutrition -- particularly in proven and cost-effective interventions designed to prevent malnutrition among pregnant women and children in the 1,000-day window between pregnancy and age 2 -- can generate as much as $138 in better health and increased productivity for a national economy.
India is financing its own poverty reduction programs, and it can afford to. The new food security ordinance, though worthy of skepticism, is an opportunity for the country to make food security possible for a huge number of people at risk of hunger. It’s on a globally game-changing scale. If this initiative succeeds, the payoffs would be enormous. That’s why it must be accompanied by an unwavering commitment to transparency and the increased investment in the infrastructure that will make it possible.
To learn more about reducing hunger and malnutrition in India, see chapter 3 of the 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach: Global Development Goals.
Posted by Bread on July 08, 2013 in Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Hotspots, Hunger Report, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Development Goals, Trade, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Chart from 2013 MDGs Report reveals that the hunger reduction target is within reach if recent slowdowns in progress can be reversed. (Image Credit: UNDP)
Today in Geneva, Switzerland, the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) released its most recent update on the world’s progress toward the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets—the 2013 Millennium Development Goals Report. The eight MDGs, set in 2000, have led an ambitious global effort to improve the lives of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people by 2015. With 912 days left (by our watch) to meet the MDGs, the report comes at a crucial time.
The most pronounced victories in the report are that the MDG targets on halving the proportion of people in extreme poverty and increasing access to clean water have been met. These accomplishments are heartening, though we've known about them for a while now. The fulfillment of the poverty goal was already announced last year by the World Bank, based on data from 2010.
Arguably the real news from this year's report is that the world has advanced further than previously thought on cutting in half the proportion of people who are undernourished. Even one year ago, many were doubtful that the goal could be met, particularly because of the setbacks brought on by the global economic downturn and the resulting food price crisis of 2008, believed to have pushed the number of hungry people over 1 billion for the first time.
But according to the U.N.’s latest numbers, we’re closer than we thought. While hunger remains disturbingly common, the proportion of undernourished people has decreased from 23.2 percent of the total population in 1990–1992 to 14.9 percent in 2010–2012. This suggests that progress in reducing hunger has been more pronounced than previously believed.
In the 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach: Global Development Goals, published in late 2012, we at Bread for the World Institute expressed concern about the world’s ability to realistically meet the hunger goal:
At this point, it is not clear whether the hunger target of the MDGs will be met by the 2015 deadline. Too little attention has been paid to the interrelationship between hunger and poverty, particularly in rural areas where most of the world’s hungry and poor people live…Since the MDGs were adopted, both developing country governments and aid donors have increased their investments in agriculture and rural development—but not soon enough and not by enough to accelerate reductions in hunger.
The hunger goal’s prospects look better today than they did a year ago, but the concerns raised last year remain valid. Just as with progrss on poverty, progress on hunger has not been equally shared across geographic regions. Rates of undernutrition in East Asia and Latin America continue to fall rapidly, while those of South Asia, the Caribbean, and sub-Saharan Africa — rural areas in particular — remain stubbornly inflated. Sustained, targeted investments in rural development by donor countries, such as the Obama administration’s recently evaluated Feed the Future initiative, will be needed. Reaching the often-overlooked MDG 8, which stresses the establishment of true global partnerships for development, will only grow more crucial as the world stretches to reach the hunger target by 2015.
To read more on the history hunger and poverty goal and the seven other MDGs, visit www.hungerreport.org.
Posted by Bread on July 01, 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, Inequality, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Development Goals, Trade, U.S. Hunger | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Women in Niger do laundry in what has become a dry riverbed. Photo Credit: U.N. photo by Jeffrey Foxx.
Today, President Obama unveiled a a detailed plan and directives to slow U.S. contributions to global climate change and better prepare for its impact. The proposal includes elements intended to reduce the major sources of the American carbon footprint, identify and implement strategies to prepare for the impact of climate change here at home, and engage with other industrialized countries, major developing economies, and others to have a wider and more effective impact on climate change.
Climate change experts are posting their analyses of the plan, considering key questions such as whether all relevant factors have been included, how effective the planned actions are likely to be, ways to improve the plan, and more. These are all important.
But what is missing from the top-line messages of the president's plan? Supporting developing countries' efforts to respond to climate change impacts that have for years been damaging the land, livelihoods, and health of some of the poorest people in the world. These efforts, now known as climate change "mitigation," have often progressed well beyond the "raising awareness" stages -- there was no real alternative.
Back in April 2009, Bread for the World was already pointing out that "For Poor People, Climate Change Is Today." The paper we published then noted that some Arctic communities have been tracking the changes for decades, described community-led efforts to combat deforestation in Kenya, asked "Where Will the Money Come From?" and suggested a way forward for hungry and poor people already affected by what others might still have considered a threat on the distant horizon.
While we can all agree that it's important to the United States to be better prepared for disasters related to climate change -- for example, ensuring that hospitals continue to function -- mitigation for developing countries must be part of an effective American climate change strategy. All too often, countries with very light carbon footprints must cope alone with devastating changes to their environments caused largely by wealthier nations.
Extreme weather affects children, elderly people, and poor people disproportionately, the president pointed out today. He was referring to vulnerable people in the United States, but the risks are even more urgent for their counterparts in developing countries.
Good nutrition for teenage girls is essential both for their own health and the health of the children they may have later. Photo by Margaret W. Nea for Bread for the World.
One key finding: it is even more important than previously thought to focus on nutrition for pregnant women. Series co-author Robert Black, who was also an author of the influential 2008 Lancet series that identified the critical 1,000 Days "window of opportunity" between pregnancy and age 2, discussed this in his presentation at "Sustaining Political Commitments to Scaling Up Nutrition," hosted by Bread for the World Institute and Concern Worldwide on June 10.
The research noted a close link between a new mother's nutritional status and her risk of giving birth to an infant who is small for gestational age. These babies are at greater risk of death or stunting than previously realized. Small for gestational age simply means that a newborn is not premature, yet weighs less than she should at birth. This restricted growth is an indication that she has missed key nutrients in the womb. Thus, while the emphasis on preventing premature birth is still very much on target, preventing low birth weights among full term infants is also critical.
The Lancet series also documents the importance of a woman's nutritional status at the time she becomes pregnant. This means, of course, that good nutrition for adolescent girls and young women must be a priority in efforts to scale up early childhood nutrition. As we've just mentioned, both Lancet series identify nutrition during pregnancy as critically important. The additional point, though, is that since many micronutrient deficiencies take time to reverse, nutrition interventions that begin only after a woman realizes she is pregnant may not work quickly enough to ensure adequate nutrition for the developing fetus.
There's an increasing recognition that efforts to end hunger and malnutrition simply cannot succeed unless they are accompanied by solutions to the many ramifications of gender inequality. As the new Lancet series reminds us, prioritizing the feeding of adolescent boys over their sisters is another common practice proving to be counterproductive to building a healthier and more prosperous future for all.
Very young children, such as this Bolivian baby, have nutritional needs that cannot wait. Photo by Margaret W. Nea for Bread for the World.
The World Bank Group announced today that it will nearly triple funding for maternal and child nutrition programs, to $600 million in 2013-2014, up from $230 million in 2011-2012.
The World Bank Group will also add progress on stunting to the indicators on its Corporate Scorecard. And, noting the excellent progress of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) in responding to malnutrition, the Bank Group will increase its focus on integrating nutrition into agriculture activities.
million children under age 5 are stunted as a result of malnutrition. This is
the face of poverty,” said Jim Yong Kim, President of the World
Bank Group. “The UK government should be applauded for its leadership to
scale up global investments in maternal and early childhood nutrition—one of
the highest-return investments we can make to end poverty and promote shared
The announcement comes just before the "Nutrition for Growth" event, June 8 in London, and "Sustaining Political Commitments to Scaling Up Nutrition" hosted by Bread for the World and Concern Worldwide on June 10.
Also on the horizon is the annual G-8 summit, to be held this year in Northern Ireland in late June. G-8 events hold great potential to fight hunger and malnutrition; for example, GAFSP was created as a way to help fulfill the commitments made at the 2009 G-8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy.
Scaling up nutrition, cost-effective investments, establishing a stunting indicator, young children and pregnant women (the "1,000 Days"), linking agriculture and nutrition, L'Aquila -- these should sound familiar to Institute Notes readers. For several years now, Bread for the World has been championing increased investments in maternal and child nutrition, as well as supporting strategies -- such as increased collaboration between sectors such as nutrition and agriculture -- that make development assistance more effective.
How much will the new funding help? As Jim Yong Kim points out, a little money goes a long way in early childhood nutrition efforts. For example, during the food price crisis of 2008, World Bank Group commitments of less than $850 million enabled about 700,000 children to receive nutritional interventions and almost 300,000 pregnant and nursing women to receive nutritional supplements and education. And these were just two among several groups of beneficiaries of this same pot of money -- the others included 1.7 million people who worked in cash-for-work or food-for-work programs and 8.5 million farm households that received seeds and fertilizers.
There's already an active international debate on what might follow the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which expire at the end of 2015. The U.N. High Level Panel on Post-2015 (HLP) -- the official process through which the post-MDG global development agenda is being shaped -- has been meeting in New York to finalize its report. The panel met four times for consultations -- in New York in September 2012, London in November 2012, Monrovia in January 2013, and Bali in March 2013. On May 30, panel members will present a report outlining their vision and priorities for post-2015 development to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Ban's response is expected in July.
Many in the development community have been anticipating the release of the HLP final report and its recommendations for weeks now. Will the report live up to its hype? Will its recommendations match the aspirations of the many groups and individuals who have contributed so far to the post-2015 development debate? Will it chart a politically effective way forward for governments? The report will be made publicly available on May 31 through the HLP website. An outreach event with stakeholders is planned for the same day, to be followed by regional and national launch events around the world. Hopefully, these events will enable all who are concerned about development to take part in an integrated global conversation before September, when there will be a special event on the MDGs and the post-2015 agenda held during the U.N. General Assembly meetings.
In the midst of all the preparations for the post-MDG, post-2015 period, we must not skip past the 2 1/2 years left to achieve the MDGs. Much more remains to be done. Although many low income countries may not achieve all the MDG targets by 2015, it's important that as many countries as possible make significant progress on most or all MDGs. The accumulating recent evidence suggests that the MDGs are within reach. A World Bank report states that 20 of the world's most fragile countries have made progress on MDG targets ranging from reducing poverty to improving the education of girls and reducing the deaths of women in childbirth. According to the report, despite their difficult circumstances, each of the countries has met at least one MDG target. A different group of six fragile countries are on track to meet all the MDGs. Better data collection and monitoring have revealed this progress -- whereas data gathered in 2010 and earlier found that none of these nations had met any of the eight MDGs.
The new data show that countries such as Afghanistan, Nepal, and Timor-Leste have met targets such as halving the number of people in extreme poverty or significantly increasing the number of girls enrolled in schools. Nonetheless, residents of countries caught in repeated cycles of violence lag behind the rest of the world on development indicators; they are struggling to meet a second or third MDG target. One of the challenges in helping fragile nations is preparing for the period after humanitarian assistance ends. Humanitarian assistance tends to pour in once a country emerges from conflict, but it dries up just as quickly once international attention fades or there are no immediate signs of progress. Long-term development is what can make a difference, as it has in Afghanistan, Nepal, and Timor-Leste.
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)
Get updates on issues and actions to take on behalf of hungry people.