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32 posts categorized "Trade"
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)
By Anna Wiersma
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were proposed at the Rio+20 Summit in 2012 as one way to extend the work of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) beyond 2015. The SDGs are intended to compensate for the lack of focus on climate change, biodiversity loss, and other environmental problems missing from the MDG framework. Table 3.1 shows the proposed SDG focus areas alongside the existing MDGs.
The proposed SDG framework includes both opportunities and challenges for anti-poverty efforts. With any expansion of goals comes the risk of losing clarity and ocus. Each of the MDGs has a direct link to the goal of ending poverty. The proposed SDG focus areas do not include important ways of ﬁghting poverty—ways that go beyond simply providing food—such as education, empowering women, improving child and maternal health and nutrition, and ﬁghting HIV/AIDS.
In spite of these concerns, elements of the SDG agenda could well enhance future anti-poverty efforts. Climate change affects poor people disproportionately, and feeding a rapidly rising global population will require more sustainable forms of agriculture.
Expanding the post-2015 development agenda to address the urgent problems posed by climate change and the need for sustainable food production should not come at the cost of losing the focus on key health, education, and equality issues or the overall clear anti-poverty message. Finding a balance that includes both these essential elements of the MDGs and the essentials of the SDG agenda is the challenge, particularly with numerous stakeholders already vying to shape the SDG agenda and the relationship between the SDGs and MDGs. But just as the MDGs brought global attention to the ﬁght against poverty, the SDGs could serve as a platform for the need to act on climate change.
Anna Wiersma is a senior at Valparaiso University in Indiana pursuing a degree in international economics and cultural affairs. She was a summer 2012 intern in Bread for the World’s government relations department.
This exerpt is borrowed from the 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach: Global Development Goals. Visit hungerreport.org to learn more about the MDGs, sustainable development, and the post-2015 agenda.
A smallholder farmer in Kenya with her maize (corn) crop. Photo credit ACDI/VOCA.
It's easy to get the impression that for hungry and poor people overseas, foreign assistance is the most important part of the U.S. budget.
There's no doubt that it's an important aspect of our efforts to end hunger and extreme poverty. This despite its small size -- contrary to the public opinion polls that show, year after year, that Americans believe it makes up about 25 percent of all federal spending, development assistance makes up well under 1 percent of the budget. As we've previously pointed out, foreign aid saves millions of lives every year, whether through disaster relief or through one of many less visible efforts such as vaccinations against childhood diseases. Development assistance is a valuable tool for countries, communities, and families working to build a more prosperous future. Those of us who advocate for better policies on hunger and poverty devote a lot of attention to highlighting the reasons to maintain U.S. development assistance, analyzing how limited funds could be better used, dispelling myths such as the above-mentioned "it's 25 percent of the entire budget," and more.
But in some cases, the impact of U.S. policies on trade and/or agriculture can actually cancel out the development assistance a nation receives -- or more than cancel it out, leaving countries worse off. That's why it's so important that the administration's budget request for FY 2014 proposes reductions in farm subsidies. Subsidies for crops such as cotton enable American growers to export overseas at artificially low prices -- prices that developing countries often cannot compete with, even given much lower labor and production costs. Economists would say that a country such as Burkina Faso has a comparative advantage in cotton -- but not if it's undercut by subsidies paid for by U.S. taxpayers. The World Trade Organization has ruled more than once that some forms of U.S. farm subsidies violate international trade agreements.
For a number of years now, analysts from various vantage points have offered numerous valid arguments for cutting farm subsidies. Looking through a hunger "lens," among the most persuasive reasons is to enable a smallholder farmer in Benin or Mali or Burkina Faso to get a fair price for her crops in her local market.
Michele Learner is associate editor for Bread for the World Institute.
Photos from the immigration reform rally last Wednesday, April 10, 2013. (Photos by Derek Schwabe/Bread for the World)
A path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States may be closer to reality than it has been in more than 25 years. This week, a bipartisan group of senators — the so-called “Gang of Eight” — is expected to make public its proposal for comprehensive immigration reform. The proposal is believed to represent an agreement between Congress and the president. It could reach the Senate floor for debate before the Memorial Day recess.
Thousands of advocates descended upon the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol last Wednesday in an effort to jump-start the reform process. They carried flags of Latin American countries together with U.S. flags, as well as signs and banners in English and Spanish with phrases like “The time is now” and “We are all immigrants.” Rally leaders described the event as vital to building public momentum for reform in what they see as a window of political opportunity.
As U.S. policymakers and advocates alike weigh in on the necessary discussion of how to fairly draw the nation’s current undocumented immigrants “out of the shadows,” we cannot neglect the other half of the problem. As we’ve mentioned before, there is no question that undocumented immigrants will continue to come. The more important (though less often addressed) question is why.
The 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach: Global Development Goals, opens a discussion of “why” with information about the economic situation in many Latin American communities:
Immigration from Latin America is at the center of the debate on immigration policy in the United States—yet very little attention has been paid to the conditions that drive people in Latin America to enter the United States illegally. Migration as a coping strategy is not unique to Latin American immigrants in the United States. Around the world, people have escaped poverty by migrating to places where there is a better chance of earning a living. This includes the rural youth in Uganda mentioned earlier in this chapter, migrating to cities in search of opportunity, and it includes young people from village after village in Guatemala who head to the United States or sometimes to jobs on sugar and coffee plantations in Guatemala or Mexico. The United States is a more popular destination—despite the risk of crossing the desert—because the plantations pay little more than they would be able to earn at home.
While thousands speak out for a better life for immigrants here in the United States, we should remember that the voices we aren’t hearing are those of more than 40 million people in Latin America who struggle to feed their families. Global initiatives such as the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have driven economic progress in many countries, but efforts to end hunger and extreme poverty must come from both sides of the border for an effective response to the “supply” side of undocumented immigration.
Visit the 2013 Hunger Report website to read more about the relationship between hunger and poverty and immigration.
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.
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.
Here at Bread for the World Institute, we often talk about hunger and poverty as root causes of other social ills. When people don’t have enough money or food, they will take desperate actions they wouldn’t otherwise consider – such as crossing borders illegally, resorting to theft or violence, or no longer providing one or more of their children with an education or even adequate food. Dire necessity brings out the worst in people.
Among U.S. social justice advocates in the 21st century, one particular result of the desperation caused by hunger and poverty has been in the limelight. As evidenced by U.N. initiatives, recent mention by President Obama, and a proliferation of new NGOs, human trafficking — often called modern slavery — has shocked and fascinated people of faith and conscience. The reality that 27 million people are enslaved in 2013 is — and should be — hard to ignore.
In his book Disposable People, the co-founder of Free the Slaves, Kevin Bales, examines the convergence of factors that produced modern slavery and sustains it today. Three major causes are:
- the population explosion of the past three decades, which has flooded the world's labor markets with millions of impoverished, desperate people;
- a revolution in economic globalization and modernized agriculture that has dispossessed many poor farmers and forced them into debt, making them and their families particularly vulnerable to enslavement; and
- rapid economic change that has bred corruption and violence and destroyed social norms that might once have protected the most vulnerable individuals.
Each of Bales’ three factors points a finger at policy failures, macroeconomic shifts, and the widespread poverty that the two combined now allow to continue. The plain fact is that millions of people live in extreme poverty – conditions that leave them with very few options. Sometimes there are only two: enslavement or starvation.
The work of trafficking-focused initiatives and organizations is much needed. Advocates have exposed the blatant violation of human rights that is present-day slavery – a problem that has remained in the shadows far too long. Their faithful efforts are making legal history in countries around the world (just read the stories). But even as these necessary battles continue, so too must the greater war on the root causes that poverty, hunger, and modern slavery have in common.
In the 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach: Global Development Goals, we celebrate the exciting successes credited to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), arguably the most unified global development initiative in human history. None of the eight MDGs talk specifically about modern slavery. While this may suggest a historical blind spot for the nearly expired goals, the omission makes sense because the MDGs were made to target prerequisites. Ending hunger and extreme poverty, as well as promoting inclusive economic growth and accountability, are essential to creating opportunities for poor families that enable them to avoid debt and servitude. The MDGs also support the necessary stable legal systems that can effectively prosecute traffickers. Working to eradicate extreme poverty will not free those in slavery today (and for this reason, we support the work of anti-trafficking advocates), but it is necessary if millions of people will have alternatives to enslavement tomorrow.
Explore the 2013 Hunger Report to learn more about the importance of poverty-focused development and MDGs such as universal primary education, gender equality, environmental sustainability, and foreign aid. They are the foundations of the solutions to shocking and dramatic problems such as slavery.
Posted by Bread on February 26, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Prices, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Report, Immigration, Inequality, Malnutrition, Millennium Development Goals, Trade, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
In London this week, a coalition of more than 100 U.K. nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) launched the Enough Food For Everyone IF campaign. Its mission is to urge the U.K. government to use its 2013 presidency of the G-8 to push for more action on food security and nutrition in the developing world. Events will be held between now and the G-8 summit in June in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, and the campaign will reportedly extend into the autumn with work around the U.N. General Assembly in September and World Food Day in October.
Here is how the IF campaign describes its primary goals:
The ‘IF’ movement challenges the leaders of the G-8 countries to tackle 4 big IFs to provide everyone in the world with access to food:
- IF we stop poor farmers being forced off their land, and use the available agricultural land to grow food for people, not biofuels for cars.
- IF governments keep their promises on aid, invest to stop children dying from malnutrition and help the poorest people feed themselves through investment in small farmers.
- IF governments stop big companies dodging tax in poor countries, so that millions of people can free themselves from hunger.
- IF we force governments and investors to be honest and open about the deals they make in the poorest countries that stop people getting enough food.
It is encouraging that such a broad coalition in the United Kingdom has seized this opportunity and rallied around specific “asks” that ensure that the next G-8 summit advances progress on global hunger. The call for member countries to honor their previous commitments to increase development assistance, particularly those made at the 2008 G-8 summit in L’Aquila, Italy is important both to continued progress toward the Millennium Development Goals and to the G-8’s credibility.
The Institute’s 2013 Hunger Report stresses the need for such national and international coordination, reminding us of the kind of progress the world is capable of under globally shared initiatives like the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Posted by Bread on January 25, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Good Governance, Hunger Report, Inequality, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Development Goals, Trade, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Posted by Bread on January 09, 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 (1) | TrackBack (0)