Poverty & MDGs

20140206-221255.jpg (Photo from Ted.com)

In Jacqueline Novogratz’s TED talks she makes a point of defining poverty, beginning by saying “four billion people on Earth make less than four dollars a day.” Society is referring to these people as people in poverty, “the poor.” She gives an example from where she works in Karachi and Nairobi where workers working domestic jobs — farmers, drivers, etc. — pay 30 to 40 times the amount middle class people pay. Novogratz argues these people still have the ability (and the right) to make their own smart decisions.

John McArthur in Own the Goals says the Millennium Development Goals aim to cut extreme poverty in half by 2015 (when the MDGs expire). MDGs are goals (set in 2000) on how to help poor people around the world. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) encouraged countries to decrease government spending. This caused a lot of chaos. McArthur says Africa began to see a rise in poverty and child deaths as well as a drop in life expectancy; Latin America and Asia experienced crisis economically, threatening growth of inequality. Neo-liberalism, the antiglobalization movement, tremendously gained force, and in 1999, protestors cancelled the World Trade Organization’s meetings midway through. This street protest became known as “the Battle in Seattle,” says McArthur.

20140206-222232.jpg (Photo from nigeriaintel.com)

In Own the Goals, McArthur refers to the United States (namely former President George W. Bush) and the World Bank as “players on the bench” because of their initial hesitance to directly engage with the MDGs. McArthur argues that the two “players” missed out because they were already (indirectly) doing things parallel to that of the MDGs.

For example, McArthur says Bush launched the Millennium Challenge initiative in 2002 with inspiration from the MDGs. The initiative promised “a 50 percent increase in U.S.foreign aid within three years.” In 2003 Bush launched an emergency plan for AIDS treatment. Both of these initiatives lined up with efforts of the MDGs, but no mention was made supporting the MDGs until Bush’s summit speech in 2005.

The World Bank, as McArthur criticizes, “has not adequately facilitated MDG efforts on the ground,” and he says this is because of its resentment of the UN (the Bank was given a large role on developmental problems) and its tendency “to prioritize economic reforms over investment in social sectors” (they are ruled by economists). He argues they should have assisted poor countries in figuring out how to accomplish the MDGs, especially because the MDGs are responsible for budgetary expansion at the bank branch that supports the poorest countries.

McArthur says the U.S. (the Obama administration has given more support to the MDGs) and World Bank are warming up to the idea of the MDGs.

The authors of How to Help Poor Countries say to accomplish the MDGs, it’s a recommendation of many to increase the amount of aid money to poor countries.

According to the article, evidence suggests financial assistance and growth are linked. Successes of aid, such as smallpox being eradicated and school enrollment increasing in Burkina Faso and Uganda, can demonstrate how the assistance does work; however, the authors argue aid works well only when receiving countries make smart decisions in helping themselves and spending the funds.

“Aid is only as good as the ability of a recipient’s economy and government to use it prudently and productively,” the authors claim. In turn, the countries who need assistance the most often are the ones who may not be able to use it appropriately. Despite effects unsustainable agriculture, geography and disease can have on a country’s growth, success of aid still depends on the institutions (receiving the assistance), the authors suggest.

The authors are still unclear about the long term effects of increasing assistance.


One thought on “Poverty & MDGs

  1. You provide good analysis of the different readings in this post. You use direct quotes from the material well in supporting your thoughts. Sources outside of those from class definitely help provide a wider platform from which you can give your own thoughts on the discussion; in assignments with fewer readings assigned, I would try to venture out into those (it was a little harder with this one given the many readings). Good job!

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