Week 2: Poverty and Foreign Aid

a) In her TedTalk, “Invest in Africa’s Own Solutions,” Jacqueline Novogratz defines poverty as the four billion people around the world who make less than $4.00 per day, such as farmers, factory workers, domestics, and drivers, who have little access to essential resources. Overall, her main point is how developed nations must rethink and redefine their approaches to aid. For example, when Goodwills and Salvation Armies dumped cheap clothing in Rwanda, the local textile and retailing industry suffered enormously (Novogratz, 2005). Those donating, not only money but any and all forms of assistance, must consider the potentially negative chain reactions and consequences of their well-intentioned aid (Novogratz, 2005). Later in her presentation, Novogratz argues that the only way to end poverty is to build viable, scalable, and relevant systems that provide sustainable services to the poor. This, she asserts, can be done by engaging with and empowering local entrepreneurs who have the intelligence, determination, and ability to solve their own problems.

From www.un.org
From http://www.un.org

b) Overall, the Millennium Development Goals seek to address the pervasive issue of extreme poverty around the world and hope to restore dignity, hope, and power to the world’s poor. The global community that created the MDGs desired to augment development, including human rights, governance, and environmental issues, along with enhancing security and peace among conflicting nations. The eight goals signify an investment in the future because only by eliminating extreme poverty and hunger, providing universal primary education, promoting gender equality, improving child and maternal health, preventing and treating deadly communicable diseases, safeguarding the environment, and creating a truly global partnership can we decrease the rampant, unnecessary suffering and increase progress worldwide. Before this advancement of the new millennium, various hiccups were encountered in the 1990s due to neo-liberalism. For example, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund declared an unfortunate condition for getting aid: countries, both developed and developing, receiving support had to reduce government spending on public programs (McArthur, 2013). The consequences of this were distressing, as Africa encountered rising poverty and child mortality and falling life expectancy and Latin America and Asia faced economic crisis (McArthur, 2013). Without creating and sustaining their own governmental initiatives and programs, developing countries remain dependent on foreign aid, which freezes true internal progress and development.

c) John McArthur’s article “Own the Goals” mentions “Players on the Bench,” one of which he declares is George W. Bush. The Bush administration failed to acknowledge and support the Millennium Development Goals, as did the rest of the world. Instead, it drafted similar initiatives allegedly unconnected to the MDGs: the Millennium Challenge and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (McArthur, 2013). Despite general world collaboration, the Bush administration viewed the MDGs as UN-dictated foreign aid quotas and, therefore, resisted the movement and missed opportunities to highlight the United States’ contribution to international development (McArthur, 2013). Other “Players on the Bench,” according to McArthur, include numerous officials in Washington who are skeptical of the MDGs, likely due to a strong dislike of fixed spending on foreign aid (McArthur, 2013). Finally, the World Bank also sits on the bench, as base-level MDG efforts have not been realized. The bank has also been absent in advising developing countries on how they can realistically and financially support and achieve the MDGs (McArthur, 2013).

d) In the article entitled “How to Help Poor Countries,” authors Birdsall, Rodrik and Subramanian acknowledge the many successes of foreign aid including lower infant mortality rates, numerous health initiatives, higher school enrollment, and peace keeping efforts in times of conflict. However, they emphasize the chaos and uncertainty that multiple donors with varying agendas create. Additionally, many recipient countries lack the governmental power to use aid wisely and constructively (Birdsall et al, 2005). Thus, to more effectively assist developing nations achieve economic growth, the authors believe in three positive steps: improving the mobility of the global labor force, rising against corrupt leaders, and supporting development and research (Birdsal et al, 2005). In a sense, developed nations should help developing countries help themselves.


Birdsall, N., Rodrick, D., & Subramanian A. (2005). How to help poor
countries. Foreign Affairs. Council on Foreign Relations.

McArthur, J. W. (2013). Own the goals: what the Millennium Development
Goals have achieved. Foreign Affairs. Council on Foreign Relations.

Multiple authors (2000) Millennium Development Goals: The Millennium Declaration. United Nations.


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