Week #2: Poverty and the MDGs

Poverty is a problem for many countries. Though, the definition of that word shifts depending upon your location in the world. In America, Poverty is a social status which is dependent on model which would place a 4-person family making under $23,000 a year, below the poverty line. In several African countries, poverty is more widespread and basic services are more expensive. Retrieving clean drinking water can be a task in some of these countries. Jacqueline Novogratz, in her TED talk about poverty, ascribed a world-wide definition of poverty. That is the 4 billion people whom are living on less than $4.00 a day. She also stated that the developed world has helped, but that they could assist the developing world more, by creating viable growth within their communities through a focus on sustainability. She goes on to encourage us to give responsibility to this growth to the communities as well.

MDGs

The Millennium Development Goals are a series of efforts put forth by the UN in order to combat poverty and health issues around the world. They serve as an intellectual framework to target specific actions that can be taken by governments and non-profits around the world. This integrated system makes aid more efficient. However, progress has been slowed by the effect of neo-liberalism. This political position means that governments in poorer countries would attempt to cut the aid entirely, as it is seen as impractical financial policy.

“Own the Goals”

In John MacArthur’s “Own the Goals”, he describes those that he deems to be “Players on the Bench”. He specifically cites the Bush administration and the State Department in his text. He stated that the reticence that these two organizations showed towards endorsing the MDGs, while simultaneously launching a supporting new efforts aimed at the same problems. They would not nominally support the MDGs because it could be seen as an endorsement of the UN’s leadership. Such a hesitation would lead to a sub-optimal allocation of aid resources.

“How to Help Poor Countries”

The authors of this article, (Birdsall, Rodrik, and Subramanian), praise developed nations that have assisted less fortunate nations in the beginnings of development. However, they state that continuing this aid could be doing more harm than good. Simply providing funds should only be looked at as the first step, as the economies of these nations will not become sustainable. According to he authors, we should be pursuing sustainability goals within these nations, which requires assistance in other areas. Council and training are two areas where help could be provided. Often times, these nations lack the required knowledge and training to fulfill development goals, such as legal expertise.

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