Week 2: On Poverty



The people who live in poverty make up a large percentage of the world’s population, an estimated three million people. Jacqueline Novogratz discusses the effect of global poverty and those it affects. She points out the fact that you cannot define poverty by the type of job someone has, for those who live on less than a dollar a day are normally invisible to the international community. They are farmers and factory workers, government workers and taxi drivers. Because of this, it is at times difficult to direct aid in the right direction and target the source of poverty. Global poverty has been in the spotlight for many years, but Novogratz proposes the idea that the only way to end poverty, “to make it history”, is to build feasible systems on the ground that provide affordable goods and services to the poor. Focusing on water, health, and housing, programs to promote development, financing, and accountability are the first steps to addressing the needs of poverty-stricken countries and peoples.


Global Poverty Chart (thinkprogress.org)

The goal of the MDGs was to help the world’s poorest people, combatting extreme poverty, drawing attention, resources, and aid to those who needed it most. In these collaborative efforts, the international community has come, seemingly, closer together as they raise health standards, education, and economic growth. By declaring war on global poverty, the MDGs are arguably more successful than people thought they were going to be. Neo-liberal government policy has shifted spending, supporting the idea that the market should dictate environmental and economic resources. Many argue that neo-liberal practices are hindrances to sustainable development and contrast with the vision of the MDGs.


United Nations Millennium Development Goals (Pressroom)

In John McArthur’s Own the Goals, we explore the position of the “Players on the Bench” in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals. The United States and the World Bank sat on the sidelines, refusing to facilitate ground level enforcement of the goals. Some may argue that it was resentment, fear, and distrust that caused both of these international figures to reject the framework. While the US endorsed the UN Millennium Declaration, they failed to support the MDGs, perhaps missing an opportunity to foster international goodwill and show their support of development efforts. McArthur criticizes the skepticism of Washington, highlighting the fact that many disliked fixed-foreign aid, but MDGs did not command any aid commitments.

The topic of humanitarian aid has been highly analyzed in recent years, with conflicting sides arguing how much aid is effective, if at all. In the article “How to Help Poor Countries”, it is suggested that the success of aid is determined by the both the receiving country’s economy and the capacity to spend the money wisely. It seems the authors support the idea of more aid, but cautiously, heeding the fact that some countries are better prepared for the inflow of money, while others struggle with foreign assistance. They highlight the importance of homegrown institutional competence, as well as the enhancement of global labor, research, and development. A significant recommendation supplants that the resources of wealthy firms can be harnessed to develop technologies for lesser-developed countries.


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