Week 15: MDGs Progress

Since the creation of the Millennium Development Goals, there has been a lot of speculation about how much progress the MDGs have actually made in eradicating poverty and solving the issues that plague developing countries. This past semester, we have focused on Sub-Saharan Africa. A United Nations 2014 Progress Chart was created that shows the current conditions of these countries after the ten-year period of MDGs ended. According to this report, in Sub-Saharan Africa there is still very high poverty, a very large deficit, high hunger, moderate enrollment in primary schooling, nearly equal enrollment for girls in primary school, a medium share of paid employment for women, moderate representation in national parliaments for women, a high mortality rate of children, a very high mortality rate for maternal mortality, low access to reproductive health, high reduction of HIV/AIDS, moderate mortality involving tuberculosis, low coverage of improved drinking water, very low sanitation, a very high population of slum-dwellers, and a moderate amount of Internet users. Although the progress for each of the goals has been averaged for the purpose of the report, it is still alarming how little improvement there appears to have been.

Participants in the Malawi Poverty Alleviation Food Security Program.

A country we have discussed in class is Malawi. Malawi has both shown improvement and has stayed the same in categories of the MDGs. In Goal #1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger, Malawi has shown little change and as of a report in 2014, the goal was said to be unlikely to be met, although the proportion of ultra poor people was halved by 2014. Goal #2: Achieve Universal Primary Education was also said to be unlikely to be met, although both the net enrollment in primary schooling and the literacy rate slightly increased. Goal #3: Promote Gender Equity and Empower Women was a third goal unlikely to be met, although the ratio of girls to boys in primary and secondary education increased slightly and the proportion of seats held by women in parliament doubled. Goal #5: Improve Maternal Health was the final goal said to be unlikely to be met, although the proportion of births assisted by skilled health professionals increased.
The other 4 goals were said to be likely to be met by 2015. In Goal #4: Reduce Child Mortality, the under-five mortality rate per 1000 decreased drastically and so did the infant mortality rate. In Goal #6: Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Other Diseases, the HIV prevalence among young pregnant women decreased by 3 times and access to malaria treatment tripled. The death rates associated with tuberculosis also decreased by a lot. In Goal #7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability, the proportion of land covered by forest decreased instead of increasing, but access to improved sanitation and access to an improved water source increased by a large amount. In Goal #8: Develop Global Partnership for Development, both cellular subscriptions and Internet users increased greatly, along with net ODA as a percentage of real GDP.

I think it’s very positive that Malawi has seen such an improvement with half of the goals, but now it’s time to focus on the other 4 goals. I think that a lot of the focus should be put on achieving education and gender equality because with more young people in schools and working, child marriage and the high maternity rate won’t be an issue as they will be contributing to society and not forced into having more children at a young age and having that be their whole life. This will also help the child mortality rate as young women won’t be having children that they can’t care for properly because of low access to healthcare. In my opinion, the progress of each country should be looked at on a case by case basis as every country has different struggles. A different plan needs to be formulated for each country’s specific issues so that the MDGs can be achieved to their full capacity.


Week 14: Women and the Economy

Women have gained a lot of experience in the areas of environment, family, and community development. However, the lives of women are still very different from the lives of men. Even though studies, including a 2002 World Bank study, have proven that gender equality is helpful to the economy, there is still a wide gap between genders. Many women have little access to an education or any chance of having a career because of situations like child marriage or the high fertility rate. They also face health risks such as genital mutilation and exposure to disease. Women cultivate over 50 percent of all food that is grown in the world according to Inter Press Service, but many still go unpaid for their services.

Joyce Banda, the first female President of Malawi.

There have been strides to improve the gender equality in Africa. More women are becoming politicians. In 2012, Joyce Banda was elected the first female President of Malawi. As of 2013, there are more women registered to vote than men. In 1979, the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. This is often referred to as an “international bill of rights” for women and defines what is actually discrimination against women and how to end that discrimination. Another stride the world has made towards gender equality is through the creation of the MDGs. The third MDG is gender quality and empowering women.

More needs to be done to ensure that both of these strides are being followed through. In my opinion, access to education is something that needs to be a top priority for women. Not only is it difficult for women to find access to schools, but it is even more difficult to actually complete their schooling. I think policies need to be made to ensure that everyone has access to schooling, even if it’s not every day of the week. Another huge issue women face are maternal issues. Not only is the fertility rate extremely high forcing women to focus on motherhood alone, but deaths because of pregnancy complications and childbirth are still an issue affecting more than half a million women a year. 99 percent of these deaths occur in third world countries. I believe that better health care and access to birth control and other forms of contraception needs to be made a large priority for the government.

Many women still lack basic necessities and rights, so often times getting a job and participating in the economy isn’t an option. Women participate in a lot of unskilled labor and their salaries are very unstable. They also aren’t allowed to have as large of plots of land as men. Women are also forced into unpaid jobs like child-rearing and doing chores, which women typically spend 2 to 4 times more on than men.

However, in “Women, Work and the Economy.” there are multiple benefits named for societies when women have realized full economic viability. These benefits are:

-When women are able to develop their full labor market potential, there can be significant macroeconomic gains.
-In rapidly aging economies, higher FLFP can boost growth by mitigating the impact of a shrinking workforce.
-Better opportunities for women to earn and control income could contribute to broader economic development in developing economies, for instance through higher levels of school enrollment for girls.
-Equal access to inputs would raise the productivity of female-owned companies.
-The employment of women on an equal basis would allow companies to make better use of the available talent pool, with potential growth implications.

Week 12: Women and Microloans

Although women have made up at least one half of the workforce in most countries since 2000, women still are paid less than men in every country in the world. This happens in both developing regions and also wealthy, developed regions. Inequality for women in the workforce isn’t just in wages, but in other areas like employment opportunities, decision-making, and holding managerial positions. A larger amount of women are becoming the sole bread winners of their families, but they still earn only 50 to 96 percent of men’s wages, depending on the country. In my opinion, working on achieving better access to education for girls would lead to empowerment and therefore more women entering the workforce. I am focusing on the country of Sudan for my final project. According to a report done by UNICEF, females take up only 31% of the labor force participation rate as of 2010.

Naila Kabeer.

Our assigned readings offered two viewpoints on the impact micro-loans have on self-sufficiency of women in the workforce. Naila Kabeer described the first side as being how women have little control over the loans that they receive. This is because the male is usually considered the sole breadwinner and head of the household in a lot of developing countries. Kabeer also included results from a study, where household violence arose after an inability to repay or get access to a loan occurred. The other side Kabeer described was a more positive viewpoint. It cited a study conducted, where the results showed that women who used their loans wisely and actively were more likely to have a role in decision-making in her household, whether or not it was with a husband. I agree with this more positive viewpoint. Although microloans aren’t necessarily successful every time they’re given out, I think that allowing women to receive these micro-loans will be another source of empowerment and that all the women in these countries should be able to have the chance to spend money the way they believe it should be spent to be more successful in life.

Farmers in Mali.

A country that I have studied extensively throughout this semester is Mali. Microfinance has been experimented on in Mali in the field of agriculture. After receiving unrestricted cash grants, farmers were able to achieve higher productivity and profits. This also lead to higher farm investments and expenditures. This was a relevant study because 80 percent of Mali citizens work in agriculture, where cash crops including cotton, maize, and groundnuts are grown.

Week 11: Grameen Foundation, KIVA, and Globalization

The Grameen Foundation works with the world’s developing countries on improving the everyday lives of the poor. Their strategy is using modern tactics with mobile technology to find economic cures and getting information out to the poor, focusing on agriculture, health, and livelihoods. Two countries that the Grameen Foundation have worked with are Kenya and Uganda.

They have been working with Kenya by using mobile tools to help Kenyan people gain access to financial services and information about agriculture. One of the tools they use is called the e-Warehouse. The e-Warehouse was built because of the distance smallholder farmers are from markets and productive value chains which makes financial services difficult to access for the farmers. Because of this, the farmers can’t wait for surplus supply and in turn the lowest prices. The Grameen Foundation is working with Farm Concern International and USAID to build the modern, mobile-based system of e-Warehouse that will help farmers store and manage their crops the right away, gain access to get advances for their stored crops, and connect with markets more easily when prices are low. Another way Grameen is helping Kenya is their work with Musoni Kenya. Musoni Kenya is a microfinance institution that gives access to mobile phone-based banking services, even in rural areas.

The Grameen Foundation began their work with Uganda in 2002 with a system called Village Phone, which has become the core for multiple mobile-based initiatives, including the Community Knowledge Worker initiative, the AppLab Incubator, and the Mobile Financial Services Accelerator. The CKW initiative was launched in 2009 and gives farmers in rural communities access to peer advisors through mobile technology and actual human networks. It helps farmers get more accurate and quicker information about their businesses, and in the process protect their farms and get better prices. The AppLab Incubator is a lab that experiments with the upcoming innovative products and services that will specifically help the poor, and the lab also works with private sector partners to better understand the poor’s financial situations. AppLab has worked with groups including MTN Uganda, Barclays Bank, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to innovate in Uganda.

KIVA does its work by partnering with Field Partners around the world, a large network of microfinance organizations.The Field Partners screen borrowers and cater to loans. KIVA has been active in Africa through these Field Partners, some of whom specifically cater to SSA countries. An example of one of these Partners would be VisionFund Kenya, an organization that has been approved to post KIVA loans from. VisionFund has gained many social performance badges: Anti-Poverty Focus, Family and Community Empowerment, Entrepreneurial Support, Facilitation of Savings, and Innovation. In its 70 months on KIVA, VisionFund has 21,295 borrowers and remains an active fundraiser today, who’s mission is to improve the lives of children in poverty and empower women and families by giving small loans and access to financial services.

Dambisa Moyo, author of Dead Aid.

In Dead Aid, Moyo discusses three stages in her proposal for development:
1. Economic plan which reduces a country’s reliance on aid
2. Choose a finance alternative
3. Strengthening of institutions —> accountability and transparency

In The End of Poverty, Sachs has a different plan based on the reformation of globalization, called, “Enlightened Globalization.” This plan includes a globalization of democracies, science and technology, multilateralism, and a global economic system that will meet human needs. The plan includes 9 steps:
1. Commitment to ending poverty
2. Adopt a plan of action
3. Raise the voice of the poor
4. Redeem the role of the United States in the world
5. Rescue the IMF and World Bank
6. Strengthen the United Nations
7. Harness global service
8. Promote sustainable development
9. Make a personal commitment

Poverty abroad can hurt Western economies, including our own, with the effects of war, disease, poverty, and economic and political corruption on developing countries. Corruption such as terrorism can affect us in situations like the terrorist group ISIS. Not only has ISIS influenced members of our country to join it, but it has executed members of our country and made further threats. It has gotten to the point that we need to take these threats very seriously.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former finance minister of Nigeria, discusses if aid versus trade is a better route.

Andrew Mwenda, journalist, talks about the opportunities for creating wealth and happiness in Africa that lie underneath the media’s stories of poverty.

Week 8: Poverty Strategies

I first examined the World Bank’s website for information about the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS). What I found was an article from 2003. The article, written by Eric Chinje, stated that the World Bank would provide about $128 million (USD) to Ghana to help the country advance in economic growth, create more jobs, and enhance health and educational services. Chinje explained that $38 million of the money would be in a grant and the rest of the money would be a loan, where Ghana didn’t have to pay any of it back for a decade but for the next forty years after that would have to be repaid at zero interest.

Also on the World Bank website, I found a paper showing the progress in Uganda achieving the goals of their Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP). The executive summary of the paper gave a short description of what progress Uganda has made over the past few years and the challenges that still remain. For example, some areas that Uganda has made progress in are income poverty reduction, gender parity in primary education, HIV/AIDS, and safer water. Some areas that Uganda remains challenged in are gender parity in secondary education, infant and maternal mortality, malaria, and improving sanitation in the environment. The paper also stated ways that Uganda could improve in areas that it wasn’t doing well in. For example, gender parity in primary education is doing better, but to continue gender parity in secondary education, Uganda can promote educational institutions picked by girls and enroll girls in school earlier.

As Moyo mentioned the rating agency Standard & Poor’s several times, their website was the first place I looked to see where Sub-Saharan Africa would stand. When I looked for my country of Mali on their ratings, I couldn’t find them anywhere. There also wasn’t data for Kenya or Ghana, which are-at least to me-the most well-known African countries. I could, however, find Mali on the list of World Bank loans, which said that Mali received $1,202,881,000 in International Development Association (IDA) credits and International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) loans. I noticed that most, if not all, Sub-Saharan African countries received over $1 billion in IDA credits and IBRD loans from 2010 to 2014.

After delving into the World Bank website deeper, I examined the loans, credits, and grants of Mali. I discovered that Mali has 18 disbursing loans, 11 repaying loans, and 73 fully repaid loans.

According to Moyo, countries must follow three steps in order to access the bond markets mentioned in the chapter “A Capital Solution.” These steps are:

  1. Acquiring a rating, preferably from established rating agencies.
  2. Wooing potential investors and showing investors they can handle the money they are lent.
  3. Making a strong case about the country’s goal to repay the loan.

As of March 2014, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has been flowing more into Sub-Saharan Africa. Five countries who have been quickly emerging (Brazil, China, India, South Africa, and Malaysia) have become sources of FDI for Africa. According to the World Bank, FDI has grown almost six-fold over the most recent ten years. There is a proven positive relationship between FDI and Human Development Index. This means that as long as FDI is flowing to Africa and working the way it is supposed to, HDI will improve as well.

Rebel forces in Mali recently attacked the northern Mali UN Base

Mali’s most recent troubles have come from rebel forces in the northern part of the country. The Jidhadist group that invaded Mali is a source of many attacks, most recently one against the UN Base in northern Mali.

Week 7: Dead Aid

Dambisa Moyo, author of Dead Aid

In Dead Aid, Dambisa Moyo gives four examples of alternative sources of funding for African economies, as it is her opinion that simply giving aid isn’t working and that African countries have to have more sustainable economies to grow. The alternative sources of funding are sovereign and private bond markets, foreign direct investment (FDI), international trade, and microfinance. I agree with Moyo that simply giving these countries aid isn’t working and that these alternative sources of funding should be put to use. Without developed countries doing different things for developing countries, such as microfinancing by loaning to small businesses, their economies won’t be able to grow and there will be little improvement. FDI is my favorite alternative source of funding. Although Africa doesn’t have a good reputation for being business savvy, the benefits of FDI when large countries like China are helping can be more jobs, more advanced technology, and more stimulation of the economy. Aid in the past has been unsuccessful, driven by industrialization, the struggle against poverty, a lack of development, corruption in the government, and “glamour aid,” so countries must try alternative sources to actually see a change in these countries who need help.

 The Washington Consensus is a set of policies that Washington-based financial institutions have applied to third-world countries which have led to more problems. These policies include:

-Fiscal discipline

-A redirection of public expenditure priorities toward fields offering both high economic returns and the potential to improve income distribution, such as primary health care, primary education, and infrastructure

-Tax reform

-Interest rate liberalization

-A competitive exchange rate

-Trade liberalization

-Liberalization of inflows of foreign direct investment



-Secure property rights

The originator of the phrase Washington Consensus, John Williamson, has been a critical voice about the consensus, saying that the consensus has led to crisis and misery.

Where Zambia is located in Africa

What stood out most to be in Moyo’s TED talk “Is China the new idol for emerging economies?” are all of the statistics that Moyo listed about illiberal democracies. She said that Freedom House reported that even with fifty percent of countries being democratic, seventy percent are still illiberal meaning their citizens don’t have the right of free speech or free movement. More still, freedom has been declining for years. This talk really made me realize how much of an impact our help as a country can have on developing countries and how they really need other countries’ assistance to improve and become more independent. Another part of the TED talk that really made me think was at the end when Moyo showed a picture of herself and explained how she had been born in Zambia when Africans weren’t even issued birth certificates and how now she’s giving talks to people all over the world and has not only met many influential people, but has become an influential person herself.

Angelina Jolie in Africa

When Moyo quotes a critic of the western aid model, saying, “My voice can’t compete with an electric guitar,” the issue she is referring to is the past aid method of glamour aid. Glamour aid is when celebrities are the ones speaking about aid and issues in third world countries, rather than leaders with actual knowledge of the issues. She gives the example of people voting for a president just because a celebrity has endorsed him. Celebrities who largely participate in glamour aid to charities are Angelina Jolie and Bono, among others. Moto means that people will listen to the celebrities who are more popular rather than people like Moyo who know more about what is going on.

With Rwanda president Kagame’s remark, he is talking about how the reason that there hasn’t been a lot of progress in Africa with all of the aid is that a lot of the aid is spent sustaining client regimes while little of the aid actually goes to developing Africa.

Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda

Moyo backs her point of aid not working in Africa with many examples. One example is the historical factor, as for many years other countries have come to Africa and taken control, destroying their nations and building governments that didn’t work for Africa. Colonialism and slavery were at the forefront of this. Another example of why aid isn’t working is simply geographical. Although Africa has many natural resources, it is harder for them to take care of plants and animals so they are less prosperous.

One solution Moyo offers is slowly giving less aid to Africa. Africa has become addicted to aid and thinks of it as permanent so they rely on it. I think this could work for Mali, as they have been gradually improving in the world development indicators over the past few years. In 2010, the poverty headcount ratio was at 43.6% as compared to 55.6% in 2001. Though still a large amount, with the notice that aid will not be given soon, I think it would give Mali an incentive to improve. Senegal’s poverty headcount ratio has also reduced from 55.2% to 46.7%, so I think this solution might work for Senegal as well. Another solution that Moyo offers is building democracies. I think that this could definitely work for Mali, as they just had an issue with corruption and rebel forces invading the northern part of the country, however Mali already has a republic. Senegal already has the government system of a republic, too.

Jeffrey Sachs, author of the End of Poverty

In The End of Poverty, Jeffrey Sachs suggests official development assistance (ODA). I side more with Moyo’s points as ODA just means more money, while Moyo’s solutions are smaller but could give far more long-term progress in my opinion. Moyo’s solution of bonds also gives developing countries a way to pay developed countries back once they are more well off.

Foreign Aid in Mali and Senegal

Rebellion in northern Mali.

The Consolidated Appeals Process is a process that aid organizations follow to plan, pay for, carry out, and keep track of their response to emergency situations. The CAP involves the combination of governments, donors, aid organizations, the Red Cross, and the UN working together to act as humanitarians in countries that need assistance.

In 2013, there was an expanded CAP in Mali, mainly the northern region. This was because of a lot of fighting between different forces including rebels, internationals, and native Malians.
Senegal has been listed as a non-CAP country. However, in 2013, humanitarians from other countries supported over 128,000 hungry Senegalese people and also supported many young children under 5 who are considered at risk.

Children suffering from hunger in Senegal.

GNI stands for Gross National Income. This is calculated by adding a nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) and net income from foreign countries, along with adding product taxes to that total and subtracting subsidies. Currently, Mali’s GNI is $23,584,594,402. Senegal’s current GNI is $31,289,425,706.

ODA stands for official development assistance. This is when the Development Cooperation Directorate (DAC) measures the flow of resources to third world countries that are provided by state and local governments and are given to improve the economy and welfare of the countries as the purpose.
When Oxfam calls for developed countries to meet financial commitments of 0.7% of GNI as ODA, it means that Oxfam wants all developed countries to donate 0.7% of their GNI to third world countries to ensure that everyone has the potential to improve their economies. Mali received $1,001,300,000 in ODA as of 2012. There was in increase in ODA from 2010 to 2011, but the total decreased again in 2012. As of 2012, Senegal received $1,080,180,000 in ODA. This has actually increased since both 2010 and 2011.

A map of United States assistance all over the world.

We give foreign aid because of national security, economic interests, and simply because it’s the right thing to do. In a poll given to Americans, 81% believed that developed countries have a moral responsibility to help the causes of hunger and poverty in developing countries. In 2012, the United States spent $30.55 billion on ODA. This is actually equal to less than a penny on the dollar and less than 1% of our federal budget.

In 2014, Mali received $127.2 million in foreign aid from agencies including the DOS, USAID, MCC, the Treasury, DoD, the Peace Corps, USADF, USDA, IAF, and HHS. A strong majority of the money went towards health, humanitarian assistance, and economic development. Mali has begun rebuilding its government to make it more peaceful after rebellion in the north and building stronger relationships between the people of Mali and the new government.

In 2014, Senegal received $227.6 million in foreign aid, 60.99% of which was from USAID and 33.79% was from the MCC. The majority of the money ($161.2 million) was spent for the purpose of economic development, while health and program development were also areas that were supported more strongly than other areas. In 2015, the United States will donate foreign aid to support improvements in health services, access to education, increase agricultural productivity and in turn the economy, build a more democratic government, and strengthen the Senegalese military.

The Policy Coherence for Development is connected to the Millennium Developmental Goals because the PCD is a way to integrate different angles for development (including economic, social, environmental, and governmental) and make the development for sustainable. Its framework includes analyzing methods to make decision making more effective and make sure political commitments, like ODA, are being practiced. The MDGs are all about decision making by the government and deciding how the aid being given can be put to the most effective use and make actual change in the economies and everyday lives of the people in developing countries. The PCD works to improve conversations between the people of third world countries and donor countries.