Daisy Post 1 – Meaningful Efforts Towards Developing Countries

Jaqueline Novogratz gave a TEDTalk in 2005 regarding poverty in Africa and global aid efforts in general. She helps to define poverty by showing a figure that represents the economics of poverty (see below).  The orange color represents the 4 billion people around the world that work for less than $4 per day. Novogratz mentions that when discussing the most impoverished sector, she focuses on those working for less than $3 per day. These folks generally pay 30 to 40 times more than their middle-class counterparts for basic things such as healthcare and water.

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The Economics of Poverty, as explained by J. Novogratz (2005)

Specifically, in Africa, malaria is a massive issue that costs the continent nearly 13 billion dollars per year. One of the biggest efforts of aid towards battling this issue is the production and distribution of mosquito nets for households in Africa.  Novogratz mentions that impoverished people do not like taking handouts – they prefer a more dignified method of aid, where they can make their own decisions and obtain what they need themselves. “The poor are willing to make, and do make, smart decisions given the opportunity” (Novogratz, 2005). It is important that aid efforts from outside countries/people are designed to engage with the people living in poverty. The main message of Jaqueline Novogratz’s talk is “the only way to end poverty is to build viable systems on the ground that deliver critical and affordable goods and services to the poor in ways that are financially sustainable and scale-able” (Novogratz, 2005). Her hope for the future of global aid efforts is that they will work with the impoverished people as equals rather than working with them under an “us vs. them” perspective.

The goal of the SDGs was to address the economic and social development of countries that are struggling in some way.  “In this normative (or ethical) sense, sustainable development calls for a world in which economic progress is widespread; extreme poverty is eliminated; social trust is encouraged through policies that strengthen the community; and the environment is protected from human-induced degradation” (Sachs, Social Sustainable Development).  Neo-liberalism, a term with a generally negative connotation, is comprised of ideals that support economic freedom (free trade, cutting government spending, deregulation in general, etc.)  The effect of neo-liberalism is that NGOs like the IMF and World Bank gain greater influence, which consequently results in local developmental programs losing influence and significance.  This creates conflict and an imbalance in power and equality among global leaders and local leaders.  Additionally, neo-liberalism widens the gap between the rich and poor.  By adopting free market policies, the division between classes in both the United States and United Kingdom has become more defined.  With this effect of neo-liberalism, the gap can only become wider and the imbalance of power can only become worse.

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The general Sustainable Development Goals

In Own the Goals by John McArthur, there is a section titled “Players on the Bench.” McArthur is referencing people/organizations that have basically supported the goals of the Millennium Development Goals, but the actions of these people/organizations have not measured up to their proclaimed support. Firstly, McArthur criticizes President George W. Bush on his Millennium Challenge initiatives that were established in 2002. Bush worked to increase AIDs relief access in developing parts of the world, however, these goals were somewhat unrelated to the specific MDGs. McArthur writes, “…he refused to support the MDGs, largely because his administration viewed them as UN-dictated aid quotas” (McArthur, 2013).  Secondly, McArthur also criticizes the United States State Department officials for claiming they support the MDGs but refusing to use the actual term “Millennium Development Goals” because they did not want to lose their overall impact. McArthur states, “By refusing to directly engage with the MDGs in their early years, the United States missed an opportunity to highlight its contributions to development efforts and foster international goodwill” (McArthur, 2013). Finally, McArthur criticizes the World Bank for being a “player on the bench” in regards to the MDGs.  The World Bank has supported the idea of the goals in general, but has not really done anything to help facilitate the activities due to distrust of how the bank manages funds and their prioritization of economic issues versus social issues. McArthur writes, “the bank, as a main interlocutor with the developing world, should have helped poor countries assess how they could achieve the MDGs and sounded the alarm about donor financing gaps” (McArthur, 2013).

The article “How to Help Poor Countries” discusses the importance of aid, specifically aid money, to developing countries. The successes of aid efforts in the past have drastically changed and jump-started various aspects of developing countries’ socioeconomic environments, however, there is more that needs to be done. The authors first suggest that “to help developing countries help themselves, wealthy nations must begin to lift the burdens they impose on the poor” (Birdsall, Rodrik & Subramanian, 2005). Specifically, they suggest the abolition of Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), the WTO’s intellectual property rights agreement. Additionally, the authors suggest that in order to help developing countries it is important to empower these countries to create their own economic policies and structure. “…the secret of poverty-reducing growth lies in creating business opportunities for domestic investors, including the poor, through institutional innovations that are tailored to local political and institutional realities” (Birdsall, Rodrik & Subramanian, 2005). We must remember that giving large donations to developing countries and trying to fix their issues ourselves is overwhelming and has proven to not be a lasting, meaningful way to solve global issues.

References:

Birdsall, N., Rodrik, D., & Subramanian, A. (2005). How to Help Poor Countries. Foreign Affairs

McArthur, J. (2013). Own the Goals. Foreign Affairs

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