Post 1: The Question of Poverty

  1. Jacqueline Novogratz in her TED talks brings up the question on how to define poverty. What is her answer? What is her main message?  Poverty is defined by more than just income, it extends to lack of freedom and choice. Jacqueline Novogratz is glad that there is a global discussion on the issue of poverty, but she wants the wealthy nations and people of the world to view eradicating the issue as a continuous process, where there is still a lot of work to be done. She says, “we need to recognize we need a chapter 2, an execution, about the how to.”  She continues, “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 scalable.” She identifies 4 billion people on earth who make less than $4 a day as the segment of the population we recognize as impoverished. The real answer to solving the issue of poverty comes down to those affected by it. Novogratz emphasizes that the poor are willing to make smart decisions if given the opportunity. We need to give them the tools and resources to help themselves. Novogratz says the key is to “build small, make it infinitely expandable and affordable to the poor.”  We have to create viable business models, engage with the poor nations, and come up with the solutions by engaging with them. These nations aren’t interested in just receiving handouts, as there is no dignity in that for them. As her concluding point, Novogratz reveals that “it’s about all of us, not just ‘us’ and “them.”
  2. What is the vision, the goal of the SDGs? What is the effect of neo-liberalism (cutting government spending promoted by the World Bank and IMF)?  The concept of SDGs, or sustainable development goals, aims to provide a framework for viewing today’s world and how we should look for solutions. It analyzes the “complex” relationship between the world economy, the global society, and the Earth’s physical environment. Sachs explains that the SDGs serve as goals that the world should aspire to achieve. Moreover, those aims deal directly with eradicating world poverty, establishing wide-set economic progress, preserving the environment from harmful human practices, and fostering a sense of world community through social trust (Sachs, pg. 3). The goal is to ultimately make the world, as a whole, better off. Neo-liberalism is an economic viewpoint that emphasizes a more laissez-faire approach to government spending. Taking a neoliberalist approach would hopefully help developing nations foster their own social and economic competency, and become self-sufficient as a result of wise usage of foreign aid.
  3. John McArthur in Own the Goals talks about “Players on the Bench.” Who are they and what does he criticize? McArthur calls out the American government, as well as the World Bank, as “players on the bench” when it comes to the topic of foreign aid. He reveals how the United States’ government has been wary of any type of fixed foreign aid spending, especially that dictated by an international agreement. The Bush administration launched the Millennium Challenge initiative that aimed to increase US foreign aid by 50 percent, but the initiative didn’t acknowledge the MDGs or identify specific targets for the aid, creating confusion. Bush then went on to launch his President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief; an effort that was extremely successful in tackling the accessibility to treatment issues in developing nations. But again, though very much aligned with the aims of the MDGs, this initiative didn’t associate the two movement’s goals. The U.S. refused to directly engage with the MDGs for the first few years of their involvement, and McArthur is critical of this fact, because he says we missed an opportunity to highlight American contributions to foreign aid, along with the opportunity to foster international goodwill. McArthur identifies that the US missed an opportunity “to build political capital for solving much thornier and divisive international issues,” by refusing to contribute to the MDGs actively with the rest of the world. Subsequently, McArthur calls out the World Bank for not fully investing its efforts into the MDGs when it should have. The Bank was resistant because it feared that donor countries would be unable to adequately finance the MDGs. McArthur believes that they should have directed their efforts on helping “poor countries assess how they could achieve the MDGs,” and sounding “the alarm about donor financing gaps. While he criticizes both as “players on the bench,” McArthur concludes that both the United States and The World Bank are warming up to MDGS after seeing the results of the successful model
  4.  The article “How to Help Poor Countries” (2005) addresses the question of more aid money. Please elaborate. What are suggestions made by the authors? The authors of this article identify that many nations are willing to contribute more money to the world’s poorest countries, as indicated by initiatives like the UN Millennium Project. Aid can definitely make a difference, as it has in developing nations thus far combat disease by increasing the accessibility of medicine. The article also points out that aid narrowly targeted at specific objectives yields better results. Assistance can work well when the recipient countries are able to make wise decisions with it on their own and have the capacity to learn and grow from it. However, wealthy nations shouldn’t hold a singular focus on just trying to provide more financial aid to the poorest nations, while forgetting about other strategies or tools that can be more effective for helping poor countries. Simply increasing foreign aid will not solve the real root of the problem. It comes down to the poor nations themselves. Specific internal factors play a crucial role in a developing nation’s prosperity. They must reform their structure and establish sustainable economic and social systems. For instance, trade preferences and creative domestic reforms helped China and India greatly diminish their poverty levels. Internal competence of a developing nation is critical for any type of increased aid to make a lasting impact.

Image: https://www.issafrica.org/events/what-are-reasonable-goals-for-reducing-poverty-in-africa

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