Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Monitor Poverty Series, Installment 2

In the first installment, yesterday, of its series on global poverty, the Christian Science Monitor introduced the phrase "the last billion." The phrase returns in today's installment; it may reappear throughout the series. The phrase refers to those in the global population, who "are the world's poorest – the last billion people who barely survive on the equivalent of less than $1 a day."The reason, author Mark Lange argues, that "so much aid for the poor has made so little difference" is because
Humanitarian aid budgets aren't focused on the last billion, where the average person has an income one-fifth of those in mid-tier developing countries. Seventy percent of the last billion live in Africa, yet in 2008 only a third of all US government direct aid will go there. (This is progress: In 2001 it was only 8 percent.) Instead, Israel and Egypt together get 10 times the US direct aid that Darfur does. Russia gets as much as 20 sub-Saharan nations combined. Ireland gets 167 times what the Central African Republic does. These may be rational political transfers – but they're not life-saving assistance.
The wealthy nations need to redesign how they help. Their help is necessary, but the ways they helped in the past are no longer effective today. Plus, helping people help themselves is another crucial layer. Mark Lange promises that tomorrow's installment will "look at the best levers for helping the last billion help themselves."

A related story yesterday about "food security" reported on the Holy See's address to the U.N. Food and Agricultural Agency.

The text of the address was released by Zenit.com the same day.

No comments: