include - APP/views/blogs/index.ctp, line 43
View::_render() - CORE/cake/libs/view/view.php, line 665
View::render() - CORE/cake/libs/view/view.php, line 375
Controller::render() - CORE/cake/libs/controller/controller.php, line 808
Dispatcher::_invoke() - CORE/cake/dispatcher.php, line 229
Dispatcher::dispatch() - CORE/cake/dispatcher.php, line 193
[main] - APP/webroot/index.php, line 88
Our Aid Uncut campaign set the Government 3 tests for this year’s federal budget. How have they fared?
1: Keep Australia on track to spend 0.5% of national income on foreign aid by 2016-17.
Wayne Swan’s budget did increase the overall aid budget on paper, increasing aid from 0.35% of national income to 0.37%. This is actually the amount of aid needed to reach in 2013-14 if the Government was to stay on track to reach 0.5% by 2016-17. But the increase was coupled with a decision to postpone (for the second time in 2 years) the deadline by a further year: the new target date is 2017-18.
This second broken promise means that while the aid budget will still increase, it will increase far more slowly than the Government promised when it made its original commitment in 2007 which was re-iterated in 2010.
2: Finish the job on polio eradication.
No announcement was made in the budget but there is every reason to believe that new money for polio will be announced soon.
3: Ensure aid money is spent to help end poverty overseas.
In December 2012 the Government announced that it was ‘reprioritising’ $375 million of the aid budget – moving money from overseas anti-poverty programs to pay for onshore asylum seeker costs. This has been repeated for the 2013-14 budget and looks set to become a regular feature of the Government’s aid spend.
The Government argues that this is allowed under OECD rules governing what counts as aid. Whilst this may be true (the rules are somewhat flexible) onshore asylum costs are NOT covered by the Australian Government’s own definition of aid which it set out just one year ago and which is supposed to apply until 2015-16.
This may sound like a technical issue but changing the definition of Australian aid means that more aid money is being spent here in Australia and less aid is helping to end global poverty.
Taking the postponement of the 0.5% target by a further year ($1.9 billion) and the new refugee spending (capped at $1 billion) together means that over the next 4 years there will be $2.9 billion less real aid for overseas anti-poverty programmes compared to what was promised last year.
So people living in extreme poverty have paid the price for the collapse in Australian Government revenue that preceded this budget. That is not an outcome in which anyone should take pride.
This didn’t happen by magic. But nor is there a single explanation for it. To borrow from The Global Poverty Project language archive – there are 200 million reasons.
One of these is foreign aid. Aid is not perfect - no government spending or private investment ever is. But good aid, spent well, has made a difference.
Polio is one example. Without vaccination programs paid for by foreign aid, including money provided by the Australian Government, we would not be close to eradicating only the second disease in human history. 25 years ago there were 350,000 cases of polio; last year there were just 223.
But you do see long-time aid champions like Norway making the case for anti-poverty action on a range of issues.
So the choice for Australia and Australians is clear: do we want to champion aid as part of our efforts to help end extreme poverty? Or will it be death by a thousand cuts as we abandon the people who need our help the most?
Kristen Ball and Stefan Borowski's 5th grade classroom at New Canaan Country School in Connecticut have worked together to develop menus for the Live Below the Line challenge.
Kristen Ball and Stefan Borowski taught their students about issues of extreme poverty and explained what the Live Below the Line challenge is about. Kristen and Stefan's students were surprised to learn that 1.2 billion people around the world are currently living in extreme poverty.
Kirsten Ball will participate in the Live Below the Line challenge this year and will live on less than $1.50 a day for 5 days to help raise awarness about extreme poverty.
Students used the worksheet pictured above to research foods that were nutritious and would fit within the budget of $1.50 a day. The worksheet gave students practice researching, adding, subtracting, multiplying with deciminals and looking at quantities over time.
As they prepared their teacher for the challenge, the students realized how little they could purchase for $1.50 a day. They became more aware of everyday spending and realized that, thought living Below the Line will be challenging, it does not compare to the issues faced by people living in extreme poverty every day.
The team here at the Global Poverty Project are thrilled to announce that the World Bank has just released an update to their figures on the numbers of extreme poor in the world.
As of 2010, the world had 1.2 billion people living in extreme poverty, or 20.63% of the world's population.
That's a roughly 200 million person fall since 2005 - driven by effective aid, increased trade from the world's poorest countries, and improvements in governance and transparency.
This means that the world has definitely succeeded on the headline goal in the Millennium Development Goals of halving extreme poverty between 1990 and 2015, as back in 1990, 41% of the world lived in extreme poverty. This success sets us - as global citizens - to contribute towards ending extreme poverty in the next 20 to 30 years. With the Sustainable Development Goals - the successors to the Millennium Development Goals - under consideration at the moment, this news gives credibilty to their efforts to develop a framework that will help us get to the end of extreme poverty forever.
The figures though, aren't all rosy. Although there's been a reduction in the percentage of the population in extreme poverty in all areas, Sub-Saharan Africa still lags far behind - with 48.47% of citizens living in extreme poverty. This is a big fall from high the 58.78% recorded back in 1996, but it indicated that there's much work still to be done, especially when we factor in population growth. According to the data released today, there are now 413.73 million sub-Saharan Africans in extreme poverty - up from the 388.38 million reported as of 2005.
It's going to take a generation's work from all of us as global citizens to create this world without extreme poverty, and as the figures above attest, it's going to be a long and tough journey. The boom in world trade and the growth of China and India have done much to lift hundreds of millions out of extreme poverty in the last twenty years, but their successes aren't enough to lift everyone out of extreme poverty. As we look to the next 20 years, the big gains are only going to be made when we ensure that our aid is targeted and effective, when citizens all over the world can hold their governments and businesses to account for how money is spent, taxes are paid, and policies are made for the good of the poor, not to their detriment.
This is the story we tell in our 1.4 Billion Reasons live presentation, which after the release of today's figures, we'll be needing to give an update to, including the name - something that our team have already excitedly begun work on, and which we look forward to sharing with you in the coming weeks. For once, we're thrilled that a brand name - 1.4 Billion Reasons - is outdated and irrelevant. For the 165,000 people who've seen the presentation in the last few years, we've got a great story to tell about how some of what we said is now wrong, even down the title.
In the meantime, we hope you join us in celebrating this day, and that you continue to be committed to the long journey to the end of extreme poverty.
This guest post comes from Dr. Haseeb Md. Irfanullah, who leads the Reducing Vulnerability and Natural Resource Management Programme of Practical Action in Bangladesh.
In good old days, there was something romantic about poverty! Just think about the emotion, passion, enthusiasm, desperation that could be seen in the world literature on poverty. And I am not only talking about poems like "O poverty, thou hast made me great./ Thou hast made me honoured like Christ / With his crown of thorns." (‘Daridro’ or ‘Poverty’ by Kazi Nazrul Islam, the national poet of Bangladesh).
But, we not-so-poor people have harshly taken away that romantic bit out of the poverty. We have smartly designed development programmes to brush away poverty like an unwanted pest. We have identified standards and devices to filter out the ‘poorest’ from the ‘poor’ and the ‘poorer’ ones. We ask them all sorts of personal questions just after entering into their settlement or in their homes for the first time. And we ask a lot more after giving them a piece of information or a bag of seeds or a cow. So, in the business of community development, poverty reduction is a very serious venture; there is nothing emotional about it. (Although some of us may see the campaigns and slogans like ‘make poverty history’ or ‘put poverty in the museums’ expressing strong emotions!)
Over the last decade or so – thanks to the Millennium Development Goals or MDGs – it is the ‘extreme poverty’ we have been talking about a lot. And when talking about extreme poverty in a global context, you actually cannot overlook Bangladesh. As captured by a study on extreme poverty in Bangladesh, an extreme poor woman defined chronic poverty in an unassuming way “We who are always poor are invisible. For those who are always poor, what difference does a shock make − why will it make the leaders feel bad? For us, life is like mending a cloth − sticking patches and stitching − our sorrows and tears are invisible.” Despite being invisible, the extreme poor still make up 17.6% of the total population of Bangladesh and find a position below the ‘lower poverty line’ − as we often call it. (It is the ‘moderate poor’ who stay between the lower and upper poverty lines). The absolute number of extreme poor in this South Asian country is staggering 26 million. If this were the population of a country, that would have fall between Uzbekistan and Ghana as the 47th most populated country of the world!
Be in no doubt that being an extreme poor person of a country like Bangladesh is a very tough job. Of course it is because you have to rely upon much less than $ 1 a day, own no land, hardly have anything you can call an ‘asset’, barely have access to public services or very much susceptible to ill health and all kinds of shock and disaster. But, it is also because you have to prove your distress convincingly enough to be included in a development project for extreme poor or in one of numerous social safety net programmes of the government.
But, if you are a person who sometimes manages to climb just above the lower poverty line, I can assure you, your life is much tougher! It actually means that you are capable enough to push yourself just out of extreme poverty for a while, but may fall back losing what you have gained whenever a shock or disaster comes in your life. You simply swing between extreme poverty and moderate poverty. You do not have the certainty − or a clear identity for that matter − of being extreme poor. And it is bad!
It is bad because aid effectiveness is measured by what changes aid makes in people’s lives. If you cannot be defined, you cannot be targeted and if you cannot be targeted your changes cannot be measured. That is why, does not matter how tough it is, targeting the real extreme poor has been very important in the development projects. Criteria for selecting the extreme poor have, however, evolved with changing context and better understanding of the situation on the ground. But the ground reality often seems quite a ‘small influencer’ to guide the continuous evolution of poverty alleviation attempts; aid money and its governance play much bigger role for that matter. As we all have seen, international development discourses have not been the same since the Christmas of 2010 after Andrew Mitchell, the then British Secretary of State for International Development, uttered ‘value for money’. (I am, however, not sure if a 58-year old British comedy film with the same name has anything to do with this improvement in our development vocabulary!)
I am afraid, people swinging between ‘extreme poverty’ and ‘moderate poverty’ may continue being left out of extreme poverty initiatives. When you are in that group, you are not eligible for any in kind or in cash support provided to the extreme poor, or may not get the technology or knowledge offered to the moderate poor. You do not belong to a recognized economic class that defines you. You do not have a name!
But do we really need to define that group as a separate entity? Will it add any value to our efforts in eradicating extreme poverty now and in the post-2015 era? Or will it just be a mere academic interest?
As a botanist by education, I am very much used to the concept of giving each and every plant species of the world a specific botanical name. To me, rice is Oryza sativa, wheat is Triticum aestivum, potato is Solanum tuberosum. Then I listened to a severely distressed, lone young girl named Robin (played by Juliette Lewis) in the film 'The Way of the Guns' (2000). When asked, which name she called the baby she was pregnant with, Robin replied – "When you think about deaf people, people who are born deaf... who've never heard a spoken word. What do you think they call the sun or their mother... or their own reflection in the mirror? That's what I call it."
I never realized naming someone could be that tough.