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We are beginning to dive into the ocean of International Poverty!

A few topics to get us started are...

Please explore the links and *comment* with your thoughts (please don't create a new page).

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28 Comments

  1. Unknown User (dwantland)

    After watching a few videos on the UNDP Human Development Report 2009 site, I find that a big push for human development is in migration. "Human mobility can increase the well-being of individuals, their families, and even whole communities," one film clip says, " but the movement of people is limited by policies and attitudes that act like barriers." The video concludes that "we need to make human mobility and integral part of human development." It is certainly true that the benefut of migration is devalued by the dangers of human trafficking, the threat of manipulation, abuse, and further marginalization, to name a few. So, since migration will naturally occur, both within and without a country, it is important to work to ensure that people who migrate are afforded the human rights and they deserve and the opportunities that they seek. But, while I understand that human migration can help people achieve their goals and better their lives and those of their families and communities, I still wonder if supporting human migration as "an integral part of human development" is good. For one, if we are only measuring by income and certain human development indicators like literacy (which are valuable means of measurement), we do not examine the cultural disintegration and the "brain drain" that often occurs in migration situations. Basically, this model, to me, fails to evaluate sufficiently the net change that occurs for a society as a result of migration. Shouldn't the UNDP focus on developing states' internal situations so that migration isn't necessary, or at least as necessary? Or is this just a quick-fix until domestic situations around the globe can be addressed? I welcome others' thoughts.

    1. Unknown User (larmstrong)

      Here's an article on the "Brain Drain" in Africa...worth reading at least the abstract because it provides an alternative perspective than one might expect.

      Brain Drain in Africa

    2. Unknown User (scrane)

      Dave: these were my thoughts as well when looking through the UNDP's 2009 Human Development Report website and what the focus for 2009 was.  Why would a development report focus on migration?  Is not the focus supposed to be on the development of individual nations in measurable indicators?  I also agree that "it is important to work to ensure that people who migrate are afforded the human rights and they deserve and the opportunities that they seek," but is this "an integral part of human development"? I think not.  It is not highlighted as part of the Millennium Development Goals put forth by the same organization, the UN.  It is not really a part of what the MDGs seem to highlight as the most important goals for the world to address.  Therefore, why is this the focus of the HDR for 2009? Are there not other, more pressing issues which demand the time, attention, and resources of the UN?  To me, this seems to point to the ways in which the UN breaks down as a whole--when there is not focus and agreement on what the main issues are and how to address them, how can change be made?  Along this line of thought, is the UN really helping create significant change on the MDG's and through the Human Development Reports, or is it mostly just talk?  Like Bryson says below, almost an entire continent is in the "Low Human Development Index"...is the UN truly helping there or are there other routes we need to explore?

  2. Unknown User (cmceniry)

    Here's an article from yesterday about Greece's debt. It's extremely interesting and applicable to what we've been talking about with debt forgiveness, except that it is a developed, first world country. This raises an entirely different question: if debt can be forgiven for third world countries, should it be forgiven for first world countries? The debt drawn up by Greece was not drawn up in the public eye, and therefore the people had no way to decry the country's expenditures. So should Greece's debt be forgiven? And who has the right to determine which countries' debt is cancelled?

    Also, here's the IMF's response to debt cancellation . The third section is especially interesting. It was written in 2007, though, so it is a little dated, considering how much has gone on in the economy since then.

    PS> I agree with Dave's comment. I would hope that brain drain would be one of the first things the UNDP would want to prevent, rather than encourage. There will be no reduction of poverty if the result of globalization is to center all intelligence, ideas, and creativity in already developed nations.

    1. Unknown User (wgilmer)

      Good articles, Cortney, especially the one from the IMF. It's always nice to hear the official policy stance from the big guys. I think the critical insight in the IMF's response is the recognition that many semi-poor countries are also borrowers; it's not just the major players in the first world that will take a massive hit, for smaller and poorer countries (not HIPCs), too, will lose their investments and lines of credit. They will be punished for operating under sustainable borrowing practices.

      "Total debt cancellation for those countries alone would come at the expense of other borrowing countries, including those non-HIPCs which are home to 80 percent of the developing world's poor. Those who call for 100 percent cancellation for the HIPCs alone, must recognize that this would be inequitable for other poor countries."

      Make special note of this line as well:

      "...write-offs would be a direct dollar-for-dollar reduction in IDA's ability to make future credits to poor countries."

      and this passage:

      "The fact is that the hard lending windows already use their paid-in capital and reserves to underpin lending to developing country members. Provisions are taken against expected losses related to exposure on the balance sheets of multilateral development banks, and cannot be used to write off losses on other balance sheets without putting the institution at risk of going out of business. "

      Esentially what's being said here is that barring "doubled" contributions from developed nations, we would be relying on the hard capital that is already functioning as collateral for the "soft-money" investements to finance the debt cancellation. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems that in other words, we'd be pulling the tablecloth out from under the dishes. And it's not only the fine China that could smash but the rest of the plain dishes, too.

  3. Unknown User (mboyd2026)

  4. Unknown User (mboyd2026)

    Throughout the course I have found it interesting how many different definitions of poverty have been proposed: lack of friends, resources, structural institutions that limit mobility...

    I do enjoy reading and better understanding how so many people do seem to be addressing the issue of poverty. One I find particularly interesting is The Millennium Project. It has set 8 goals with 21 quantifiable targets that are measured by 60 indicators to address the World's main development challenges.

    The first project is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. Under this goal, they offer evidence as to how his has and is being done. The evidence they offer gives people like myself, opportunity to understand then I think how progress can be made. Through specific and tangible goals the Millennium Projects seems on the surface to promise that change can and will be made.

    The conclusion of the Task Force on Hunger is that the hunger MDG can be achieved, but only if unprecedented levels of e?ort are made by all concerned. The world has made progress in reducing hunger, but not quickly or broadly enough. As the task force?s full report goes to press, more than 5.5 million children are dying of malnutrition-related causes each year. The interventions outlined in this summary version of the report, taken up by a broad coalition of stakeholders and widely applied where needed, can change that."

    The key to the Millennium Project and what I think makes them successful is addressing the issue, trying to understand how it an best be address, and offering evidence as to what has and hasn't worked.

    1. Unknown User (bsmalls)

      I hate to be negative but when I first read the goals I definitely thought that they were way too unrealistic. I guess it's better to reach for the stars however. Meeting all of those needs would basically constitute a perfect world, so they are nice goals and ones that definitely need to be made, but it concerns me whether or not we should be generalizing goals such as these in an organization. I feel like they have some information that says what they would like to see happen but there is no direction. There is little action. So not only are you stuck on this huge idealistic goal you have to achieve by 2015, but you have made little to none progress in little areas.

      I was looking over the Ethiopian report and it said that they were working really closely with the country and everything but one of the focal points was to draw awareness and aid to Ethiopia from other countries. This dependency idea seems like it is going to take longer to work. The good thing about this program though is that they meet with locals and discuss ways to make their country better, so more people are involving in a dialectic conversation towards change.

      1. Unknown User (lsalter)

        I think that Brittany makes a good point, but I would also argue that these goals, while lofty, have specific elements and means of tackling the problems they face. Each of the goals listed has multiple targets and indicators which Mallory mentioned, and I think I appreciate the transparent way in which they present them. It does seem like an awful lot for an organization to claim, but it's important to realize the people with which they pledge to work. Their 8th goal states:

        "To develop a global partnership for development,"

        and...

        explicitly calls for partnerships, which are essential at all levels-local, national, global-for the attainment of the other seven goals and the values and actions set out in the Millennium Declaration.

        I think this shows that the Millennium Project knows they aren't going to be doing this on their own. If anything, I think that the approach here gives the public a tangible way to see the extent of international poverty and shows the obstacles that they face to get solve it. We have talked so frequently about the many ways people want to address the issue of poverty, but the Millennium project clearly outlines in a comprehensive manner the steps that should be taken to eradicate poverty and each challenge that arises in the lives of those who live in poverty (starvation, poor education, healthcare, pollution, etc). This is a very "global north" response to poverty, but I think it takes the time to address things on a local level, and should be given credit for that. 

  5. Unknown User (bsmalls)

    I was looking at the different statistics and background information about the most economically free country in the world, Hong Kong , and the Haiti which ranks at 141. Hong Kong has set up a liberal form of market but I feel like their government is still very active in controlling things. Maybe I am reading into the article wrong and I am not big on economic.

    On one hand  it seems like the government still controls a lot of what is going on and have "disciplined fiscal management". However they claim that the territory has is free to govern itself and has it's own mini constitution and has little involvement with the market and low taxes.

    I know that money is very important to the Chinese and I feel that maybe that value is incorporated more into their government. The article mentioned that there was cronyism which is a form of corruption that keeps certain people in power. Is this a good thing? To me their values just seem different.

    In the article on Haiti there was a lot of emphasis about the lack of law enforcement, government organization and consistency, and poor infrastructure. They also discussed how corrupt the people were and gangs, violence, and drugs were a big reality. According to this, what is needed to be focused on? Infrastructure or setting up a group of people who are going to actually organize change?

    Just in comparing the two...I mean even though Hong Kong is ranked number one, does that make them exemplary?

  6. Unknown User (ewirzba)

    I was also looking at the Human Development Report, and was surprised by a few things. First, the HDI gives Haiti the status of "Middle Human Development," not "Low Human Development," which I found kind of shocking. I know that Haiti is extremely poor, but even before the earthquake it was the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere! I am not sure what boosted its ranking up. Any ideas? I thought it was interesting that Haiti had one of the lowest immigration rates in the world (that one doesn't really surprise me). Haiti also had a fairly high remittance rate (the 63rd highest). Some other facts blew me away, especially the one that stated how almost 1/5 adults will not make it past 40 years of age. That is an extremely high percentage, yet isn't even close to the highest country in the world... I just wonder how a country would even go about changing or raising their Human Development Index??? It is very hard to compare Haiti to another country considering they have zero infrastructure right now.

  7. Unknown User (bbarnes)

    Looking at this Human Development Index report there was one thing that was glaring out to me. The fact that the last 75 or so countries that were named are African. There is so much emphasis put on countries that are in the "High Human Development" and the "Middle Human Development" that if they do fall by the slightest percent then there is a big uproar. What i am so bent over is the fact that there is basically a whole continent full of countries that  continue to be in the "Low Human Development" section of the Human Development Index year after year and in my opinion not enough is being done to help these countries. I do admit that i may have a bias because i took History of Africa last semester but i still think that this is a ridiculous statistic and not enough is being done to change it, and i am well aware of the organizations that are out there specifically for Africa but its obviously not working and should be revolutionized. 

    1. Unknown User (scrane)

      Bryson: I absolutely agree, and I will admit I have a huge bias.  It is an absolutely ridiculous statistic that has been this way for far too long.  I would love for our class or just others on here to explore ideas of how this might begin to change and thoughts on what has hurt and what has helped/is helping.  Like Mallory said above, the UN MDG's can help to understand this a little bit, but is what the UN doing actually working?  From the HDR, it seems to me the answer is no, at least not yet.

  8. Unknown User (ewirzba)

    That is a really interesting point about Africa... I was looking at what the Human Freedom Index had to say about Africa. Most of Africa fell under the "repressed" or "mostly unfree" categories. While there didn't seem to be any clear trends about which countries were succeeding or failing in which category, I noticed that Eritrea was decreasing or staying constant in all ten economic freedoms. How can we claim that free trade is working when obviously countries like Eritrea are even worse off than they were before? Eritrea is the world's 4th least free country. Is it not incredibly unethical to be promoting an economic system that is deepening poverty? Other African countries are decreasing in the HFI in all areas except for government spending... does this sound like it's a good thing either? The HFI doesn't specify what the government could be spending money on... for example paying back debts, bribing officials, and buying things for corrupt officials (although this is taking a very negative approach to things). 

  9. Unknown User (smire)

    In looking at the Millennium Development Goals, I find myself extremely pessimistic. The goals listed are eradicate extreme poverty and hunger and to ensure environmental sustainability. I just wonder how the two are reconcilable. It seems to me that one will always have to choose where to direct their efforts. Aid is finite and when choosing where to allocate one's resources, one will ultimately have to choose between alleviating extreme hunger or preserving the future of our planet. The two seem so distant from one another. Another goal listed is to achieve universal primary education. This could be seen as having negative outcomes on our environment. We have to build more schools and cheaply. We have to employ instructors. We have to have transportation to and from our schools for our children. Schools cost money to run. In doing all this, we must remain sustainable? I'm not a sustainability expert but in my understanding sustainability is more expensive than not. I guess if you consider the cost of what it will be to "fix" our mistakes, then I guess we can afford it. But to those below the poverty line, it seem irreconcilable. Sustainability is something that doesn't seem to readily concern the marginalized. 

    1. Unknown User (tmendez)

      I found myself wondering about who wrote these Millenium Development Goals and how many of them were actually from countries where these problems are rampant. I think it would make many of us pessimistic and would go even further to make those marginalized cynical about the valid intentions to help them out of the cycle.

      I think, though, that they do need to be able to get over the hurdle first of trying to eradicate the extreme hunger and poverty. What about if, in addition to giving some families in the poorer countries access to food, they also allotted them some opportunity to grow their own food ( like in the rural areas) . While I know that it is difficult and more expensive to do so, won't this at least start the process of eradicating hunger and provide immediate help to those suffering?

      Naturally, it won't appeal to those in it, but if we could show them how it actually will help them daily in the long-term, I think it would be possible to actually convince them.

    2. Unknown User (mhull1473)

      I was reading an article for my Environmental Sociology class that dealt on the idea that sustainability is something that has to be afforded. It's truly a shame that we have 'developed' our world in such a way that we now must oftentimes choose between looking after the environment or looking after people, saving the environment or saving ourselves. In this article I was reading, James Speth observes that companies have started to see green production as a market ripe for the tapping. By altering a few processes, making them more sustainable, many companies can re-market their very same products and open themselves up to a whole new customer base. Speth notes that this market is not nearly large enough to offset all the damage that we still do to the environment; however by keeping interest up, hopefully the tide will turn towards more and more sustainable production as consumers begin to call louder for it. This new market does not offer any changes against the amount of consumption, overconsumption in many areas, that the whole world is currently dealing with, nor does it apply to the poorer who cannot afford to pay more for the products, but it is a start. Not wholly satisfying, but as the wealthier push production in a greener direction and technology is able to further mesh sustainability with economy, maybe the effects will trickle down and sustainability will become more affordable for everyone, in both little ways and monumental ones.

    3. Unknown User (mantonik)

      In some ways, I think sustainability is an achievable goal alongside the rest. We have been talking about deforestation in Haiti and how it has ruined agricultural practices. Consider sustainability in this sense: sound agricultural practices, maintenance (as in not depletion of) fish or wildlife stocks, accessible clean drinking water, conservation of diversity and assurance that environmental resources will not be depleted. Even included in the MGD description of sustainable practices is improving the lives of slum dwellers. While these practices do cost money, all of these are necessary for a society to survive, remove itself from poverty, and stay out of poverty.

      Here are some links on the MDG site to help explain what I am getting at:

      Sustainability goal

      Biodiversity in Ecuador

      Remarks at "Picture This: Caring for the Earth"

    4. Unknown User (pmoore)

      Sophie, I really like your thoughts on the Millennium Development Goals.  They seem to be huge tasks that spread across a vast array of topics.  How is one supposed to fix all of these issues without worsening a different aspect of poverty?  I like your comment that "one will always have to choose where to direct their efforts."  We all know that a NGO, government, or special program is not going to singlehandedly achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality, and improve maternal health all while helping to save the environment. Specialization by an organization or group will be the most efficient and impactful way of approaching such a daunting list of goals.  However, this is not to say that each program can forget about addressing the other goals.  Just as the problems of poverty overlap in cyclical patterns, so can the ways we use to fight poverty.  As an organization tries to build schools and increase education rates, they need to be conscious of their environmental impact.  In these schools, a serious effort must be made to promote gender equality, which will lead to sex education and improved maternal healthcare.  While these issues are very complex and a lot of seemingly unavailable funding would help, there is no reason for each specialized effort to not take into account other goals as they strive within their own specified goal.

  10. Unknown User (gnigro)

    I have just finished reading the articles about Arundhati Roy and several thoughts have come to mind. First of all, I am intrigued by her thoughts about the Kashmir area of India. While I understand their requests for independence, I wonder if the Kashmir people are ready. Does premature independence lead to more poverty? It would be interesting to conduct a study to see how independence movements correlate with poverty fluctuations in certain countries. Would separation from India lead to a poorer population in the Kashmir? While independence is attractive, perhaps the proposed Kashmir government is not ready to establish an independent economy with the social services needed to support the many different intricacies of a large population.

    Also, I am very happy to hear that Arundhati Roy has called attention to Sri Lanka.  This is a serious problem, and I am glad it is finally getting some press. In the past several years, there has been overwhelming evidence that the Sri Lankan government has been funding a terrorist group within its borders. This terrorist group has been responsible for conducting genocidal type acts for several decades now! After the genocide of Rwanda, President Clinton vowed to stop genocide around the World. This obviously has not happened in Sri Lanka. It would also be interesting to see how poverty is linked with genocidal tendencies in third world countries.

    1. Unknown User (tmendez)

      I remember reading Arundhati Roy when I was in high school for sociology and thinking at the time that she was a bit too harsh. However, after coming here and hearing firsthand some of the comments of Americans about "Third world countries."

      That being said, I just felt the need to reply to your post Greg. That first very pointed question you asked was most interesting: if we were to take that question and apply to it to Haiti then the answer would be a resounding YES. Haiti was the first country to declare Independence and it did so only through a slave revolution and standing firm on its resolve for freedom from France. However, they are still reeling from the effects of their fight for freedom as Sophie said in class. How many millions of dollars have they had to repay to France and others as a result of the "punishments" meted out to them by senseless economic powers (like the US embargo on sugar: Haiti's main source of livelihood and reason for prosperity in the first place)?

      I must admit, however, that I did not really know that much about Sri Lanka and it's government's funding of terrorist activities but it IS alarming that a people's government would help to pay for others to kill them out.

      Finally, what if we were to take that last question and apply to the African continent? I honestly do not know where i would even begin to be able to apply it to my region...

    2. Unknown User (larmstrong)

      You should consider these ideas for your final project, Greg.

    3. Unknown User (rchildree2126)

      Does premature independence lead to more poverty?

      If by this you mean becoming independent before you have a domestically sustainable economy, than Haiti is certainly a great example of the woes of premature independence. Haiti revolted and became independent when it was completely dependent on the plantation economy. Its independence destroyed the plantation economy which was the beginning of a long history of poverty for Haiti. However, I'm not sure if Haitians would have been better off not revolting. If they hadn't revolted they would have been poor and enslaved under the French. Although they were still poor after gaining independence, at least they were free. 

  11. Unknown User (mantonik)

    Greg, I think you brought about some important questions. In response to your thoughts about premature independence, I think it depends how independence was achieved in a country and what level of power those seeking independence had in decision making processes. For the most part, nations are unprepared for independence due to many of the practices under another's rule. In Haiti, for example, colonial rule split society into different factions that lead to political and economic strife, but I do not know if we can attribute the nation's difficulties to premature independence. How would they be better prepared for independence? France obviously was not going to aid the Haitians in preparating a successful government and economy. For Kashmir, considering its place in a modern society, what steps need to be taken to ensure they are ready?

    Also, with regards to the relationship between genocide and poverty, I found this to be an interesting correlation. In a book review of Darfur: Origins of a Catastrophe _ _in the Washington Post, the reviewer notes how, "Poverty fueled the fights over land and water between agriculturalists and nomadic tribes, providing the kindling for the conflict." Ameliorating poverty would definitely be an interesting approach to addressing genocide.

  12. Unknown User (rchildree2126)

    After reading Peters, I had a feeling of disdain toward neoliberalism. However, after examining both the UN Human Development Index and the Heritage Foundation rankings, I have certainly reconsidered my opinion. The reason for this is that the majority of countries that score well with Heritage also do so with the UN.

    Out of the top ten countries on the UN index, 8 are considered “free” or “mostly free” by the Heritage index. The only two that aren’t (France and Norway) are considered “moderately free”.

    Out of the the bottom ten countries on the UN Human Development index, 9 are considered “mostly unfree” or  “repressed” by the Heritage index. The only country not considered “mostly unfree” or “repressed” is Afghanistan, because it has no ranking from Heritage. 

    While not a direct correlation, there is obviously a very close one between the economic freedom of a country and its score on the Human Development index. However, I am skeptical to believe that it is economic freedom which directly causes a high human development score. I assume that countries with free economies are also rich countries. Whether or not these countries became rich by having a free economy is really the crux of the argument. If countries became rich by having a free economy, and are now using the riches they accumulated to increase their human development score, then this is a persuasive argument for neoliberalism. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if many countries became rich by tariffs and subsidies that are contrary to a free market and then used their riches to increase their development score. 

  13. Unknown User (larmstrong)

    I'm currently reading a book called The Bottom Billion, by Paul Collier. I'm pretty sure he's coming from the Developmentalist perspective.  His book examines the poorest billion people of the world and their countries, how they got to that position, what's projected for the future, and how we manage it.

    Here's an excerpt, relevant to the correlation Russell has found...in terms of what Russell said about free economies and improving their development scores, keep in mind TIMING for those countries.

    "Before globalization gave huge opportunities to Chine and India, they were poorer than many of hte countries that have been caught in the traips. But Chinea and India broke free in time to penetrate global markets, whereas other countries that were initially less poor didnt.  For the last two decades this has produced  a growth pattern that appears confusing. Some initially poor countries are growing very well, and so it can easily look as if there is not really a problem: the bottom appears to be growing as fast as the rest. Over the next two decades the true nature of the problem is going to become apparent, however, because the countries that are trapped in stanation or decline are now pretty well the poorest.  the average person in the societies of the bottom billion now has an income only around one-fifth that of the typical person in the other developing countries, and the gap will just get worse with time. Picture this as a billion people stuck in a train that is slowly rolling backward downhill. By 2050 the development gulf will no longer be between a rich billion in the most developed countries and five billion in the developing countries; rather, it will be between the trapped billion and the rest of humankind." (10)

    1. Unknown User (smire)

      Laura-

      I read the Bottom Billion last year and if I remember correctly (I may be totally off base), Collier discusses the traps that the bottom billion face. The one that struck me the most was geography- being landlocked. Collier argues that neighboring countries matter for a number of reasons. If you are landlocked with poor transport links to the coast, it is difficult to integrate into the global market for any product that requires a lot of transport. Additionally, growth from your neighbors spills over. If you are costal you serve the world, but if you are landlocked you serve your neighbors, especially if you are a resource scarce country because they you depend on your neighbors spillover for your growth.  In order to get out of the “slow land” of having poor neighbors and being geographically landlocked and resource scarce, there are some strategies that Collier suggests. Cross trade border is essential for increasing neighborhood growth spillover. Good economic policies are needed to improve neighbor relations, and with this comes improved access to the sea. Deregulation is key. Develop the rural areas of your countries because landlocked countries do not have the ability to industrialize rapidly. He is definetely pro-globalization but controlling the market. Thanks for reminding me of something I thought I had forgotten about. 

      I think you are definetly right that he's a developmentalist.

  14. Unknown User (cpate)

    I thought the lecture Dr. Gandolfo gave today in class on the differences and similarities between the "Human Development Index" and the "Human Freedom Index" was very interesting. It seems that they are essentially on the same page, but that Human Development encompasses more of the problem and doesn't overlook countries that are wealthy but still oppressive to the lower class.

    Also, Cortney and I were talking after class about how although money is a huge proponent to resolving these issues, culture should be heavily influenced too so that money can be used effectively.  We talked specifically about influencing the arts, but there are countless other opportunities through which change can be made.