African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control’s Tremendous Success in Eliminating River Blindness in Senegal
Onchocerciasis, more commonly known as river blindness, is a skin and eye disease transmitted to people by infected blackflies. The infection is classified as a Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) due to its prevalence and intensity. The World Health Organization reports that river blindness is the “world’s second leading infectious cause of blindness.” This process prevents adults and children from participating fully in everyday life, thus perpetuating the cycle of poverty. Fortunately, the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control has shown tremendous success in eliminating river blindness in Senegal.

Of all the people infected, 90 percent live in African Regions, particularly around fertile river valleys. In these areas around 50 percent of men over the age of 40 have been blinded because of the disease. There have been around 37 million people affected by onchocerciasis. Although the numbers remain high, they illustrate a tremendous improvement in reducing river blindness. Some countries have even been able to eliminate the disease.

Senegal

World Food Programme reports Senegal as having “persistently high poverty rates” typically around 75 percent of people living in chronic poverty. Additionally, 17 percent of people living in rural areas are food insecure. With high poverty rates often comes vulnerability to disease often due to a lack of resources and access to healthcare facilities.

In 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that river blindness in Senegal showed a drastic disappearance after just 15-17 years of annual treatments. By 2016, 7.2 million people had received treatment for various NTDs. For river blindness alone, the overall treatment coverage had increased from 51 percent to 69 percent that year. This means around 629,000 people received treatment in 2016 while 915,000 were pending treatment in Senegal.

African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC)

Much of the success in eliminating river blindness in Senegal is accredited to the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control. In 1995, the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC) was launched to control onchocerciasis outbreaks throughout endemic countries in Africa. With funding from the World Bank’s Trust Fund mechanism, APOC was able to allocate money in accordance with each country’s unique needs. As of 2007, APOC had spent $112 million over 12 years of operations, which is relatively low.

In 2010, a total of 75.8 million people of APOC participating countries had received treatment. Projections show that by 2020, APOC will have eliminated river blindness in 12 countries. The program is unique in that it establishes a platform for community involvement. Rural communities feel a sense of empowerment at being able to take control of the situations and help the people in their community.

Community-Directed Treatment of Invermectin (CDTI)

The African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control uses resources readily available in the participating communities, particularly citizen volunteers who conduct most of the local healthcare. Getting to rural areas is incredibly difficult due to terrain, so the implementation of mobile units was found to be ineffective. Often higher risk communities needed a response quicker than what the mobile units could execute, which is where having local volunteers is so vital.

Volunteers are locally elected and trained by professionals in APOC. Their main goals are to collect and administer the ivermectin tablets, the main medicine for treating river blindness. WHO advises a yearly dose for around 10-15 years.  Within their communities, they track and detect signs of infections. In cases were treatments require more care, volunteers are expected to help their patients get to the nearest health facility. In this process, the communities gain a sense of empowerment and engagement by being involved in solving their own health and development.

Successes

By 2006, 11 years after the program’s initial launch, APOC was able to treat 46.2 million people. By 2015, the number more than doubled to 114 million people. World Health Organization reports that in 2014, more than 112 million people were treated for onchocerciasis within 22 countries in Africa- representing 65 percent of global coverage.

World Health Organization has made plans to model the efforts of APOC. The involvement of the community in the process of medicinal distribution proved revolutionary in eliminating the presence of river blindness in Senegal. Additionally, to meet the Millennium Development Goal number one, poverty alleviation, WHO’s Strategic and Technical Advisory Group for Neglected Tropical Diseases has created a guide for further eliminating river blindness throughout Africa. Most of these goals will be reviewed in 2020.

Progress is happening. APOC was able to accomplish the seemingly impossible task of almost eliminating the presence of river blindness in Senegal. Projects will continue to be successful if they use techniques like monthly treatments and the incorporation of the people in local communities to continue in the fight against neglected tropical diseases.

Taylor Jennings
Photo: Flickr

Living in Extreme Poverty: A Global DeclineLess than 40 years ago, close to 42 percent of the world’s population was living in extreme poverty. People living under these conditions often cannot buy basic necessities like food and do not have access to clean water. They face starvation and disease on a daily basis.

However, in 2018, the world has become a better place, slowly but surely. By today’s reckoning, fewer people than ever before are living in extreme poverty, and it is something to celebrate. Though there is still a lot of work to be accomplished, the fact of the matter is that extreme poverty is declining everywhere.

Decades of Extreme Poverty Decline

The current standard of determining extreme poverty is whether someone is living on less than $1.90 per day. There is often debate over whether extreme poverty is truly ending or if contemporary standards for determining poverty rates are too low. Current research has determined that extreme poverty rates are declining no matter what amount per day is being used. 

Despite the negative effects of the 2008-2009 financial crisis on the global economy, the world community has made significant strides towards ending extreme poverty. A report published by The World Bank in 2016 found that from 1981 to 1990, the percentage of those living in extreme poverty had declined from 42 percent to 35 percent.

The later study published that from 1990 to 2013, the number of people living in extreme poverty had reduced to 10.7 percent, meaning that, in those two decades, about 1.1 billion people around the world clambered out of extreme poverty.  

Between 2008 and 2013, The World Bank found that earnings increased by 40 percent for those living in extreme poverty. And just between 2012 and 2013, the number of those living in extreme poverty dropped by 100 million people. After 2016, that number lowered to 9.1 percent.

Crucial Steps to Reducing Extreme Poverty

Using data identified as beneficial in lowering a country’s poverty rate, The World Bank boiled their findings down to six crucial steps that a country could make to lower their poverty rates.

  • Universal health coverage
  • Universal access to quality education
  • Making cash transfers to poor families
  • Rural infrastructure — especially roads and electrification
  • Progressive taxation
  • Early childhood development and nutrition

The World Bank study noted that the most significant declines in extreme poverty came from the Pacific Islands and East Asia. Approximately 50 percent of those still living in extreme poverty today will be found in Sub-Saharan Africa. This region of the world will require the highest amount of foreign aid and relief efforts looking into the future.

How To Help

Those individuals who are fortunate enough to live in areas of the world predominantly above the poverty line can do their part by contacting their representatives at both the local and national level. Furthermore, continued support through foreign aid is crucial to the ongoing development of regions that need help the most. Today, it’s estimated that 775 million people still live below the poverty line, often on less than $1.90 a day. The global effort is getting closer to eliminating that number every day.

– Jason Crosby
Photo: Flickr

World Bank Helps LebanonLebanon is a country located in the Middle East, facing the Mediterranean Sea and bordering Syria, Jordan and Israel. Lebanon’s biggest obstacle is its proximity to the Syrian Conflict, which has economically hindered Lebanon. According to The World Bank, poverty is predicted to worsen; approximately 200,000 Lebanese were forced into poverty due to the Syrian Crisis. Fortunately, The World Bank is helping Lebanon progress as a sovereign state.

Five Ways the World Bank Helps Lebanon

1. The World Bank financially supports the implementation of the Greater Beirut Water Supply Project.

The World Bank is helping Lebanon by advancing its infrastructure. Due to the high volume of refugees in Beirut, there have been many problems with accessing clean water. Several areas surrounding Beirut do not have safe, drinkable water. This project provides clean water to low-income neighborhoods in Beirut, the capital of Lebanon. The initiative was approved on June 15, 2018, and the project will end on November 30, 2020.

2. The World Bank is leading a $400 million project to increase employment opportunities.

The World Bank is helping Lebanon with their economy, which came to a standstill after the displacement of Syrian refugees. About 1.1 million Syrian refugees are living in Lebanon currently, which is 25 percent of its population. This project is called “Creating Economic Opportunities in Support of the Lebanon National Jobs Program” and will create 52,000 permanent jobs and 12,000 temporary jobs. This will definitely increase career opportunities throughout the country as well as increase employment so that individuals can improve their livelihoods.

3. The World Bank is one of the main creators of the “Lebanon Youth Advisory Group”.

The World Bank is helping Lebanon by empowering and engaging its youth. The Youth Advisory Group (YAG) acts as a liaison between the younger population of Lebanon and The World Bank. Young adults between the ages of 20-25 join YAG and discuss how The World Bank’s influence affecting the youth. YAG participates in the decision-making process for new initiatives spearheaded by The World Bank, who actively converses with the organization to start new projects. YAG provides students and young adults a voice within the education and political systems.

4. The World Bank funds The Greater Beirut Public Transport Project.

The Greater Beirut Public Transport Project will “improve the speed, quality and accessibility of public transportation for passengers in the Greater Beirut Area”. The World Bank continues to support Lebanon’s infrastructure. Access to the city allows individuals to travel to work. It also permits individuals to move from place to place at an inexpensive cost; this will increase accessibility to the city, which could potentially have economic benefits. Safety is also a priority within this initiative, therefore, it will also fund pedestrian bridges and crossings. Overall, the project will offer a more secure and accessible urban environment for the people of Beirut.

5. The World Bank approved the Land Administration System Modernization Project in Lebanon.

The Land Administration System Modernization Project costs about $43 million and it will make the retrieval of property rights data and land use information much easier to attain. The objective of this project is to facilitate processes related to Property Valuation and State Land Management. Ultimately, this intelligence will provide insight for all “planning and value-adding services in the nation”. This project is a victory for institutional transparency and development.

The World Bank is helping Lebanon improve their infrastructure, employment rates, political systems and beyond. It continues to better Lebanon so that it can thrive economically. Lebanon is currently facing a multitude of issues, yet The World Bank has been an important ally in their struggles. They have been a crucial ally to Lebanon in this time, as the projects above reflect.

– Diana Hallisey
Photo: Flickr

Global Preparedness Monitoring Board
After the West Africa Ebola outbreak in 2014, the U.N. Secretary-General’s Global Health Crises Task Force reported the need for more vigilant and efficient monitoring of global health emergencies. As of late May 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) and World Bank Group (WBG) have come together to address enhancing global health security.

WHO and World Bank Group

The WHO is an organization that works within the United Nations’ system to direct and coordinate authority on international health. They focus on health systems, noncommunicable and communicable diseases, promotion of health, preparedness and corporate services.

The World Bank Group focuses on every major area of development of financial products and technical assistance that creates sustainable economic growth. WBG also fosters resiliency to shocks and threats so that afflicted areas can be better prepared in emergency situations.

Global Preparedness Monitoring Board

By combining their health initiatives used in developing countries, the WHO and WBG created the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board. Its main purpose is to enhance the world’s handling of health preparedness on a global and regional scale. The Global Preparedness Monitoring Board includes political leaders, heads of U.N. agencies and internationally distinguished health experts.

The Global Preparedness Monitoring Board is centrally aimed at undertaking outbreaks, pandemics and health emergencies. It utilizes a strict system of regular independent monitoring and reporting of preparedness across the board of national governments, U.N. agencies, private sectors and civil society. The Board also advocates for keeping health crisis preparedness on the political agenda. It intends to keep the world focused on the importance of being prepared in emergency health situations.

The GPMB was created shortly after the declaration of the most recent Ebola outbreak in the Congo. This was a quick reminder of the unpredictability of outbreaks and the importance of preparedness in those types of emergency health situations. The Board’s focus on monitoring and preparedness ensures that the world never be taken by surprise again.

Breaking the Panic Cycle

Dr. Jim Yong Kim, co-leader of the GPMB creation and president of World Bank group, said, “For too long, we have allowed a cycle of panic and neglect when it comes to pandemics: we ramp up efforts when there’s a serious threat, then quickly forget about them when the threat subsides.” The GPMB is quickly working to break the cycle of panic and neglect against the recent Ebola outbreak by not allowing progress to slow at the sight of eradication.

While the GPMB has a strong global focus, it also accentuates the importance of local monitoring. It works to engage local communities in the importance of preparedness, detection, response and recovery to emergency health situations. It also holds all actors accountable for doing their part in generating sustainable financing, ensuring necessary research and development is conducted and completing essential public health capacities.

Although the creation of the GPMB is very new, it is predicted to make monumental strides in the enhancement of global health security.

– Samantha Harward
Photo: Flickr

Girls' Education in MadagascarIn the island nation of Madagascar, access to education varies depending on the gender of the student. There is an equal amount of male and female civilians in Madagascar’s population of 25 million people. However, girls’ education in Madagascar is not the same as boys’, contributing to how girls are not given the same opportunities.

The U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says, “far too many girls are still denied schooling, leave prematurely or complete school with few skills and fewer opportunities.” Malagasy school district records show that 78 percent of school districts show a lower enrollment for girls than boys. To change inequality for girls’ education in Madagascar, many international organizations, such as the United Nations and the World Bank, have implemented programs to help increase female enrollment and advancement in Madagascar’s schools.

The Global Partnership for Education

In 2005, UNICEF Madagascar, the Ministry of National Education and the World Bank managed the Global Partnership for Education project to address the barriers the Madagascar youth had to access decent education. The Global Partnership for Education works to “ensure that every child receives a quality basic education, prioritizing the poorest, most vulnerable and those living in countries affected by fragility and conflict.” It focuses on two major goals to improve youth involvement in education:

1. To facilitate access to and retention in primary education by reducing the costs of schooling borne by families.

2. To support the learning process by improving the teaching and learning environment.

During the 2015-2016 school year, the Global Partnership for Education distributed 1.95 million school kits, subsidized 21,000 community teachers’ salaries, and constructed 120 new classrooms. This contribution gave young students the opportunity for education in Madagascar. By September 2016, a new shipment of school kits was en route to arrive for the 2016-2017 school year.

Post-primary Education for Girls

In 2008, UNICEF started the Post-primary Education for Girls project in Vangaindrano school district to increase the number of girls enrolled in school and continuing their education by providing scholarships and changing gender priority mindsets.

One adolescent Malagasy girl, Fabiola, was told by her parents that she would need to drop out of school, so her parents could support her little brother’s education instead. The alternative for Fabiola was getting married because girls’ education in Madagascar stopped the moment she could not pay the fees. At 14 years old, Fabiola’s bright future was destroyed because her parents believed supporting her brother took priority. However, thanks to the project’s scholarship, Fabiola was able to continue her education.

Stories like Fabiola’s are common in Madagascar. The rural population makes up 64 percent of the country’s total population, leaving a majority of the population living in poverty and unable to provide basic needs, such as food and shelter. This leads to families being unable to finance and support their youths throughout primary and secondary education, and prioritizing boys’ education over girls’.

The National Movement for Education for All in Madagascar

In 2011, the National Movement for Education for All in Madagascar (NMEAM) launched a campaign to promote girls’ education in Madagascar. The priorities of this campaign are girls, parents, and the government. The focus on parents and the government is because change cannot have a successful implementation when there are communities and government agencies that oppose it.

NMEAM’s campaign awarded 20,000 girls in Analanjurofo, a rural region in northeastern Madagascar, with scholarships to complete their education. Girls’ education in Madagascar relies heavily on these scholarships because impoverished families cannot provide an education for their daughters.

NMEAM also introduced the Southern African Development Community Gender Protocol’s Article 14 to Madagascar’s state parties. This protocol promotes “equal access to and retention in primary, secondary, tertiary, vocational and non-formal education in accordance with the Protocol on Education and Training and the Millennium Development Goals”. By lobbying Madagascar’s political authorities, NMEAM reinforced the efforts to allow education for girls and women of Madagascar.

With the implementation of these programs, the literacy rate of adults (15 and older) in Madagascar’s total population rose from 64.48 percent in 2009 to 71.57 percent in 2012. These programs and projects recognize the importance of education and having constant access to it for young minds because education is one way out of poverty. By providing and facilitating advancements in girls’ education in Madagascar, the future of youth is going to be better than the rampant poverty they are struggling with. By investing in the education of girls, nations will be able to achieve development of their civilian population while also breaking the discrimination of gender in opportunities.

– Jenny Sang Park
Photo: Flickr

Jim Yong Kim and the World Bank's Goal to End Poverty
Since 2012 (and now in his second term), physician and anthropologist Jim Yong Kim has served as the president of the World Bank Group. After assuming leadership of the World Bank, he took up two goals: “to end extreme poverty by 2030; and to boost shared prosperity, focusing on the bottom 40 percent of the population in developing countries.” 
His career has revolved around health, education and improving the lives of the poor.

Milken Institute and Global Poverty

On May 19, Jim Yong Kim spoke at the Milken Institute Global Conference which focuses on “advancing collaborative solutions that widen access to capital, create jobs and improve health.” 

The Milken Institute hosts its Global Conference from April 29 to May 2 in Los Angeles, California, and possesses various centers focused on topics such as the Center for Financial Markets, Center for the Future of Aging, and Center for Jobs and Human Capital. One of the organization’s foci is children — 150 million children around the world are affected by poor nutrition, undersized growth, and cognitive impairment, and live primarily in South Asia and African countries.

According to VOA, if leaders don’t focus on investing in their people, then “many, many, many people will find themselves undereducated and without the skills to be able to compete in the economy of the future and so many countries are going to go down the path of fragility, conflict, violence, and then of course, extremism and migration.”

Business, Health and Development

In the talk, Jim Yong Kim stated there should be a business-like mindset when talking about health and development of individual; in fact, Kim has made it his mission to make this world a better place by working towards a common goal of reducing poverty.

According to Forbes, Kim wants to “reduce extreme poverty levels to below 3 percent of global people, and grow the incomes of the bottom 40 percent of each country.” His organization also lends out cash — almost $59 billion a year.

Before Kim assumed his position as president of the World Bank, he was president at Dartmouth College and “from 2003 to 2005, as director of the World Health Organization’s HIV/AIDS department, he led the “3 by 5” initiative, the first-ever global goal for AIDS treatment, which greatly to expand access to antiretroviral medication in developing countries.” 

From A Ted Talk to Today

In a Ted Talk in April of 2017, Kim spoke about going to Haiti when everyone told him that the best thing to do was to focus on vaccination and possibly a feeding program. Since Kim’s parents had emigrated from Korea to flee the Korean war, though, Kim had a different perspective — what he saw in Haiti was what he saw in parents: to give their children the opportunity that they didn’t have.

In the Ted Talk, he goes on to say, “the Haitians wanted a hospital. They wanted schools. They wanted to provide their children with the opportunities that they’d been hearing about from others, relatives, for example, who had gone to the United States. They wanted the same kinds of opportunities as my parents did.”

In conclusion, Jim Yong Kim is a accredited president of the World Bank Group, and a charitable person who traveled to Haiti to help build hospitals and schools, and give children increased opportunities. All in all, if more people follow Kim’s example, the world will be a stronger and more sustainable place. 

– Valeria Flores
Photo: Flickr

US Backs World Bank Capital Increase
The World Bank has secured a $13 billion paid-in capital increase by committing to reforms in its lending programs. The increase, opposed until recently by the Trump administration, will help the bank continue its mission of alleviating poverty and supporting international economic development.

The World Bank

The World Bank is a multilateral institution that supports developing countries through loans and grants for investment in education, healthcare, infrastructure and a variety of other initiatives that accelerate and sustain economic growth. Given its status as a nonprofit organization, the bank is willing to fund projects in poorer and riskier countries that privately funded and profit-focused organizations may not be willing to.

The World Bank must have a secure capital base in order to lend this money. This funding is supplied by its 189 member countries, with the United States (17.25 percent of total subscribed capital), Japan (7.42 percent), and China (4.78 percent) providing the most capital and thus being among its largest shareholders.

In 2015, The World Bank set a goal for a capital increase for the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and International Finance Corporation (IFC), two of its lending arms, by the end of 2017.

International Economic Development and the U.S.

Initially, this goal faced a major obstacle: the United States government. A contributor of approximately 16 percent of the bank’s capital, the United States is The World Bank’s largest shareholder and the only member to have veto power over changes in the bank’s structure, giving it the capability to block the increase.

In 2017, the Trump administration expressed skepticism over the capital increase, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin expressing concerns that too much lending is being directed to upper middle-income countries that have plentiful sources of credit. Mnuchin contended that the bank should target lower income countries, supporting international economic development in locations more in need of a source of loans and grants.

In April, following a World Bank agreement to commit to certain reforms, the United States pivoted from its previous objection and supported the increase, resulting in an injection of $13 billion of paid-in capital from the bank’s shareholders and channeling more resources to developing countries.

Global Financing

Lending is now expected to average around $100 billion annually until 2030, compared to $59 billion last year — a stark increase that will ensure funding for the bank’s ongoing initiatives. To cite a recent example of the bank’s capital being put to work, The World Bank approved an $180 million guarantee to Kenya in April to encourage private sector financing in the country’s largest electricity company and increase energy security.

The aforementioned reforms accompanying the capital increase will result in a greater share of initiatives directed to lower-income markets. Countries classified in the lower- to mid-range of the IBRD income classifications currently receive approximately 60 percent of IBRD commitments, and the reform package will seek to elevate that to 70 percent.

Hurdles and Hope

These reforms mean that the bank’s increased capital will be in service of supporting international economic development for countries on the lower end of the income spectrum.

The ultimate success of the capital injection and its associated reforms will be determined in the years to come, but by overcoming the Trump administration’s initial reservations and obtaining funding, the World Bank, backed by the U.S. and other shareholders, has secured its role as a leading institution for economic development for the foreseeable future.

– Mark Fitzpatrick
Photo: Google

history of the World BankThe history of the World Bank is one of change. As the world’s leading development finance institution, the World Bank has established a unique global role over its 75-year existence leading to its modern goal of poverty alleviation. Its longevity and evolution have fostered a bevy of admirers and critics, and its efficacy in achieving its goals has been a cause célèbre for members of the international development community.

How the History of the World Bank Began

The World Bank was formed in 1944 during and because of the ruin caused by World War II. Its original purpose was as a source of financing for the reconstruction of Western Europe, as countries such as France, the beneficiary of the bank’s first loan in 1947, were so devastated that no commercial lender would risk their own capital. As Europe gained its footing and could once again access capital markets, the bank shifted to a global focus including Latin America, Asia and Africa.

However, the history of the World Bank is one of not just an expanding geographical focus but of expanding policy focus. The bank’s initial projects in the 1950s-60s focused on infrastructure and reconstruction, but over the decades this mission has evolved.

The World Bank’s Growing Purpose

The creation of the bank’s International Development Association (IDA) in 1960, with a mission to provide concessional loans and grants to the world’s poorest countries, presaged a shift toward supporting the world’s least developed economies. Bank president Robert McNamara’s pivotal 1973 speech in Nairobi was considered a turning point toward what is thought to be the most important of its many modern mandates: poverty eradication. In 2013, current President Jim Yong Kim described the institution’s twin goals as eliminating extreme poverty by 2030 and promoting income growth among the poorest 40 percent of the world’s population.

To this end, the World Bank has continued to represent a formidable source of financing. Its 2017 annual report totaled commitments of $61.8 billion in loans, grants, equity investments and guarantees to partner countries. For perspective, this is 57 percent greater than the 2019 President Budget for the State Department and USAID of $39.3 billion. The annual report also highlights the diversity of its initiatives, with projects ranging from support of Syrian refugees to cash transfers and nutrition services in

.

Pushback Against the World Bank

However, for an institution committed to a goal as noble as poverty eradication, the World Bank has attracted its fair share of critics. This stems from both the consequences of the Bank’s projects and questions surrounding the relevance of its strategy.

High profile projects have come under fire for decades for their unintended environmental consequences, such as the displacement of more than 60,000 Brazilians after the construction of the Bank-financed Sobradinho Dam in the late 1970s. Bank defenders would acknowledge these failures, but also cite the many safeguards implemented over the years to manage such unintended risks.

Other critics question the Bank’s relevance: in a world where private investors willingly commit over $1 trillion a year to emerging markets, is the multilateral really needed as a backstop? In stark contrast to the 1940s, financing is abundant and capital moves freely in many parts of the world. However, defenders might argue that the World Bank continues to fill financing gaps, as certain arms of the institution, such as the IDA, offer grants and concessional loans to low-income areas that cannot attract private investors seeking a profit.

Criticisms are likely to continue, but among multilateral institutions the size and clout of the World Bank in financing poverty alleviation projects are unmatched. Given its shareholders’ recent approval of a capital increase, the Bank’s financial footprint looks set to continue growing in the near future. The history of the World Bank is one of evolution, and supporters of international development hope its positive influence will continue to shape the poverty eradication landscape.

– Mark Fitzpatrick
Photo: Google

Development Assistance CommitteeThe Development Assistance Committee is an arm of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Founded in 1961 by the OECD to better organize and execute its agenda, the Development Assistance Committee also has the duty of innovating and monitoring future and ongoing development projects.

These projects target sustainable economic growth in countries who seek the committee’s aid. It also monitors how members of the committee and the OECD use development aid. The Development Assistance Committee is made up of 30 member nations, as opposed to the OECD’s 35 members.

The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the UNDP are all observing members of the committee. The members, along with the observing members of the Development Assistance Committee form the world’s leading forum for bilateral economic development and cooperation. It is known for its neutrality.

Official Development Assistance is the or ODA is the term used by the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) to define all assistance rendered by member nations that target sustainable economic development. Due to the fact that the Committee is dedicated to furthering bilateral relations between member nations and nations it deems in need of assistance, ODA is not the only form of aid.

Member nations foster development in areas that are important to their national agendas. For example, Canada, which is a member of the DAC, will focus its foreign aid towards girls’ and women’s rights over the next five years. Denmark, another member nation, will be spending much of its aid in combating the refugee crisis.

This is not the only difference between member nations. Because there is no legally binding agreement holding a nation to the amount of money it must spend each year, there is a wide range in the percentage of assistance money spent. The DAC uses a percentage of a nation’s gross national income.

In 2014, Sweden, Luxembourg, Norway and Denmark all donated more than 0.07 percent of their GNI, a target set in 1974 by the DAC. Germany spent 0.04 percent of its GNI on foreign aid and South Korea spent just 0.01 percent.

The OECD agenda is mostly economic. They focus on economic stability within nations. Currently, it is focusing on re-establishing confidence in markets, promoting public financing as a strong driver of economic growth, developing green strategies for economic growth and ensuring job growth and security for people of all ages.

In 2016, saw the appointment of a new chair of the DAC, Petri Gornitzka, who was the former head of the Swedish Foreign Aid Agency. Gornitzka is pushing for reform within the DAC and she hopes to bring smaller member nations into the fold when making decisions about future projects and funding. She also plans to make the private sector a more viable partner.

In the 2016 DAC Global Plan, the DAC also states that it wants to survey nations who receive aid linked to the DAC on what can be improved. The DAC also plans to bring the smaller donors into the fold by helping them improve the effectiveness of their aid. This is also one of the incentives that the DAC boast to countries who wish to become members.

The last members who joined the committee were Iceland, the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic, Poland and Slovenia in 2013 and Hungary in 2016. The European Union has made it a goal of all member nations to work towards joining the DAC.

Although the DAC does not do much direct work, its work behind the scenes promoting cooperation greatly benefits the world. The continued growth of the organization will also benefit the world. 

– Nick DeMarco
Photo: Flickr

 

The Merits of a Focus on Children in Extreme PovertyChildren are the world’s future. This phrase is often uttered, yet across the globe it is rarely enforced. Children in extreme poverty are affected differently than adults. Between inadequate nutrition, exposure to stress and a lack of early stimulation and learning, the disadvantages of growing up in poverty last a lifetime.

Consequences such as stunted development, low levels of skills needed for life and work, limited future productivity as adults and the generational cycle of poverty inhibit change in children living in poverty. These consequences are especially heinous because they debilitate the global human capital needed to grow and sustain economic prosperity.

Report Details Extent of Children in Extreme Poverty

Based on data from 89 countries representing 84 percent of the developing world’s population, UNICEF and The World Bank Group estimated that 385 million children were living in extremely poor households in 2013. Children are more than twice as likely to be living in households in extreme poverty. Roughly 19 percent of children in extreme poverty are estimated to be living on less than $1.90 a day, compared to an estimated 9 percent of adults.

The World Bank Group and UNICEF researchers conducted a comprehensive range of tests to check if changing these assumptions would affect their results. They tested their findings against realistic large and small economies of scale, as well as a range of realistic ratios comparing children’s consumption to adults’. In all cases, children still emerged with higher poverty rates across developing countries.

The World Bank Group is a vital source of financial and technical assistance to developing countries around the world as the world’s largest funder of education, the largest external financier of the fight against HIV/AIDS and the largest international financier of biodiversity projects, water supply and sanitation projects.

UNICEF promotes the rights and well-being of every child. With work in 190 countries and territories, UNICEF translates that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children to the benefit of all children in extreme poverty.

Recommendations for Governments to Help Children in Extreme Poverty

Together, UNICEF and The World Bank Group have established partnerships with governments across the globe to address child poverty and to promote a range of cross-sector investments in the early years of life. Their goal is to end extreme poverty by 2030. This vision is central to the work of the World Bank Group and UNICEF. The two organizations are calling on governments to focus on four main areas to combat extreme poverty:

  • Ensure that the number of children in extreme poverty is routinely measured and addressed at the national level as countries work towards both ending extreme poverty by 2030 and improving the well-being of their poorest citizens.
  • Make deliberate policy decisions that ensure a country’s economic growth benefits all of its citizens, including making sure children are fully considered in poverty reduction plans.
  • Strengthen child-sensitive social protection systems, including cash transfer programs that give direct payments to families to help lift children out of poverty and protect them from its impacts.
  • Prioritize investments in education, health, nutrition, clean water, sanitation and infrastructure that benefit the poorest children and prevent people from falling back into poverty after setbacks like droughts, disease or economic instability.

Addressing these multidimensional aspects of children in extreme poverty is crucial. In the face of a global economic slowdown, ending extreme child poverty by 2030 will not be easy. However, change is possible.

– Richard Zarrilli

Photo: Flickr