How the UN Fights Global Poverty2015 represents an important year for the United Nations to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.

Among the goals that the United Nations has to eradicate poverty and hunger are: to reduce by half the amount of people that make less than $1 per day, accomplish employment and work for everyone including minorities such as women and to reduce by half the amount of people who are suffering from hunger.

The United Nations partners with different organizations and foundations in order to achieve these goals to eradicate poverty.

The Zero Hunger Challenge, the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement and the UNDP-IKEA Foundation are three movements that the United Nations are partnering with.

1. Zero Hunger Challenge

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gives the invitation to every country to work for the future, a future in which every person has adequate nutrition and doesn’t lack food.

The Zero Hunger Challenge involves having no stunted children, 100 percent access to adequate food, sustainable food systems, 100 percent increase in smallholder productivity and zero food waste.

According to this challenge, the investment in agriculture, rural development and equality of opportunity helps to eradicate hunger.

This challenge promotes different strategies and cooperation in order to strive for results that combat hunger.

2. Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement

The principle of this movement is that everyone has the right to good nutrition and food. This movement is supported by donors, people from the government, the United Nations and various others.

This movement seeks to address malnutrition by activities such as implementing programs and collaborations.

The principles of engagement are to be transparent and honest about the impact that collective action has, bring solutions that can be proven and interventions to scale, have a commitment to support the rights and equity of all human beings, resolve conflicts if they arise, be responsible so stakeholders can feel collectively accountable to the commitments, establish priorities and be communicative toward what works and what doesn’t.

3. UNDP-IKEA Foundation

This is a foundation that is benefiting 50,000 women from India.

This foundation has helped 9,000 dairy producers to form a company through provided financial literacy training. Profits also double within a year through the participation of the members.

The United Nations also contributes with other organizations, such as the UNDP and Brazil’s Natura Cosméticos, which brings training to beauty advisors in areas that vary from direct sales to customer training.

It is clear that the United Nations uses different methods to obtain results in the different humanity issues that it focuses on.

While they address different issues such as climate change, terrorism, food production, human rights, health emergencies and many others, global poverty and the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger is under the Millennium Development Goals that the United Nations has, and partnering with different associations, movements, organizations and foundations has resulted in a way to reach for success in addressing these issues in the year of 2015.

– Diana Fernanda Leon

Sources: United Nations 1, United Nations 2, Scaling Up Nutrition
Photo: Flickr

Millenium Compacts for Regional Economic Integration Act

Ranking Member of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Cardin (D-MD), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy, Senator Flake (R-AZ), and members of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Coons (D-Del) and Senator Isakson (R-GA), have introduced the Millennium Compacts for Regional Economic Integration Act.

This piece of legislation could potentially allow the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) to partner with countries in order to address regional development challenges and encourage trans-border economic growth in the developing world, especially in Africa. The Millennium Challenge Corporation is an independent U.S. foreign aid agency established by Congress in 2004. This agency aims to combat global poverty through economic growth. The MCC partners with developing countries committed to good governance, economic freedom and investing in their citizens.

Countries have reformed in order to partner with the MCC. For example, Ghana changed its power grid in order to partner with the MCC. In addition, Lesotho allowed women to open bank accounts in order to receive MCC assistance. Given this, it is assumed that countries could improve conditions in their country in order to develop regional economic partnerships. This would yield two benefits simultaneously.

In a world of globalization, many economies are interconnected. Global economies have experienced significant and sustained growth partly because of regional infrastructure and integrated trade agreements. Through greater regional economic collaboration, countries can improve infrastructure deficiencies, unemployment and poverty reduction efforts.

The MCC’s work could be enhanced if it had the authority to encourage regional economic growth. In Central America, road infrastructure could be significantly improved if the roads connected across borders. In Africa, countries could create regional power agreements and connect countries through transportation infrastructure.

Knowing this, the Millennium Challenge Corporation could foster regional economic growth between developing countries. Today, it is important to consider globalization when assisting developing countries. Globalization could help developing countries grow faster than ever.

In conclusion, this bipartisan piece of legislation aims to improve economic interconnectedness between neighboring developing countries. The MCC could foster these relationships between countries. Globalization could exponentially help developing countries grow, given that it increases trade, infrastructure access and energy access.

Ella Cady

Sources: Senate, Open Congress, The Constituent
Photo: MCC

Macedonia FYR (Former Yugoslav Republic) is a country in the crossroads: it is an emerging middle-class country, yet it has a hungry population in many areas. But great strides have been made over the last few years to decrease the number of people who are hungry, especially malnourished children.

The United Nations created the Millennium Development Goals where one goal would be to cut worldwide hunger in half by 2015. For the three years that indicators were completed for Macedonia FYR, the percentage of children under five moderately to severely underweight has dropped from 1.9 in 1999 to 1.8 in 2005 to 1.3 in 2011.

While these numbers do not seem particularly large or dramatic, they are only the percentages of children who are greatly malnourished. The numbers do not indicate the other children that might be slightly malnourished or food insecure. However, those children and their families still suffer from the effects of poverty and hunger.

Hunger in Macedonia FYR is tied to the historic economic instability of the region. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), “when prices [of food] rise, consumers often shift to cheaper, less nutritious foods, heightening the risks of micronutrient deficiencies and other forms of malnutrition.” Even though malnutrition and hunger in Macedonia FYR are less than many other developing countries, in 2006 UNICEF still reported 17 deaths out of 1000 children under five.

There is no delineation in the study between what caused those deaths, yet most can be tied to malnutrition or diseases caused by poor nutrition. Hunger is inherited; an undernourished woman will give birth to an undernourished child. Yet the opposite is also true. According to the WFP, “well-nourished women have healthier, heavier babies whose immune systems are stronger for life. A healthy, well-fed child is also more likely to attend school.”

Malnourished children are more likely to have life-long health problems and not attend school, which creates a state where the economy sees a downturn and hunger rises again. When hunger is reduced, an individual can live longer and more productively, strengthening the economy. This very trend can be seen in Macedonia FYR.

The World Bank has assisted in boosting the nation’s economy, therefore helping to reduce hunger in Macedonia FYR. The country “has been a member of the World Bank Group since 1994 and currently receives funding from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.” The World Bank also says that Macedonia FYR “is an upper-middle-income country that has made great strides in reforming its economy over the last decade.”

How does a “middle-income country” still have hunger and malnutrition at levels high enough to be part of the Millennium Development Goals program?

UNICEF says that “disparities in access to health and education between rural and urban areas are obstacles towards achieving the low mortality rate of Western European countries.” The rural areas still need much more help before hunger in Macedonia FYR can be completely eradicated.

Great achievements have been made in helping those who are hungry in Macedonia FYR, but the number of children suffering from malnutrition has not been cut in half yet like the goal states. With the country’s economy becoming stronger and more children receiving good food and an education, it is conceivable that hunger in Macedonia FYR will be eradicated in the near future.

– Megan Ivy

Sources: UNICEF, World Bank, UNICEF, UN, World Food Programme
Photo: Jstor Daily

Ghana is the only country in Sub-Saharan Africa that has met the Millennium Development Goal of reducing extreme poverty in half by 2015, and it is also among the most developed countries in the region.

According to the World Bank Group, 24.3 percent of Ghana’s population is living below the poverty line, down from 31.9 percent in 2005. Even with substantial developments, there still remain certain challenges that hinder progress in Ghana. Similar to many nations in the developing world, poverty in Ghana is largely due to social and economic inequalities among its citizens. Ghana’s economic growth has also slowed down significantly over the past few years, affecting many cities across the region including the capital of Accra. According to the World Bank Group, the gross domestic product (GDP) declined from 7.3 percent in 2013 to an estimated 4.2 percent in 2014. The slowed growth was a result of inflation and a fall in currency, which has also impacted many areas in the region such as Accra.

Accra, the capital of Ghana, is considered one of the largest cities in the country. The country has an estimated population of more than 2 million people and holds approximately 10 percent of Ghana’s entire population. Although Ghana’s economic progress has slowed down, its capital is still a leading force in the nation. For example, Accra has among the lowest poverty rates in the country when compared to other cities in the region.

The city serves as the focal point for the region’s economic development, with the service industry employing over 530,000 people. However, the city also has a high unemployment rate with approximately 12.2 percent of the population, amounting to 114,198 people, reportedly unemployed. This is a contributing factor to Ghana’s urban poverty. The population dwelling within the city relies heavily on employment and income, both of which are critical sources for sufficient livelihoods. In turn, high food prices and income inequalities further impact urban poverty in Accra.

Apart from city dwellers, poverty permeates a significant amount of rural areas in Accra. There are 79 communities within Accra including Ga Mashie, James Town, Chorkor and Nima, identified as three of the most high poverty communities in the region. The indigenous populations found throughout Accra are some of the most vulnerable. For example, communities in areas like Ga, which had initially derived its livelihood from farming and fishing, are now considered to be among the poorest in the region. Additionally, households headed by women within these communities experience significantly higher poverty rates.

The reason why Accra still has a large percentage of the population living below the poverty line is partly due to the lack of information provided about these communities. It is difficult to focus on an area with need when not enough information or knowledge is being conveyed; as a result, progress in the area has been hindered.

Even with all the challenges Ghana has been facing, it is still one of the most developed countries in the region. Urban and rural poverty resulting from social and political inequalities are reason enough for concern, even as Accra remains one of the more stable and developed cities in the region. With a more focused post-2015 development framework that addresses the social and economic inequalities in Ghana, the region can continue progressing.

– Nada Sewidan

Sources: World Bank, IPA, UNICEF, Action 2015
Photo: Two Years in Ghana

Poverty in Sudan
Poverty in Sudan is widespread and varies according to region, with ducxisting conflicts as well as economic and social inequalities contributing to the large number of impoverished people. Inequality in education and limited access to health care, clean water, sanitation, resources and income has also impacted poverty in the country, especially in North Sudan.

Although Sudan still ranks among the poorest countries in the world, it has also seen great economic progress. Since 1990, Sudan’s extreme poverty rate declined from 85 percent to 46 percent and continues to be on the decline today, according to the results from the Millennium Development Goals.

The reality, however, is that one out of two people living in Sudan is impacted by poverty; meaning, he or she does not have the means to buy food or the ability to properly care for him or herself. Results from the MDGs reveal that an estimated 15 million people all over Sudan are considered poor.


Causes of Poverty in Sudan


Currently in North Sudan, an estimated 44.8 percent of the population lives beneath poverty lines, with poverty rates higher in rural areas (55 percent) than in urban areas (28 percent). High unemployment rates (17 percent) as well as low employment opportunities contribute to the economic disparity found in many regions of Sudan.

Additionally, the expanding population along with climate change have affected the agricultural sector, which in turn impacts food security and the livelihoods of people living in Sudan. For rural populations, unreliable rainfall, low productivity and small landholdings are major contributors to poverty in the area. These factors have also impacted malnutrition and children who are underweight. One third or 32 percent of children who are under the age of five is underweight as a result of chronic malnutrition.

Areas that are considered to be most vulnerable to poverty are regions that have been affected by isolation. A large majority of settlements in Sudan exist far away from main urban cities and have limited access to social services. Additionally, isolated territories are harder to track in terms of poverty and progress. The amount of people living in poverty in isolated regions is not completely known and is difficult to estimate as well.

However, what is known, is that there is a substantial amount of people living in those territories that suffer from hunger and disease. The poorest areas that are largely impacted by isolation include Southern Sudan, Southern Darfur, White Nile and Blue Nile.

Although there are many factors contributing to poverty in Sudan, internal conflicts are further fueling the volatile state of the region. Sudan has had over 20 years of internal conflict that cost an estimated 1.5 million people their lives and devastated the population as a whole. The civil conflict emerged from social and political inequalities and a neglect of the rural regions. Unfair distribution of land and land reforms, as well as misguided resources for urban and rural developments, have caused conflicts in the country. Despite signing a peace treaty a few years ago, the country is still suffering from the devastation the conflict caused to its citizens.

However, overall, poverty in Sudan has been on the mend as reforms and aid targeted through the MDGs have helped improve poverty rates in the region.

– Nada Sewidan

Sources: World Bank 1, World Bank 2, UNDP, Rural Poverty Portal
Photo: Penn State

In 1938, in the midst of the Second World War, Episcopalians around the country raised money to help European refugees. In 1940, the Episcopal Church formally founded the Bishop’s Fund for World Relief. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, the Bishop’s Fund continued to help with post-WWII efforts to rebuild. In 2000, the Fund was renamed to Episcopal Relief and Development. In 2002, it was incorporated as a 501(c)(3). In 2003 it shifted to long-term development projects, officially endorsing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The platform which Episcopal Relief and Development works from is based on partnership, both with church and other partners in host countries that are working in the same regions with the same goals.

Each year, Episcopal Relief and Development works in over 40 countries and reaches over three million people. Some of those countries are the most impoverished in the world, including Haiti, Burundi, Malawi and Nicaragua.

Episcopal Relief and Development’s four core programs are to alleviate hunger and improve food supply, create economic opportunities and strengthen communities, promote health and fight disease and respond to disasters and rebuild communities. Specific programs include fighting malaria, micro-finance, clean water and maternal and child health. All of their programs relate directly to the MDGs.

The official mission of Episcopal Relief and Development is “to bring together the generosity of Episcopalians and others with the needs of the world.” According to their financial statements, 84 percent of their 2013 budget went to programs. Ten percent went to fundraising and the remaining six percent went to administration. Episcopal Relief and Development is accredited by the Better Business Bureau, InterAction, Charity Navigator and GuideStar. They are based out of New York City.

– Caitlin Huber

Sources: Episcopal Relief, Charity Navigator
Photo: Episcopal Relief

In a presentation at the United Nations University earlier this month, Jeffrey Sachs gave updates on the Millennium Development Goals and projections for after 2015. Sachs, one of the developers of the Millennium Development Goals and Professor of Sustainable Development at Columbia University, discussed the post-2015 future of sustainable development. With the expiration of the MDGs set for 2015, attention is turning to the Millennium Villages Project and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

Despite the progress of many nations agreeing to the framework of the MDGs, there is still room for improvement. In the midst of the Ebola crisis, the interdependency of the MDGs, especially focusing on maternal health, epidemic diseases and education, has emphasized a need for equal attention to the goals.

With expectations for exponential increases in global GDP and population, the need for advanced poverty relief is greater than ever. Under the new SDSN framework, set to be instituted by the United Nations after 2015, new goals will be created to target financial responsibility and climate change. In 2015, three conversations will take place in both developed and developing nations to tackle the next phase after the MDGs.

Jeffrey Sachs is seen to be among the frontrunners of the next several decades of continued development. Though the concrete plans implementing change are still yet to be solidified in the post-2015 meetings, cooperation between developed and developing nations is still going to be in the center of the plans.

In an article written in Horizons, Sachs writes, “Ours is a world of fabulous wealth and extreme poverty: billions of people enjoy longevity and good health unimaginable in previous generations, yet at least one billion people live in such abject poverty that they struggle for mere survival every day. The poorest of the poor face the daily life-and-death challenges of insufficient nutrition, lack of healthcare, unsafe shelter, and the lack of safe drinking water and sanitation.” The gap between the OCED and developing nations is growing, and Sachs is acutely aware that the growing rate of the global economy will only aggravate the poverty gap. Achieving a basic standard of living will not eliminate the poverty gap, but will ease the daily struggles of the bottom quintile.

The sustainable development framework is working to achieve a universal standard of living. Though it was intended to reach this standard by 2015, realistically, additional work under a revised viewpoint will follow in the subsequent years.

– Kristin Ronzi

Sources: UN U, UN, UNSDN, Millennium Villages, CIRSD
Photo: Flickr