Most people are aware of the existence of poverty on the global level. Many frequently receive flyers in the mail or run into something on the Internet asking to donate to the cause. However, many people are unaware of how concentrated and gendered poverty is and exactly how much money it would take to tackle worldwide poverty. Here are four facts on global poverty to help expand your understanding.

1. Sixty-five Percent of the World’s Hungry Are Located in Seven Countries

Most of the hungry people in the world can be found in India, China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Indonesia and Bangladesh. Because of the concentration of these people, those born in these countries are at a greater risk of living in deplorable conditions. The poor economic opportunities and limited availability of education in these countries perpetuates the cycle of poverty; thus, expanding and continuing hunger, malnutrition and vulnerability to natural disasters.

2. Global Poverty has a Different Affect on Women

Sixty percent of the hungry people in the world are women. Like men, poverty forces impoverished women to be at risk of starvation, malnutrition and poor health. However, unlike men, poverty makes it harder for women to have access to education and contraceptives. Because of the lack of gender equality in many of these countries, poverty disproportionately affects women. Women have even less access to education than men and they often times do not have the opportunity to utilize contraceptives because of the lack of availability and the cost. The minimal access to contraceptives puts women at a greater risk of dying during childbirth. The lack of gender equality also makes it harder for women to utilize education to exit the cycle of poverty.

3. Global Poverty Can End with the Help of 100 People

Often times, poverty seems like a hard giant to tackle because of the seemingly massive price tag. However, if one hundred of the world’s richest people contributed some of their net worth, poverty could be eliminated “four-times over.” This option is not particularly favorable among many because it seems to put unwanted pressure on people who seem to have no obligation to help those they have not met. However, there is another alternative that would alleviate pressure on the world’s wealthiest people.

4. $30 Billion per year From the U.S. Government Would Eradicate Global Hunger

One of the biggest resources is a national government. Many have estimated that $30 billion a year could end global poverty. This may seem like a lot of money to the casual onlooker, but when taking into consideration that $530 billion was committed to the U.S. military in the 2010 national budget, it is a doable amount. Through the reallocation of money into the foreign aid budget, the U.S. could be the biggest contributor to eliminating global poverty.

– Erin Logan

Sources: U.N. Millennium Project,, The Hunger Project, The Borgen Project, Oxfam, FAO, UNDP
Photo: Huffington Post

Help Aid Refugees
There are more refugees in the world right now than at any point in history. In addition to the bare necessities: food, water, shelter, this vulnerable group needs us to be their champions. Here is what you can do to help Syrian refugees:


10 Things Refugees Need


  • Make food aid local. Every day, millions of Syrian refugees eat food shipped from overseas—while local farmers and grocers suffer. Rather than shipping in flour, oil and other food items, international organizations should use that money to buy the food from local providers, which would both feed the hungry and empower the poor. The World Food Program, which recognizes this need, has already distributed over a million food vouchers to refugees that are redeemable in local food markets.
  • Engage refugees in development efforts and politics. The best way to begin lifting refugees out of acute crisis is to actually involve them in problem-solving efforts and local politics. Host countries and aid organizations often discriminate against refugees as objects in need, not subjects with knowledge and power.
  • Engage hosts in advocacy efforts. In the same way that many relief efforts ignore the power of refugees themselves, many ignore the power of local service providers to change in-country government policy. Development organizations need to take advantage of the network of relationships between local employers and politicians to end discrimination against refugees.
  • Create jobs. Too many education efforts in refugee populations wane due to lack of motivation—what job lies at the end of their efforts? To combat refugee retention, host countries need to seek ways to reward educated refugees. In addition, policy-makers should base refugee livelihood programs on careful analysis of refugee-host economies for maximum impact.
  • Integrate populations. Too often, refugee and host country populations remain segregated for years—to the detriment of both. Studies consistently show that integrating communities simultaneously lowers cost and increases economic activity, particularly foreign trade. Freedom of movement is essential to end the refugee crisis.
  • Teach toddlers. Over and over again, education efforts find success where students were motivated to attend school from a young age—like 4. Late-comers often lose motivation and drop out, but the early birds stick it out more often. The World University Service of Canada student refugee program follows this model, and their success has inspired the UNHCR to begin implementing some of their methods in its new education initiatives.
  • Teach girls. Although the balance between men and women in refugee populations is roughly equal, girls usually only make up a quarter of students in refugee schools. Yet development organizations across the world consistently find that women are more likely to work and lift themselves out of poverty. Teaching girls will have greater long-term benefits than teaching boys.
  • End encampment. The reasons to avoid refugee camps abound, and the UNHCR has long recognized the need for new solutions. Camps become sinks of poverty, sources of continued xenophobia, and environmental nightmares. Plenty of space is opening up for anti-encampment advocacy action, like that taken by the London-based Pan-African Development Education and Advocacy Programme.
  • Focus on self-reliance. Development actors have long recognized the importance of moving away from long-term “care and maintenance” programs that stifle self-initiative and effective growth. Five years ago, the UNHCR executive committee made sweeping changes to their approach based on this wisdom, and a renewed focus on self-reliance is key to addressing the needs of Syrian refugees.
  • Consider the negative externalities of good intentions. If one problem has characterized relief efforts in and around Syria, it is lack of coordination. Thousands of iNGOs, government agencies and multilateral institutes have flooded the region with the best of intentions—but not always the best interaction or foresight. As efforts progress, the importance of communication has become clear.

– John Mahon

Sources: The Guardian WFP WUSC
Photo: Daily Star

aid-hurts-africaDoes aid hurt Africa? When considering foreign aid in developing countries, the perspective of those receiving the aid is very often overlooked. The focus tends to be on those developed countries that give aid: why they should give aid, how they should give aid, and where it is most needed. This focus entirely disregards the attitudes and concerns of those receiving aid, government leaders and citizens alike. Discovering more on this perspective could in fact be key to assisting these nations in the most effective way possible.

According to Thompson Ayodele and other experts, Africans are for the most part skeptical about many of the initiatives put forward by western donors and international organizations. This skepticism is founded in the fact that many multibillion-dollar initiatives put in place by the United Nations have “fizzled” and left the African continent with small percentages of economic growth. In 2005, after $500 billion in foreign aid from 1960-1997 had been funneled into Africa, the budgets of some countries like Ghana and Uganda had been more than 50% aid-dependent.

It is interesting to note, however, that now in 2013, Ghana is among those countries that have met targets of the Millennium Development Goal before the 2015 deadline. The country as a whole has cut the number of hungry people by half as well as reduced to half the number of undernourished people between 1990-92 and 2010-2012. The GDP per capita has nearly doubled since 2005.

Still, there are other problems to consider other than the economic goals being achieved. David Karanja, a former Kenyan member of parliament, for example, has said that “Foreign aid has done more harm to Africa than we care to admit. It has led to a situation where Africa has failed to set its own pace and direction of development free of external interference.” The truth is that the majority of those giving aid or lobbying for aid have no experience with the reality of life in Africa or how this aid is really being put to use. Those who possess such experience should be brought to the forefront of the discussion.

A big problem that foreign assistance often encounters is corruption and the lack of transparency from governments, organizations, and corporations. This is why a commitment to transparency must be made in order to work around those who would funnel aid money away from where it is sorely needed. The important thing to take away from this differing perspective is the focus on making aid as effective as possible by creating strategies to circumvent corruption and commit to transparency in trade, taxation, and government processes. In order to assist in the most efficient way, it is imperative that we take into account the real needs and desires of those we are attempting to aid, rather than competing to see who can donate the most to the cause.

President Alpha Conde of Guinea weighs in on the topic commenting that they “do not want to live in dependence on the generosity of others when our resources can make us prosperous and strong.”

Impact of Foreign Aid on Africa and the World

  • In 1990, nearly half of the population in developing regions lived on less than $1.25 a day. This rate dropped to 14% in 2015.
  • The total number of people living in extreme poverty has declined by more than half from 1.9 billion to 836 million.
  • The number of underfed people has been almost cut in half from 23.3% to 12.9%
  • Primary school enrollment has risen to 91% from 83%.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa achieved a 20% increase in primary school enrollment from 2000 to 2015.
  • The number of primary school-aged children who were out of school dropped from 100 million to 57 million over the past 15 years.
  • The literacy rate of those between 15 and 24 years old has risen from 83% to 91%.
  • The proportion of girls in school in Southern Asia has risen from 74 girls for every 100 boys to 103 girls for every 100 boys
  • Women now make up 41% of paid non-agricultural employments, an increase from 35%
  • The under-five mortality rate dropped from 90 to 43 deaths per 1,000 live births and the number of under-five deaths dropped from 12.7 million to almost 6 million despite the boom in global population
  • The number of globally reported measles cases declined by 67% since 2000 and measles vaccinations helped prevent nearly 15.6 million deaths
  • Maternal mortality declined by almost half
  • New infections of HIV decreased by approximately 40% since 2000
  • The use of Antiretroviral therapy by AIDS patients increased from 800,000 in 2003 to 13.6 million which has averted 7.6 million deaths between 1995 and 2003
  • Over 6.2 million malaria deaths have been averted since 2000
  • The tuberculosis mortality rate fell by 45% saving an estimated 37 million lives
  • Official development assistance from developed countries increased by 66% in real terms since 2000 and 5 countries (Denmark, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden, and the UK) exceeded the 0.7% Gross National Income UN assistance target
  • Internet usage is up from 6% in 2000 to 43% in 2015 connecting 3.2 billion people worldwide

– Sarah Rybak
Source: Ghana Business News, Nation of Kenya, CATO, United Nations
Photo: The Wall Street Journal


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