In an interview with the British publication The Guardian, Philippe Douste-Blazy, special adviser to the U.N. secretary-general on innovative finance for development, and chairman of the global health partnership Unitaid,  discussed his interest in development, its relationship to poverty and extremism, and the goals of his organization.

Douste-Blazy recounted how his interest in development was sparked by a conversation he had with former French President Chirac, who emphasized for him the  political importance of caring for the 1.5 billion people living in extreme poverty. Chirac’s arguments helped convince Douste-Blazy that the more the world becomes interconnected, the more inequality there is, and that “breed[s] ground for conflict.” Douste-Blazy personalized these issues by stating that if he were an 18-year old living in a developing country and he had to watch his family die from malaria because “the world could not give them less than a pound while knowing that in London or Paris a couple may spend 100 [euros] on dinner, [he could] understand how poverty can be a catalyst for extremist views.”

In his interview Douste-Blazy also described how Unitaid, which uses innovative financing to help facilitate accessibility to the diagnosis and treatment of HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis in developing countries, started off with the concept of raising plane ticket prices by 1 euro and donating that 1 to raise these funds. Unitaid was established in 2006 by Brazil, Chile, France, Norway, and the U.K. Today, various members support this mission, including organizations from the global south. Douste-Blazy asserted that this mission’s key goal is to show the international community that this “levy tax on plane tickets” can produce solid results through new financing models further beyond the U.N. Millennium Development Goals. To address the financial problems of development, he said that there is a need for “new sources of innovative financing,” that invest in the poor of today so that they can become the “economic actors of tomorrow” cutting off the ties between poverty and extremism.

Leen Abdallah

Source: Guardian

Bread For The World Institute

Finding up-to-date information on research concerning hunger, poverty, and agriculture can be a difficult task.  To make this easier, the Bread for the World Institute compiles all their research into easy-to-understand formats. Bread for the World Institute is the research arm of Bread for the World. The institute focuses on research in several key areas including U.S. hunger and poverty, trade and agriculture, the Millennium Development Goals, maternal and child nutrition, immigration, global hunger and poverty, foreign assistance to reduce poverty, and climate change and hunger.  The staff work on policy analysis focused on hunger and strategies to end it. They use their research to educate world leaders, policymakers, and the public about hunger in the United States and abroad.

Within each research area, working papers can be found highlighting current research and findings happening. In addition, the institute is committed to the idea that development assistance does indeed work. They have a section of seven short essays telling stories and providing facts relating to the results of effective development aid. The essays are available for use by anyone from activists to politicians to Sunday school teachers. The essays serve to help individuals get a better picture of the fight against global hunger and extreme poverty.

The Bread for the World Institute also has a blog that provides current updates on what is going on within the fight to end world hunger and extreme poverty. The blog breaks down some of the information into a more comprehensible format. The goal of the institute and the research is to help people become informed and take action in the fight.

The 2013 Hunger Report is also produced by the Bread for the World Institute. The Hunger Report looks at issues surrounding global hunger such as malnutrition and food insecurity. The 2013 edition calls for a final push towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals.  Overall, the Bread for the World Institute is an excellent resource for information and facts on global hunger and on the fight to end it.

– Amanda Kloeppel
Source:Bread for the World Institute,Hunger Report

Students Experience Poverty to Raise Awareness
College students in Melbourne, Australia recognize the need to address the global issue of extreme poverty. They went about raising awareness in a unique way. Pairing up with the Live Below the Line Campaign, students immersed themselves in the struggle, feeding themselves on two dollars a day for five days.

Hoping to experience extreme poverty first hand, students created personal budget plans for their week below the poverty line. They purchased fruit, vegetables, lentil, pasta, and rice with their budget. Some students pooled their money together to help buy items in bulk.

University of Melbourne Professor Rob Moodie found the Live Below the Line campaign was a great opportunity for students to connect to the issue of global poverty on a personal level. “Life in Australia for the average university student is incredibly different for someone living on less than two dollars a day, and any learning we can do is beneficial,” Moodie said.

So what were the results of the student’s hardships? National awareness and significant donations. Overall, the University of Melbourne raised over $24,000 for world hunger, the most in Australia

The Live Below the Line Campaign takes place annually from May 6th to May 10th in Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Canada and the United States. Australia has raised over 2 million dollars with the cause. For more information, visit

– William Norris

Source: The Age,Live Below the Line
Photo: Bromford Group

Asda, one of the UK’s largest supermarket chains, has now teamed up with one of the U.K.’s largest food charities. Instead of sending extra stock back to the manufacturers, Asda will send it to FareShare, a national charity fighting hunger. It is a simple concept with huge consequences for the battle against hunger.

In recent years, many large supermarket chains have received criticism for their unprecedented level of food waste. With 5.8 million people in the U.K. considered to be living in ‘deep poverty,’ Asda’s pledged donation will make a sizable difference in the number of people FareShare can reach.

The food from FareShare is sent around the country to other groups who prepare meals for those in need. At the moment, FareShare provides food for 42,000 meals per week. It is estimated that this partnership with Asda will generate more than 3 million meals per year for those living in deep poverty.

A big challenge of charitable food distribution has been accessing perishables like dairy products, meat, and vegetables. Asda’s contribution will increase the supply of perishables by 1,500 tons per year and increase the overall food donations FareShare receives by 41%. Asda’s pledge has also spurred other major chains like Sainsbury’s and Tesco to develop plans for contributing foodstuffs to other anti-hunger projects.

– Zoë Meroney

Sources: The Guardian, The Independent
Photo: Your ASDA

Poverty Reduction in the Comoros
The Comoros consists of four islands located in the Indian Ocean near Madagascar and Mozambique. Affectionately calling their country Masiwa, or “the islands”, the population totals to 1,080,000 citizens. The country, among several other small island states, is considered underdeveloped. Although the country gained independence in 1975, political and institutional crises created sustained instability.

In 2012, the Union of the Comoros, under the leadership of the newest president, Dr. Ikililou Dhoinine, drafted an official Poverty Reduction Strategy, highlighting six distinct goals to reducing their nation’s poverty.

1. Stabilize the economy by building a foundation for strong equity.

Although the external debt of the Comoros is said to remain unsustainable, the country’s external trade has increased from 47.8% in 2010 to 52% in 2011, increasing imports from 8.9% in 2010 to 9.1% in 2011.

2. Strengthen profitable sectors, including institution building and participation of private economic operators.

The Comorian government has set a priority to repair highly damaged roads including 17 km on Ngazidja, 17 km on Ndzouani, and 6.5 km on Mwali, among other main highway repairs.

3. Strengthen governance and social cohesion.

Studies on citizenship, prejudice, discrimination, the roles of women and youth in society, the establishment of 16 peace committees, introducing biometrics into the electoral process, and the institutionalization of a national commission to fight corruption.

4. Improve the health of citizens.

According to the recently drafted strategy, 300 households are currently benefiting from implemented sanitation programs, far surpassing the target set in 2011. A sanitary water network has reached 23 km, active in Djando on Mohéli, Domoni, and Sima on Anjouan.

Fighting against avoidable illnesses has also made significant progress. Through obtaining instruments and equipment, support for training programs, and the installation and management of vaccine distribution. Comorians were able to see high percentages of vaccination effectiveness per antigen.

5. Promote education and vocational training.

The main objective in education was to improve access to educational institutions per capita. Enrollment in professional and vocational roles reported an increase from 3% in 2010 to 8% in 2011. Although this rate is lower than the projected improvement of 15%, there has been a significant increase in admissions at the University of the Comoros.

6. Promote environmental sustainability and civil society.

Priority zones for biodiversity conservation resulted in the completion of five inventories of flora and fauna, exceeding the 2011 forecast. 1,531 citizens were  educated in several areas of agricultural management, complying with government-instated goals for sustainable use of renewable resources.

Although one out of two people in the Comoros are considered poor, the Comorian government is taking active steps to reduce their poverty and improve the lives of their citizens.

– Kali Faulwetter

Sources: IMF, Every Culture, Maps of World

Last month, deputy prime minister of Ireland, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore, and the Minister for Trade and Development, Joe Costello, launched the new policy One World, One Future: Ireland’s Policy for International Development. Through this new policy, Ireland is emphasizing its commitment to “a vision of a sustainable and just world,” to defeat the ugly reality that some people only realize through a statistic while others experience it firsthand every day: approximately 1 billion starving people. The battle against poverty faces many challenges which include climate change, rising energy and food prices, and the global economic crisis.

Irish Aid established three main goals to try and accommodate the changing conditions: to reduce hunger and improve resilience, to have sustainable development and inclusive economic growth, and finally, to achieve better governance, and human rights and accountability which includes gender equality. When meeting these goals, Irish Aid will continue its progress based on its assessment of previous achievements; Irish Aid helped 46 million more kids go to school in Africa, and decreased poverty for ethnic minorities in Vietnam by 17%.

As Irish Aid recognizes the vulnerability of “fragile states,” it declared Sierra Leone as a new key partner country for hopes of establishing better and stronger relationships with these so-called fragile states. Thus, as these relationships grow and strengthen, better progress can take place towards sustainable development.

– Leen Abdallah
Source: Relief Web
Photo: Google

95% Discount on HPV Vaccines for Girls in Poverty

HPV vaccines costing an average of $130 a dose in the United States will now be offered in poor countries for as low as $4.50 a dose, a monumental step made possible by the generous and focused work of the GAVI Alliance. These vaccines help prevent strains of human papillomavirus, or HPV, that cause almost 75% of cervical cancers.

According to GlaxoSmithKline and Merck, the two pharmaceutical companies offering these deeply slashed prices, more than 85% of cervical cancer deaths occur in the developing world. “We hope that this will help reduce the burden of cervical cancer and positively impact future generations,” said GSK President and General Manager Christophe Weber in a press release. GSK already supplies 80% of its total vaccine volume to developing countries.

The GAVI Alliance, formerly the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, was launched under a generous donation from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 1999; the Alliance works to partner charitable donations with private pharmaceutical companies by negotiating significantly lower vaccine costs for countries in need. This model has allowed over 370 million children to receive immunizations since GAVI’s founding.

In the next few months, GAVI will provide support to countries worldwide by carrying out demonstration programs that raise awareness among the vaccination target group — pre-adolescents — which will allow countries to incorporate the vaccine into their own immunization programs.

– Naomi Doraisamy

Sources: GAVI Alliance, Merck
Photo: Polifaso

Birth Rates Decrease As People Rise Out of Poverty
Many people argue that deaths resulting from poverty are an unfortunate solution to overpopulation. They assume that raising families out of poverty will only give them more resources to support ever more children. However, the evidence actually shows that birth rates decrease as people rise out of poverty. This is because parents are often forced by high child mortality rates to have several children to ensure that they will have someone to care for them as they age. When these families are no longer living in extreme poverty, they can be more confident that their children will survive, allowing them to have fewer children. According to the World Health Organization, both the actual death and the fear of death of a child results in higher fertility rates, regardless of a family’s size or income level.

Over the last two decades, reduced levels of extreme poverty in numerous countries, including Guatemala, Cambodia, and Namibia, has coincided with a decrease in average family size to about half. Since the 1960s, Latin American women’s fertility rates have decreased from about 6 to between 2 and 3. This has resulted from decreased child mortality rates, as well as improved maternal health and family planning education in many areas. USAID has been instrumental in helping many Latin American countries, such as the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua, start family planning programs. Most of these programs have become self-sustaining and are preparing for USAID’s gradual departure.

While poverty is an extremely reliable indicator and contributing cause of high birth rates, a society’s treatment of women must also be considered. In societies where women are disenfranchised, birth rates tend to be high and inflexible. This shouldn’t necessarily come as a surprise, given that in these societies girls are taken out of school at a young age, females are often victims of multiple forms of violence, and most women have minimal knowledge of or power to enact family planning strategies. Many women are essentially forced into prolonged motherhood, which can be incredibly damaging to their health, as well as their children’s. With improved family planning education around the world, the lives of 1.6 million children under five could be saved each year.

A woman’s education level is an excellent indicator of her fertility. Well-educated women are much more likely to have smaller families. It is important to note that the education of women does not necessarily cause lower fertility rates. Instead, education is just one aspect of improved social standing for women, and it is likely that this improved status leads to smaller families, not to mention improved women’s health in general.

It is essential to recognize that decreasing levels of extreme poverty will also help minimize the problem of overpopulation. When families no longer live in fear of unacceptable child mortality rates, they decrease their fertility levels. Part of this effort to decrease birth rates also includes family planning education for both men and women and improved societal standing for women.

– Katie Fullerton

Sources: USAID, USAID Blog, Population Institute, Global Issues
Photo: Hatter

Universal Health Care Can End Extreme Poverty
Universal health care in all countries could help bring an end to extreme poverty by 2030, says World Bank President Jim Yong Kim. He explains that “every country in the world can improve the performance of its health system in the three dimensions of universal coverage: access, quality and affordability.” Last month Kim set the goal of ending extreme global poverty around the world, which means that nobody will be living on $1.25 or less each day by the year 2030. He claims that universal health coverage is essential to be able to reach this goal because it is costly to receive medical care, and many of the poorest families cannot afford these costs.

Health issues are a major reason people are in extreme poverty, putting 100 million people into extreme poverty as well as creating severe financial stress for an additional 150 million people around the world each year. Kim states that to create a valuable and helpful system, those in the public sector should take tips from private sector companies to be more efficient and provide “value-for-money health care.” He further explains that to create the best universal health care in poor, developing countries, point-of-service and out-of-pocket costs must be eliminated, because they hinder people’s ability to obtain the services they need but cannot afford.

Kim knows that for the poorest people around the world, even what would seem like small costs to visit a doctor or receive a vaccine can be detrimental to a family’s financial stability, and could push some people back into poverty or extreme poverty. With universal health care, these individuals and families can receive these necessary health benefits without sacrificing other areas of life or worrying about being forced back into poverty.

Katie Brockman
Source: Businessweek
Photo: World Health Coverage

Extreme Poverty or Higher Aggregate Happiness
In a recent research analysis regarding the after-effects of eradicating extreme poverty, researchers found that the world’s well-being as a whole is much more important to focus on. During the past decade, the main focus of the U.N. and developed nations has been to eradicate extreme poverty, but now researchers are asking: what comes after the end of poverty? The argument is that many people will still be considered poor in comparison to those who are rich. Daniel Altman of Foreign Policy asserts that even if people move up from extreme poverty (living on less than 2 dollars a day), the more they are exposed to ads and a TV showing them how the “other half lives,” the more the income gap will yet remain.

Altman writes, “the link between income and happiness is strong in countries around the globe.” Thus, rising income maintains constant happiness which means that focusing on non-extreme poverty is just as important as focusing on eradicating extreme poverty. Basically, even if poor farmers and sweatshop workers’ lives were advanced “beyond the level of mere subsistence,” there needs to be a constant advancement of their lives in order to maintain consistent and constant well-being and happiness.

Although the aid industry has been successful in lifting small numbers of people out of poverty for a given time, there is a need for “big changes in living standards,” and that calls for the growth of the private sector and a change of political institutions. By following up on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s slogan that every human life has equal value, perhaps there is a need for a new slogan for the aid industry, argues Altman. Rather than it being the eradication of extreme poverty, perhaps it should be the building of higher aggregate happiness.

– Leen Abdallah

Source: SBS News
Photo: Google