What is Advocacy
What is advocacy? Merriam-Webster defines an advocate as someone who “argues for or supports a cause or policy.” Other definitions paint advocates as defenders, either of a cause or of a person. Lastly, an advocate can also be defined as a promoter of another’s interests.


What is Advocacy in Terms of Global Poverty?


With almost 10 percent of the world’s population living on less that $2 a day, ignoring the global poor is like ignoring someone who is injured and cannot get to their feet.

In the case of the global poor, an advocate is one who supports, defends and promotes the human rights of those suffering in extreme poverty. A person is an advocate when they support policies that aid struggling populations stricken with hunger, disease and a lack of access to education or sanitation.

Eradicating global poverty can seem like a daunting task. Who is equipped to change the world in such a way? Notice that the definition does not say an advocate is an implicit solution to the problem. On the contrary, an advocate is someone who works to find a solution and appeals to the powers that can make a difference.

Today, being an advocate for the global poor does not require immense effort. In fact, it is as easy as sending a few emails and making a few phone calls. By contacting our representatives in Congress and showing our support for foreign aid, we can act as intermediaries for the millions who do not have the means to do so themselves.

Advocacy is more powerful in groups. By spreading awareness of the global poor and demonstrating how easy it is to support their cause, we can multiply our impact. With enough people promoting the same interests, leaders will take notice. If we do not have the power to eradicate poverty on our own, the governments of the world certainly do.

The actions of advocates have had a profound effect. Since 2011, a projected 200 million people are no longer in extreme poverty. Nevertheless, there are still millions more that are crying for help with the hope that someone will take notice and champion their cause.

Emiliano Perez

Photo: Flickr

In Fall 2015, the Sixth Annual Forum of the group Business Call to Action (BCtA) was held in New York City to discuss the increasingly popular concept of inclusive business.

The inclusive business model consists of private sector companies collaborating with people at the “base of the pyramid” — that is, those in developing countries with low incomes or who live in poverty — to improve livelihoods and expand market opportunities.

In this model, the global poor are not viewed simply as consumers or recipients of charity. Rather, they are involved in every level of business from production to distribution to management.

The benefits to the global poor of this business strategy are obvious. By connecting with successful companies from more developed nations, participants gain access to goods and services that are better, cleaner and more cost-effective. Furthermore, the model creates new jobs and provides resources for people to learn marketable skills.

Businesses are also able to access new markets, customer bases and sources of supply. In addition, partnering with NGOs and other businesses in more developed nations often helps build reputation and credibility.

Speakers at the BCtA Forum stressed that business interests and development goals are closely intertwined. The Forum also highlighted the importance of improving the health of people in developing nations. BCtA explained that a healthier population leads to more stable consumer markets and more productive workers.

Untapped Potential for Developed Countries

Accenture’s Financial Services Operating Group has estimated that the inclusive business model presents a $380 billion market opportunity. However, generally speaking, companies in developed nations have underestimated the value of inclusive business.

A Care International poll showed that 77 percent of 30 banks surveyed were largely uninterested in establishing long-term financial connections with poor people in developing nations.

The concept of inclusive business is not just theoretical in nature — its success has already been proven. For instance, agronomists from German chemicals giant BASF ran training programs in India for smallholder Samruddhi farmers and the results were staggering. Within just three years, the farmers nearly doubled their grain yields and their incomes increased by 64 percent. In addition, BASF saw sales of crop protection products consequently increase by 60 percent.

In order to successfully leverage this business model, companies should work in collaboration with the global poor instead of simply in their service. Including communities’ voices ensures that the products, training and technology being introduced are useful and appropriate. Moreover, these communities are sources of talent, so folding them into the business process will encourage profitable innovation relevant to their respective regions.

Perspectives on the relationship between business interests and SDGs are changing. There is a consensus among groups like BCtA that government, NGOs and civil society need to collaborate with the private sector in order to able to achieve SDGs. Indeed, fully embracing the era of inclusive business could be the next step in reducing global poverty.

Joe D’Amore

Sources: Business Fights Poverty 1, Business Fights Poverty 2, Business Fights Poverty 3, G20 Challenge
Photo: Flickr

How many of us out there spend loads of money yearly on things that we do not need, or things that are harmful to our lives? Whether it is our weekend alcohol binge drinking extravaganza, our consumption of tabloid magazines, or need for high end clothing? We as Americans can be ultra-wasteful in the things that we consume on a daily basis.

I will be the first to share that I have an addiction, an addiction to the sweet nectar of Dr. Pepper. Every day, I must go to my nearest convenient store and fill up my oversized 44 ounce cup with the perfect mixture of carbonation, artificially created ingredients, caffeine, and ice. Some days I start my day off early with a giant cold glass of awesome.

Other days I end it with another giant cold one, and many other days I have more than one. Sometimes, when I go to fill up another cup, and the mixture is not exactly the way that I like it, I will wait for the convenience store attendant to fix the problem before I leave. Being a daily partaker in this modern day manna from the gods has made me many life long addiction sharing friends, but has negatively become a contributor to my overweight frame, a constant liability to my wallet size, and has been known to alter my mood.

Now let’s say I buy one cup of soda daily, at an average of about $1.50 per cup, over one year I would spend $547.50 on soda alone! That is a heck of an amount of money spent on an addiction! Now let’s imagine if I were to divert that money toward something more worthwhile? What would be the benefits in my life of choosing to divert my money from something that is harmful, into something that is beneficial for others?

It costs UNICEF less than $1 to vaccinate a child for measles prevention. Imagine the difference that would be made to that one child if I were to forego my cup of soda and donate that $1.50 to UNICEF? Not only would I intake fewer calories, but I would be spending my money on someone in need.

According to The Economist, the global line of extreme poverty currently lies at $1.25 per day. My daily soda alone costs more than the amount on which someone living in extreme poverty lives during one day!

On what other unnecessary things do you spend your money daily? Let us follow the advice of Gandhi and be our own change. I am going to resolve to be better and divert my wasteful spending on soda consumption to donating to charitable causes. I hope you do the same.

 – Travis Whinery

Sources: UNICEF, Economist
Photo: American Lithocolor

Last week, the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change released a report with the most recent update about climate change. After years of recognizing the effects of climate change, the committee is 95 percent certain that the effects of climate change are the direct result of human activity.

Climate change is not only the rising of temperatures and sea levels it also manifests itself in the forms of extreme weather patterns: heat waves, extreme monsoons, hurricanes, blizzards, etc. Every year, super-storms (such as Sandy from 2012 and Katrina from 2005) cost the U.S. government millions of dollars, while also claiming lives, homes, jobs, and stability.

This problem isn’t unique to the United States, either. All over the world, extreme weather patterns kill and displace millions of people every year. For instance, a powerful monsoon hit India’s northern regions in June and claimed the lives of nearly 1,000 people. The country was still recovering when it was hit by Cyclone Pahilin last weekend, a tropical storm as big as the Bay of Bengal,  with winds up to 140 miles per hour.

Millions of poor around the globe depend on predictable weather patterns for agricultural yields. These yields, which are the sole source of income for many families, make up most of the world’s food source, particularly in developing nations. Meanwhile, other environmental issues, like deforestation and oil drilling, are having an equally damaging effect. In Bangladesh, deforestation due to factory building has caused serious floods.

Climate change costs are immeasurable. While the consequences of climate change are unavoidable, the UN has claimed that stopping carbon emissions today will not prevent climate change or undo the damage – recognizing it as a problem and addressing the serious need for a solution will certainly ameliorate the situation. It is also important to take preventive measures.  Climate change is not only about sea levels and temperatures, it affects people, especially those living in poverty. That is why the solutions to climate change and global poverty can go hand-in-hand. In recognizing the serious threat of climate change and all its possible effects, we recognize that those living in poverty depend on means that are slowly diminishing because of human activities that harm the environment.

Aalekhya Malladi

Sources: Global Issues, CNN, Reuters, The Washington Post

History of the World Bank

For those who think the history of international institutions is boring, it’s time to think again. The history of the World Bank is full of scandals, contentions, failures, and successes, all impacting millions of people. This is part one of a three-part blog about the history of the World Bank. Before discussing the contentions and failures in the next part, it is important to give a brief overview.

The 1944 establishment of the World Bank has its origins in the need for post-WWII reconstruction of Europe. Initially founded as the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), at the Bretton Woods Summit in New Hampshire, the purpose was post-war reconstruction and development. Initial projects ranged from industry to reconstruction of roads, bridges, and buildings.

A shift in focus came during the 1960s with re-energized focus on the world’s poorest and most vulnerable. The basic-needs approach to development is premised on human resilience and desire to contribute to growing societies. The World Bank’s focus on environmental issues in the 1970s reflected social movements at the time demanding higher accountability of human impact on the environment. The first World Development Report was published in 1978 reflecting a growing demand for transparency in the institution and publicly available data.

Through the 1980s, as international development as a whole was being disputed by practitioners, recipients, and academics, the World Bank was pulled in many different directions. The first was macroeconomic failures mandating debt rescheduling. Later that decade social, environmental, and civil concerns vocalized criticisms over the quality of the World Bank’s projects. An investigation panel was set-up, reports were written, and reform was made in the early 1990s.


History of the World Bank


Through the 1980s, 90s, and 2000s the World Bank sponsored programs and reforms in many industries and focused on all four of the established priorities: basic-needs of health, education and livelihoods; economic development through construction projects; improving the environment; and data collection and research.

The World Bank still builds infrastructure, but now has a more holistic approach. At conception, the IBRD was a homogeneous organization based solely in Washington DC. Now it is a complex bureaucracy with diverse professions and 40% of the staff based internationally. The five institutions that constitute the World Bank Group of today are IBRD, International Development Association, International Finance Corporation, Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, and International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes.

The Bank’s performance—efficiency and efficacy—have generally improved and, according to the World Bank, clients are satisfied with the level of service, quality, and commitment. The Bank is an important actor in shaping global policy in the arenas of poverty reduction and disaster (both natural and man-made) recovery.

Katherine Zobre

Source: World Bank
Photo: Bretton Woodsk

The Just Give Money Theory

For many, the eradication of global poverty seems an insurmountable goal, and foreign aid processes can be long-winded and complex. It is important to realize, however, that the solution to this important issue may be right under our noses, not to mention incredibly simple. The idea laid out in the book Just Give Money to the Poor: The Development Revolution from the Global South, is to give aid as cash directly to those in need of it, rather than through temporary security measures.

“A quiet revolution is taking place based on the realization that you cannot pull yourself up by your bootstraps if you have no boots,” the book says. “And giving ‘boots’ to people with little money does not make them lazy or reluctant to work; rather, just the opposite happens. A small guaranteed income provides a foundation that enables people to transform their own lives.”

While many are skeptical about this approach, the results of this direct aid can be seen in countries around the world. Brazil, South Africa, Mexico, India, and Ethiopia are only a few examples shown in the book – the methods range from grants for those who have children in schools, those who are the poorest, or those who are elderly or children. In each case, there is significant change following these grants: child malnutrition decreases, school registration increases, and general health improvement and growth of local farms and markets ensue.

This method seems to be fairly effective, although it cannot solve the problem of global poverty alone. In addition to these grants, there must be some other methods of government intervention along the lines of investments in education, infrastructure, and health. The notion that the poor are to blame for their position in society is turned upside down by the positive results of these grants, and the money given will only continue to be put to good use in the fight against poverty.

– Sarah Rybak

Source: Pacific Standard
Photo: Fast CoExist