Is Urbanization the Answer to Poverty Reduction?
Is urbanization the answer to poverty reduction? According to a new report released by The World Bank this week, it very well could be.

The World Bank has released the Global Monitoring Report: Rural-Urban Dynamics and the Millennium Development Goals.  The report has found that global poverty rates are lower in cities than in rural areas. Urban centers have a global rate of 11.6 percent whereas the rate is 29.4 percent in rural areas. Additionally, 76 percent of the developing world’s poor live in rural areas. This is a huge discrepancy.

Poverty was not the only rural-urban discrepancy the report found. In South Asia, the report states that in rural areas 28 percent of people have access to sanitation facilities compared to 60 percent in urban areas. Additionally, in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa, infant mortality rates are 10 to 16 percent higher in rural areas than in urban areas, and 21 percent higher in East Asia.

The report is summarizing an important conclusion: urbanization is actually helping people escape the cycle of poverty, and helping countries advance towards completion of the Millennium Development Goals. However, urbanization does come with a caveat. If it is not properly managed, it can lead to the proliferation of slums, pollution and crime. These facts have led the report to call for an integrated strategy to better manage the planning-connecting-financing nexus of urbanization. The lowering of poverty in urban areas could be explained in part by the vast majority of goods and services being produced in cities.

The report found that the smaller the town or settlement, the higher the incidence of poverty as well as less access to MGD resources. This is poignant, as the MGD’s will expire in less than 1,000 days.

There is still a great deal of progress to be made on reducing maternal and child mortality, achieving universal primary education and providing access to basic sanitation facilities. Poverty is a huge problem; it is possible that urbanization and globalization could have a positive impact on reducing it as long as it is carefully managed.  This report could provide the final push to motivate countries in the countdown to the expiration of the MGDs.

– Caitlin Zusy
Source: The World Bank
Photo: Tree Hugger

World Bank president has claimed that economic growth is essential to tackling poverty and creating jobs. The Guardian interviewed him following a recent keynote speech. In his speech, he announced poverty reduction and shared prosperity are to be the focus of his five-year World Bank presidency.

Economic growth provides monetary stimulation to economies, allowing people living in developing countries to buy more products, create jobs, and develop. Jim Yong Kim has emphasized that if we want to create global growth, we have to invest in human capital. This means we need to work to eradicate poverty, keep children in schools, and focus on programs like public health education.

Kim also touched on the Millennium Development Goals. Kim has stated that they are and were very important to focusing our international agenda. While we may not achieve them by 2015, they have given us concrete goals to work towards.

Targets are essential to help change people’s behavior. Kim has expressed his opinion that in order to reduce poverty, and achieve measurable outcomes, we need to focus on specific elements of the MGDs. Kim believes we need to do more in women’s and children’s health- the two groups most widely impacted by poverty.

While he praises the many successes in the elimination of poverty, Kim warns that reaching the goal of reducing the percentage of global poverty to 3% will be extremely difficult. It is encouraging, however, to see vocalized commitment from one of the most influential poverty reduction agencies in the world. Stating intent creates accountability- something the international community could do more of.

-Caitlin Zusy
Source Guardian
Photo Telegraph

The UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) laid out a number of goals in tackling global poverty by 2015 but left a glaring omission in the equation to aid the world’s poor: serving those who are disabled.

Nearly 70% of the world’s disabled population resides in developing countries, and the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 575 million of those disabled live below the poverty threshold. Preventable diseases, such as polio and measles, that are not treated properly in poor and developing countries leave a high number of the population with lifelong disabilities.

Other conditions, such as civil war, lack of health care, and malnutrition also contribute to the problem. In developing nations, a disability is “often seen as a curse, the result of bad luck or witchcraft.” Because of this, disabled individuals and even their families are often shunned from the social community and are left without means to support themselves, and lack access to education and healthcare. In the worst cases, disabled people are left to die.

Although the MDGs include many aid programs with worthy recipients, the disabled population is completely left out although they are some of those who suffer the most. This crucial omission means that this large demographic is left out of specific aid programs. For example, many school-aged children have benefited from MDG education initiatives – but what about the 61 million children who still lack access to education, a majority of whom are disabled?

The UN has somewhat recognized this with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2008. It will be most important for development leaders, when evaluating post-2015 development goals, to include disabled people throughout the developing world in their plans and programs.

Christina Kindlon

Source: The Guardian