Foreign Aid Policies In 2019, the Overseas Development Institute came out with the principled aid index to assess the degree to which donor countries are contributing to a prosperous world. According to the report, the principled foreign aid policies not only benefit the country that receives the aid, but it also serves the interests of the donor country. Below is a list of how this report’s top five countries are using their foreign aid:

5 Countries Foreign Aid Policies

  1. Luxembourg is a small country in Western Europe that has pledged 0.96% of its gross national income (GNI) to go towards development and aid. It is one of the few countries that meet a goal set by the U.N. to dedicate 0.7% of a country’s GNI to foreign aid. Luxembourg starts by targeting some of its partner countries, which include Burkina Faso, Nicaragua, Mali and Senegal. With remaining funds, Luxembourg helps provide humanitarian assistance in Kosovo, the Palestinian territories and Vietnam. The country also focuses on private enterprises through microfinance and inclusive finance to help promote productivity. In 2020, Luxembourg joined the International Aid Transparency Initiative which motivates the government to share data about foreign aid spending with the public. Accountability is an important factor in creating sustainable aid.
  1. The United Kingdom is another country that has met the U.N. goal of 0.7% of GNI for foreign aid. The U.K. set the goal back in 1974 but recently achieved it in 2013. Additionally, the government inscribed the goal into law in 2015 so that the country now has a legal duty to achieve it. Around 64% of the U.K.’s foreign aid goes to countries for bilateral aid. The main recipients of bilateral aid include Pakistan, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Syria and Afghanistan. The remaining 36% of the U.K.’s foreign aid goes to multilateral institutions like the E.U. and the U.N. Additionally, the U.K. has also provided humanitarian aid for Liberia and Sierra Leone during the Ebola outbreak. Also, the country offered assistance to Nepal and Indonesia — following natural disasters and Somalia during the hunger crisis.
  1. Sweden has continuously met the U.N. goal since 1976. The country even made its own goal to dedicate 1% of its GNI to foreign aid in 2008. In 2019, Sweden allotted 0.98% of its GNI for foreign aid. Along with Norway, Sweden is considered to be a “humanitarian superpower.” The Swedish development cooperation, also known as Sida, is Sweden’s leading agency for providing foreign assistance. Sweden has 33 partner countries that it helps by creating income opportunities and strengthening democracy. Sweden is dedicated to helping achieve the U.N., 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The country’s primary goals include human rights, democracy and the rule of law, gender equality, the environment and climate change, health equity and education and research.
  1. Norway has met the U.N. goal for providing foreign aid since 1976. In 2019, Norway apportioned 1.02% of its GNI for foreign aid and development. Norway’s foreign aid policies use an approach that follows the 2005 Paris principles. These principles value ownership, alignment, harmonization, managing for results and accountability. Norway provides foreign aid funding for civil society organizations and budget support. The country also uses a large part of its budget to help people inside its borders. For example, Norway has used part of its budget to provide for its refugee population, which included more than 50,000 refugees in 2019.
  1. Ireland currently does not meet the U.N. goal, but the country is hoping to double its impact by 2025. In 2017, 0.36% of Ireland’s GNI went toward its foreign aid budget. Ireland’s foreign aid focuses on developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The country hopes to combat the issues of displacement and conflict, which Ireland’s main concern — climate change, tends to exacerbate. Additionally, developing countries are more likely to feel the effects of climate change disproportionately as compared with developed countries.

Striding Forward

These five countries’ foreign aid policies are impressive examples of how developed nations can make valuable contributions to global well-being. Hopefully, more undeveloped countries continue to benefit from foreign aid policies of more developed nations. Likewise, it is important these developed countries continue their efforts to achieve the U.N. goals, for theirs and the world’s greater benefit.

Camryn Anthony
Photo: Pixabay

Overcoming income disparity

Equitable growth is seldom easy to achieve. Despite rising levels of GDP, the proliferating rates of income disparity in many countries may impediment the fight against global poverty. The “Trickle Down Effect” is often the culmination of an economic boom, where regardless of rising incomes and prices, the gap between the rich and the poor does not waver. Thus, the disparity increases the Gini Coefficient which is a vital economic indicator that countries use.

A recent analysis conducted by the Overseas Development Institute explains how poverty, growth and disparity are co-mingling factors. Countries like Slovenia and Denmark have a coefficient of under 25, while large economies such as China have Gini values of 46.9.

Moreover, the poverty rates in countries with lower disparities such as Denmark stand at only 3.4 percent living under less than 50 percent median income. In contrast, India with a disparity value of 33.6 has a concurrent poverty rate of 23.6 percent according to the World Bank.

The striking variation between these countries can be attributed to the distinct fiscal and monetary policies that are followed by governments.

Overcoming income disparity is critical when it comes to to the world’s poor, especially during rapid periods of growth. With rising prices and limited credit amounts, many cannot afford necessities to help support their families. Bangladesh, Cote d’Ivorie and many parts of Sub Saharan Arica have suffered as a result. Social and labor immobility becomes prevalent.

Additionally, the different levels of education have aggravated this issue along with the division between the rural and urban sectors. The poor find it difficult to seek jobs owing to the fact that they only have a basic education. Therefore the rich find it easier to seek jobs and are paid more as they possess more skills. The labor market unfortunately runs on this principle.

While coping with income disparity and economic uncertainty, China had introduced the 12th Five- year Plan for Poverty Reduction Village by Village in rural areas along with various supply side policies. The provision of 21 billion yuan was successful. Per-capita net income of rural residents rose to 9.2 percent. Equal rights to employment was seen when 13.12 million urban jobs were created to overcome the critical situation.

Additionally, the Council for Advancement of People’s Action and Rural Technology (CAPART) in India has tried to maintain the urban-rural gap. Per-capita income has increased and is said to have overtaken Pakistan, based on a recent report by the World Bank.

Overcoming income disparity is critical to combatting global poverty. The introduction of progressive taxation would slacken the burden on lower income groups.

Bridging the gap by investing more in education is imperative so that all socioeconomic groups benefit and are equally equipped while seeking jobs.

Entrepreneurship should be encouraged to make the poor more economically self-sufficient. The World Toilet Organization has spearheaded the creation of Sanishops to train local entrepreneurs in parts of Africa. Providing subsides and capital ventures to start-ups will also increase incentives to work, amid the droughts, disparities and skirmishes in South Africa.

Over the years, a number of grassroots organizations such as Other 98 percent, US UNCUT and Mind the Gap have drawn national and international focus towards the issue of overcoming income disparity. Despite being part of thriving economies, many undermine the presence of poverty that continues to exist.

Shivani Ekkanath

Photo: Flickr

According to the World Bank, “in 2011, 17 percent of people in the developing world lived at or below $1.25 a day.” However, there is speculation about whether or not these numbers are valid. Measuring household income can be a reasonable approach when determining how many people live in poverty. But there are also other factors to consider when calculating the number of inadequate living conditions.

The Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative has released The Global Multidimensional Poverty Index of 2014. This new way to measure poverty focuses on individuals in poverty rather than families. It also narrows its search to different countries and regions across the globe. The importance of this poverty measurement strategy is to understand which regions really need the most help.

While this new way to measure poverty is more effective, other organizations are recognizing important factors that are being missed. The International Women’s Development Agency has introduced the Individual Deprivation Measure, or IDM. While calculations are being made on individual income, the IDM focuses on what people are deprived of. Whether it is equality or education, the IDM stresses the importance of recognizing aspects that have placed people in poverty.

The Overseas Development Institute has released “The Data Revolution: Finding the Missing Millions,” a report that also focuses on what is still unknown in the developing world. According to The Guardian, “The report also says that, globally, we do not accurately know how many people live in cities.” Without this knowledge, proper resources are not equally being distributed.

It is difficult to measure how educated a country is and what its citizens need to survive. However, as technology advances and as more people join the fight to end global poverty, these new procedures can help end this global issue.

– Kimberly Quitzon

Sources: The Guardian, OPHI, The World Bank
Photo: Independent UK

In September of this year, the UN Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals presented a draft set of sustainable development goals (SDGs) to the UN General Assembly. The SDGs will replace the millennium development goals, which will reach their deadline at the end of 2015.

As it stands, the SDGs consist of 17 goals and 169 targets. The proposed SDGs retain many of the same foci as the MDGs- ending poverty and hunger and promoting health, education and equality- while expanding to encompass the challenges of climate change and building sustainable peace.

Many, including British Prime Minister David Cameron, have argued that 17 SDGs is too many. Warned Cameron, “I don’t believe they will cut it at 17. There are too many to communicate effectively. There’s a real danger they will end up sitting on a bookshelf, gathering dust.”

Others have hinted that the 17 SDGs are too impractical. Amina Mohammed, the UN secretary general’s special adviser on post-2015 development planning, said, “We want actionable targets, not those that remain aspirational.”

However, a recent study from the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) disputes the necessity of “practicality” in setting the SDGs. While many have expressed concern that the SDGs’ ambition will limit their effectiveness, May Miller-Dawkins, the author of the ODI report, argues that, “the high ambition and non-binding nature of SDGs could increase, rather than diminish, their overall and long-term impact.” Miller-Dawkins reasons that, historically, non-binding agreements have been more effective than strong-enforcement, low-ambition agreements in changing behavior.

Since the effects of international agreements are limited by local political constraints, Miller-Dawkins argues that broadly defined goals and targets tend to be more effective. According to Miller-Dawkins, such agreements lay out principles that governments can in turn adapt to their unique political situation.

Miller-Dawkins worries that ‘SDG fatigue’ will cause leaders to preemptively settle for more easily achieved short-term goals in lieu of “ambitious principles that strengthen norms and give national groups a further point of lever.”

– Parker Carroll 

Sources: ODI, The Guardian 1, The Guardian 2
Photo: CIFOR

When the 14-year civil war in Liberia came to an end in 2003, it seemed that the country could begin the road to recovery, slowly but surely. Despite the economic improvements made, women and girls have continued to be victims of rape at alarming rates.

During the war, children and adults used rape against women to instill fear, cause further destruction and assert superiority. When the war ended, the rape in Liberia continued, pointing to the deep-seated traumatic effects the war left in its wake.

Nicola Jones, a researcher at Overseas Development Institute (ODI), a London based think-tank, explains, “After the war, men are often aggressive, ‘hyper-masculine’ and struggle to adapt to peacetime.” Essentially, after over a decade of being stripped of the basic necessities for survival, men are often overwhelmed with a feeling of helplessness, and raping women and girls is a means of reasserting their masculinity.

The statistics reflect this observation, with 1,002 rape cases reported in 2013 concerning children between the ages of 3 and 14. However, there were only 49 rape convictions, pointing to yet another problem.

Given the stigma around rape worldwide, much of the rape in Liberia goes unpunished when women don’t come forward or the justice system neglects to arrest the accused rapists. The U.S. takes some of the blame for this stigma, often making rape a societal taboo, which as a result, makes women reluctant to come forward and report what happened to them.

Gbowee, an international speaker, activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner, commented on America’s lack of action, explaining that “when American women are silent on issues of women’s rights, that attitude permeates the developing world.” When the U.S. sets an example of punishing rapists and accepting women who have been attacked, developing countries may follow suit and see a decline in cases in the near future.

There has been improvement, however, in the number of women and girls who go to the police with reports of rape. Annie Jones Demen, Liberia’s Gender Affairs minister, notes, “We now have more reports on sexual and gender-based violence. Survivors of sexual violence now feel safe to come out to say they were raped.” Since 2006, reports of rape in Liberia have become more common, and as acceptance has become more widespread, more women have seen justice served on their behalf.

The impoverished state of Liberia contributes to the lack of punishment for rapists, with a dearth of facilities to treat those who have been raped. Monrovia, in western Liberia, has the only hospital dedicated to treating rape victims, often receiving between 10 and 15 rape victims every month.

The end of a war brings hope for a brighter future, but in the case of Liberia, the rape problem has remained stronger than ever. Thousands of women every year are raped and left to recover on their own, contributing to a culture that displays complacency in response to the high numbers of rape. The U.S. can lend a hand on the road to justice, as can the media, and aid given to develop Liberia at a faster pace could put rape culture behind them.

Magdalen Wagner

Sources: Malay Mail, IRIN, Trust, Global Post
Photo: flickr

Statistics indicate that individuals who are obese or overweight in developing countries have tripled over the last 30 years. It seems that as countries begin to shift from low income towards middle income and onwards, people are able to purchase more food, most of which is unhealthy.

High-calories foods, usually quite tasty, are now easily accessible in practically every country but now those with more money are purchasing larger quantities.

In the 1980s, less than 23% of adults in the third world were overweight; currently, the amount of obese people in the developing world rival those of rich nations. Mexico is a prime example of this global problem. In 1980, under 40% of Mexican women were overweight but in 2008 it increased to 70% and there is speculation of a greater increase in recent years.

An official from the Overseas Development Institute in London, Steve Wiggins, reports that large varieties of high-calorie snacks such as chips, cookies and carbonated drinks are readily available in various Mexican stores, making it the “poster child” for the obesity problem.

Over 90% of men in some Pacific Island nations are also facing the overweight issue. Countries in the Middle East, such as Egypt, have a growing number of overweight women.

Health systems in developing nations already have significant issues with infectious diseases and now this burden of excessive consumption of high-calorie foods poses a risk for developing other diseases. Cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and various cancers can all be caused by large intake of fat, sugar and salt.

This global trend could potentially lead to increased health care expenses and decreased economic growth from a loss of productivity.

Despite these risky factors, reports suggest that a quick turn around is possible if new health campaigns for better diets are adopted. In the mean time, developing nations are not too interested in advocating for a fruit and vegetable substitute since several families are finally getting sufficient income for more food.

Maybelline Martez

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NPR
Photo: Club House News

The number of overweight and obese people has grown drastically in the past 30 years, going from 23% of the world’s population in 1980 to over a third today.  Surprisingly to some, the majority of overweight and obese people live in developing countries.  As globalization spreads and countries go from low-income to middle-income, people have more money to buy food.  At the same time the access to cheap junk food full of fat, carbohydrates, sugar and salt is becoming readily available.  As food gets tastier and cheaper, families in the developing world are consuming these products and steadily gaining weight.

Sharada Keats and Steven Wiggins from the Overseas Development Institute in London released a report on January 3rd called, “Future Diets.”  This report summarizes research that shows that diets are changing.  As incomes rise in the developing world people are moving from a diet that consists of cereals and tubers to diets that include meat, fat and sugar.

The portion sizes that people are eating are also going up.

These changes mean that the price of animal products will go up all over the world while prices for grains will go down.  The agricultural crisis of not having enough grains to feed the poor may be replaced by a public health crisis as more people move to eating unhealthy diets.

Obesity is increasing throughout the developing world.  Further, reports have noted that obesity has tripled in the developing world in the past 30 years.

Mexico is a good example of how globalization and higher incomes are impacting diets and waistlines of middle-income countries. In 1980, fewer than 40% of Mexicans were overweight or obese. Today that figure is more than 70%.  In 1980 there were 250 million overweight and obese adults in the developing world. In 2008 those numbers have grown to 904 million.

This is a global health concern as unhealthy diets and weight gain put people at a large risk for a wide range of health conditions including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. This is going to place an increased burden on low and middle-income countries with already struggling health care systems.  It will also cause economic difficulties and increased health care costs.

At the moment there seems to be little interest among the public and leaders to take action against the growing obesity problem.  Keats and Wiggins suggest that as countries begin to face the serious health implications and economic problems associated with obesity they may consider investing in public education and policy changes as well.  Conclusively, Keats and Wiggins suggest for a resolution that is a moderate combination of education, prices and regulation measures.

– Elizabeth Brown

Sources: NPR, Overseas Development Institute (ODI), BBC