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people_live_in_poverty
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 on 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

Lagos_Nigeria_Slums

Lagos has often been called the world’s next ‘mega-city’ due to its increasing urban population growth and economic development. As of this year, the population of Lagos is expected to reach 25 million and it is certainly showing no signs of slowing down. In recent years, Lagos has witnessed a surge in commercial business and industry, resulting in an increase of wealth to the country as well as a fortunate group of Nigerians and foreign investors. Yet, despite the influx of national growth, many Nigerians are still living in substandard conditions and are subjected to malnutrition, poverty and economic instability.

According to The World Data Bank statistics, 62 percent of Nigerians live on less than $1.25 per day. Extreme poverty remains high in rural parts of Nigeria, where political instability, low access to education and inadequate healthcare are contributing factors of the nation’s high rate of poverty.

Surprisingly, a study conducted by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, or the OPHI, found that 22.1 percent of Nigeria’s urban population is vulnerable to poverty while only 14.4 percent of the rural population is vulnerable.

The population most affected by high poverty rates is always children. In Nigeria, 43.2 percent of the population are children ages 0-14. With the average woman birthing at least five children, it becomes difficult for large families to sustain themselves with the few resources they are provided.

Lagos, Nigeria is faced with the issues of increasing population and competition for the nation’s resources. The World Bank estimates the country’s GDP at $521.8 billion and the Nigerian economy depends largely on oil exports, agriculture and a growing technological sector. But what of those living below the international standards of poverty in Lagos?

According to the OPHI, 20 percent of the Lagos population are vulnerable to poverty, and the intensity of economic deprivation in Lagos stands at 41.1 percent.

In Lagos, two out of three residents live in the city’s notorious slums—settlements built to accommodate the overcrowded communities. Many families and individuals who inhabit these slums came to Lagos from other regions of Nigeria with the hope of escaping the rural poverty, deprivation and political instability of their home states. However, the Lagos city center has offered little solace.

The Ajegunle district, located in the heart of Lagos, is home to some three million Nigerians who live in poorly built structures with little to no infrastructure and poor standards of living. Many of its residents lack access to clean water and proper sanitation; families often do not have sufficient resources to send children to school.

Poor access to water and improper water sanitation has also been credited as a leading cause of economic disparity in Lagos. Local fisherman rely on the region’s water sources to provide fish for them to sell at markets and feed their families. The frequently contaminated water does not yield very many fish, causing many families to go hungry.

There is a large gap that exists between the wealthy and poor in Lagos. While the wealthy continue to climb the economic ladder, many of their poor compatriots remain at the bottom. Yet, in the wake of Nigeria’s recent presidential election of Muhammadu Buhari, some Nigerians remain hopeful that democracy will open doors for improving Nigeria’s future.

– Candice Hughes

Sources: CIA World Factbook, Fortune, IRIN, University of Oxford, The World Bank
Photo: Nairaland Forum

Foreign_Aid_Brazil

Every year, high-GDP countries like Brazil and India receive billions of dollars in foreign aid, despite their rapidly increasing wealth.

Recently, members of the United Kingdom’s Conservative right and the U.K. Independence Party, or UKIP, have attacked the U.K.’s development efforts in such countries, arguing that countries like India-which has its own space program—are no longer in need of foreign aid.

But is foreign aid to countries like India, China, and Brazil really misplaced? A cross-party report from the U.K.’s House of Commons international development committee suggests not. Instead, the study says that the U.K. should stand up for such development spending.

“The U.K. may no longer have a traditional aid relationship with these countries, but it is spending official development assistance in Brazil, India and China, and is rather diffident about admitting this,” the report says.

The report comes in the wake of Parliament’s decision to make foreign aid a compulsory 0.7 percent of the U.K.’s budget.

Sir Malcolm Bruce, a Scottish Liberal Democrat and chairman of Parliament’s International Development Committee, stressed the importance of aid in the globalized modern world.

“Aid remains essential in our modern world, to respond at times of crisis, and to help the poorest people build sustainable livelihoods,” Bruce said. “We also think aid has a role to play in some middle-income countries, like India, China and Brazil, especially in building new partnerships for the future.”

According to the report, foreign aid to such countries is important because many of their citizens still live in extreme poverty. A separate but also recent report from the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative showed that many of the world’s poorest people are in fact located in middle-income nations like India.

Despite their middle-income status, countries like Brazil and India still face rampant wealth inequality. As of 2012, Brazil’s GINI coefficient, a measurement used by World Bank to identify inequality, was 52.7, one of the highest in the world. While these countries might be considered middle-income, their people still face significant environmental and humanitarian challenges—foreign aid can play an important role in meeting them successfully.

Parker Carroll

Sources: The Borgen Project,  The Gaurdian, World Bank
Photo: Flickr

Human Poverty Index
The Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) released a report on Tuesday, looking at the state of poverty in the world today. For more than a decade, the United Nations Development Program measured world poverty by its Human Poverty Index (HPI.) The HPI defined poverty as making less than $1.25 a day.

However, the HPI counted countries as one whole mass. Therefore it was unable to pinpoint different degrees of poverty within a country and locate the worst pockets. Also, it put all the importance on income, failing to consider other indicators like health and education.

The report from OPHI created a new index for counting those living in poverty around the world. The Global Multidimensional Poverty index (MPI) is designed to capture the severe deprivations that each person faces at the same time.

It reflects both the incidence of multidimensional deprivation and its intensity (how many deprivations people experience at the same time.) In order to classify a household as poor, the MPI requires that the household be deprived in multiple indicators at the same time.

The MPI identified overlapping deprivations and collected 10 needs beyond the ‘basics’ in three broad categories: nutrition and child mortality under Health; years of schooling and school attendance under Education; and cooking fuel, sanitation, water, electricity, floor and assists under Living Conditions.

The new index also allows for degrees of poverty, instead of focusing on one sole aspect.

One of the consequences of the new index is that the world is more impoverished than had been previously believed. Since the multidimensional poverty approach can be adapted using indicators and weights that make sense at the country level, it can be used as a guide to help governments tailor a poverty measure that reflects multiple local indicators and data.

Instead of 1.2 billion people living in poverty, as had been calculated under the HPI index, there are approximately 1.6 billion people.

More than half of the impoverished population in developing countries reside in South Asia, and another 29 percent live in Sub-Sahara Africa. A total of 71 percent of the poor in the MPI index live in what many consider to be middle-income countries, or countries where development and modernization in the face of globalization are in full swing, but some people are left behind.

Niger is home to the highest concentration of the multidimensionally poor, with almost 90 percent of the population lacking in MPI’s socioeconomic indicators. Most of the poor live in rural areas.

Even in light of this news, there are some bright areas. In five years, Nepal has reduced its MPI numbers from 65 percent of its population living in poverty to 44 percent. Other classically poor countries, like Rwanda, Ghana, Bangladesh and Cambodia, are also improving, both economically and in narrowing the gap between rich and poor.

Yet there are some drawbacks to the new index as well. The indicators that the MPI uses include both outputs (years of education) and inputs (cooking fuel) as well as one stock indicator, child mortality, which does not take into account how recent the death was because flow data is not available for all dimensions.

Another drawback is that the health data is relatively weak and overlooks some groups’ deprivations, especially for nutrition. In addition, under the MPI index, families must be deprived in at least six standard of living indicators to be considered poor. This system makes the MPI less sensitive to minor inaccuracies.

— Monica Newell 

Sources: OPHI, The Atlantic
Photo: Kuldip