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Extreme Poverty Could End by 2030, Says World Bank PresidentThe world could end extreme poverty by 2030, according to Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank Group. “This feasible but ambitious goal should bring unity, urgency, and energy to our collective efforts in the fight against poverty.”

The percentage of people living on less than $1.25 a day decreased by 22 percent from 1990 to 2010. Kim believes this number could decrease to a total of 3 percent by 2030 if nations work together to combat extreme poverty.  He acknowledges the immense difficulty but still finds it achievable.

He points to pass successes, such as the first Millennium Development Goal.  The first goal to halve extreme poverty was accomplished five years ahead of schedule.  The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are the most successful global anti-poverty initiatives in history. April 5, 2013, is the 1,000-day mark until the 2015 target for the completion of the MDGs. Governments, international organizations, and civil groups aim to accomplish the goals before the approaching deadline.

Kim believes success “requires transformational changes in fragile states.” The world’s poor reside in fragile states, and stronger governments must support more delicate countries. The key to alleviating poverty is averting financial shocks, such as climatic disasters, gas prices, or financial crises. Countries must build stronger infrastructures, so they will survive such spontaneous situations.

The main obstacle for combating extreme poverty is global climate change, and Kim worries about the effect of climate change on those with limited resources.  “It is the poor—those least responsible for climate change and least able to afford adaptation—who suffer the most.”  NASA published conclusive evidence that sea level is rising, global temperatures are increasing, and ice sheets are shrinking.  These issues present new challenges for the world’s poor that governments need to address in order to alleviate extreme poverty.

– Whitney M. Wyszynski

Source: The Guardian, Flickr

Madagascar's Millennium Village is Independent
Madagascar’s Millennium Village, Sambaina, is functioning independently after five years of support and development from the UN Development Program and the Millennium Villages Project. With a donor investment of $400,000 per year, or just $50 per person per year, living conditions have improved dramatically.

The country of Madagascar has suffered in the last five years as a result of political upheaval. Following a coup in 2009, foreign aid to the country has remained frozen, and the government does not have sufficient funds for social programs or the salaries of civil servants. In the commune of Sambaina, where over 60 percent of the population was living in extreme poverty when the project began, residents say that their lives have improved.

Targeted investments in the areas of agriculture, education, sanitation, health care, infrastructure, technology, and local business have made a world of difference in Madagascar’s Millennium Village. Implementing the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) has helped farmers increase yields to the point of achieving food security for eleven months out of the year. Previously, their harvests only lasted three months. About 70 percent of Sambaina farmers now use the SRI method, and have seen sustainably increased rice production.

Pumps have ensured access to clean drinking water, while health education has encouraged people to maintain good hygiene and utilize the village’s health care facilities. Other investments include computers in classrooms, renovations in schools and infrastructure, and funding to start-up businesses.

Now that initial investments have been made in developing Sambaina’s basic necessities, the villagers will be responsible for maintaining them. To this end, committees have been established, which will collect contributions from residents to fund maintenance projects.

The success of Madagascar’s Millennium Village is undeniable. Even in a country with almost no economic growth and four years of political crisis, targeted investment and development assistance has nearly eliminated extreme poverty in Sambaina within just five years. The country of Madagascar has no hope of achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. But Madagascar’s Millennium Village Project in Sambaina proves that foreign aid, when responsibly managed, is instrumental in improving the lives of the world’s poor.

– Kat Henrichs

Source: IRIN