May 14th, 2013 11:38 AM UTC
By Ben Leo
This post was originally published on CNN World.
Global Public Square recently published a thoughtful piece on how global poverty rates are falling fast. It argued that one country in particular is almost solely responsible for this dramatic trend: China. Meanwhile, it said progress in the rest of the world “has been much, much slower – if there’s been progress at all.”
Here’s the problem. There are 62 other countries across the globe that are also slashing extreme poverty rates at a remarkable pace. And many of them are located in Sub-Saharan Africa. So, the more important question is – how do we accelerate the progress being made in places like Ethiopia and Uganda while simultaneously jumpstarting it in places that are lagging behind, like Nigeria and the Congo?
It’s true that China’s case is remarkable – both in terms of its sheer scale and speed. It has lifted 680 million people out of poverty in a single generation. That’s amazing. It’s every poverty fighter’s dream. But the global story isn’t just about China. It is also about countries like Ethiopia, Uganda, Cameroon, Ghana, and Senegal that are also witnessing dramatic declines in extreme poverty, defined as living on less than $1.25 a day.
According to a forthcoming ONE Campaign report, 63 nations are on track to cut extreme poverty in half by 2015 (compared to 1990 levels) – including 16 in Sub-Saharan Africa. And their progress has further sped up over the last decade – particularly as African countries have turned the corner on HIV/AIDS, cleared unsustainable debt loads and made strategic investments in their social and physical infrastructure. The difficult and traumatic decade of the 1990s is receding in the rear-view mirror.
Bono mentioned 10 of these African trailblazers during his recent TED talk. Let’s look at two of them:
– In absolute terms, Ethiopia lifted an estimated 10 million people out of extreme poverty in just over a decade (from 2000 to 2011). During that time, the Ethiopian government focused nearly half of its total budget on poverty fighting sectors like health, agriculture, and education. And donors like the U.S. and Europe provided significant support alongside it. If the current trend holds, extreme poverty can be virtually eliminated by 2030.
– Uganda lifted nearly 3 million people out of poverty in four short years (between 2006 and 2009). Overall, the percentage of Ugandans living on less than $1.25 a day has fallen by nearly half since the early 1990s. It, too, could virtually eliminate it by 2030.
These dramatic results have inspired many world leaders – like President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, and Malawian President Joyce Banda – to declare that the world can virtually eliminate extreme poverty by 2030. Not to mention the World Bank president and a certain Irish rock star to boot.
To get there, several things will have to happen. There is risk in this story, just as there is promise. First, developing economies will not only need to keep growing at a healthy clip, but that growth will need to reach and benefit their poorest citizens. On that, I couldn’t agree more with the Global Public Square article. Conversely, a global growth shock that deals a direct blow to poor nations would be catastrophic in the fight against extreme poverty. Second, governments need to implement targeted policies that address growing rates of inequality. Fortunately, countries like Brazil have shown that this is possible. It’s not easy, but it’s possible.
Third, and perhaps most challenging, is the tough nut of states that have been governed poorly must be cracked. In Africa, this means places like Nigeria, Sudan, and the Congo. These are the populous nations that are holding down regional progress. They largely explain why Africa’s overall growth rates aren’t even more compelling than they are. One country like Nigeria can overshadow five like Uganda or two like Ethiopia simply because of its size.
Truth be told, nobody has a magic elixir that will transform these places into the next China or Ethiopia. Long running domestic instability, or even conflict, takes time to address. Then again, people said the same thing about China in the 1970s and Ethiopia in the 1980s. Or even Uganda in the 1990s. They were hopeless cases then. But look at them today.
So, going forward, let’s expand the global poverty discussion beyond a singular focus on China. While this tendency may be natural given China’s absolute numbers, it does an injustice to smaller nations that are surging alongside it. These success stories demonstrate that the elimination of extreme poverty is possible well within our lifetime, perhaps only a decade and a half away.
Look out for our 2013 DATA Report, released on 29 May, which looks at how donor and African government spending is linked to progress.
Mar 6th, 2013 12:30 PM UTC
By Helen Hector
If you picked up the Observer on Sunday you will have seen that we’ve just launched a new report that looks at the progress made in fighting extreme poverty since the historic pledges made at the Gleneagles G8 Summit in 2005.
If you were part of the incredible Make Poverty History movement that helped secure those promises on aid, trade and debt, this is what it has helped achieve.
Our report has got a lot of people talking – so we’ve pulled all the highlights together here if you want to catch up with the conversation. Get ready to scroll!
Mar 6th, 2013 11:55 AM UTC
By Erin Finucane
I’ll be the first to admit it: the EU budget process is a little bit complicated. Getting 27 member states to agree on anything is complicated, let alone a 960€ billion seven-year budget that has to be agreed unanimously. And with the ever-present power shifts from one institution to the next, it can be challenging to figure out who is in charge at any given moment.
This tumblr we created shows exactly what it’s like to be an EU campaigner!
Campaign success thanks to you
Luckily, our ONE members are the smartest advocates in the business. Two weeks ago, they helped avert disaster and avoid a real-terms cut to development spending that would have had a devastating impact on the world’s poorest. We were disappointed that leaders did not agree bigger increases to development spending, but given that the overall budget was cut for the first time in history, protecting aid required a herculean effort that ONE members helped deliver.
Our members’ advocacy did not go unnoticed. One government advisor in one of the European capitals told us: “Your messages about the MFF were heard at the highest levels”. Another said that the work of ONE and others “was very important in getting the good result we did.”
French President Francois Hollande even quoted ONE’s report on macroeconomic effects of aid in his press conference after the summit, and another government insider commented on ONE’s “high-quality research, creative campaign, and reach”.
Finally, an Irish Presidency Spokesperson issued the following statement:
“Thank you to ONE and to all organisations that have continued to raise this issue with us. The agreed outcome by member state governments of the MFF negotiations, which includes an increase in funding for international development, would ensure that the EU, collectively, will remain the largest provider of overseas assistance globally. As EU Council Presidency, Ireland will now take forward negotiations with the European Parliament on the finalisation of the MFF and will work tirelessly to ensure a successful outcome.”
What you’ve been saying
As well as hearing from these policy makers, it’s been really important to us to read the comments from our ONE members around the world who’ve been talking about this on the ONE blog.
Here’s what ONE member Carla Pinheiro said: “I have two children and they are at the age of becoming aware of what is going on in this complicated world…I wish I could have a magic wand and make all the threats and suffering disappear. But maybe if we join our efforts, no matter how small they are, we can change something for the better.”
Our members have clearly had an impact, and we will need much more of this in the coming weeks and months as we fight to get the best possible deal for the world’s poorest.
So what happens now?
As we enter the next phase of the process, the European Parliament must come together and approve the budget. MEPs will vote on a formal political response to the deal reached by leaders on 11 March. That will be their first opportunity to get a better deal for the world’s poorest.
One important way they can do this is by calling for an increase in the level of the European Development Fund (EDF), the EU’s main source of funding for aid to the poorest countries, because it is technically not part of the main budget and would not affect the delicate budget deal agreed on February 8.
The other critical fight will be to make sure as much external spending within the EU budget is directed towards the very poorest in the world. We will be doing all we can to try and make sure that the funds put aside for development and humanitarian spending are as ambitious as possible.
In the upcoming weeks, we will continue to deliver ONE’s message to MEPs and governments to take one last stand on behalf of the world’s poorest in the negotiations. As the proceedings continue, we’ll also be working to ensure that the agreed upon levels of funding—once they are final—go to smart, effective programs, like HIV/ AIDS, maternal and child health, vaccinations, and food security.
Stay tuned for opportunities to use your voice!
Interested in getting involved in the EU budget fight offline? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Mar 4th, 2013 4:43 PM UTC
By Guest Blogger
Today’s guest blogger is our February Member of the Month, Stuart Whinney. He went along to chat to his MP about the UK keeping its promise to spend 0.7% of national income on international aid as part of our Scandal campaign.
Visit my MP you say? Let me check my schedule…
A bumper sticker, made famous in the US, paraphrases the sentiments of Mahatma Ghandi when it says ‘be the change you wish to see in the world’. Despite being stuck to the rear-end of a gas guzzler, it’s an inspiring statement from an inspirational person, one that knew a thing or two about self-sacrifice.
As a reader of the ONE blog, I’m sure you will have already bought into this type of sentiment…ONE’s own tag line ‘Actions. Speak. Louder.’ springs to mind. But (and there’s always at least one but), finding the time to help can be hard work when ‘changing the world’ isn’t your day job.
Work or study deadlines, family commitments, domestic chores to name but a few, make it difficult. When you look down your own ‘to do’ list, I’m sure it’s just as long, meaning our free time is a precious commodity, one to be treasured and not given up lightly!
So where, I hear you ask, would I find the time to squeeze in some campaigning for ONE? Like meeting your local MP ahead of Budget Day on 20th March and asking them to lobby George Osborne, making sure the UK sticks to its 0.7% commitment on aid? With similar issues in mind (and Ghandi’s’ words ringing in my ears), I rejigged my own diary last December, making the time to visit my local MP on behalf of ONE and other advocacy groups I supported.
I’m pleased to report meeting my MP was great, she made me feel welcome, listened to and was interested in my opinions and agreed to take action on my behalf. I can’t guarantee all MP’s will be as receptive – party politics is often a fickle business, but it is an MP’s job to listen to and represent their constituent’s opinions, and that’s you.
Influencing our politicians remains one of the best ways to make positive change happen, meeting them in person is often the first step in building a relationship that gets stronger over time.
The importance of gaining political support reminds me of the new Spielberg movie Lincoln. I was profoundly struck by the incredible and unwavering commitment Lincoln showed to passing the 13th amendment and ending slavery in America forever.
Truth is, we can’t all be the next Abraham Lincoln, or Mahatma Ghandi for that matter. But, all of us do have the potential and opportunity to change things for the better, if we decide to make the time and commit to take action. I know the team at ONE will there to help and support you all the way, if you do!
I started with a quote made famous by an American invention (the bumper sticker), so I’ll finish with a quote from one of America’s most famous inventors. Thomas A Edison once said, ‘opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work’ – an uncomfortably accurate observation I think, but one that offers us all encouragement to look at our own busy schedules, free up some time and be the change we wish to see in the world.
Inspired by Stuart to visit your MP? We really need your help in the next two weeks to make sure MPs publicly support the promise to increase aid spending in the UK Budget.
We’ve made it really easy – get stared here!
Mar 3rd, 2013 10:20 AM UTC
By Claire Hazelgrove
There’s a scandal on the horizon that you really should be aware of. Overseas aid could soon subject millions more kids to homework.
I know. The fact that 16 million more children could go to school by 2015 because of UK aid and the generosity of the British people shocks me too – and there are bound to be some up in arms IF it happens.
But that’s a big IF, and it depends on us. For decades campaigners like you have been pushing our government to deliver on their promise to hit the UN’s target of spending just 0.7% of national income on aid – less than a penny in the pound. The Chancellor’s Budget on March 20th will be a decisive moment for this campaign.
You can do something simple to help right now by adding your name to the letter that we’ll send to your MP, asking them to urge the Chancellor, George Osborne, to continue Britain’s proud leadership in helping the world’s poorest lift themselves out of poverty.
You may have seen the stories in the media talking down the great results that aid has achieved, but the reality is that UK aid has been helping to change millions of lives. With the end of extreme poverty in sight, this one last push is very much worth it.
In the last two years alone, UK aid has helped 5.3 million children start primary school, and if the Chancellor stands by his promise, we could see a child vaccinated every two seconds between now and 2015 thanks to the support of the British people. This is surely something everyone can get behind.
It’s up to us to make sure that our MPs know the full story, and in turn do what they can to urge the Chancellor to do what’s right. We’re working with over 140 organisations as part of Enough Food for Everyone IF to help make this big IF happen.
Mar 3rd, 2013 10:05 AM UTC
By Helen Hector
Today ONE launches a new report that looks at the progress made in fighting extreme poverty since the historic pledges made by world leaders at Gleneagles in 2005.
Get the headline facts from the graphic below, or if you want to delve deeper, read the full report.
Mar 3rd, 2013 10:00 AM UTC
By Helen Hector
How much do the British public know about the amount spent on international aid? Do they think it should be cut or increased? We hit the streets to find out.
Faced with the facts, most people think that spending just 0.7% of national income on aid is a good idea. It’s less than 1p in every pound , and when you think about how much of your own cash you donate to charity, you might discover you’re a lot more generous that that yourself.
The UK government made a promise over 40 years ago to hit this aid target, and we think its about time they kept it.
Help us in the final push to make it happen, by taking one minute to sign a letter to your MP, asking them to urge the Chancellor to announce the pledge will become law in his March Budget.
Feb 12th, 2013 3:33 PM UTC
By Adrian Lovett
For months now, we’ve called and you answered. You signed our petition, wrote letters and sent postcards, delivering our critical message directly to leaders in capitals across Europe: leaders must protect lifesaving development aid in the on-going EU budget negotiations.
Your voice was heard.
When leaders arrived in Brussels last Thursday for what would become the final budget negotiation between governments, levels of development aid were being threatened with potentially deep cuts. But thanks in large part to your incredible campaigning in these final weeks, when the numbers were released, development aid to the world’s poorest was protected at current levels, despite cuts to the overall EU budget for the first time in history.
Though the EU still has a long way to go in order to keep its promises to the world’s poorest, we managed to avoid a disastrous step back. It was the voices of citizens across Europe that helped ensure that current levels of aid were protected.
However, the fight isn’t over yet. We’ll need you in this final battle of the campaign as we work to make sure the European Parliament will do everything within its power to protect lifesaving aid to the poorest before they sign off the deal.
Thank you for everything you’ve done to get us this far. We couldn’t do it without you.
Dec 5th, 2012 5:58 PM UTC
By Joseph Powell
The UK government has set a clear precedent that Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) volumes will be proportionally pegged to the size of the UK’s Gross National Income (GNI). It was re-confirmed today that ODA will be funded at 0.7% of GNI from 2013, making the UK the first G8 country to reach the target set by the United Nations in 1969.
In today’s Autumn Statement, economic growth forecasts were also revised down again meaning that the projected ODA budget has been reduced by a total of £680m over the next two financial years (2013-14, 2014-15). This will still be equivalent to 0.7% GNI. This year ODA is expected to be 0.56% of GNI.
ONE expects the reduction in projected aid volumes to come entirely from DFID’s budget (other government departments were expected to spend around 6% of UK ODA over the next two years).
Last year’s Autumn Statement announced a £1.17bn downward revision in ODA, meaning that in addition to today’s announcement, compared to plans at the start of this Parliament in 2010, we expect the total volume of aid will be at least £1.85bn lower than expected. Over the next two years this means a reduction in budget of approximately 6% against the settlement DFID used as input to their operational plans at the start of 2011.
DFID officials believed that with last year’s reduction they could still meet their bilateral and multilateral commitments. We will be pushing for DFID to be transparent about the potential effects of today’s announcement.
Finally, today is the first time that the government has projected ODA in 2015-16 at 0.7% GNI. This is positive as it makes clear that the government is preparing to hold ODA at 0.7% beyond the lifetime of the 2010 Spending Review.
Responding to the announcement ONE’s Europe Executive Director Adrian Lovett said:
“That economic reality makes the Chancellor’s confirmation that Britain is committed to meeting its target of spending 0.7% of GNI on international assistance in 2013 and thereafter all the more important.
The UK must now play a vital role in bringing other countries up towards 0.7%, through protecting European aid in the ongoing EU budget negotiations and through their leadership of the G8 next year.”
Nov 27th, 2012 3:36 PM UTC
By Stuart McWilliam
You might have seen in news from Brussels last Friday that leaders from the 27 different EU countries were unable to come to an agreement on the next seven-year budget. Negotiations will now continue into next year.
The good news is we now have a chance to reverse devastating cuts proposed to EU aid spending. These cuts would have cost lives and decimated vital funds that could have a transformative effect on people – connecting up to 51 million people to clean drinking water, vaccinating 9 million children and helping 15 million kids get an education in just 7 years.
There is now a chance to go back to the drawing board, rebalance the debate and protect the tiny proportion of the EU budget spent on life saving aid.
ONE members helped to generate real momentum. Over 166,000 people signed the petition, with 50,000 in the last two weeks alone. We delivered ONE members’ voices to all 27 leaders in the days leading up to the negotiations, and the European Parliament’s President mentioned ONE explicitly in his opening remarks. And although the Summit didn’t take the step forward we hoped for, we did avoid a disastrous step back.
So the fight to protect lifesaving EU aid continues. As the key moments become clearer over the next few weeks we will let you know what actions you can take. We’ve built real pressure on this issue so far. By continuing to join forces we can help ensure the right results are achieved to help some of the world’s most vulnerable people escape extreme poverty.
Together we can win this fight.
The International ONE Blog is a daily log of the anti-poverty movement. The site is operated by ONE staff, with guest contributions from ONE volunteers, members and allies.
The content of each post and each comment represents the views of that author and does not necessarily reflect the views of ONE. ONE does not support or oppose any candidate for elected office, and any post expressing support or opposition for a candidate is not endorsed by ONE.