Natural Disasters and Poverty

Natural disasters push 26m into poverty each year, says World Bank, By Larry Elliott, November 14, 2016, The Guardian: “Floods, earthquakes, tsunamis and other extreme natural disasters push 26 million people into poverty each year and cost the global economy more than half a trillion dollars in lost consumption, the World Bank has said.  A bank study of 117 countries concluded that the full cost of natural disasters was $520bn (£416bn) a year – 60% higher than any previous estimate – once the impact on poor people was taken into account…”

Microlending

You asked, we answer: Can microloans lift women out of poverty?, By Nurith Aizenman, November 1, 2016, National Public Radio: “‘I would like to know more about microloans, and if they are in fact helping women start businesses in the developing world.’  That’s the question our readers wanted us to look into.  You’ve probably heard the stories. A desperately poor woman in a poor country gets a tiny loan — a couple hundred dollars. It’s the break she’s always needed. With that money she can finally buy the materials to start a small business. She turns a profit. Her income rises. Now she has money to expand her business even further, buy her kids more nutritious food, pay their school fees. Over time, she lifts her whole family out of poverty.  That’s the vision often associated with microloans in the popular imagination.  But is it the reality..?”

Air Pollution in Developing Nations

How the world’s poorer countries breathe worse air, in charts and maps, By Max Bearak, October 3, 2016, Washington Post: “On Sunday, India ratified its accession to the Paris climate accords on the 147th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi. President Obama congratulated India in a tweet, saying that ‘Gandhiji believed in a world worthy of our children. In joining the Paris Agreement, @narendramodi & the Indian people carry on that legacy,’ using a Hindi honorific for the man who championed Indian self-rule and stewardship of its land. The Paris agreement is the international community’s biggest push yet to limit carbon emissions and other forms of pollution.  Unfortunately, if worthiness is measured by being able to live in a world where the air one breathes does not spread disease and blacken one’s lungs, then we are far from it…”

Millennium Development Goals

Poorest countries hit hardest as world lags behind on global education goals, By Kate Hodal and Josh Holder, September 5, 2016, The Guardian: “The international community has not only failed to meet the education targets set out in the millennium development goals, it is also highly unlikely to meet the 2030 deadline for education laid out in the sustainable development agenda, with the poorest countries the hardest hit, according to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.  Unesco’s global education monitoring report 2016 shows that just 64 countries of the 157 tracked by the report met MDG 2, which called for every child in the world to receive a full course of primary school education by 2015…”

Identifying Poverty Areas using Satellite Imagery

Scientists use machine learning to fight global poverty from space, By Lonnie Shekhtman, August 18, 2016, Christian Science Monitor: “Satellites are best known for helping smartphones map driving routes or televisions deliver programs. But now, data from some of the thousands of satellites orbiting Earth are helping track things like crop conditions on rural farms, illegal deforestation, and increasingly, poverty in the hard-to-reach places around the globe…”

Randomized Trials and Poverty Alleviation

Can randomized trials eliminate global poverty?, By Jeff Tollefson, August 12, 2015, Nature: “In 70 local health clinics run by the Indian state of Haryana, the parents of a child who starts the standard series of vaccinations can walk away with a free kilogram of sugar. And if the parents make sure that the child finishes the injections, they also get to take home a free litre of cooking oil. These simple gifts are part of massive trial testing whether rewards can boost the stubbornly low immunization rates for poor children in the region. Following the model of the randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that are commonly used to test the effectiveness of drugs, scientists randomly assigned clinics in the seven districts with the lowest immunization rates to either give the gifts or not…”

UN Hunger Report

  • U.N. reports about 200 million fewer hungry people than in 1990, By Rick Gladstone, May 27, 2015, New York Times: “The number of hungry people globally has declined from about one billion 25 years ago to about 795 million today, or about one person out of every nine, despite a surge in population growth, the United Nations reported Wednesday.
  • Number of African countries facing severe food shortages doubles, By Nicholas Bariyo, May 28, 2015, Wall Street Journal: “The number of African countries facing severe food shortages has doubled over the past two decades, as extreme weather conditions, natural disasters and insurgencies disrupt farming across the continent, aid agencies said on Thursday…”

Child Mortality and Hunger in Developing Nations

  • Despite declines, child mortality and hunger persist in developing nations, U.N. reports, By Rick Gladstone and Somini Sengupta, September 16, 2014, New York Times: “The United Nations on Tuesday reported significant declines in the rates of child mortality and hunger, but said those two scourges of the developing world stubbornly persist in parts of Africa and South Asia despite major health care advances and sharply higher global food production. The trends, detailed in two annual reports by United Nations agencies, were presented before the General Assembly meetings of world leaders, where the Millennium Development Goals, a United Nations list of aspirations to meet the needs of the world’s poorest, are an important discussion theme. While one of those goals — halving the number of hungry people by 2015 — seems within reach, the goal of reducing child mortality by two-thirds is years behind, the reports showed…”
  • World making progress against hunger, report finds, but large pockets of undernourished persist, By Daniel Stone, September 16, 2014, National Geographic: “No one on the planet should go hungry. That’s because the world’s farmers grow 700 more calories per person than the World Food Programme’s daily recommended 2,100 calories—an abundance of plants and animals that surpasses the daily needs of the world’s 7.2 billion people. In most places, the challenge is access. Global access to food is improving overall, according to a report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization released Tuesday, yet challenges in the developing world—from poor infrastructure and political instability to erratic weather and long-term changes in climate—are keeping 805 million people from having enough to eat…”

Global Food Production

How to feed 3 billion extra people — without trashing the planet, By Ezra Klein, July 18, 2014, Vox: One of the daunting challenges of the coming century will be figuring out how to grow enough food for everyone on the planet. And all without destroying the planet. That’s harder than it sounds. The global population is expected to swell from 7 billion today to 9.6 billion in 2050. On top of that, countries like China and India are getting richer and eating more meat — a particularly resource-intensive type of food. Then there’s the environment to consider. Farms have become a major source of nitrogen pollution. Around the world, freshwater aquifers are dwindling. And, perhaps most crucially, countries like Brazil are trying to cut back on deforestation — which in turn makes it harder to find new cropland. . .”