Climate Change and the World’s Poor

  • World’s poorest will feel brunt of climate change, warns World Bank, By Fiona Harvey, June 19, 2013, The Guardian: “Millions of people around the world are likely to be pushed back into poverty because climate change is undermining economic development in poor countries, the World Bank has warned. Droughts, floods, heatwaves, sea-level rises and fiercer storms are likely to accompany increasing global warming and will cause severe hardship in areas that are already poor or were emerging from poverty, the bank said in a report. Food shortages will be among the first consequences within just two decades, along with damage to cities from fiercer storms and migration as people try to escape the effects…”
  • Climate change threatens trouble in the near future, World Bank says, By Howard Schneider, June 18, 2013, Washington Post: “The World Bank is beginning to commit billions of dollars to flood prevention, water management and other projects to help major Asian cities avoid the expected impact of climate change, a dramatic example of how short the horizon has become to alleviate the effects of global warming. Places such as Bangkok, Jakarta and Ho Chi Minh City are now considered ‘hot spots’ that will bear the brunt of the impact as sea levels rise, tropical storms become more violent, and rainfall becomes both more sporadic and — in the rainy season — more intense…”

Extreme Poverty Worldwide

  • Where the world’s poorest people live, By Sudeep Reddy, April 17, 2013, Wall Street Journal: “The world’s poorest people are now concentrated most heavily in Sub-Saharan Africa after China’s huge leap in pulling its citizens out of extreme poverty in recent decades, according to new estimates released Wednesday by the World Bank. About 1.2 billion people in the world lived in extreme poverty in 2010, subsisting on less than $1.25 a day. That’s down from 1.9 billion three decades ago despite a nearly 60% increase in the developing world’s population…”
  • India has one third of world’s poorest, says World Bank, By Dean Nelson, April 18, 2013, The Telegraph: “While new figures show that the number of those in extreme poverty around the world – surviving on 82 pence per day or less – has declined significantly, India now has a greater share of the world’s poorest than it did thirty years ago. Then it was home to one fifth of the world’s poorest people, but today it accounts for one-third – 400 million. The study, The State of the Poor: Where are the Poor and Where are the Poorest?, found the number of extremely poor people had declined from half the world’s population in 1981 to one fifth in 2010, but voiced concern at its increase in Sub-Saharan Africa and continuing high level in India…”

Conditional Cash Transfer Programs

What Brazil can teach America about fighting poverty, By Mercedes White, March 20, 2013, Deseret News: “Luxury condominiums with tennis courts and swimming pools border the white sands of Rio De Janeiro’s famous Ipanema Beach. Tourists note the striking resemblance to Miami or Southern California. But looking up, away from the ocean, to the homes perched on the cliffs above Ipanema, a very different Rio comes into focus. It is the neighborhood of Rocinha, the city’s largest slum, where precarious looking shacks are stacked one on top of the other. The dichotomy between the posh apartment buildings on the beach and the shanty towns in the hills is a visual reminder of the income inequality that plagues Rio and other Brazilian cities. Brazil has the one of the highest levels of income inequality in the world. But the chasm between rich and poor Brazilians is narrowing, according to the World Bank. Between 2003 and 2009, the income of the country’s poor grew seven times as much as the income of Brazil’s rich. The World Bank also reports that during this period the Brazilian poverty rate fell from 42.7 percent of the total population to 28.8 percent. Contrast this with the United States, where more than 80 percent of income growth in the last 10 years has gone to the top 1 percent of earners. Moreover, poverty rates in the United States have remained between 14 and 15 percent of the total population for the last 50 years, according to Census data…”

Multidimensional Poverty Index

World poverty is shrinking rapidly, new index reveals, By Tracy McVeigh, March 16, 2013, The Guardian: “Some of the poorest people in the world are becoming significantly less poor, according to a groundbreaking academic study which has taken a new approach to measuring deprivation. The report, by Oxford University’s poverty and human development initiative, predicts that countries among the most impoverished in the world could see acute poverty eradicated within 20 years if they continue at present rates…”

UN World Hunger Figures

UN revises world hunger figures, blames flawed method, data for faulty 1 billion estimate, Associated Press, October 9, 2012, Washington Post: “The United Nations said Tuesday its 2009 headline-grabbing announcement that 1 billion people in the world were hungry was off-target and that the number is actually more like 870 million. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization blamed flawed methodology and poor data for the bum projection, and said it now uses a much more accurate set of parameters and statistics to calculate its annual estimate of the world’s hungry. FAO issued its 2012 state of food insecurity report on Tuesday, and its core point was to set the record straight about the number of the world’s undernourished people, applying the more accurate data retroactively to 1990. And the good news, FAO said, is that the number of hungry people has actually been declining steadily — rather than increasing — over the past two decades, although progress has slowed since the 2007-2008 food crises and the global economic downturn…”

LA Times Series on the World’s Population

Beyond 7 billion, series homepage, By Kenneth R. Weiss, Los Angeles Times: “After remaining stable for most of human history, the world’s population has exploded over the last two centuries. The boom is not over: The biggest generation in history is just entering its childbearing years. The coming wave will reshape the planet, and the impact will be greatest in the poorest, most unstable countries…”

Extreme Poverty Worldwide

Dire poverty falls despite global slump, report finds, By Annie Lowrey, March 6, 2012, New York Times: “A World Bank report shows a broad-based reduction in extreme poverty – and indicates that the global recession, contrary to economists’ expectations, did not increase poverty in the developing world. The report shows that for the first time the proportion of people living in extreme poverty – on less than $1.25 a day – fell in every developing region between 2005 and 2008. And the biggest recession since the Great Depression seems not to have thrown that trend off course, preliminary data from 2010 indicate. The progress is so dramatic that the world has met the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals to cut extreme poverty in half five years before its 2015 deadline…”

Extreme Poverty Worldwide

  • World’s extreme poverty cut in half since 1990, By Sudeep Reddy, February 29, 2012, Wall Street Journal: “The share of people living in extreme poverty around the world continued to decline in recent years despite financial crises and surging food prices, the World Bank said today. The bank said preliminary estimates for 2010 showed that the world’s extreme poverty rate – people living below $1.25 a day – had fallen to less than half of its 1990 value. That meets the first Millennium Development Goal of halving extreme poverty from its 1990 level, before its 2015 deadline, the Washington-based development institution said…”
  • WB sees progress against extreme poverty, February 29, 2012, The Himalayan: “In every region of the developing world, the percentage of people living on less than $1.25-a-day and the number of poor declined between 2005-2008, according to estimates released today by the World Bank (WB). This across-the-board reduction over a three-year monitoring cycle marks a first since the bank began monitoring extreme poverty. Similarly, South Asia witnessed the $1.25-a-day poverty rate fall from 61 per cent to 36 per cent between 1981 and 2005 and fell a further 3.5 percentage points between 2005 and 2008. The proportion of the population living in extreme poverty is now the lowest since 1981, the global agency said, adding that its methodology is based on consumption and income, adjusted for inflation within countries and for purchasing power differences across countries…”

Poverty and Nutrition

The nutrition puzzle, February 18, 2012, The Economist: “In Eldorado, one of São Paulo’s poorest and most misleadingly named favelas, some eight-year-old boys are playing football on a patch of ground once better known for drug gangs and hunger. Although they look the picture of health, they are not. After the match they gather around a sack of bananas beside the pitch. ‘At school, the kids get a full meal every day,’ explains Jonathan Hannay, the secretary-general of Children at Risk Foundation, a local charity. ‘But in the holidays they come to us without breakfast or lunch so we give them bananas. They are filling, cheap, and they stimulate the brain.’ Malnutrition used to be pervasive and invisible in Eldorado. Now there is less of it and, equally important, it is no longer hidden. ‘It has become more visible-so people are doing something about it…'”

Eliminating Disease in Poorest Nations

  • Engineering a Healthy Tomorrow for the Poorest Billion, By Muhammad H Zaman, February 1, 2012, Huffington Post: “It is not everyday that you hear the words big Pharma, billionaires, philanthropists and eradication of diseases in the same sentence. Well, Monday, January 30th was one such spectacular day. Bill Gates, WHO Director General, leaders of major Pharmaceutical companies and senior government officials from around the globe unveiled in London, a joint declaration and a strategy to rid the world of ten neglected diseases that afflict the poorest of the poor in the world within a decade. The vision, goal and mission is bold, tremendously exciting, timely and hopefully a catalyst for a healthier world for all…”
  • Joint Effort Announced Against Tropical Diseases, By Donald G McNeil Jr., January 30, 2012, New York Times: “Thirteen drug companies, the governments of the United States, Britain and the United Arab Emirates, the World Bank, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Lions Club and other smaller charitable organizations on Monday announced a joint effort to tackle 10 neglected tropical diseases in a coordinated fashion.The diseases, with multisyllabic names like lymphatic filariasis, visceral leishmaniasis and dracunculiasis, are almost never found in rich countries. Most are usually not fatal – but they still ruin the lives of subsistence farmers and rural craftsmen by causing blindness, grotesque swelling, chronic anemia, excruciating pain or other symptoms…”

Mobile Banking – Haiti

How Haiti is fighting poverty by killing cash, By Margo Conner, January 27, 2012, Christian Science Monitor: “In Haiti, cash is escaping from wallets and savings accounts are breaking free from brick-and-mortar banks. Two years after 2010’s devastating earthquake, mobile money has taken off in the island nation. While the country has seen setbacks in many areas and continues to struggle, one bright spot is the transformation of the country’s traditional banking sector. Physical banks were wiped away by the quake and subsequent hurricane, and a mobile banking network that uses cell phones has grown up in their place…”

Polio Eradication – India

India celebrates one year without polio cases, huge milestone in fight against disease, Associated Press, January 12, 2012, Washington Post: “India will celebrate a full year since its last reported case of polio on Friday, a major victory in a global eradication effort that seemed stalled just a few years ago. If no previously undisclosed cases of the crippling disease are discovered, India will no longer be considered polio endemic, leaving only Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria on that list. ‘This is a game changer in a huge way,’ said Bruce Aylward, head of the World Health Organization’s global polio campaign. The achievement gives a major morale boost to health advocates and donors who had begun to lose hope of ever defeating the stubborn disease that the world had promised to eradicate by 2000. It also helps India, which bills itself as one of the world’s emerging powers, shed the embarrassing link to a disease associated with poverty and chaos, one that had been conquered long ago by most of the globe…”

UN Millennium Development Goals

  • Poor countries lead in mother, child spending, Associated Press, September 20, 2011, La Crosse Tribune: “Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Nepal and some of the world’s other poorest countries delivered not only money but new services in the year since U.N. member states pledged more than $40 billion to save the lives of mothers and children, a new study of the spending said Tuesday. The spending report was released at a high-level event chaired by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who has made raising money for the health of mothers and their children a special project. Ban told a gathering at U.N. headquarters that when he was born in 1944 in South Korea, child mortality was so prevalent that families often waited months to register births to make certain babies would survive…”
  • WHO report hails efforts to curb maternal deaths, By Sarah Boseley, September 19, 2011, The Guardian: “One year on from a major UN meeting to tackle the deaths of women and babies in childbirth, 44 of the world’s poorest countries have made major commitments to the cause, totalling nearly $11bn (£7bn), according to a progress report. The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, called the meeting a year ago because of sluggish progress towards two of the UN millennium development goals – reducing maternal and child mortality. More than $40bn was pledged for a range of strategies from donor governments, the private sector, NGOs and philanthropists. The one-year assessment from the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH) of the World Health Organisation highlights progress in the worst-affected countries. Low-income countries made the highest number of commitments overall…”

Technology and Innovation for Developing Countries

To help the poor, experts invent solar-powered hearing aids, motorcycle ambulances, Associated Press, September 12, 2011, Washington Post: “A bit of creativity never hurts, especially when it comes to solving health problems in developing countries. Instead of the usual donated medicines and health equipment, some experts are inventing new products for the poor, like a solar-powered hearing aid or a motorcycle ambulance. Both inventions were showcased at an engineering conference in London. And in a new report published online Monday in the journal Lancet, the United Nations highlights innovations like using text messages in South Africa to remind women with HIV to get their babies tested and tucking medicines into Coca-Cola crates to reach remote villages. Hundreds of thousands of replacement joints, surgical tools and other medical devices have been sent to poor countries over the years. But according to the World Health Organization, about 75 percent of the donated goods sit unused, either because they’re broken or no one knows how to use them…”

Rule of Law Index

Survey: U.S. trails in equal legal treatment of citizens, By Daniel Lippman, June 13, 2011, Kansas City Star: “The U.S. lags behind western Europe in access to civil justice and legal assistance, according to an international survey released Monday that also raised questions over whether U.S. police forces treat all citizens equally. The results of the survey by the World Justice Project, an advocacy group that promotes the rule of law, also signaled that some Middle Eastern countries continue to rank relatively low in certain areas, a key factor in the region’s popular protests.   ‘Without the rule of law, medicines do not reach health facilities due to corruption, women in rural areas remain unaware of their rights, people are killed in criminal violence and economic growth is stifled,’ William Neukom, the founder of the group, said in a statement announcing its second annual Rule of Law Index…”

Disability in the World’s Population

Report: 15 percent of world population is disabled, By David Brown, June 9, 2011, Washington Post: “About 15 percent of the world’s population – some 785 million people – has a significant physical or mental disability, including about 5 percent of children, according to a new report prepared jointly by the World Health Organization and the World Bank. The disabilities run the entire gamut of impairment, from blindness and limb loss to chronic pain and mental retardation. The problems, especially among old people, are more prevalent in low-income countries than in rich ones. The report, released Thursday at the United Nations in New York, found that the problems are worsened by poverty and dozens of other variables, including stigma, architectural barriers, lack of legal protection, the cost of devices and assistance, and the lack of knowledge by others (especially health professionals) about how to interact with disabled people…”

Benefits of Microlending

The bad – and good – news on microcredit, By Gregory M. Lamb, June 9, 2011, Christian Science Monitor: “First Muhammad Yunus founded the nonprofit Grameen Bank, which lent tiny amounts of money to poor people to start businesses. It appeared to be a revolutionary success and he received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in 2006. In 2009, for example, Grameen had 6.4 million active borrowers with an average loan size of $127. Then came the second guessing. For-profit companies got into the micro-loan business charging high interest rates in order to generate an attractive return for their investors. While nearly all of Grameen’s borrowers repaid their loans in full, other lenders didn’t do so well. Borrowers began to default. Pressured by their creditors, some in India even committed suicide when they couldn’t repay their loans…”

World Food Prices and Poor Nations

Food prices set to stay high, says UN food agency, June 7, 2011, BBC News: “Global food prices will remain high and volatile throughout this year and into next despite record food production. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) twice yearly Food Outlook analysis says rising demand will absorb most of the higher output. It says its index of food prices in May was at 232, only five points below February’s record high of 237. The FAO says higher food prices could mean poor countries will see food import costs rise by up to 30%. That would mean them spending 18% of their total import bills on food this year, compared with the world average of 7%. The organisation says the next few months will be critical in determining how major crops will fare this year…”

Average Height of Poor Women – Africa

Height: Very poor women are shrinking, as are their chances at a better life, By Donald G. McNeil Jr., April 25, 2011, New York Times: “The average height of very poor women in some developing countries has shrunk in recent decades, according to a new study by Harvard researchers. Height is a reliable indicator of childhood nutrition, disease and poverty. Average heights have declined among women in 14 African countries, the study found, and stagnated in 21 more in Africa and South America. That suggests, the authors said, that poor women born in the last two decades, especially in Africa, are worse off than their mothers or grandmothers born after World War II…”

World Food Prices

Soaring food prices send millions into poverty, hunger, By John Waggoner, March 17, 2011, USA Today: “Corn has soared 52% the past 12 months. Sugar’s up 60%. Soybeans have jumped 41%. And wheat costs 24% more than it did a year ago. For about 44 million people – roughly the population of the New York, Los Angeles and Chicago metropolitan areas combined – the rise in food prices means a descent into extreme poverty and hunger, according to the World Bank. The surge in food prices has many causes. Rising population. Speculators. Soaring oil prices. Trade policies. And, ironically, improved standards of living in emerging nations. By itself, the soaring cost of food didn’t cause the political unrest in the Middle East and elsewhere. Those tensions have been building for a long time. But higher food prices amplify those tensions…”