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Children Standing Up for Children

 

Most of us probably don’t know that in 1989 the United Nations passed the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) that gave special protection and rights to all children around the world under the age of 18. It became the most agreed human rights convention ever and stressed the responsibility of every adult to make these rights a reality.

This means that for the past 20+ years, every young person under 18, regardless of what country they live in, has possessed the legal right to a good standard of living, clean drinking water, nutritious food, health care, education and even the right to relax and play. Yet despite this convention, children’s rights in developing countries often get pushed to the bottom of the political agenda and forgotten by society.

That’s why the Global Poverty Project has teamed up with Plan Australia to make this short clip to raise awareness about the rights of children so that we can all make sure these rights are protected and our governments deliver on their promises to honor them. Our presenters will soon be taking out this message to schoolkids across Australia to show them what their rights are and why they should help stand up for other children who are being denied these rights in developing countries around the world.

Click here to sign up for a presentation at your school.

Posted by Ashli Alberty in Education, Poverty for column Issue Analysis on Apr 28th 2011, 08:41

Living Comfortably or Getting By - still hungry

 

In this guest blog Lymari Morales, Managing News Editor of Gallup.com, explains the latest findings from research across Africa about how people see themselves.

The "poverty line" has always been a murky concept -- be it in a wealthy country like the U.S. or in impoverished nations where the main gauge is whether one lives on more or less than $1.25 per day.

Gallup’s global surveys underscore the complexity involved. As part of its continuous global research, Gallup asks citizens around the world about basic needs, such as food and shelter, and higher order needs, such as employment and wellbeing. Our research confirms that it is very difficult to achieve the latter without the former.

Gallup also asks respondents about their household income to look at the relationship between the money they have and everything else they think and do. But again, a concept like “household income” can be tricky in a place where, lacking a paycheck from an employer, one might trade goods or accept other means to get by.

For that reason, Gallup also asks respondents, “Which one of these phrases comes closest to your own feelings about your household income these days: Living comfortably on present income, getting by on present income, finding it difficult on present income, or finding it very difficult on present income?”

Here are some results from sub-Saharan Africa based on surveys conducted in 2009 and 2010. What we learn is that a median of 71% of sub-Saharan Africans say they are finding it difficult to live on their present income. Fewer than 2 in 10 say they are “getting by,” and fewer than 1 in 10 say they are “living comfortably.”



But living comfortably or getting by clearly means something else to sub-Saharan Africans.

A Gallup analysis released this week reveals that sizable minorities -- and in some cases large majorities -- of those who say they are living comfortably or getting by also say there were times in the past year when they could not afford to buy the food they or their family needed.

In the Central African Republic, where 87% of respondents tell Gallup there were times they could not afford food, this percentage barely budges across the subjective income categories. In Cameroon, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Niger, Zambia, Comoros, Congo (Kinshasa), and Tanzania, 50% or more of respondents who say they are living comfortably or getting by say there were times they could not afford food. In 20 of the 28 countries, more than one-third of those who say they are living comfortably or getting by still say there were times in the last year when they did not have enough money to buy food.

Gallup’s continuous tracking of these issues reveals that sub-Saharan Africans have only become more negative about their financial situation in recent years -- even as GDP in the region has improved. More sub-Saharan Africans in 2010 told Gallup they were finding it difficult or very difficult to live on their present income than did in each of the prior three years.


These Gallup findings showcase the complicated nature of assessing “poverty” around the world. They also serve as an important reminder that it takes more than classical economic metrics, such as daily income or GDP, to monitor and improve the wellbeing of populations worldwide.

If you'd like to understand more about the challenge of hunger and poverty, sign up to spend 5 days living below the line - eating and drinking on your local equivalent of the extreme poverty line - UKAustraliaUSA.

Posted by Lymari Morales, Gallup.com (Guest Blogger) in Hunger, Poverty for column Live Below the Line on Apr 14th 2011, 06:32

Alright. ENOUGH. Make Me Do It!

 

In the fight against extreme poverty, time is never on our side. If we're not moving forward, we're falling backwards.

That's why last week's deep and callous cuts to the US aid and development budget were so heart-breaking.   It was a big stride in the wrong direction. 

Here is quick recap:  as part of the agreement on the fiscal year 2011 budget, Democrats and Republicans agreed to carve out $8 billion in appropriations to the State Department.  Included in these cuts were:

·      USAID operations: $122 million

·      Millennium Challenge Corporation (which oversees $7 billion in poverty reduction compacts): $380 million

·      Global AIDS initiative: $155 million 

·      Climate change/energy initiatives: $400 million

·      Peace Corps: $71 million

·      United Nations Contribution: $304 million

It's worse than it looks because, as Foreign Policy magazine noted, "the impact of these cuts...is even more severe because the 2011 fiscal year is half over, meaning that the cuts must be made before the end of the fiscal year Oct. 1."

Last week Rajiv Shah the USAid Administrator testified that the effects of previously proposed cuts would conservatively cost 70,000 children’s lives.

Some commentators point out that many in Congress wanted to slash even more from these programs. They cite the Republican Study Group plan to defund USAID entirely by way of comparison.  But we didn't join this fight to settle for "it could have been worse".  

We must change the debate and shift the dynamics.  Last week showed that the political cost of making such draconian cuts to these critical programs is too low.  It is just way too easy for politicians to wield the axe without fear of consequence.

When progressive activists filed into the Oval Office to complain to Franklin D Roosevelt that he wasn't doing enough to promote their causes, his response resonates today:

Make me do it

 

That is our call to action.  

We have seen success in the UK and Australia where proposed cuts of this magnitude prompted a public reaction that was swift and unmistakable.  Activists and voters alike have risen up in strident opposition -- in letters and opinion pages, on talkback radio and television, in political offices and on the streets.  

This helps explains why, in the UK, aid and development funding is set aside and protected from exactly this kind of political assault.  It is ring fenced.   

Are political leaders in these countries more intrinsically virtuous than their US counterparts?  Of course not.  The difference is that the political dynamic forces leaders in the UK, Australia and elsewhere to weigh the benefits of slashing aid funding against the electoral backlash it would trigger.  This shows how we can win.  We make them do it.

We tour the US every day, meeting with thousands of highly-engaged young people striving to make a difference.  We need to harness this energy into meaningful political action.  But this demands much more than clicks and new online petitions. We need real action across America.  We need to raise our collective voice above the static and make our message irresistible to the wider public.  Only by doing this can we hope to dissuade political leaders from such reckless disregard for world's poorest communities. 

To take real action, visit http://www.globalpovertyproject.com/pages/USA_Tour_Routes

 

Posted by Hugh Evans - GPP CEO in Poverty for column GPP - United States on Apr 14th 2011, 02:20

Our meeting with the PM

 

Last week I met with the Australian PM Julia Gillard, to discuss the Global Poverty Project's call to make the eradication of polio a priority issue at the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) being held in Perth this year.

I handed the Prime Minister a letter signed by over 700  Australians, outlining 10 reasons Australia should step up their efforts to eradicate this debilitating disease.

This meeting is the first of many taking place this year around the country (and the world) focused on the eradication of polio – a cause which has been making considerable progress since Australian Rotarians commenced their global eradication push in 1979.

Since then, we have seen incidences of the disease reduced by 99%, and the number of polio-endemic countries reduced to just 4 countries worldwide. We are now in a position where we could see this disease eliminated entirely by 2014. As I discussed with the Prime Minister last week; arguments in favour of eradication have never been more compelling. While the cost of health and vaccination investments needed to eliminate polio is estimated at $710 million, the cost of maintaining polio cases at current levels for the next 20 years is predicted to be $10 billion. Moreover, according to the World Health Organisation, if the goal of eradication were to be abandoned and replaced with that of containment, the number of cases of polio recorded could increase from 1,300 to as many as 250,000 per year.

An Australian commitment to eradication would be significant for a number of reasons. not only will it protect future generations from the paralysis, disability and death caused by this preventable disease, but it would also demonstrate  the investment value of foreign aid – highlighting the life-changing impact aid dollars have and emphasising the importance of our foreign aid program.

This was something that particularly hit a chord with the Prime Minister. Reflecting on a conversation she had recently with Melinda Gates, and recent media coverage - the Prime Minister agreed that it was important to highlight the positive impact of our foreign aid investment. With many leaders from developing countries expected to be present at this October’s CHOGM meeting, the Prime Minister said she was interested in CHOGM having a clear development focus, and said she would consider  including  polio eradication as an agenda item to be considered by  Commonwealth leaders at the meeting. It is my belief that with focused efforts and continued public attention on this important issue, we can build on the incredible efforts of Australian Rotarians since 1979, and create the momentum and public pressure needed for world leaders to make a commitment to eradicate polio from our world within 3 years.

As Bono once said “we can’t blame the politicians because we have to give them permission to spend what is in the end our money.”

This is why the Global Poverty Project, in partnership with countless Rotary clubs and districts around Australia, are embarking on an education and advocacy campaign in the lead up to this October’s CHOGM meeting, to raise public awareness about the unprecedented opportunity we have to see an End to Polio.

Globally, we stand on the cusp of a historic event. If eradicated, polio would be only the second disease to be eradicated from our world in the history of humanity. We now have the chance to finish what Australian Rotarians started in 1979 – and we look to leadership by the Commonwealth in bringing this about.

To join the Global Poverty Project’s campaign to End Polio, sign up below. Michael Sheldrick is the Australian Campaign Manager for the Global Poverty Project, an education and advocacy organisation  focused on ensuring both the public and private sectors in OECD nations take action to contribute to the end of extreme poverty.

Posted by Michael Sheldrick - Polio Campaign Manager in Poverty, Global Health, Aid for column Action Stories on Apr 5th 2011, 21:14

US: Live Below the Line - Why $1.50?

 

As our Live Below the Line campaign gains momentum and groups at schools, workplaces, universities and community groups around the country sign up to take the challenge – the Live Below the Line team wanted to explore the reason behind the $1.50 a day Line we’ve set for the challenge this May.

Live Below the Line is a challenge designed to provide people across the USA with a small insight into the challenges faced by the 1.4 billion people in our world trapped in the cycle of extreme poverty, and to raise funds for crucial anti-poverty initiatives creating change for those who need it most.

The challenge is set at $1.50 a day, because this is the current equivalent of the World Bank’s International Extreme Poverty Line – the US$1.25 (back in 2005) on which the world’s poorest people survive on every day – for all their food, health, transport, education and general living costs.

As Americans we could never begin to understand the lack of opportunity and constraint in living on this tiny amount, but by just trying to feed ourselves with the same amount, we can start to get a small understanding of the lack of choice and opportunity available to those trapped in the cycle of extreme poverty.

So – how do we figure out what the current USA equivalent of the 2005 International US$1.25 a day figure is?

There are a few steps involved:

1. Understanding how the World Bank arrives at the US$1.25 a day figure.

The International Extreme Poverty Line was last set by the World Bank in 2005. They came up with the number by finding the purchasing power adjusted average national poverty line of the world’s 10 – 20 poorest countries.

That is, they created the line by analysing of what it means to live in poverty in the poorest nations of our world (as opposed to what it means to live in poverty across all nations).

International Extreme Poverty Line = Average of national poverty lines in world’s poorest nations.

The national poverty lines of the poorest countries are typically set using some version of the ‘cost of basic needs’ method. This generally involves:

  • Setting a ‘Food Poverty Line’ - established by pricing a food bundle that provides a minimum calorie intake required to survive,
  • Adding an allowance for non-food spending (typically obtained from data on the non-food spending of people near the food poverty line),
  • Then setting an ‘absolute’ Poverty Line – determined using the minimum value of consumption needed to be deemed ‘not poor’ in the world’s poorest countries.

National Poverty Lines = Cost of minimum calorie intake + equivalent non-food allowance

These National Poverty Lines try to establish a level of relative deprivation that defines what it means to be poor in the world’s poorest countries. The World Ban then averages and standardises these National Poverty Lines – using a method called ‘Purchasing Power Parity’ (PPP).

This is a method used to compare the value of products across countries, by taking into account the difference in domestic prices for the same goods. That is - how much of a country’s currency is needed in that country to buy what $1 would buy in the United States. Using this method, the World Bank was able to set an international Extreme Poverty Line taking into account the comparative welfare of the world’s poor in ‘real terms’, rather than exchange rate terms, which wouldn’t reflect the different cost of basic goods in relevant countries.

International figure = National figure, adjusted to reflect comparative cost of goods (PPP)

To learn more about Purchasing Power Parity and why it’s the best measure for comparative cost of living, see this World Bank document. Or, if you’d like to find out more about how the World Bank arrives at their US$1.25 a day figure, read this World Bank document, or the full report here.

2. Factoring in inflation since this figure was set

As the World Bank’s figure was set in 2005, we need to bring it up to current figures, accounting for inflation and changes in the value of goods – such as food.

Using Bureau of Labor Statistics figures, we can see that since 2005 the price of goods has increased by 13.3% to 2011, which means we need 13.3% more money to buy the same things as we could buy for $1.25 in 2005 – or $1.42 in 2011.

Current figure = 2005 World Bank figure x Inflation

Therefore the UK equivalent of the International Extreme Poverty Line of US$1.25 is $1.42. We've rounded this up to make it a bit easier to visualise, which is how we came to $1.50. This means that someone living in extreme poverty survives on the equivalent of less than $1.50 in the USA today.