Author Archives: rebeccalynngreenway

Exploring the foundation: poverty, government sponsors and the MDGs

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

By REBECCA GREENWAY

In a TED talk with Jacqueline Novogratz, she outlines the definition of poverty and gives us an important message: we should not consider our progress for aid, and the increase in aid as an end goal.
She says we should see it as ‘Chapter One.’ We should celebrate what we has been accomplished but know that it is just the beginning of progress; that we have to build sustainable programs; that the people who are impoverished can do this and should run this themselves. Poverty, Novogratz said, is the faces of farmers, factory offices, government workers, and many millions of others that work for under a few dollars every day.
Of the many things interesting about Novogratz, I found she has led many TED talks and have shared just a few of them below:

 In this TED talk, Novogratz talks about people who have “immersed themselves in a cause, a community, a passion for justice.”

This TED talk also focuses on something Novogratz pegs as “patient capitol.”

This TED talk is the one we watched regarding critiques of foreign aid. She prefers entrepreneurial innovation as a method of development.

The Millennium Development Goals is based on eight separate but essential goals and, according to the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDGS, they are as folllows:
•Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
•Achieve universal primary education
•Promote gender equality and empower women
•Reduce child mortality
•Improve maternal health
•Combat HIV-AIDS, malaria and other diseases
•Ensure environmental sustainability
•Develop a global partnership for development
Neo-Liberalism
There are many effects of neo-liberalism to consider when discussing aid. Cutting government spending can increase the opportunity for emerging social movements, such as economic equality while decreasing the living standards of those within both the public and private sector. With businesses cutting benefits and maximizing profit, adverse effects impact the workers and livelihood of the community.
John McArthur also discusses the “key players” contributing to aid in his essay, Own the Goals. Some of the mentioned players are George W. Bush and the State Department. He criticizes the Unites States’ early decisions not to support the Millennium Development Goals because it acted as a key player in developing them. Later administrations have been more vocal of their support for the MDGs. McArthur criticizes the World Bank for similar reasons.
In the article, “How to Help Poor Countries” the authors suggests more involvement of the poor countries because true development, they argue, can only be determined by the country being affected. The authors suggest that we should not ignore other important measures at expense of these aid projects because wealthy countries can only play a limited role with the rest being the poor country in question.
Since we have studied the authors of the others so in-depth, I decided to also look in to the three authors that wrote this article:
Photo by the Center for Global Development

Photo by the Center for Global Development

Nancy Birdsall is the President of the Center for Global Development in Washington, D.C. According the Center for Global Development, her areas of focus is: development economics, globalism and inequality, the aid system, international financial institutions, education, Latin America as well as climate financing. She has worked for many years at the World Bank, Economic Reform Project and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Photo by the Institute for Advanced Study School of Social Science

Photo by the Institute for Advanced Study School of Social Science

Dani Rodrik is the Professor of International Political Economy at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. According to the Institute for Advanced Study, Rodrik is an economist researching globalization, economic growth and development, and political economy. He has taught at Harvard and Columbia.
Photo by the Peterson Institute for International Economics

Photo by the Peterson Institute for International Economics

Arvind Subramanian is the Division Chief in the Research Department of the International Monetary Fund. According to the Peterson Institute for International Economics, he is currently the Chief Economic Advisor for India and has published in numerous publications regarding economics, policy, international development and more.
Sources:

Women take micro-loans and work towards self-sufficiency

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My opinion is that yes, of course women deserve micro-loans and they can do incredible things with that small amount of money but micro-loans can also be limiting if that is the only option. Women want to be able to move forward and if the solution is “solved” merely by providing micro-loans, women will never be able treated equally.

This video highlights the struggles of women in Ghana and how micro loans have helped women create small businesses. Some reasons the narrator says micro loans have been successful in Ghana is because it is peaceful and safe as well as a democracy.

She says that micro loans were first developed in the 1970s. I liked the example of the woman who opened a preschool when she saw women working all day, in the hot sun with children on her back. I saw confidence in the way she presented her business proudly and said it was her initiative but she wants more.

After they gain these rights, the women start to want more. They started to demand other rights like access to health for themselves and their children and that includes getting health care insurance.

This video specifically looks at KIVA and some of its projects with micro loans. KIVA works in 84 different countries with nearly 300 different field partners and 450 volunteers. I was really impressed with the results of KIVA. They have had $641.5 million in loans since 2005 have an impressive 98.81 percent repayment rate.

After looking at their map, it appears more than 500 loans are in Kenya.

Above is a video I found about entrepreneurial efforts in Rwanda. The loans in the video ranged from buying flour for a woman’s inventory, trees to be cut into fire world and pig food for a pig farm. All the funds are supposed to go to business ventures that will be able to be paid back and, as previously said, they have a very good repayment rate.

Sources:

Hallward-Driemeier, M. Hasan, T., and Rusu, A.B. Women’s Legal Rights over 50 years 

Kabeer Conflicts over Credit: Re-Evaluating the Empowerment Potential of Loans in Women in Rural Bangladesh 

Mayoux, L. Tackling the down side: Social Capital, Women’s Empowerment and Micro-Finance in Cameroon

Chen, M., Sebstad, J. and O’Connell, L. Counting the invisible workforce: The case of homebased workers. – 8 pages

http://www.ted.com/tedx/events/7439

http://www.uwheartmo.org/girl-rising

http://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/newsroom/news/WCMS_008091/lang–en/index.htm

Identifying the Gap: Social , Economical and Beyond

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Part A

Women experience unequal treatment by economic standards, health and survival standards, education, political involvement, land rights, media representation and more.

The World Economic Forum has identified on small improvements in economic equality for women over the last nine years in their annual Global Gender Report but small gaps regarding women’s health and survival and education.

“U.N. warns that women increasingly at risk for Ebola” By Reuters

I was surprised by the fact that Iceland tops most of these rankings. The list of the top ten countries in women’s equality was surprising in many ways. Aside from the Nordic countries, there were African countries on the list as well. The site said that they were able to find a strong correlation with how competitive the nation was with the smaller the gender equality gap.

1. Iceland
2. Finland
3. Norway
4. Sweden
5. Denmark
6. Nicaragua
7. Rwanda
8. Ireland
9. Philippines
10. Belgium

Closing the Global Gender Gap

According to Women, environment and sustainable development: making the links, women own an extremely unequal amount of land. Lass than 10% of females who farm in India, Nepal or Thailand own their own land and only 21 percent of Mexico’s land is owned by women. This is despite policies intend to make the situation better.

The study urges people to not only develop policies, but also look at the primary reasons for lack of a more wide-spread land ownership.

In order to identify this framework, the article tells us to analyze work, divisional of labor and responsibility, access and control of resources, knowledge, status and power, culture and traditions and participation in political field.

One example of a policy solution to this issue is the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC). SADC aids in developing with equity and removed gender discrimination from land ownership laws. This needs to be implemented in more places, such as Zimbabwe, where gender discrimination still exists in land ownership.

maprepo

Part B

Similar to the disparity outlined in part A, economic opportunity is not as widespread for women but if accomplished, has been shown to reach to all other societal aspects.

We watched a Youtube video about the Initiative for the Economics Empowerment of Women Entrepreneurs Project (IEEWEP). It talked about Chad and how it is the most difficult place to be a woman because of the constraints placed on women’s economic stability. However, since IEEWEP came to Southern Chad, women’s income has increased by an average of 75 percent through entrepreneurial activities, according to the video.

I enjoyed hearing about the program because it seemed like a sustainable and impactful initiative that created self-sufficiency rather than a dependance on aid deliveries.

Some of the challenge for women entering the work place include the perception of women being weak or having characteristics not aligned with the work of corporate offices. Another challenge is obligations at home. The women are expected to do all of the housework and if those duties are not shared, it would be very difficult for a mother of children to also take on a career.

Society sees huge gains when it is using women to their fullest economic capabilities. Aside from the studies correlating women equality to a nation’s competitiveness, referenced earlier in this blog, the International Monetary Fund also conclude a number of findings that suggest gains if women were utilized to their fullest potential. Here are five of them:

  1. There is ample evidence that when women are able to develop their full labor marketpotential, there can be significant macroeconomic gains.

  2. In rapidly aging economies, higher FLFP can boost growth by mitigating the impact of

    a shrinking workforce.

  3.  Better opportunities for women to earn and control income could contribute to

    broader economic development in developing economies, for instance through higher levels

    of school enrollment for girls.

  4. Equal access to inputs would raise the productivity of female-owned companies

  5. The employment of women on an equal basis would allow companies to make better

    use of the available talent pool, with potential growth implications

I would definitely agree that women should be utilized to a greater extent if businesses or entire nations are looking to improve their economic situation. Given societal norms, cultural barriers and other challenges, total gender economic equality is still far away but I think initiatives like IEEVEP in Southern Chad are extremely instrumental in women’s empowerment.

Sources:

http://www.weforum.org/issues/global-gender-gap

https://bblearn.missouri.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-1813214-dt-content-rid-22271440_1/courses/FS2014.GERMAN.4810.01/ChapterTwo.pdf

http://www.globalissues.org

http://www.our-africa.org/women

https://bblearn.missouri.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-2032467-dt-content-rid-23265855_1/courses/FS2014.GERMAN.4810.01/Women%20and%20Ebola.pdf

http://youtu.be/5tE1bg2n13o

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/women-play-increasingly-important-role-in-african-life-and-politics-a-937146.html

http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/sdn/2013/sdn1310.pdf 

https://bblearn.missouri.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-2032461-dt-content-rid-23265853_1/courses/FS2014.GERMAN.4810.01/Rise%20of%20Rwanda%27s%20Women.pdf

https://bblearn.missouri.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-2032465-dt-content-rid-23265854_1/courses/FS2014.GERMAN.4810.01/Women%20of%20ISIS.pdf

Empowering young women #GirlPower

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Young girls empowerment is an initiative of vital social importance and strategies are being implemented by government agencies…

Not-for-profits…

And by the girls themselves…

While these established and well-intended organizations are doing good work, I’m going to focus on an organization ran by young girls… since isn’t that the goal? Not to shelter these young girls from the world but to open them up to it and all of its opportunities.

Girls for a Change maintains the true model of #GirlPower in my opinion. Girl to girl, they are uplifting each other. The organization focuses on low-income areas nationally but can be found internationally in El Salvador, India, Nicaragua, Rwanda, Uganda and Mexico. Specifically, I’m going to focus on Rwanda.

Source: Girls for a Change

Source: Girls for a Change

Source: Girls for a Change

Source: Girls for a Change

In Rwanda, the Girls for a Change has worked with the Akilah Institute since 2010 when it opened its doors up to 50 future leaders, all 18-25-year old women.

At the institute, the women discuss the issues in their communities and then develop projects as solutions the problems they want to change. The website noted four projects the women are currently working on.

  1. Creative and innovative development to raise employment

  2. Child malnutrition solved through educational programming

  3. Limiting alcoholism and drugs

  4. Limited the transfer of HIV & AIDs due to prostitution

Comments: I think these types of organizations produce the most impact. The goal is being completed everyday that Girls for a Change runs. Their work is their own solution. I love that. They are impact every single worker and providing a more reasonable approach to dealing with a serious issue: women discrimination and mistreatment.

In class we talked about culture norms and how another culture could impose their values of non-female circumcision

In class we talked about culture norms and how another culture could impose their values of non-female circumcision on those who believe in it for historic, religious or other reasons. This isn’t that and is one of the reasons I really appreciate it. There are girls from the same community sharing their thoughts, experiences and ideas with other women.

Another reason I like these grassroots missions because they seem more genuinely involved. It seems that with aid or large programming, sometimes real impact gets lost in a series of tricks like gaining big name endorsements, political favors and business tricks. I am not saying they aren’t effective or even that these grassroots campaigns don’t go for the big names (see the Youtube video about) but I think they have a much different effect. Big organizations spread themselves out so much, everyone that needs help tends to get a watered down or altered version of what they actually needed.

For the second part, I am focusing on child rape, HIV/AIDS and sexual violence against women, child trafficking, and coercive behaviors. I remember when the above video went viral of women making a movement in the Red Light District to raise awareness. I think it says something that the organization that put this video on Youtube labeled it as, “Girls going wild in red light district” because they knew that what was going to get the attention an anti-human trafficking video deserved. I created a list of 5 holistic approaches that could be implemented:

1. Education

2. Entrepreneurism and Jobs

3. Health Care

4. Limiting Corruption

5. Read 20 Ways You Can Help Fight Human Trafficking

and research other ways you can help because every day counts.

These were broad and intentionally so. It is difficult to create holistic approaches that are specific because the violence on women is so widespread and so varied, to refer to the whole we must think of the many different approaches within education, within creating job opportunities and really to help create whatever small changes are in our capacity right now.

Nigeria

Source: Buppey

Source: Buppey

Source: Buppey

Source: Buppey

Yes, the young girls have not been returned to their home. No, they are not lost. Many believe these girls to be located yet nothing has been done to secure their release. They are being held by Boko Haram, a terrorist group currently targeting many towns in northeastern Nigeria, including Chibok where the girls were taken.

The #BringBackOurGirls may have lost its 5 minutes of fame but the fight continues. However, in a recent article by the New York Daily News, the captors have said they sold the girls to their militants for $12 and shipped them in small groups to Chad and Cameroon.

The National Women Commission is reported to be boycotting the upcoming elections because of their government’s lack of attention to this problem and focus on upcoming elections.

Sources:

http://www.girlsforachange.org

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/14/nigeria-girls-kidnapped-5-months_n_5791622.html

http://leadership.ng/news/390274/chibok-girls-nlc-womens-group-wants-boycott-2015-elections

https://bblearn.missouri.edu/webapps/blackboard/execute/content/file?cmd=view&content_id=_1813193_1&course_id=_34861_1

Grameen Model, Moyo and a wrap of the debate: Aid or no Aid?

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Graph by Lewis Garvin University of Michigan

Graph by Lewis Garvin University of Michigan

The Grameen Bank model boast the motto: “Bank for the Poor.” It was initially started by Professor Mohammad Yunus who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his work. He began the practice of microcredit loans for those without the credit for traditional loans.

The model is based on collective responsibility because they give loans to groups but only allow one or two of the members in the group to take out a loan at a time with the rest becoming eligible as the loans are repaid.

I found this article on Yunus and controversy over whether the Grameen Bank model could maintain its independence interesting.

Photo by OnPhilanthropy

Photo by OnPhilanthropy

‘Ghana’

Since 2008, Grameen has used mobile technology such as apps and the Ghana Mobile Technology for Community Health initiative. MOTECH has helped improve accessibility to maternal and neonatal health care information by developing interactive apps used by both patients and the nurses. There is a Mobile Midwife Application that gives mothers and their families medical alerts regarding their pregnancy and childcare and gives the medical caregivers an easy way to track a patients’ care. Grameen published an updated report on the progress of MOTECH in 2012.

The initial project was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation but has recently expanded. The expansion of this program is going to be funded by organizations such as USAID, the Government of Norway, Grand Challenges Canada, and the World Bank (in addition to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation).

‘Kenya’

In Kenya, Grameen has focused less on maternal health and more on agriculture and finance. Aside from their banking services, they also offer farmers updates on caring for crops post-harvest and connecting them with the financial markets to sell their products. This is called the e-Warehouse initiative.

‘Kiva’

Kiva is an organization I am familiar with. Similar to the Grameen model of micro financing, Kiva offers micro credit to projects and entrepreneurs. The sorting button wasn’t working so I am not sure all of the African countries that they operate in but I scrolled through the list and found Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda as a few Sub-Saharan Countries they have projects currently in.

 Sources:

PovertyCure, http://www.povertycure.org/issues/foreign-aid/

TED Talk by Andrew Mwenda, http://www.ted.com/talks/andrew_mwenda_takes_a_new_look_at_africa?language=en

 TED Talk by Simon Anholt, http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_anholt_which_country_does_the_most_good_for_the_world?language=en

Dead Aid, by Dambisa Moyo

The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs

Sach’s and His Proposed Solutions

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In Jeffrey Sach’s “The End of Poverty,” he argues that in order to meet the United States’ “share of the MDG needs,” they should impose a special 10 percent tax on the top 400 wealthiest individuals and impose increased taxes on anyone earning an income over $200,000.

While I am in favor of honoring all promises, such as the MDG funding requirements that our country and many others have made towards these goals, I don’t think this is as realistic or simple as he makes it sound. I don’t agree with his simplistic argument for taxation on Americans and I’m not sure who he is intending to address in his argument in Chapter 16. No one could impose these sweeping tax reforms as easily as he is suggesting. At the end of the chapter he then claims that he has found the solution… Now everyone else just has to implement it.

His solutions are flawed in its assumption that huge tax changes (especially for the purposes of foreign aid and investment) would be easy to implement. Does he think it is as simple as the Secretary of State filling out a form?

Even when a new city tax is being discussed, the City Council meeting is packed, journalists swarm and it makes the front page:

Where is the money going? Is it absolutely necessary? Who will it impact?

Taxes are controversial and I felt like he posed his solutions with a wave of a hand implying that they were no big deal.

I don’t take his proposal seriously because it isn’t practical unless he is also considering the breadth of work needed to implement the tax reform. It is also far from a sustainable solution if it can’t be implemented in the first place.

I looked at India and their need because Sach’s referenced it specifically in our reading. India’s aid package was relatively small and Sachs said it will diminish soon if we use his equation of accounting for the domestic revenue that should be spent internally on a nation’s own people.

Sach’s argued that if these costs were met (‘they have already been promised,’) there would be a 20 percent decline in extreme poverty. Malawi is in Sub Saharan Africa that has seen some reduction in their extreme poverty between 2004 and currently. However, when I looked at the World Bank’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper by the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy, it still reported 50.7 percent of the population in poverty in their last data check (2010). In 2004 this number was 52.4 percent. In fact, the country made much more progress in reducing poverty between 1998 and 2004.

Poverty Headcount

Regarding Chapter 16, I have heard some of his “myths” used as arguments by classmates, friends and family. I think humanitarians, economists, governments and citizens who all have experience and expertise in the subject matter disagree. For a few of these “myths,” I found that it is just experts and stakeholders looking at the isse with different numbers, arguments and perspectives.

One of the arguments I am speaking of is the “Money Down the Drain” argument used in his chapter, which is also an argument made by economists like Moyo. While they both have the intentions to spur economic growth and reduce extreme poverty in the region, they concluded two very different solutions. Sach’s responds to this argument with a conclusion that we just have given enough aid and Moyo says to eliminate it all together.

Class Reflection: This video of a Ghanaian entrepreneur we watched in class I found extremely powerful. I am surprised that is has so few views. However, I wish they had also interviewed anyone involved in the selection of software providers. Was there any reason other than the provided foreign aid that they accepted the European bid? Would it have been possible to accept the European contract for locations where this existing, locally-run organization was not servicing. I wonder if that was proposed and shot down.

I wrote that in my notes immediately after the video and later in the class, I was surprised to hear Giorgi wondered some of the same questions. Dr. Fischer questioned whether it was a bias against Africans ability that he would automatically question if this Ghanaian was legitimate? I asked myself: Am I unintentionally being biased as well?

Regarding the question: ‘Is it a bias that we don’t take these claims as truth at first hand?’ I explored it a little.

1. Perhaps we are. There is a possibility that these questions come from biased notions of African entrepreneurship. I’d like to think as a journalist I would have wondered about these gaps no matter who was speaking but bias certainly affects us all and is something to consider.

2. Perhaps we are unfamiliar with the idea of a government doing something that does not help the interests of its citizens. I automatically thought, ‘Why would a government do this? Could it be that the European company was better and could provide better service to Ghanaians that would outweigh the harm done to this one company?’

I think this automatically because of my own context and upbringing of what a government could be. One of my arguments against Sach’s taxation of Americans was that it would not happen because of its huge breadth and impact to citizens without directly benefiting U.S. citizens. It would be extremely unpopular and wouldn’t get very far through legislation.

This idea that the Ghanaian government would deliberately drive a Ghanaian company to do more laborious work for less profit seems very foreign to me and has a surrounding context that is very different than what I might experience if I suddenly wanted to start a business myself.

I would not have to compete with an influx of aid and would likely be given the benefit of the doubt when speaking about business struggles. Something for me to think about and I’m glad Dr. Fisher shared it with the class.

Part I Poverty Reduction Plans, Capital Solutions and Financial Strategies, Oh My!

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Part I

The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development in Ethiopia sent the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund the Ethiopia’s Sustainable Development and Poverty Reduction Program (SDPRP) in August of 2002. Those can be found here.

The first thing that stood out to me about these document is the size. It’s a book. Over 200 pages of carefully researched statistics and monitoring would have taken time and money to do As one of Moyo’s many points, she states in Dead Aid that limited accountability is one of the (numerous) reasons for the failure of aid.

The second thing that stood out to me was the initial statement that economic growth is not the primary policy goal in order to achieve a reduction in poverty.

I was instantly curious as to what their main goal was, if not economic growth.

The documents said that their main strategies that they would be suggested are focused on rural, agricultural development. They also said that a free-market economic system was the primary goal in that it would help the economy develop rapidly, decrease the need for aid dependency (specifically food) and focus on the poor as the primary targets for economic growth to benefit.

Photo: University of Stanford

Photo: University of Stanford

The article’s focus on rural, agricultural practices reminded me of Rosamond Naylor’s response to Edward Miguel’s article, Africa’s Turn? She said:

“Although the overall economic situation in sub-Saharan Africa appears to have improved in recent years, any discussion about a sustained turnaround for the region must consider the rural sector and the role of agricultural development in improving the livelihood of the poor. Even as better macroeconomic management and higher export commodity prices have in recent years led to per capita income growth in several countries, the poorest rural populations—the landless or small landowners who are net consumers of food—remain desperately poor. According to World Bank statistics, over half of sub-Saharan Africa’s rural population still lives in poverty, and the depth of poverty is greater than in any other region of the world, with many surviving on roughly $0.60 per day.”

I also looked at Senegal’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Plan (PRSP), which was completed much more recently. This one was much shorter than Ethiopia’s report, less than half the size actually.

I noticed from the beginning that they broke the report off into time periods, allowing the reader to understand the context of the policy report, which was informative and helpful.

The first thing I found interesting was No. 4 in the context portion. It reads:

“It was formulated in a difficult international economic context, marked by the surge in the prices of food and energy products, combined with an uncertainty triggered by the likelihood that it might rapidly change. Besides, the persistence of the financial crisis illustrated by the turmoil in financial markets as well as the difficulties encountered by the advanced economies should, most probably, increase the risks of slow‐down in world economic growth, but could on the other hand redirect part of the FDI flows.”

I didn’t know what FDI flows were off-hand until I Googled and found it meant the Foreign Direct Investment inflows and outflows.

The inflows are the amount of investment the country gets by non-resident investors and the outflows are the amount of investments made by residents of, in this case, Senegal, into other nations.

The second thing that stood out was that about 2/3rds of the Senegalese population is under 25 years old! Also, that half of the population lives in rural areas, which was a little less surprising. With so many young people, I can’t imagine there would even be enough teachers in Senegal to teach the population, even if that were financially possible. I found those numbers to be really interesting fact about Senegal and I’m sure since 2010, those number have changed dramatically many times more.

Check out some more recent statistics on their population in this Youtube video byYouth Heroes: