• 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

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Celebrating the Good News in Africa

Farmer in Rulindo, RwandaImage by jon gos via Flickr

Each week, I wait with great anticipation for Nicholas Kristof's opinion pieces in The New York Times. I think that his writing is insightful, full of compassion, and in some ways prophetic. In fact, I get so much out of his writing that I decided to follow him on Twitter. He has not let me down. Tonight, he tweeted the following: "We journalists focus on Africa's wars, failed states and famines. Here's a site to put it in context . . . " The site is www.seeafricadifferently.com. As the site name suggests, its creators want us to look not just at the considerable problems that the people of Africa face, but also to celebrate the progress that has been made as the world has come together to make a difference.

Here are some facts from the site:
- 30% of Africans use mobile phones; Egypt, Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda have mobile coverage of over 90%.
- Eighteen countries, representing one third of the continent's population, have averaged annual growth rates of 5.5% over the past 10 years.
- Since 2003, 29 million more children have started primary school.
- In 2007, L1.6 billion was spent globally on Fairtrade certified products, benefiting 7 million farmers, workers, and their families.
- In the last five years, the number of HIV patients receiving treatment has risen from 1% to 30%.
- Rwanda has the largest proportion of women in parliament of any country in the world.

These are great statistics and should encourage all of us to believe that the goal of eliminating extreme global poverty is reachable with hard work and sufficient investment. In does not mean that we can reduce our level of commitment or think that the crisis is over, because it certainly is not, particularly given the fact that the current economic crisis if causing millions to slide back into extreme poverty. However, it is important to celebrate the accomplishments even as we confront the challenges.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

G20 Summit

Tomorrow leaders from the G20 will gather in London to continue their discussions regarding the world economic crisis.

The countries comprising the G20 account for approximately 90% of world GNP, 80% of world trade, and 2/3 of the world's population, so they pull some serious economic weight. Membership is comprised of the finance ministers and central bank governors of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, and also the European Union who is represented by the rotating Council presidency and the European Central Bank. In addition, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the President of the World Bank, plus the chairs of the International Monetary and Financial Committee and Development Committee of the IMF and World Bank, also participate in G-20 meetings on an ex-officio basis.

According to the G20 website, "the Group of Twenty (G-20) Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors was established in 1999 to bring together systemically important industrialized and developing economies to discuss key issues in the global economy." The G20 "is an informal forum that promotes open and constructive discussion between industrial and emerging-market countries on key issues related to global economic stability. By contributing to the strengthening of the international financial architecture and providing opportunities for dialogue on national policies, international co-operation, and international financial institutions, the G-20 helps to support growth and development across the globe.

This gathering, of course, presents tremendous opportunity for the rich nations of our world to collaborate on a unified response to the challenges that affect each member nation. It is an opportunity to look not only at the specific challenges facing our nation, but to recognize the role that we play and the responsibility that we share, in making sound choices for all people, not just our own. We cannot only take into consideration what is best for Americans, but must also consider how our mismanagement of the financial system affects millions of people around the world.

Barbara Stocking, chief executive of Oxfam International, said today, "Rich governments whose policies contributed to the crisis have a responsibility to help those who cannot afford their own bailouts" (read the article here). The press release from Oxfam actually is entitled, "Bank bailout could end poverty for 50 years – Oxfam tells G20." That's quite a statement and should give us pause. Rich countries have committed $8.42 trillion to bail out troubled banks. That is the equivalent of $1,250 for every man, woman, and child on the planet. According to Oxfam, the annual cost of lifting the 1.4 billion people living on less than $1.25 per day is $173 billion. Something to consider as we spend so much to try to preserve our comfortable way of life here in the rich world.

One of the best places to follow teh G20 from a development perspective, particularly from teh perspective of those seekign to end global poverty is at the ONE website. There is lots of great information, their policy recommendations, and daily updates.

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