Post 1: How can we help poor countries?

Today, I’ll talk about the actions rich countries put into place in order to help poor countries. The main subject will be on what could be done, and the usefulness of foreign aid.

  • Jacqueline Novogratz in her TED talk brings up the question on how to define poverty. What is her answer? What is her main message?

Ms Novagratz gives us a different approach on poverty. Most people might think that poverty is a determined number given by economists. A person earning less than $4 per hour is considered to be poor. However, she points out that some people may not be qualified to be “poor” but might still not be able to live at ease with good living conditions since they can’t afford to buy their own house, or have their own bedroom for example. The standards of living vary from each country and it is, therefore, hard to give an exact wage per hour to define poverty.

Her main message is that the world cannot end poverty by “simply” giving money to poor countries like the ones inAfrica. In order, for countries to not be poor anymore, she says we have to “build viable  systems on the ground to deliver affordable goods and services to the poor in the ways that are financially sustainable and scalable.” To resume, we have to help the people of those poor countries work and develop their business by providing them a way to access goods that are more affordable.A worker looks for holes in mosquito netting at A to Z Textile Mills in Arusha, Tanzania

To help the audience understand she gives two main examples: one is farmers that were able to make their production grow thanks a new tool. The second example is  a mosquito net company in Tanzania that became the best company of the country in only a couple of years and that was thanks to the work from local workers, mostly women motivated to do their best in order to improve their way of life.

PHOTO: Sulay Momoh Jongo, 7, is seen inside a mosquito net in a mud hut in Mallay village, southern Sierra Leone, on April 8, 2008. REUTERS/Katrina Manson


  • What is the vision, the goal of the SDGs? What is the effect of neo-liberalism (cutting government spending promoted by the World Bank and IMF)?

The Sustainable Development Goals, long for SDGs, is a concept that has for goal to solve global problems in a sustainable way by using sustainable resources for future generations. Sustainable development therefore aims to create a balance among environmental,social and economic goals.

In a world, which will have to fit 9 billion people by 2040, the number 1 goal of the SDG is to end poverty, since as of today there are up to 1 billion people that are considered “poor” or below the line of poverty. When thinking about poverty, most people will first think that people are starving and/or don’t have access to potable water. That’s the second goal of the SDGs: to end hunger and achieve food security as well as improving the nutrition for as many people as possible.

The effect with neo-liberalism is the impact it has on the process to achieve the goals. Indeed, neo-liberalism has a tendency to care more about the development of a market even if it’s at the expense of the environment. Cutting government spending (mainly after the Cold War) means that there is less money going to the SDGs which in return means less financial help to succeed in achieving the goals.english_sdg_17goals_poster_all_languages_with_un_emblem_1

Photo SDGs

  • John McArthur in Own the Goals talks about “Players on the Bench”. Who are they and what do they criticize?

According to John McArthur, United States is the Players on the Bench. They initially promised a 50 percent increase in U.S foreign aid within three years. However, the country said that they supported the Millennium Declaration but not the Millennium Development Goals even though both are linked and have the same interests. The main criticism is made on the fact that the US government, under the Bush presidency, improved the access to the medication for people who have AIDS, even though it wasn’t directly listed in the goal of the MDGs meaning that Bush government wanted to improve its own goal instead of the one that the SGDs had planned.

  • The article “How to Help Poor Countries” (2005) addresses the question of more aid money. Please elaborate. What are suggestions by the authors?

They address the questionof whether rich countries should give more or less money to poor countries. The author researched countries to see if more aid money was needed to really help developing countries (What methods did they use?). They found that countries, like Vietnam and China which haven’t received much foreign aid, but are still still developed more than countries, such as countries in Africa which received more foreign aid.

More than money, the creation of domestics reforms within their countries China and Vietnam have been able to prosper and reduce poverty. The access to foreign market also plays an important role and countries that are developing successfully are the ones that know how to exploit their advantages. A quote that define well the complicated road toward the end of poverty from the article “How to Help Poor Countries” by Nancy Birdsall, Dani Rodrik, and Arvind Subramanian: “At its best, aid has helped nations rebuild after conflicts and assisted in achieving specific objectives. But its role in creating and sustaining key institutions and long-term economic health has been much less clear.”

To end, here is a pie chart which shows what American think on foreign aid.