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Methods to End Global Poverty
What's good and bad about each strategy

There is big debate on the best way to end extreme global poverty. This explains what's good and bad about each of these plans.

I. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
The MDGs are a widely accepted plan for cutting extreme poverty in half by 2015.

In 2001, recognizing the need to assist impoverished nations more aggressively, UN member states adopted the 8 targets listed below.

The MDGs aim is to spur development by improving social and economic conditions in the world's poorest countries. The plan is to finance this by transferring of billions of dollars from wealthy nations’ governments directly to governments in developing nations.

1. Calls on the world’s wealthy nations to increase their giving to 0.7 percent of their total national income (GNP). The UN Millennium Project analysis of the MDGs indicates that 0.7 percent of rich nations’ total national income (GDP) can provide enough resources to meet the Millennium Development Goals.

2. Promotes eight worthy goals:

  • Eradicate hunger and poverty
  • Achieve universal primary education
  • Promote gender and equality and promote women
  • Reduce child mortality
  • Improve maternal health
  • Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
  • Ensure environmental stability
  • Develop a global partnership for development

If these goals are achieved, world poverty would be cut by half, tens of millions of lives would be saved, and more than a billion people would rise above extreme poverty.

1. Many nations are falling short of their promise to give 0.7 percent of their GNP.

2. Giving billions of dollars to governments in the developing nations can be wasteful. Much of the money is lost to bureaucracy and corruption.

3. Uneven progress in overcoming poverty shows further problems with the MDGs:
The Sub-Saharan Africa region has least benefit from economic development independent of foreign aid. Therefore, it is the best place to look for how effective the MDGs really are. This region still has the largest number of people living below $1 a day. Based on the region’s slow progress towards reducing poverty, UN agencies predict that it will not reach its MDGs targets. The UN is concerned that poverty may rise from 314 million in 2001 to 366 million people by 2015 in Sub-Saharan Africa. This 16.5 percent increase is quite a contrast from the MDGs goal of a 50 percent reduction.

Other regions including large parts of East Asia and Latin America have made more rapid progress. This maybe due to economic growth from private business, trade and investment, independent of the MDGs contribution.

II. Direct Service
Direct service deals with directly assisting one person, village, or particular group at a time. Some programs focus on women, young children, low income entrepreneurs, one region, or prevention of a specific disease.

1. The best programs successfully focus on those in greatest need. This can help very poor people lift themselves from poverty.

2. Further, the best of these programs are models that can be expanded on a larger scale.

1. Direct service is often too small to reach most of the hundreds of millions of the world’s poorest people, even though it might be of great benefit to particular areas. Nonprofit organizations usually only have a fraction of the funds that governments could spend.

2. Many non-profits organizations working in same areas might overlap their delivery of services, or send the same item to all different areas, whether needed by these groups or not.

3. The focus can be on delivering an item without the follow up to make sure it’s used correctly. Sometimes, the items end in the black market, never reaching those it’s intended for.
For example, when used correctly, insecticide-treated bed nets can lower malaria infections and deaths. It was observed in a study in Western Kenya, that 30 percent of those who got bed nets did not adhere to proper net use. In parts of Zambia, these nets also ended up being used as fishing nets or wedding veils.

III. Direct Service and support to the MDGs
There are organizations whose focus is on direct services but also support the Millennium Development Goals.

Pros and Cons:
This combination has all the advantages and disadvantages of the two options described above.

IV. Direct Service but questioning the MDGs
Some organizations focus on direct services but they either do not agree with the MDGs or think that the MDGs are questionable.

This has all the advantages of direct service, and the added advantage of raising awareness of the need to find an alternative to the MDGs.

Criticizing existing programs is not enough if it fails to provide a comprehensive alternative. This can add to already widespread discouragement in the face of the size of extreme global poverty.

V. The End Poverty Campaign alternative:
The End Poverty Campaign uses public education and activism to support a new plan.

This new idea avoids the bureaucracy and corruption of giving money to developing nations’ governments. Instead, aid goes directly to those who need it most, supervised by an expanded Peace Corps.

Although this idea has great potential, it can seem abstract to many people. It is harder to motivate people for large scale programs than it is to attract support for help to specific individuals or groups, even if this only helps a fraction of the people who need it most.

MDGs and direct service recognize the need to improve human and economic development in many developing countries. They are both challenged by inefficiencies, as summarized above. Some of these programs are for emergency needs, and do not get to the root of how people can permanently lift themselves from poverty.

The End Poverty Campaign supports a new, comprehensive strategy, distributing aid on a large scale directly to those who need it most.

If you are interested in getting to the root of the problem and helping millions of the world’s poorest people lift themselves from extreme poverty, please join the End Poverty Campaign!

What's wrong with other global poverty programs? - how we can do much better than the widely praised but seriously flawed Millennium Development Goals

Hearts & Minds End Poverty Campaign logo links to more on how you can help END extreme hunger and poverty worldwide

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by Michele Dookie, Hearts & Minds volunteer
Copyrights: Entire website 1997 - 2015 by Hearts and Minds Network, Inc., This web page - http://www.heartsandminds.org/poverty/methods.htm - online July 1, 2010, latest changes July 1, 2010


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