Hunger and Poverty Facts
The Verdict and the Vision December 26
Real progress has been made in the fight against poverty:
- The number of people living on $1.25 a day fell by 400 million people.
- The rate of chronically hungry people in developing countries fell from 20 percent to 16 percent.
- The mortality rate for children under 5 fell by 40 percent or more in Ethiopia, Malawi, and Niger.
But the world suffered a big setback beginning in 2007 with the food price crisis and the global recession. As a result:
- 1.5 billion people are in extreme poverty, living on less than $1.25 a day.
- Even though there has been an overall percentage decrease, 925 million people still suffer from chronic hunger worldwide, nearly 90 million higher than in 2000.
- More than 350,000 women die every year from complications during pregnancy, childbirth, or in the six weeks after delivery.
- 24,000 children die every day from poverty, hunger, and preventable diseases. That’s one child every 3.6 seconds.
To help the world’s hungry and poor people, U.S. foreign assistance must be made more effective by changing the laws and policies governing aid:
A stronger focus on reducing poverty.
- For every 5 percent drop in income growth in a developing country, the likelihood of violent conflict or war within the next year increases by 10 percent.
- Poverty-focused development assistance accounted for just 0.6 percent of the entire U.S. budget in fiscal year 2010.
- Ghana was the first African country to significantly cut the number of its people living in extreme poverty—from 37 percent in 1991 to about 16 percent in 2008. They achieved this through increased farm production by committing 10 percent of its budget to agriculture, and better coordination with aid donors.
Clearer accountability for how aid dollars are spent and their results.
- Currently, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, created under George W. Bush in 2004, is the only U.S. foreign assistance agency that publicly posts how its money is being spent, reports on its progress, and evaluates its impacts. The State Department and USAID are moving toward greater transparency.
- A recent Center for Global Development assessment of the quality of aid of 31 donor countries and agencies found that the United States scored in the bottom third on all evaluation indicators. This includes aid predictability, fragmentation across donor agencies, and use of recipient country systems.
A transformed U.S. development agency.
- USAID experienced a 38 percent decline in its workforce between 1990 and 2007, resulting in a diminished capacity to manage programs and resources.
- Downsizing at USAID over the past few decades has led to a dramatic loss of technical expertise. By 2010, the number of agricultural development officers decreased by 90 percent as compared to the mid-1980s.
Aid that meets the needs and wants of local people.
- Despite the U.S. government’s comprehensive, multi-sectoral development and relief strategy for Ethiopia, 90 percent of U.S. assistance to that country in FY 2008 was spent on HIV/AIDS and food aid. In an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development study that included 55 countries, the United States scored well below its peers on its ability to promote country partnership.
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