Briefing Paper Number 6 (February 2009)
One in every eight U.S. residents is living in poverty, according to the last official count conducted by the Census Bureau. But these data reflect conditions through 2007, well before the current recession.
Poverty and hunger on any scale is intolerable in a country as wealthy as the United States. To reduce poverty and hunger—and eventually eliminate them—the United States must be prepared to act more boldly than it has for several decades. Step one should be to set a national goal to end hunger and poverty, with a target date, so that progress can be tracked.
Ending poverty and hunger will require a comprehensive framework of solutions, that recognizes the many factors that contribute to economic hardship, such as lack of employer-provided health insurance, poor schools, lack of affordable housing, little access to financial services, and a host of others. Goal setting is the critical first step, as it focuses the nation's attention on outcomes and gives the public a way to hold the nation's leaders accountable.
Background Paper Number 200 (December 2008)
The following stories show how U.S. foreign assistance works—and how it could work even more effectively with these principles of reform (in italics). Your Offering of Letters can help make these principles a part of U.S. foreign policy.
Briefing Paper Number 5 (August 2008)
Providing aid is just one way that developed countries can support developing countries in their efforts to reduce poverty and improve human development. Policies on trade, immigration, and transferring technologies, especially essential medicines, also reflect their commitment to development.
Developed countries have agreed to establish a policy environment that does not undermine efforts for developing countries to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Goal Eight calls for developed countries to ensure greater coherence among an array of policies critical to achieving the MDGs. On policies related to trade, migration, and intellectual property rights, the United States and other rich countries are not living up to this agreement.
Improving its policies in trade, migration, and intellectual property rights would not only prove that the United States is fully committed to global development, but also would increase the effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance.
Briefing Paper Number 4 (July 2008)
Sustainable progress against hunger and poverty should be a top priority of U.S. foreign assistance. Elevating development and fixing foreign aid are the most important things the United States can do to respond to the global hunger crisis.
Effective aid includes clear objectives, host-country "ownership," accountability and flexibility, longterm commitments, integrated approaches, and adequate and reliable resources. In working toward a more effective development assistance program, nothing less than a comprehensive reauthorization of the Foreign Assistance Act is required, and this should include a cabinet-level department for global development.
The United States must provide leadership commensurate with its resources and values. Reforming foreign assistance would strengthen the U.S. reputation around the world, and beyond that, it would be part of a more sophisticated and realistic approach to national security.
Briefing Paper Number 3 (June 2008)
A spike in global food prices has increased hunger. A prolonged period of higher prices threatens to stall or reverse progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Of the 862 million poor people around the world who are chronically hungry, 75 percent live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their earnings. Increasing agricultural productivity in poor countries is critical to reducing hunger. It increases food supply, which lowers food prices. Poor people benefit the most because they spend a much greater share of their income on food. Increasing the productivity of smallholder farmers also raises their incomes, improving their ability to cope.
Over the last twenty years, donors have been partners in a progressive decline in support for agriculture and rural development. A substantial increase in funding for agriculture is needed but aid by itself won't be enough. Reforming trade distorting policies in rich countries is also necessary. In addition, developing countries themselves have to provide supportive policies, along with additional investments, for donor resources to be effective.
Briefing Paper Number 2 (May 2008)
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) represent an unprecedented partnership among nations to better the lives of hungry and poor people across the globe. As the 2015 target date approaches, many developing countries have already made extraordinary progress, improving the lives of millions of people. But not all countries or regions of the world are on track to meet the MDGs.
Developing nations face many barriers to achieving the MDGs, some unique and country-specific, others broadly shared. Common problems faced by fragile nations can be grouped into four areas: poor starting conditions; weak governance and institutions; conflict and instability; and environmental degradation.
To meet the MDGs and create a sustainable path to development, countries must adopt policies and programs to overcome these problems. Developed countries have a role to play in overcoming these barriers. Aid donors, particularly the United States, must ensure that development assistance is flexible enough to help countries address these challenges and meet the MDGs.
Briefing Paper Number 1 (February 2008)
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) represent an unprecedented effort on the part of the world community to better the lives of hungry and poor people across the globe. Taken together, the MDGs serve as a comprehensive vision of human development—one marked by dignity, equality and opportunity for all.
The goals commit all countries in a partnership to eradicate hunger and poverty, ensure that all children have access to a primary school education, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, promote gender equality, combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, and ensure environmental sustainability. The MDGs also require developed countries to provide additional development assistance, grant debt relief to low-income countries and reform global trade rules to promote sustainable development.
By including measurable targets, the MDGs provide benchmarks to use in assessing progress and determining whether adjustments are needed in national and international strategies. The goals provide a framework for coordinating development efforts, and they build on decades of success in development programming around the world.