include - APP/views/blogs/index.ctp, line 43
View::_render() - CORE/cake/libs/view/view.php, line 665
View::render() - CORE/cake/libs/view/view.php, line 375
Controller::render() - CORE/cake/libs/controller/controller.php, line 808
Dispatcher::_invoke() - CORE/cake/dispatcher.php, line 229
Dispatcher::dispatch() - CORE/cake/dispatcher.php, line 193
[main] - APP/webroot/index.php, line 88
Rüschlikon is a village in Switzerland with a very low tax rate and very wealthy residents, including top mining executives. It receives more tax revenue than it can use.
Zambia also has a strong connection with mining - it has the 3rd largest copper reserves in the world, but 60% of the population live on less than $1 a day and 80% are unemployed. They are wealthy, yet they are poor.
How can this be?
Why Poverty? have commissioned a number of lyrical, exhilarating and sometimes unsettling films to provoke discussion about poverty. Stealing Africa will be shown on BBC 4 on Monday 26th November at 10pm.
This week, as the world watched with baited breath the violent clashes in Gaza, Goma and Syria, the harrowing images and stories broadcast on our television screens offer a cold reminder of the human cost of conflict.
There is little dispute that conflict, development and peacebuilding are intrinsically linked. Yet the current development framework in the form of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) largely ignored this connection. And, as the 2015 deadline for the achievement for these global targets looms, the facts speak for themselves:
No low-income fragile or conflict-affected country has yet achieved a single MDG;
Of the 46 countries at the bottom of the UNDP’s human development index, 32 are conflict-affected or fragile;
60% of the undernourished, 61% of the impoverished, 77% of the children not in primary school, 65% of the people lacking access to clean water and 70% of infant deaths occur in fragile or conflict-afflicted states.
As we entered the new millennium, the dark shadow cast by a decade of atrocities and civil war was long. The fact that the Millennium Declaration and its subsequent goals gained the signatory approval of 189 countries was, by all accounts, a triumph. And relentless pursuit of their achievement by 2015 in as many countries as possible is still essential.
Photo: Andreas H Lunde
But they offered a ‘top-down’ approach to development that emphasised basic service provision. They were right for their time, but the time is now right for a new approach.
The MDGs encouraged schools for girls, but they have not attacked the sexual violence and rape used as weapons of war. They have delivered vaccines for children, but have not stopped their recruitment as child soldiers. They have improved access to clean water, but have not halted the flow of blood.
When we look beyond 2015 and to the future, we have to decide what worked well with the existing framework, together with what did not, and incorporate these lessons learned into a new and improved approach. But this time, the ‘we’ has to include, and indeed be led by, the voices of the developing world.
Looking at the evidence, it is clear that the MDGs have failed in fragile and conflict-affected states, and those states are failing the 1.5 billion people who live within their borders. The Goals have not sufficiently tackled the structural causes and drivers of conflict, choosing instead to treat the symptoms. Sticky plasters don’t heal wounds; they merely cover up the more fundamental problem.
Of course, developing and winning support for a new model is tough. Can global goals ever be made relevant to local contexts? Should national governments be responsible for setting measurable benchmarks? Can the need for a comprehensive framework work alongside the importance of clarity and simplicity? What financing mechanisms would be suitable for states with high levels of corruption? Can one framework truly capture the various issues that are to be addressed? Would it be better to forgo quantifiable targets all together?
These are difficult questions that will no doubt lead to difficult conversations, but they are ones that need to be discussed, negotiated and, ultimately, answered.
What is surely not a matter for debate, however, is the inclusion of the voices and needs of people in developing fragile or conflict-affected states in any emerging plan. Negotiations on the post-2015 framework must bring all stakeholders to the table if they are to be truly inclusive. They must also address the inequalities – real or perceived – that are often at the heart of conflict and fragility.
Developments, such as The New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States, the joint statement by civil society on ‘Bringing peace back into the post-2015 development framework’, and recent comments made by David Cameron in his capacity as Chair of the High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, are promising in this regard. But momentum and leadership are now paramount.
UK aid expenditure for 2012/13 in Palestine and the Democratic Republic of the Congo amounts to around £86 million and £165 million respectively. Recent events only go to show that, regardless of how much money you throw at a problem, conflict can very quickly escalate and reclaim any ground made in development. This is why the causes and drivers of conflict need to be addressed as a priority for the post-2015 plan, and the UK is in a unique position to ensure this becomes a reality.
-- Lord McConnell was the youngest and longest serving First Minister of Scotland – from 2001 to 2007 – and he was appointed to the House of Lords on 28 June 2010. Lord McConnell was the Prime Minister’s Special Representative for Peacebuilding from 2008 to 2010, and Education Adviser to the Clinton Hunter Development Initiative in Malawi and Rwanda.
Last week, there was a great quotation doing the rounds on Twitter, Pinterest and other social media from the Mayor of Bogota in Colombia. The quotation was "A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It's where the rich use public transport".
Credit: Smart Move Campaign
I think the reason people seem to like the quotation so much is that it appeared to turn usual, simple ideas of what development means "on their head". It was similar to the effect the book Poor Economics had when it was published last year with the headline "Why would a man in Morocco who doesn't have enough to eat buy a television?" The headline was intriguing. But once you started reading Poor Economics it made sense. The authors explained that even though nutrition is important, poor people – just like rich people – have desires and aspirations like TVs or mobile phones. It's just that poorer people need to sacrifice more in terms of their nutrition and basic needs to meet those pressures or desires, compared to rich people. Denying the reality of people's aspirations just isn't realistic - and that means that poverty reduction can, surprisingly, involve TVs.
In the same way, with a bit of explanation, the sentence by the Mayor of Bogota about aiming for public transport makes a great deal of sense once you understand the importance of aspirations.
Part of the argument is to do with costs of private transport.
For example, back in 2000, the WHO estimated that 1.3 million people die around the world from traffic accidents. That's more people than malaria kills. Such accidents are the leading cause of death for young people aged 5 to 29, 90% of which occur in developing countries. Cars also create congestion – wasting fuel and time that could be spent increasing productivity and trade. A 2011 IBM survey reported that 86% of respondents in Beijing, 70% in New Delhi and 61% in Nairobi said traffic was a key inhibitor of their work or school performance. Furthermore, 1.3 million people are killed every year from the effects of urban outdoor air pollution (the same number as deaths from indoor air pollution), with vehicles being one of the major emitters of such pollution alongside industry. Given that over half the world's population is forecast to live in urban areas by 2020, this number is likely to keep rising. These are costs that no-one, rich or poor, aspires to. And they are one of the reasons why DFID has recently said it will allocate £1m over three years to the Global Road Safety Facility.
But, despite all these costs, I doubt that I, the Mayor of Bogota, or an institution such as the World Bank (who recently published a paper on low-carbon transport), would say that investment in roads – which will attract some degree of private car ownership – is bad. Roads are crucial, for instance to connect rural areas to markets or cities. But policy makers can still try to encourage lower-carbon, more pro-poor and safer road users such as buses or car-sharing schemes, or, in cities, encourage alternatives such as Metro and Bus Rapid Transit. Although they might be more complex, require higher upfront investment, or a particular type of contract to be viable, such alternatives could also offer opportunities for new markets around public routes – which would not exist if people used private cars. This is why, for example, DFID is helping Nigeria create a public-private partnership to build a train system in the capital city, Lagos, hopefully by 2016.
The cost argument also suggests we need to plan infrastructure carefully. In another World Bank report, there's this great picture comparing the "sprawl" of Atlanta and Barcelona, two relatively well-off cities with a similar population:
Source: World Bank 2012 & Betraud, 2003
If you were a developing country, what kinds of cities would you aspire to build?
Clearly, Atlanta has fewer options for “going green” than Barcelona will. Investment in electric vehicles alongside renewable electricity will be key for Atlanta. But if developing countries aim to build cities more like Barcelona they'll be able to invest in and get around on public transport more easily into the long-term.
But what exactly made the Mayor of Bogota think that using public transport can really be something to aspire to? We tend to think of cars as something that people everywhere want, especially if they are rich, just like TVs. But it seems they're not. A recent Economist article observed a declining trend in car use and ownership in rich countries. Here in the UK, people now only use their cars slightly more often than they did in the 1970s. The article suggested this could be due to a number of factors, including rising fuel costs, interconnectedness (e.g. so people can buy online rather than drive to shops), and the rise of public transport, cycle routes and car-sharing schemes.
Combined with the fact that private transport can be inequitable for the poorest people (because it requires cash up-front and expensive fuel thereafter) – these arguments made me think that Bogota's Mayor might just be right. If the route for developed countries involves regretting not investing in public transport, it might be wise to avoid that route on the path to development full stop. Now that is something to aspire to.
Hannah Ryder is Senior Economist for DFID. The original blog can be found here.
This blog was originally posted by Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale here, in advance of the debate on the UK government'??s Building Stability Overseas Strategy he tabled on Tuesday 30 October 2012 in the House of Lords.
As the nature of conflict has changed in the post-Cold War era, so too has the UK government’s policy discourse on development aid. Since DfID’s first White Paper in 1997, Eliminating World Poverty: a challenge for the 21st Century, we have witnessed a growing recognition that development and security are intrinsically linked. Over the last decade the UK has placed great emphasis on stabilising fragile and conflict-affected states, and the Coalition Government took Labour's work on this a step further in 2011 with their Building Stability Overseas Strategy (BSOS), an integrated approach to defence, development and diplomacy to ensure a durable and positive peace in fragile states.
Some may use the increased assistance offered to countries like Yemen as a rallying cry to denounce the ‘securitisation of aid’, but the facts suggest that this strategic shift is necessary – both morally and logically.
Over 1.5 billion people currently live in fragile and conflict-affected states and it’s no coincidence that not one of these has yet achieved a single Millennium Development Goal. People in fragile or conflict-affected states are more than twice as likely to be undernourished as those in other developing countries, more than three times as likely to be unable to send their children to school, twice as likely to see their children die before age five, and more than twice as likely to lack clean water. This is simply unacceptable.
Inequality and poverty are principal drivers of conflict - those who lack opportunity and a stake in their future are far more likely to turn to violence. Tackling these issues ‘upstream’ can go a long way to preventing future conflict. With the cost of insecurity generated by conflict totalling a global annual burden of $400 billion, being proactive makes fiscal sense. In terms of trade and investment, the incentives are also clear. The average cost of civil war is equivalent to more than 30 years of GDP growth for a medium-size developing country, and trade levels after major episodes of violence can take 20 years to recover.
The UK has championed the search for solutions internationally - from the key role of women in peacebuilding, to the need for greater urgency and coordination in post-conflict reconstruction. We have been consistent under both Labour and this Coalition government. With the publication of BSOS and the World Development Report on Conflict, Security and Development in 2011 we now have a road map, both nationally and internationally, to transform interventions and change millions of lives. Tonight, I will be asking the government about the progress they have made since the publication of BSOS. Is the Early Action Funding Facility working? Have they established the independent assessment of their conflict prevention work? How are they taking forward building capacity in regional institutions, like the African Union, and the 'prevention partnerships' with the emerging powers, like Brazil? Has the new internal Watchlist of fragile countries made a difference?
But this week is also a chance to influence policy in the next decade and beyond. The Prime Minister will co-chair and host the UN High-Level Panel established to report on the development framework required after the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals in 2015. Peacebuilding is the most important development challenge of our age, so his is a fantastic opportunity for the UK to put issues of conflict and development centre stage.
The MDGs were a product of their time. They focused on basic services and needs. But the world has moved on and today the poorest and most vulnerable people live in countries affected by violent conflict. I want us to use our leadership role in the High-Level Panel to insist that the new development framework reflects the importance of personal security and freedom from violence. New goals should specifically reference justice and the institutions that guarantee it. They should also provide for employment to underpin the social development that is the best method of conflict prevention. This week the Prime Minister must say clearly that we want to see these advances discussed, debated and agreed, and that we will use our unique position in the UN Security Council, the European Union, the World Bank and the Commonwealth to make this happen.
For the millions who suffer from conflict around the world, this is a matter of life and death. We should put them first.
Let us imagine some snapshots of a developing country: a healthy infant with a wide smile sitting in his mother's lap, a group of lively young girls going to school, a content elderly woman standing by her cow or a disabled man sitting in his grocery shop with a bright smile. Each of these tells us a story – a story of positive change. However are these glossy images of 'visible' change, showing us how well development is working, concealing the realities and complexities of what is really going on?
Concerning ourselves primarily with the short-term, visible and tangible successes of development projects may cause us to overlook potential problems and neglect whether or not any change is permanent.
The other day I was having a conversation with a project team based in Bangladesh. This team of thirty people had been trying to pull more than a hundred thousand people out of acute poverty. A tough job indeed, especially when you consider they only have a couple of years to do it in. But encouraging enough, the project started receiving some positive feedback from its financers, evaluators and other visitors traveling on the ground.
The team began celebrating what they had achieved; notable, visible, change within a short period of time. Spoiling their moment of celebration, I asked the project team, what is the negative side of having such 'visible' success? The team shared with me some thought-provoking points.
First, they noted that simply appreciating the short-term, visible impact of a project only looks at superficial aspects of a programme. As a result, in-depth analyses of events, causes, concerns and outcomes might be overlooked.
Secondly, they felt that by over-emphasizing immediate success, expectations of what projects can achieve, in a short time period, may be exaggerated. Accordingly, donors and funders might raise their thresholds and expectations of success to unachievable standards.
Finally, the team expressed their most alarming as well as overarching concern. By emphasizing immediate, positive, visible results, we often may undermine the issue of long-term sustainability. To get results in a short time, a project often has to push the knowledge, technologies or options that it is able to offer. Therefore those benefiting from projects may comply with instructions and accept what is on offer but they may not really believe in or support the project. This jeopardizes the potential long-term impact of the project.
This quick feedback from a field team may seem rather random but it has touched upon some basic limitations, concerns and dilemmas. Striving simply for strong, visible change in poverty alleviation could divert us from asking some odd, but basic questions – How real is this change? Who owns this change? Has enough been done to save this change?
It may be popular and useful to show the immediate and visible impacts of a particular project but it can also be detrimental. Focusing on immediate results can hide any underlying issues or problems with approaches and cause people to neglect the long-term and lasting consequences of the project. Therefore it is vital we encourage and support organisations or communities who are working with the people they are targeting, on projects that have a long-term outlook, in order to deliver sustainable change.
Despite the negative sides of 'visible success' in community development, we cannot ignore its importance or attraction. In this era of 'branding and visibility', we may need to balance between 'visible' change and 'real positive sustainable' change in the lives of the poor.