World Poverty For Dummies®

Table of Contents

World Poverty For Dummies


Wiley Publishing Australia Pty Ltd

About the Authors

Sarah Marland joined World Vision in 2002 and was involved in running the Make Poverty History campaign before moving to Amnesty International, where she now manages a campaign on human rights and poverty.

In 1985, on a balmy night in tropical North Queensland, 11-year-old Sarah watched Live Aid on TV and resolved to devote her life to the glamorous pursuit of saving the world. From there she became a teenage environmentalist, and a professional good-gal — getting a degree in social work and building creative and engaged communities in Brisbane and Melbourne. In 2002, she got a relatively normal job in an international non-government organisation. She’s still waiting for the glamour to kick in.

Ashley Clements has worked and lived with Burmese refugees on the Thai–Burma border, and now spends much of his time working with Iraqi refugees in Jordan. If you count the slightly unusual dialect of English he has developed over the years, Ashley speaks three languages and is working on his fourth: Arabic. He is also living in his seventh country, and thinking very hard about where his eighth will be.

He hasn’t been able to shake a passion for global politics acquired at the heart of the international community in Geneva, Switzerland. He studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics in the United Kingdom and, being a glutton for punishment, went on to do a Master’s in International Politics in Australia.

Lindsay Rae manages research and education at World Vision Australia, and is also doing research on social capital and global civil society. He worked as a secondary teacher and spent several years working with newly arrived young refugees in Melbourne’s suburbs. He studied Politics, Asian languages and Education and later taught politics at La Trobe University, Melbourne. Since 2000 he has worked as an education consultant in Australia and Indonesia.

Adam Valvasori is currently loving being the Values Manager at The Body Shop Australia, helping to turn consumers into activists. He has been a social marketer for World Vision, where he proudly created Stir (Google it!) and worked on Make Poverty History campaigns.

Unlike Sarah, Adam watched cartoon superheroes and TV ads. He studied public relations and marketing at uni and thought he’d be making spectacular ads by now. The determination of his heroes to do good and not sell out must have rubbed off, though. Their influence has led him to campaign for a better world rather than the ultimate sports deodorant. He has worked on Australia’s Youth Parliaments and youth initiatives like the National Youth Roundtable, National Youth Week and the youth Web site the source.


To everyone who does their bit to help end global poverty.

Authors’ Acknowledgements

Thanks to Charlotte Duff who believed in the project right from the get-go, and kept believing despite everything. To Maryanne Phillips who helped us get off to a great start and enormous thanks to Giovanni Ebono, without whom this would never have been finished and whose steady hand and enthusiasm made it all come together in the end.

Sarah writes: Thanks to Jennifer Campbell Case and Amnesty International Australia for cutting me a lot of slack to get this project done. And to my husband Andrew Macrae, who put up with the nights and weekends when I was working — or worse, avoiding it.

Ashley writes: Thanks to my high-school English teachers for making me believe I could change the world. Thanks to my family for getting me here, my friends for keeping me here and to my fellow Dummies for seeing this through, despite becoming scattered from the hive in Burwood.

Lindsay writes: Thanks in so many uncountable ways to Viktor Fischer, Russell Hocking, Melanie Gow, Linda Ng-Tatam, Lindy Stirling, Joelle Stoelwinder, Victoria Wells, Derek Streulens and Nicole Wiseman.

Adam writes: I’d like to thank all the aid workers — real live action heroes on minimum wage. Thanks also to the funky campaigners, volunteers and ordinary people who aren’t ‘aid workers’ but seeing a drum in front of them and feeling outraged at an injustice said ‘Damn it I’m going to make some noise’. For the people who realise they have a skill, a gift, and think, ‘I can give something back’, not ‘I’m going to make a lot of money’.

All we can ever ask: no matter who you are or what you do — be passionate about a justice issue outside your own bubble and just give the making of change a good, pirate-like, rum-go.

Publisher’s Acknowledgements

We’re proud of this book; please send us your comments through our For Dummies online registration form located at .

Some of the people who helped bring this book to market include the following:

Acquisitions, Editorial and Media Development

Project Editors: Giovanni Ebono, Maryanne Phillips

Acquisitions Editor: Charlotte Duff

Editorial Manager: Gabrielle Packman

The authors and publisher would like to thank the following copyright holders, organisations and individuals for their permission to reproduce copyright material in this book.

Fairtrade Australia: page 66 (figure 4-1)

United Nations: page 29 (figure 2-1) from The Millennium Development Goals Report, © United Nations 2007. Reprinted with the permission of the United Nations.

Every effort has been made to trace the ownership of copyright material. Information that will enable the publisher to rectify any error or omission in subsequent editions will be welcome. In such cases, please contact the Permissions Section of John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd who will arrange for the payment of the usual fee.


Layout and Graphics: Wiley Composition Services and Wiley Art Studio

Cartoons: Glenn Lumsden

Indexer: Don Jordan, Antipodes Indexing


If you’ve picked up this book, you may well share my feeling that poverty is one of the great moral and political issues of our time. Thinking about poverty it’s easy to get depressed, and easy to get angry — but I believe we now have good reasons to be optimistic.

As never before, we now have the resources to tackle what Bono calls ‘stupid poverty’. This is the stupid poverty where children die for lack of a 20 cent immunisation. The poverty that allows famine and malnutrition while European taxpayers subsidise every cow by over $2 a day. The same poverty that denies people basic needs like clean water and a safe place to call home, and the same poverty that leaves people vulnerable to trafficking and slavery.

For too long we have tolerated human suffering on a massive scale — suffering that is wrong and avoidable.

But now we have entered a new time and a new generation is finding its voice. Today’s generation can be remembered for much more than iPods and Facebook. This can be what Nelson Mandela termed ‘the great generation’ — one that leaves the world better than it found it.

Eradicating extreme poverty needs a real partnership involving both developed and developing nations. But it needs to be a partnership between people, as well as between governments. We need ordinary citizens in their millions to add their energy, their skills and their voices to this great global movement for justice. We have the resources — we just need the will to act.

I hope this book will help you to understand better the many and complex issues surrounding world poverty. But most of all I hope it will move you to action — to join the millions who are seizing this moment to make poverty history.

Tim Costello Chief Executive, World Vision Australia


For nearly all our professional lives, the four authors of this book have worked in organisations dedicated to helping other people. The sense of satisfaction we feel at the little we have achieved is almost overwhelmed by humility. The little bit we have done is insignificant compared to the enormity of the challenge presented by world poverty.

It is exhilarating to work on a project that makes a difference and it is close to the ultimate reward to see people who once struggled living a much better life. Exciting as those experiences are, it is breathtakingly disappointing to realise that there are billions more people in the same boat.

That’s the point of this book. The four of us can do so much, but with you on our side we can do a whole lot more. We need you to know, in detail, what the problems are, what can be done about them, and how you can help make those things happen.

That’s why we wrote this book and, we hope, that’s why you’ve picked it up.

About This Book

World Poverty For Dummies is an overview of the situation that faces billions of people in the world that you share. Because it describes the condition of whole populations, it summarises those conditions using statistics, facts and figures that regularly reach into the millions. This is a very impersonal way to talk about human lives. To counter the impersonal nature of those abstract numbers we have peppered the book with stories. Stories from our own experience, stories from other people who have worked in the field and stories from the people the book is about — the poorest people in the world.

Sometimes the statistics and the stories are overwhelming. Reading about people who are starving to death — or writing about it, for that matter — can leave you feeling flat and emotionally drained. This book is the tip of an iceberg though. For every number in every table, and every person in every tale, there are more people, more stories, and more aid workers getting on with life.

The great thing about the For Dummies style is that it encourages you to view those numbers and stories as pieces in a puzzle. It puts together the almost overwhelming amount of information in a logical and easy-to-digest manner. You can use this book as a reference, and get an overview of how extreme world poverty is; or you can treat the stories and statistics as a call to action, and head off to do something about this global tragedy.

Conventions Used in This Book

To help you navigate through this book, we use the following conventions:

check.png Italic is used for emphasis and to highlight new words or terms that are defined.

check.png Boldfaced text is used to indicate keywords in bulleted lists or the action part of numbered steps.

check.png Monofont is used for Web addresses.

Foolish Assumptions

Every author must make some assumptions about her audience, and we’ve made a few assumptions about you:

check.png You care. We say it often enough in this book to become a cliché, but it’s important. You wouldn’t pick it up unless you do, and because you do, we know that you will act on some of the suggestions we make.

check.png You are probably one of the world’s wealthier citizens. You read English, that’s a pretty good head start, and you have access to this book. That means you are probably not working in sweatshop conditions, or eking out a living with your bare hands in a drought-stricken landscape.

check.png You are educated. Most of the world’s wealthier citizens are. You can read. That means that you have skills that could be useful to an organisation trying to help the world’s poor.

check.png You can get access to the Internet if you want it. This will help you find out more about some of the organisations we mention in these pages and the programs they undertake. You can even participate in some of those programs online. So, get onto your Web browser and start helping.

If you fit any of these descriptions, then you’ve picked up the right book. We hope that our work in getting it into your hands helps you do your bit to help the world’s poor.

How to Use This Book

World Poverty For Dummies covers each topic in its own separate chapter. That means you can start anywhere. You can flick to any part of the book and start reading at random, or you can scan the table of contents and turn to a topic that catches your eye.

You probably know more about some topics than others and feel the urge to fill in some of the gaps. That’s the great thing about this format. You don’t have to follow our lead. Go where the urge takes you.

If you are a complete newbie to the issues driving world poverty, you’re probably best off to start at Chapter 1 and follow your nose. There are plenty of cross-references to lead you astray, but the disciplined among you will, no doubt, read it from one cover to the other. We’d like to think so anyway.

How This Book Is Organised

We’ve organised World Poverty For Dummies into six parts. The first three parts provide the background on poverty. They look at how it came to be the way it is, what impact that has and how it affects the individuals in the world’s poorest countries. Parts IV and V focus more on the bigger picture: What’s driving the global economy and how we can use those tools to relieve the agony of the world’s poor.

That leaves Part VI, the famous For Dummies Part of Tens. Each chapter in this part is a succinct list of top tips on a particular topic.

Part I: For Richer or Poorer

One in three people in the world has a real struggle surviving and the vast majority of them live in Africa, parts of Asia and South America. Part I of the book provides an overview of world poverty. It outlines who’s poor and who’s not, what impact this has on their lives, the characteristics of poverty around the world and what you can do about it.

Part II: Poverty’s Building Blocks

This part focuses on the factors that make nations poor. It starts with an historical overview, reviewing the history of colonialism, the impact of two world wars and the legacy of the cold war. It looks at the influence of the weather, climate and other natural features on the economies of the world’s poorest nations. Finally it examines the cultural influences of corruption and other attitudes that prevent nations from climbing out of crippling poverty.

Part III: Poverty Under the Microscope

Poverty not only threatens the lives of individuals in the poorest countries, it makes it almost impossible for them to put programs in place that will help them get ahead. The impact of poverty on women flows on to the health of whole communities and the education of their children, extending the damage into future generations.

Poverty prevents people from getting enough to eat, or drink. That damages their health, their physical and mental development, their education and their ability to produce goods to trade with. Their society is poorer as a result. The effects of poverty add to each other to create a compound result. Part III examines each of these effects, their long-term consequences and the strategies required to overcome them.

Part IV: Poverty’s Outlook

Major challenges face the world’s poor. With large numbers of poor people, human life is devalued and those further up the food chain are all too willing to take advantage of it. As a result, exploitation, slavery and sacrifice are horrifically common. The development of enormous cities with more than 20 million people, many of them living in unofficial settlements, adds organisational challenges to the mix. The influence of global warming threatens to reduce food and water supplies that are already stretched to the limit.

This part examines the depth of these challenges and the scenarios for surviving them.

Part V: Economics and the Levers of Change

The world economy and the institutions that drive it are the most influential forces on the future of rich and poor nations alike. A clear understanding of these forces and their impact on poverty is an essential prerequisite for eradicating the most extreme poverty. The chapters in this part follow the trail of the money. It looks at where the resources are, where the money flows in international finance, aid and trade. It looks at the impact these flows of cash and resources have on the lives of the global poor. It also examines the tools used by these global institutions to shape the future. Most importantly, it looks at how the systems that govern global trade keep countries poor.

Part VI: The Part of Tens

Four snapshots of global poverty, with ten frames in each. This part of the book lists the ten most exciting changes that have recently taken place and more than ten of the greatest challenges facing the world’s poor. Then it’s over to you. First up, the easy option of ten scintillating movies about world poverty, and the more difficult task of choosing among ten actions that you can take.

Icons Used in This Book

REMEMBER.eps When you see this icon, you don’t want to forget the accompanying info — pretty subtle, huh?

TIP.eps This piece of art clues you in on hands-on advice that you can put into practice. In most cases, this icon tells you how to get involved in some activity that is already taking place on the other side of the world.

Warningbomb.eps Ignore this information at your own peril. We use it to warn you about mistakes, missteps and traps that can cause despair in even the most enthusiastic worker on behalf of the world’s poor.

WorldWideWeb.eps When we send you off to the Web for more information, we let you know by plonking this icon in the margin. Just tap in the address provided and let your mouse lead you to the resources you need.

TechnicalStuffnew.eps This icon flags places where we get really technical about poverty. It might be the definition of an economic term or the economic analysis of a particular aspect of world trade. Although it’s great info, you can skip it and not miss out on the subject at hand. The stories that illuminate the facts have been highlighted with this little fella. They might be personal stories from one of the authors, but more often they are tragedies or stories of hope from somewhere in the world.

Where to Go from Here

For Dummies books are designed so that you can jump in anywhere and get the information you need. Don’t feel like you have to read every chapter — or even the entire chapter. Take advantage of the Table of Contents and Index to find what you’re looking for, and check it out. But, if you need an introduction to world poverty, take a close look at Parts I and II for the scoop on the field.

Part I

For Richer or Poorer


‘All this poverty and suffering is making me feel so guilty, I’m compelled to do something. Let’s holiday in a richer country.’

Glenn Lumsden

In this part . . .

One in three people across the globe struggles to survive every day. In a world of extremes, there’s nothing more extreme than the difference between the way that the rich and the poor live. In this part, you find out how everyone in the world is connected. We provide an overview of what it means to be poor and how being born into poverty affects all aspects of a person’s life. You also discover how the continent a person is born in determines how they experience poverty.

Want to know what you can do about the plight of millions living a desperate hand-to-mouth existence? This part also shows you the kinds of jobs that you can take on to help end world poverty.

Chapter 1

Rich World, Poor World

In This Chapter

missing image file Recognising the scale of the problem

missing image file Taking action to make a change

missing image file Seeing how aid works

Almost one million people die because of poverty every year. This is not because they are marooned on desert islands, or are lost in the desert. Neither is it because there’s not enough food in the world to feed the six billion people you share it with. Those people die because the political systems that govern how food and money move around the world are designed to protect the economy that makes you rich, even if it costs those people their lives.

The starving people in the world are only one part of the problem of poverty. Poverty damages the billions of the world’s poor every year. These folks are affected by water shortages, diseases caused by filthy water, overcrowding and mass violence. They experience the helplessness that comes from owning nothing, learning little and having no opportunity to get ahead.

Most of the world’s poor are poor because violence has taken away the land that should support them, they are denied health care and education by a dysfunctional government, or their resources are being taken by international companies to make cheap products for rich countries. If you understand how these problems conspire to keep the world’s poor at the bottom of the barrel, you can do something to help them.

The organisations formed to help the world’s poor operate at multiple levels. They work with governments to address these structural imbalances, they work with a wide range of people to collect the money and resources needed to do the job and they work on the ground with the world’s poor, trying to make a difference. Chapter 4 explains how they do their job — so that if you want to, you can help them to the best of your ability.

Taking Off the Rose-Coloured Glasses

As well as the shocking truth that about one million people die every year because of poverty, there’s the even more shocking reality that one billion people live in misery. The chapters in Part III deal with the effects of poverty on these people. These extremely poor people don’t get enough food to eat, or water to drink and wash with, and they have no hope of earning enough money to improve their lives. It is these people whom this book is about.

Many people assume that the world’s poor starve because:

check.png A drought affected their country for years so their crops failed

check.png They have no natural resources and so have nothing to trade

check.png A natural disaster destroyed their homes and national infrastructure

check.png A plague of locusts or mice came and ate all their crops

The shocking truth is that natural disasters and disadvantages are not the cause of extreme poverty. Those disasters do cause problems and do cause some people to be poorer than others. In general, though, extreme poverty kills millions of people because:

check.png Their governments sell the national resources for next to nothing

check.png Their government is in disarray owing to internal fighting

check.png They have been herded off their land and into refugee camps

check.png They work for foreign companies who pay them slave wages

In other words, the extreme poor of the world are extremely poor because someone is ripping them off. And, more often than not, the villain of the piece is rich. The extreme poor are condemned to a life of misery because someone else is making money out of their poverty. That someone else is often a company, a government or an individual from the rich half of the world. In February 2008, the Special Court investigating crimes against humanity heard that 75,000 people in Sierra Leone had been killed and many times that number had their hands amputated in an attempt to control the diamond trade. Millions of landmines and cluster bombs were spread around the country to prevent ordinary people from mining for diamonds. The dictator of neighbouring Liberia, Charles Taylor, is on trial for this genocide. The developed countries that sold the landmines and cluster bombs, the neighbouring countries that trained the militia, and the diamond traders who purchased the diamonds and are alleged to have paid private militia to distribute the landmines for over forty years, apparently, broke no laws. The humanitarian disaster evolved over ten years and was reported in the global media as a civil war, exacerbated by a drought.

The North–South divide

As well as the billion people living in misery, the world currently has about a billion people living in luxury. If you have enough food to eat and a house to live in, are warm in winter and comfortable in summer, and have an education that allows you to make some choice about the work you do, then you are one of the luckiest people in the world. Many people in rich countries can also afford:

check.png Eating out from time to time

check.png Entertainment — such as movies, concerts or sporting events

check.png Driving for pleasure on the weekend

check.png Holidays from work, and the opportunity to travel

check.png Personal computers, televisions, stereo systems

check.png Their own cars, holiday homes, investments

These luxuries are unimaginable to more than half of the people in the world.

Most of these billion wealthy people in the world live in North America and Europe. These rich countries are known as the North, or the first world, or the developed world. Until Japan became one of the richest countries in the world, the term the West was reasonably accurate, and it is still widely used. The map in Figure 1-1 shows at a glance why many diplomats divide the world into North and South, even though Australia and New Zealand are among the richest countries in the world and are in the Southern Hemisphere.

The most significant fact is that about 85 per cent of the world’s wealth is owned by 15 per cent of the world’s people. If you earn more than two hundred and fifty dollars a week, you are among the world’s wealthiest people. Part V lists some of the problems that make this imbalance of wealth an entrenched problem.

Figure 1-1: Map of the North–South divide.


TechnicalStuffnew.eps You may have heard that one billion people who live in extreme poverty live on less than US$1 a day. It doesn’t mean that they literally have one United States dollar to live off. That figure is based on what’s known as purchasing power parity, or PPP for short. PPP is a measure of equivalent spending power. So when you say that someone lives on less than US$1 a day, it means each day, they can purchase in their own country the equivalent of what a person living in the United States could buy for $1 — say, a bag of rice and a newspaper. To put it another way, imagine your wage was $365 a year. With that minuscule amount of money, you have to feed, clothe, shelter and educate your family. Another billion people live on less than US$2 a day!

The wealth of wealthy nations

This number of extremely poor people has not changed much over the last sixty years. At the end of World War II there were around two and a half billion people and around one billion of them (40 per cent) were extremely poor. Sixty years later, there are six and a half billion people and around one billion of them are still extremely poor.

There are more people in the world who are better off, but there are still a billion people suffering. Poverty has been almost eliminated in Western Europe and North America, and a greater percentage of the population in South America and Asia are better off. The challenges faced by each continent are discussed in Chapter 3.

As well as the billion extremely poor people with purchasing power equivalent to less than $1 a day there are two and a half billion more people in countries that are struggling economically. That means three and a half billion people are likely to have children who won’t be much better off than they are. Another two billion people, mostly in China, India and Brazil, are getting richer. There’s a detailed account of how this growth rate will impact on the world economies in Chapter 16. Individual Indians and Chinese are still extremely poor — on average they have less than one-thirtieth of the income of people in the United States. The middle class people (increasing in number) in those countries, however, have enough money to own houses and cars and to travel to other places in the world. On current growth rates, it will take them 40 years to catch up to the developed world.

WorldWideWeb.eps If you prefer to see things visually, you might appreciate the tools provided by WorldMapper. On the Web site at you can visually represent this disparity on a map. If you want to compare income, for example, the area of the country is adjusted by the ratio of income to population. The United States and Europe are very large, and Africa is so skinny it resembles a daddy-long-legs spider. You can choose to display a wide range of criteria.

The World Institute for Development Economics Research did a study of the world distribution of household wealth. Using information from 2000, they estimated that:

check.png The richest 1 per cent of adults in the world own 40 per cent of total global household wealth

check.png The richest 10 per cent of adults in the world own 85 per cent of global household wealth

check.png The poorest 50 per cent of adults in the world own barely 1 per cent of global household wealth

REMEMBER.eps The countries in the North, shown in black in Figure 1-1, control more than 80 per cent of the world’s wealth. You will be reminded again and again throughout this book that the governments of these rich countries make laws and regulations, and support military activity, to maintain this inequity. Chapter 19, for example, is devoted to the imbalance of trade and how this unfairly affects the poorest people on the planet.

Consuming like there’s no tomorrow

You probably don’t feel particularly wealthy. Especially when your kids demand the latest gadget, or your friends pour you a glass of expensive wine or boast about their latest holiday. It’s more than likely, though, that you have nearly everything you really need. You feel poor because there’s still lots of stuff you want. Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi observed that there are sufficient resources to satisfy all humanity’s needs, but not enough to satisfy everyone’s greed. Realistically, there’s no limit to what you want. That’s human nature.

Every year the United Nations releases a Human Development Report that compares various indicators of wealth around the world. The 1998 Report compared the spending priorities of the world’s wealthiest nations with the funds needed to provide basic services to everyone on the planet. What the UN found was:

check.png Cosmetics purchases in the United States $8 billion

check.png Basic education for all $6 billion

check.png Ice-cream purchases in Europe $11 billion

check.png Basic water and sanitation for all $9 billion

check.png Cigarette purchases in Europe $50 billion

check.png Basic health and nutrition for the planet $13 billion

The point is not to whip yourself every time you buy moisturiser or an ice-cream, but to put aside some of your energy and money for the world’s poor. You’ll still have a great lifestyle and, hopefully, they can have a better one too.

Acting to End the Agony

Knowing how bad life is for one billion of the world’s poorest people can make you feel a bit miserable . . . unless you do something about it. Chapters 4 and 24 describe actions you can take that will make a real difference to someone who’s struggling to stay alive. The most important actions, though, are taken by governments who determine the regulations that control the flow of money around the world. The whole of Part V is dedicated to the impact that government policy has on the global sharing of wealth. If you understand how that works, you can do your bit to influence the decisions that your government makes.

Goals for a new millennium

The Millennium Declaration was signed in 2000 along with a set of goals, called the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These goals form an eight-point plan to end poverty.

WorldWideWeb.eps You can read up on the goals, together with the 18 targets that define those goals and the 48 indicators for measuring progress towards them, at . The detail of these goals, the targets and the indicators are listed in detail in Chapter 18.

check.png Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

check.png Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education

check.png Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women

check.png Goal 4: Reduce child mortality

check.png Goal 5: Improve maternal health

check.png Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases

check.png Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability

check.png Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development


Other campaigns

Ending world poverty takes a commitment. It’s everyone’s responsibility to help halve extreme poverty by 2015.

The Global Call to Action Against Poverty is a global campaign to call on world leaders to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. This campaign has different guises in different countries. In Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada it’s called Make Poverty History. In the United States, it’s the ONE campaign. Its aim is to mobilise ordinary people to call on their leaders to do their bit to end poverty.

Nelson Mandela launched the campaign in Trafalgar Square in 2005, comparing it to the movements to abolish slavery and apartheid. He said, ‘In this new century, millions of people in the world’s poorest countries remain imprisoned, enslaved, and in chains. They are trapped in the prison of poverty. It is time to set them free. While poverty persists, there is no true freedom.’

TechnicalStuffnew.epsThese campaigns encourage governments to meet the Millennium Development Goals, and in particular to do this by:

check.png Giving more and better aid

check.png Dropping poor country debt

check.pngMaking trade fair

check.png Helping poor communities keep their governments accountable

check.png Tackling climate change

WorldWideWeb.eps There’s lots of ways you can get involved in the campaigns to end poverty. See what’s happening in your country:

check.png Australia:

check.png United States:

check.png United Kingdom:

check.png United Nations:

Actions you can take in your life

Citizens of rich countries can do a lot to help people living in poverty by donating, lobbying and volunteering. One of the most effective tools is to use your voice and your vote to encourage your government to do everything possible to act as a responsible global citizen. Go to the campaign Web sites listed in the preceding section for tips and ideas. Here are some other ways to help end poverty:

check.png Ask yourself, are you a responsible global citizen? What impact does your consumption and waste have?

check.png Keep yourself informed about the issues of poverty.

check.png Donate your money or time to an organisation working for positive change.

check.png Look into ethical investment portfolios.

check.png Investigate when making purchases — does this company use child labour? What’s their environmental record? How do they act in poor countries?

check.png Let someone else do the investigating for you — purchase Fairtrade goods.

Does Aid Actually Work?

Many people ask, ‘Does aid work?’ Given the scale of the problem and the myriad factors working against the poor, does it actually make a difference to the Asia–Pacific, or the Caribbean, what aid rich countries deliver? The short answer is, ‘Yes’. The longer answer takes all of Chapter 17 to spell out. It all has as much to do with the type of assistance that’s provided as the amount.

Foreign aid, combined with local efforts, has contributed to some amazing achievements:

check.png Smallpox across the globe has been eradicated, and significant decreases have been achieved in the infection rates of polio, river blindness and tuberculosis.

check.png Primary school enrolment has increased by 8 per cent in developing countries since 1991, with the most improvement being in the new millennium.

check.png The percentage of the population with access to proper sanitation has increased by 21 per cent across Eastern Asia, 12 per cent across Northern Africa and 9 per cent across Latin America and the Caribbean.

This is not to say that aid does not face challenges when not enough is provided to really get the job done, or when it’s too narrow in focus. Chapter 18 examines those challenges more closely. Health, for example, is proving to be a big problem in the Asia–Pacific region. World Vision Australia estimates that to provide even a basic service, aid of about US$16 per person is needed in the region annually. The aid contributed falls well short of these targets. In 2003–04 Papua New Guinea had only about US$5.20 per person for health services, and the Philippines had as little as US$0.40.

As well as receiving more aid, poor countries need that aid to be properly focused and well delivered and, most importantly, they need it to deliver services that allow them to get on with their lives, not become dependent on handouts from rich countries.