The Global Monitoring Report 2013: Rural-Urban Dynamics and the Millennium Development Goals examines rural-urban disparities in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and how urbanization, if managed well, can contribute to the attainment of these goals. The report provides information about the differences in progress toward the MDGs across geographical areas and recognizes that urban populations are better off than their rural brethren. However, unfettered urbanization can cause migrants and the urban poor to end up in slums where attainment of the MDGs lags. GMR 2013 calls for an integrated strategy to better manage the planning-connecting-financing formula of urbanization. Notwithstanding the importance of urbanization in poverty reduction and MDG attainment, rural areas remain a huge challenge—one that underscores the importance of policies that can improve rural livelihoods. The rural-urban spectrum ranges from small towns to large cities. The general experience is that poverty is lowest in the largest cities and considerably higher in smaller towns. The MDGs reflect the basic needs of all citizens, and governments should aim to meet them fully in both urban and rural areas. However, resources are scarce, so priorities must be set and trade-offs made. The report argues that the sequencing of actions be tailored to local conditions when it comes to the degree of urbanization and rural-urban differences in MDG outcomes. The world has met four global MDG targets. New estimates confirm the 2012 reports that MDG 1.a—reducing the $1.25-a-day poverty rate (2005 purchasing power parity)—was reached in 2010, falling below half of its 1990 value. The world also met part of MDG 7.c—to halve the proportion of people without safe access to drinking water—in 2010. MDG 7.d—to improve significantly the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020—was also achieved. Finally, the first part of MDG 3.a—to eliminate gender disparity in primary education— was accomplished in 2010. Global progress on the full MDG 3.a (to eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education) is close to being on track. Global Monitoring Report 2013 was prepared jointly by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, with consultations and collaborations with regional development banks and other multilateral partners.
Alleviating Poverty: Mobile Communications, Microfinance and Small Business Development Around the World
Source: Brookings Institution
Poverty is one of the most pressing problems around the world. According to statistics from the World Bank, nearly one-quarter of the global population lives at or below the poverty line of $1.25 per day.[i] With so many people struggling for basic subsistence, it is hard for those affected to get out of poverty, gain access to capital, or develop small firms or businesses that help them build a better life.
Yet with the growth of mobile technology, there are new opportunities for individuals and small businesses to lift themselves up. People can use handheld devices to make monetary transfers, arrange for microfinance loans, establish small enterprises, and improve their economic circumstances. This helps them alleviate poverty and create a better situation for themselves and their families.
Jeffrey Sachs, director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute, said that wireless communication is a breakthrough technology that helps to solve the worst problems associated with health care, poverty, and educational access. "Now in every village where I go, someone’s got a cell phone, somebody can make an emergency call, someone can find out the price on the market, someone can start a business empowered by the fact that they can reach a customer or a supplier, someone can drive a taxi or a truck for that reason as well. Everything is changing," said Sachs.[ii]
In this Mobile Economy Project report, Darrell West looks at the growth of handheld devices and investigates the barriers to doing business in the developing world. In particular, West explores how mobile devices enable individual entrepreneurship and small business development. Despite the presence of barriers such as corruption, lack of transparency and capital, and poor infrastructure in many parts of the developing world, there are successful ventures enabled by mobile technology.
The report details some of the cases which illustrate emerging possibilities for alleviating poverty in different countries including:
- The growth of mobile devices
- Mobile money transfer services
- Mobile tools for small businesses
- Microfinance applications
Sequestering Meals on Wheels Could Cost the Nation $489 Million per Year
Source: Center for Effective Government
Sequestering Meals on Wheels funds could cost taxpayers far more than it saves. While across-the-board spending cuts that began March 1, called sequestration, are expected to reduce spending on Meals on Wheels programs this year by an estimated $10 million, these savings will be dwarfed by at least $489 million per year in increased spending on Medicaid, both this year and in each subsequent year that sequestration remains in place.
Outside of Washington, waiting lists for Meals on Wheels enrollees have received media attention, but the expected savings have remained largely unquestioned. In reality, cutting Meals on Wheels will very likely increase the federal deficit by increasing the overall cost burden and shifting it to Medicaid, local charities, and other programs.
Overall, Meals on Wheels saves the federal taxpayers money by helping participants live at home instead of living in comparatively expensive nursing homes. The average cost to Medicaid of nursing home care per patient is approximately $57,878 annually.
By contrast, the cost to Medicaid of home care is much lower, approximately $15,371 annually, or $42,507 less than nursing home care. Nationally, according to a survey by the Administration on Aging, as many as "92% [of enrollees] say Meals on Wheels means they can continue to live in their own home."
Based on these estimates, our analysis suggests that sequestering Meals on Wheels funds will actually cost the U.S. taxpayer $479 million dollars over the seven months it will be implemented during this federal fiscal year, which ends September 30 (see the appendix for details of this estimate). Moreover, because sequestration-related cuts are expected to increase in FY 2014 and beyond, if sequestration is not reversed, Medicaid-related costs will increase even more in those years.
New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Defense Headquarters: DOD Needs to Periodically Review and Improve Visibility Of Combatant Commands’ Resources. GAO-13-293, May 15.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/654639.pdf
2. Strategic Sourcing: Leading Commercial Practices Can Help Federal Agencies Increase Savings When Acquiring Services. GAO-13-417, April 15.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/653771.pdf
3. Temporary Assistance For Needy Families: Potential Options to Improve Performance and Oversight. GAO-13-431, May 15.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/654616.pdf
4. Financial Audit: Congressional Award Foundation’s Fiscal Years 2012 and 2011 Financial Statements. GAO-13-554, May 15.
Source: Brookings Institution
Over a billion people worldwide live on less than $1.25 a day. But that number is falling. This has given credence to the idea that extreme poverty can be eliminated in a generation. A new study by Brookings researchers examines the prospects for ending extreme poverty by 2030 and the factors that will determine progress toward this goal. The interactive tool below allows users to explore the study’s key findings.
Source: Institute of Medicine
For many Americans who live at or below the poverty threshold, access to healthy foods at a reasonable price is a challenge that often places a strain on already limited resources and may compel them to make food choices that are contrary to current nutritional guidance. To help alleviate this problem, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) administers a number of nutrition assistance programs designed to improve access to healthy foods for low-income individuals and households. The largest of these programs is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly called the Food Stamp Program, which today serves more than 46 million Americans with a program cost in excess of $75 billion annually. The goals of SNAP include raising the level of nutrition among low-income households and maintaining adequate levels of nutrition by increasing the food purchasing power of low-income families.
In response to questions about whether there are different ways to define the adequacy of SNAP allotments consistent with the program goals of improving food security and access to a healthy diet, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) asked the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to conduct a study to examine the feasibility of defining the adequacy of SNAP allotments, specifically: the feasibility of establishing an objective, evidence-based, science-driven definition of the adequacy of SNAP allotments consistent with the program goals of improving food security and access to a healthy diet, as well as other relevant dimensions of adequacy; and data and analyses needed to support an evidence-based assessment of the adequacy of SNAP allotments.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: Examining the Evidence to Define Benefit Adequacy reviews the current evidence, including the peer-reviewed published literature and peer-reviewed government reports. Although not given equal weight with peer-reviewed publications, some non-peer-reviewed publications from nongovernmental organizations and stakeholder groups also were considered because they provided additional insight into the behavioral aspects of participation in nutrition assistance programs. In addition to its evidence review, the committee held a data gathering workshop that tapped a range of expertise relevant to its task.
2012 Global Hunger Index
Source: International Food Policy Research Institute
The 2012 Global Hunger Index (GHI) report—the seventh in an annual series—presents a multidimensional measure of global, regional, and national hunger. It shows that progress in reducing the proportion of hungry people in the world has been tragically slow. According to the index, hunger on a global scale remains “serious.” The 2012 GHI report also focuses particularly on how to ensure sustainable food security under conditions of land, water, and energy stress. The stark reality is that the world needs to produce more food with fewer resources, while eliminating wasteful practices and policies.
In the coming decades food security will be increasingly challenged by land, water, and energy scarcity. To improve poor people’s nutrition and food security in this environment, we will need to make a diverse range of foods more available and accessible, identify and address wasteful practices and policies, and ensure that local communities have greater control over and access to productive resources. In other words, we need to build a sustainable world, where the degradation of ecosystems is halted or reversed and all people have access to food, clean water, and modern energy and are empowered to use them for their own well-being.
Depression in Low-Income Mothers of Young Children: Are They Getting the Treatment They Need?
Source: Urban Institute
Maternal depression can have severe and lasting consequences for both a mother and her child. This brief uses the National Survey of Drug Use and Health to estimate the prevalence, severity, and treatment of major depression among low-income mothers with young children (ages 0-5). We find that one out of eleven low-income mothers with young children had a major depressive episode in the past year, and nearly one-third did not report receiving any treatment. While uninsured low-income mothers had much lower treatment rates than insured low-income mothers, rates were comparable across treatment providers, suggesting that Medicaid fills an important gap.
New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office
Local Administrative Records and Their Use in the Challenge Program and Decennial
GAO-13-269, Feb 21, 2013
Critical Infrastructure Protection
DHS List of Priority Assets Needs to Be Validated and Reported to Congress
GAO-13-296, Mar 25, 2013
Assessment of the Nation’s Need Is Missing
GAO-13-466R, Feb 25, 2013
Worker and Family Assistance
Summary of Proposals to Address Income Eligibility Requirement for Federal Foster Care Reimbursement
GAO-13-323R, Mar 25, 2013
New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office
Broadcast and Cable Television
Requirements for Identifying Sponsored Programming Should Be Clarified
GAO-13-237, Jan 31, 2013
A Completed Comprehensive Strategy is Needed to Guide DOD’s In-Transit Visibility Efforts
GAO-13-201, Feb 28, 2013
Department Of Justice
Executives’ Use of Aircraft for Nonmission Purposes
GAO-13-235, Feb 26, 2013
DOD’s Aerospace Control Alert Basing Decision Was Informed by Various Analyses
GAO-13-230R, Feb 28, 2013
The Number, Role, and Ownership of Pharmacy Services Administrative Organizations
GAO-13-176, Jan 29, 2013
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
Workforce Participation Requirement Waivers
GAO-13-423T, Feb 28, 2013
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Poverty rates are important indicators of community well-being and are used by government agencies and organizations to allocate need-based resources. The American Community Survey (ACS) 5-year data allow for the analysis of poverty rates by race and Hispanic origin for many levels of geography.
In this report, poverty rates are summarized by race and Hispanic origin for the United States, each state, and the District of Columbia.
Poverty rates are also presented for selected detailed race and origin groups in the cities and towns with the largest populations of these groups. For the nation and selected places, poverty rates are summarized for detailed Asian groups with populations of 750,000 or more, detailed Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander groups with populations of 25,000 or more, and detailed Hispanic groups with populations of 1 million or more.
A Quick Guide to SNAP Eligibility and Benefits</strong>
Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Most families and individuals who meet the program’s income guidelines are eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP — formerly the Food Stamp Program). The size of a family’s SNAP benefit is based on its income and certain expenses. This paper provides a short summary of SNAP eligibility and benefit calculation rules.
Global Food: Waste Not, Want Not
Source: Institution of Mechanical Engineers
By 2075, the United Nations’ mid-range projection for global population growth predicts that human numbers will peak at about 9.5 billion people. This means that there could be an extra three billion mouths to feed by the end of the century, a period in which substantial changes are anticipated in the wealth, calorific intake and dietary preferences of people in developing countries across the world.
Such a projection presents mankind with wide-ranging social, economic, environmental and political issues that need to be addressed today to ensure a sustainable future for all. One key issue is how to produce more food in a world of finite resources.
Today, we produce about four billion metric tonnes of food per annum. Yet due to poor practices in harvesting, storage and transportation, as well as market and consumer wastage, it is estimated that 30–50% (or 1.2–2 billion tonnes) of all food produced never reaches a human stomach. Furthermore, this figure does not reflect the fact that large amounts of land, energy, fertilisers and water have also been lost in the production of foodstuffs which simply end up as waste. This level of wastage is a tragedy that cannot continue if we are to succeed in the challenge of sustainably meeting our future food demands.
Source: International Finance Corporation
From press release:
With so many young workers joining the labor force, more than 600 million jobs must be created by the end of the decade just to maintain today’s employment levels. The vast majority—90 percent, by most estimates—must come from the private sector. There is no alternative.
IFC, the world’s largest global development institution focused on the private sector, has decades of experience financing and advising private firms throughout the developing world. We sum up our thinking on job creation in a new IFC Jobs Study released. The study, produced with support from our Dutch, Swiss, and U.K. donor partners, complements the World Bank’s recent World Development Report 2013-Jobs.
In many developing countries, several factors hold back private sector growth:
- Investment Climate: Red tape and taxes are excessive
- Infrastructure: Power outages are frequent, roads are bad, ports are clogged
- Access to Finance: Banks often won’t lend to smaller firms; investors won’t invest in them
- Skills: Job applicants lack relevant abilities
Steps can be taken, however, to remove these and other major obstacles. This frees up local entrepreneurs to create the stable, well-paying jobs with good working conditions that are essential to the fight against poverty.