viernes, agosto 06, 2010

U.S. Fighting Poverty with a New Strategy

Fighting Poverty with a New Strategy

This mother in Haiti looks forward to a promising future for her daughter, with the support of international aid donors.
By Kathryn McConnell
Staff Writer

Washington — The United States will try a new strategy to meet the United Nations goals to reduce poverty, disease and gender inequality by 2015.

The U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were set by 189 world leaders in 2000. With just five years until their earlier-agreed-upon deadline of 2015, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for a high-level summit in September in New York to accelerate international progress.

President Obama plans to present a plan to the summit to jump-start global efforts to reduce poverty, disease and inequality. On July 30, in anticipation of that summit, the U.S. Agency for International Development released a report that is at the heart of the Obama administration strategy. “If we are to achieve the ambitious objectives we have set, historic leaps in human development will be needed,” the report says.

Released by administration officials in Washington, the report emphasizes innovation, sustainable outcomes, tracking results and accountability. Using innovation means developing technologies and food or medicine delivery methods cheaply and quickly, according to the report. The United States hopes better technology will come about via partnerships among governments, international organizations, the private sector and international research networks.

An example of the approach is the agriculture initiative announced in June by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. The effort fosters improvements in farm production and nutrition in countries struggling to produce enough food for their people. The Obama administration is asking Congress to approve more funding for such research.

A Rwandan worker prepares fruit for making juice.
In a separate development initiative, in July the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases awarded approximately $14 million in funding to 10 new research centers to control and ultimately eliminate malaria worldwide.

Globally, much has been achieved since the goals were agreed to in 2000, said Rajiv Shah, USAID administrator. The percentage of people living in extreme poverty — or less than the equivalent of $1.25 a day — has decreased from 42 percent to 25 percent, putting within reach the goal to cut in half the percentage of people living in poverty, the report says.

“We will be even more determined, strategic and analytically grounded as we strive to meet the MDGs in five years,” Shah said.

Even with progress on reducing extreme poverty, in developing countries, one of every four children younger than age 5 is underweight. In sub-Saharan Africa, the number of people living in extreme poverty has increased since 1990 to 400 million people. And while the number of children out of school has dropped from 105 million in 1999 to 72 million in 2007, the U.N. reports that if present trends continue, 56 million children still will not be getting an education in 2015.

Obstacles to meeting the goals include the difficulty of reaching many of the poor who live in conflict areas or face ethnic, religious and social discrimination, according to the U.S. report.

At the summit, the United States will renew its call to other donors and recipient countries to ensure that resources directed to development are managed transparently.

“Countries that achieve sustained development gains can be more capable partners, participate in and contribute to the global economy, and provide their people with the opportunity, means and freedom to improve their lives,” according to the U.S. strategy report.

The head of the nonprofit, Washington-based U.N. Foundation praised the U.S. strategy. “The U.S. government’s bold leadership will signal to the world that the U.S. is committed to working with the U.N., other donor countries, civil society and partners to ensure that foreign aid is more effective and sustainable,” said Kathy Calvin, the foundation’s chief executive officer.

(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

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