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October 15, 2008

What is Poverty and Using Technology to Reduce Global Poverty




What is poverty ?

The state of being poor; lack of the means of providing material needs or comforts.

What is global poverty ?

From the World Bank:
Poverty is hunger. Poverty is lack of shelter. Poverty is being sick and not being able to see a doctor. Poverty is not having access to school and not knowing how to read. Poverty is not having a job, is fear for the future, living one day at a time. Poverty is losing a child to illness brought about by unclean water. Poverty is powerlessness, lack of representation and freedom.








Tracking progress and the efforts to combat poverty

Tracking the 2000 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of eight globally agreed development goals with a due date of 2015. Halfway to 2015

* Though the overall aid landscape is expanding, official development assistance (ODA)—estimated at $103.7 billion in 2007—has stalled. To meet the G8 promises to increase aid by $50 billion by 2010, ODA must expand. Meanwhile, new donors like China and India are growing in size and importance.
* Growth momentum will have to be sustained and broadened in developing countries in the face of financial turmoil.
* The number of people living on under $1/day in the developing world declined by 278 million between 1990 and 2004, and a stunning 150 million in the last 5 years of that period.
* Rapid progress is possible. Vietnam reduced poverty from 58 percent in 1993 to 16 percent in 2006.
* Forty million more children are in school and gender disparity in primary and secondary schools has declined by 60 percent, but 75 million children remain out of school.
* Every year, three million more children survive, and 2 million lives are saved by immunization. But every week, 10,000 women still die from treatable complications of pregnancy and birth, and over 190,000 children under five are lost to disease. Two million people now receive AIDS treatment, but about the same number die every year of the disease, and over 33 million are infected with HIV.
* The economic burden of environmental health hazards is estimated at 1.5 to 4 percent of GDP. Worldwide, environmental risk factors play a role in 80 percent of diseases, including malaria, diarrhea, and respiratory infections. A child dies of malaria every 30 seconds.
* A billion people lack reasonable access to safe drinking water and 2.6 billion people (40 percent of the world population) do not have access to basic sanitation. Meeting the water and sanitation targets will require doubling the current annual investment to about $30 billion. The UN estimates that by 2030, developing countries will need $100 billion annually to finance mitigation and $28-$ 67 billion for adaptation.
* A third of the developing world’s population—1.6 billion people—lack access to modern energy, and are forced to rely on carbon-emitting biomass and fossil-fuel energy.
* In 2007, gross concessional flows from multilateral development banks crossed $12 billion, a 10.3 percent increase driven by the International Development Association (IDA). While Asia continued to receive almost half of these flows, Africa received 45 percent in 2007, up from 37 percent in 2000.


Technology for Food, Water, Energy, Economic Growth, Disease prevention and Education

Genetically modified fish are an important and successful technology that China uses with fish farming to get more animal protein for people. It is more efficient than raising other animals for food. Sequencing of rice to determine how to raise rice yields is also key. Plants take less water and energy to grow than meat.

Desalination and improved water purification and filtering are making progress and are needed to provide clean water for more people. Better clean water technology is about getting systems to where they are needed and lowering the costs in energy and money.

Better nanomembranes seems like the best way to reduce the costs in energy and money for large scale water systems.

Dean Kamen has a promising system for cleaning water and generating energy.

The World Health Report form 2002 shows that :

40 per cent of global deaths are due to just the10 biggest risk factors, while the next 10 risk factors add less than 10 per cent,” says Alan Lopez, Ph.D., WHO Senior Science Advisor and co-director of the Report. “This means we need to concentrate on the major risks if we are to improve healthy life expectancy by about 10 years, and life expectancy by even more.”


Iron deficiency: Iron fortification is very cost-effective in areas of iron deficiency. It involves the addition of iron usually combined with folic acid, to the appropriate food vehicle made available to the population as a whole. Cereal flours are the most common food vehicle, but there is also some experience with introducing iron to other vehicles such as noodles,rice, and various sauces.

The most cost effective strategy to reduce under-nutrition and its consequences combines a mix of preventive and curative interventions. Micronutrient supplementation and fortification - Vitamin A, zinc and iron – is very cost-effective. It should be combined with maternal counselling to continue breast feeding, and targeted provision of complimentary food as necessary. In addition, routine treatment of diarrhoea and pneumonia, major consequences of under-nutrition, should be part of any health improvement strategy for children. Childhood and maternal underweight was estimated to cause 3.4 million deaths in 2000, about 1.8 million in Africa. This accounted for about one in 14 deaths globally.

WHO estimates that tobacco caused about 4.9 million deaths worldwide in 2000, or 8.8 per cent of the total, and was responsible for 4.1 per cent of lost DALYs (59.1 million). The most cost effective high impact solution is anti-smoking campaigns.


Allow wider scale safe use of nuclear energy.

FURTHER READING
The Copenhagen Consensus has a list of what they believe are the most cost effective solutions for world problems.

The expert panel of 8 economists, including 5 Nobel Laureates, ranked the list above in May 2008 in Copenhagen.






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