Achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals

This blog's purpose is to connect in an every widening and deepening manner with others across the globe in support of the United Nation's Millennium Development Goals.

Let's be the first generation to end poverty by 2015 with the United Nations' Eight Goal Millennium Campaign.
1. End Hunger 2. Universal Education 3. Gender Equity 4. Child Health 5. Maternal Health 6. Combat HIV/AIDS and other diseases 7. Environmental Sustainability 8. Global Partnership.

Learn more about what this weblog is trying to accomplish at the new PBworks Wiki.

Speaking Out for the Millennium Development Goals

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What If - Millennium Development Goals Ending Poverty 2015

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Insights From dgCommunities

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Some recent explorations through the dgCommunities sites revealed some interesting insights into the topics that this blog has been pondering lately. One line of thought has been the immensity of the challenge facing the effort to implement the Millennium Development Goals. More so now that the world is facing a financial crisis. Raising the question as what are NGO's or change-agent organizations doing in light of this?

NGOs Pare Down in Face of Financial Crisis

Some of the biggest development and humanitarian NGOs are laying off staff or revising programmes for 2009 as their income streams flatten because of the global financial crisis. Fundraising experts of three of the world's top NGOs - Oxfam GB, Save the Children UK and World Vision USA - said programme growth will slow in 2009 as a result of the squeeze.

There are other actions that can be taken that don't depend as much upon a large flow of financing to fund massive projects. Providing knowledge for empowerment or broad based solidarity is a form of action for which the Internet is especially suited. This blog is being defined, along with countless others, as a "small voice" blog. A description well suited for sites with minimal resources but a wealth of good metta. This blog and my other have been exploring the tools available on the web to reach others through social media, but there is also a wisdom in the use of those tools. Kasem Ali wrote about this January 8, 2009. I have summarized to a substantial degree below as a set of quick notes to be learned and applied, and his original article should be read.

A Triumph of Trust: Five Principles of Nonprofit Social Media Strategy
Nonprofits are getting a grip on the fact that their stakeholder have the tools to reach as many people as they do and that there are powerful opportunities to be pursued as a result. Broadly speaking, this is seen as the challenge of social media. Too many organizations are treating their vocal stakeholders as either journalists with whom they must be careful, or as followers to whom they must market. Drawing from my experience in treating journalists as human beings, this article describes five principles of social media strategy that chart a better way.

    (1) Don't Take It Personally: Assume that most of the time, most people will have little interest in what you have to say.

    (2) Tell the Truth: Don't lie. Don't sanitize. Don't obfuscate. Sound like a real person.

    (3) Make Their Job Easy: Study what people write and share. Figure out what else they need when they're considering your stuff and give it to them.

    (4) Be a Useful Source: Look at what they write, discover their current sources and what is useful about them. Determine what kind of information makes them look good, and give them that.

    (5) Prioritize Your Efforts: Invest more in those for whom your strategies are working and for whom your resources are useful, even if they have smaller audiences.

This level of established trust can become a basis for the sustainable development of grassroots empowerment. The Millennium Development Goals will not work as long as the model for overcoming poverty is donor in control and recipient in compliance. A level of grassroots empowerment must be established. The grassroots empowerment must also be nurtured into viable social and economic systems, but it has to be grown internally by the community itself. The Mercy Corps is one organization taking on this type of work.

Mercy Corps - Be the Change
Mercy Corps focuses on working in countries in transition, where communities are struggling to recover from political or economic collapse, conflict or natural disaster. Experience has identified community-led and market-driven programs as the critical factor in helping communities sustainably rebuild and recover. Key to this approach is enabling communities to mobilize successfully for action.

Sustainability Field Study: Understanding What Promotes Lasting Change at the Community Level
This report reviews the research and contributes meaningful data to the longer term impact of community mobilization program.

SUSTAINABILITY FIELD STUDY
Understanding What Promotes
Lasting Change at the Community Level
December 2007
Preface

The results of this study confirm the design hypothesis: that a carefully managed process of community mobilization can both increase the sustainability of community development investments and contribute to shifting outlooks and behaviors of communities to be more open and self-sufficient in decision-making and problem-solving. When programs work collaboratively with well-intentioned but under-resourced local government representatives, prospects for sustainability become greater. To increase sustainability, development programs must seek out committed government representatives and invest in their capacity alongside informal community leaders, building an understanding of transparent, accountable and participative processes for engaging communities in their own development. Additionally, programs should reach out to youth to help expand their opportunities for income generation and foster tolerance and community commitment.

SUSTAINABILITY FIELD STUDY
Understanding What Promotes
Lasting Change at the Community Level
December 2007
IX. CONCLUSION

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Collaboration Tools for the Millennium Development Goals.

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This blog takes two approaches. One, learning more about the UN Millennium Development Goals and related programs. Two, learning more about using Web 2.0 tools to learn more about and to promote the UN Millennium Development Goals. These basically include so far blogging and social-tagging. This has been the subject of discussion at the End POVERTY / Fim POBREZA forum Leveraging Social Media. Last month I found some great resources that were featured in the post Implications for Aid Practice - From the Citizen Perspective and The Global Perspective. Afterward, I received some kind appreciation from Elizabeth Corley of the Development Gateway Foundation.

Dear Brian,

We appreciate the links on your blog to dgCommunities and Development Gateway.

Elizabeth Corley
Director of Communications
Development Gateway Foundation
1889 F Street NW, Second Floor
Washington, DC 20006 USA

Information Tools. Global Partnerships. Effective Aid.

Those resources have already been described as extensive and expansive, but they go even further than that. They begin to meet the challenge of making the web a collaborative platform for these efforts, and does so in a way that is of educational use for the learner and of practical knowledge for the practitioner. It fulfills one of the wishes from the forum discussion, finding better means of collaboration.

Once these ideas were in mind, similar resources began popping up. Some from the European Forum on International Co-operation or EUFORIC. EUFORIC introduced me to ComPart, who introduced me to ICCO.

ComPart provides the Web 2.0 tools, and the site itself is a PBwiki site, providing directions on Working with this site and ComPart, providing information on how to Get trained on ComPart, Linking & Learning Wiki and the ComPart Learning Blog. I also downloaded their toolbar, which features ICCO Alliance feeds.

The ComPart system is being developed within the ICCO-Alliance as to sustain the COMmunication with PARTners. It is a combination of (mostly) free Internet based applications that are all user friendly and stimulate participation and collaboration.
The ICCO applies those tools through a variety of different partnerships in fulfilling its mission which is:

The ICCO Alliance’s mission is to strive for a world in which people can live in dignity and well-being. The Alliance focuses on three main themes:

  • Fair Economic Development
  • Democratisation and Peacebuilding
  • Access to Basic Services
The ICCO Alliance works on these themes in over 50 countries through the ICCO Alliance Operation Plan 2007-2010 (pdf)
With ICCO, I took advantage by downloading their search tool, which features not only Google searches, but icco alliance, euforic, focuss and Wikipedia searches as well.

Maarten Boers, the administrator of ICCO-Alliance Learning Network, explains below how Compart is suppose to work as a collaborative tool. I received a response from Mr. Boers regarding joining the ICCO-Alliance, but have not been granted access just yet.



Finally, both introduced me to Dgroups.

Welcome to Dgroups, the starting point for fostering groups and communities in international development. We are a partnership which caters to both individuals and organisations by offering tools and services that bring people together. Whether you are trying to support a team, a group, a network, a partnership or a community, we hope to provide you with the capacity to do this in an environment which is simple, non-commercial, respectful of privacy, and targeted at low bandwidth users in the South. Learn more here.

Again, this is collaborative effort with numerous current partners including Bellanet, DFID, Hivos, ICA, ICCO, IICD, OneWorld, UNAIDS and WorldBank. Member organizations include CGIAR, CIDA, CTA, Danida, FAO, IDRC, INASP, KIT, SNV, Sida, SDC, and UNECA.

So now my list of what I can learn about the Millennium Development Goals and related organizations, program, projects, and Web 2.0 tools has grown expontentially. My latest endeavor is signing up for a PBwiki account. Finally, I decided that all this rates having its own section on this blog - Collaborative Tools for the Millennium Development Goals.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

FAO not Schwartz part 3 - A World Tragedy Too Long

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This post is the third on the work of the FAO and the challenges that they are addressing - hunger and malnutrition. The questions are raised by everyday people who see the tragedy of the affliction and the immorality of inadequate response from the developed world.

The images are cut from the heart: men and women depleted, the frazzle clothes, their bodies reduced to skin and bone. Even more painful is watching the children deformed by malnutrition, left to die in the dust.

Watch this video - the words are in Portuguese but the pictures are universal.



963 million people hungry, says FAO reports the Monitor Online News , According to the Guardian Newspaper Nearly a billion people worldwide are starving, UN agency warns, and Food prices add 40 million people to ranks of malnournished.

The problem of hunger is most acute in Africa were people are starving. Malnutrition is more widespread and actually affects more children in Asia according to World Hunger Notes.

According to the most recent estimate that Hunger Notes could find, malnutrition, as measured by stunting, affects 32.5 percent of children in developing countries--one of three(de Onis 2000). Geographically, more than 70 percent of nourished children live in Asia, 26 percent in Africa and 4 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Africa though has multiple afflictions that combined together present a daunting challenge. People speak of an African Scourge, but scourge in Africa has many faces.

Near the top of the list, the affliction of hunger and malnutrition seems to strike again and again.
Sudan is dying of hunger again. The question is why, why anywhere?

World Hunger Notes provides some insights into the problems, a few of which are summarized below.

  • The world produces enough food to feed everyone. The principal problem is that many people in the world do not have sufficient land to grow, or income to purchase, enough food.
  • Poverty is the principal cause of hunger. The causes of poverty include poor people's lack of resources, an extremely unequal income distribution in the world and within specific countries, conflict, and hunger itself, an estimated 982 million poor people in developing countries who live on $1 a day or less (World Bank, Understanding Poverty, Chen 2004).
  • Conflict as a cause of hunger and poverty. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)reports that as of December 2006, there were at least 22.7 million displaced, including 9.9 million refugees and 12.8 million internally displaced persons (UNHCR 2007).
  • Hunger is also a cause of poverty. By causing poor health, low levels of energy, and even mental impairment, hunger can lead to even greater poverty by reducing people's ability to work and learn.

Two resources featured in this blog can also help to provide some understanding. Both are under Millennium Bloggers with Minds of Their Own below this post. Anup Shah writes about, World Hunger and Poverty, at GlobalIssues.org, Last updated: Sunday, July 06, 2008. Rav Casley Gera provides an informative chart in African history in ten seconds: New and improved! in his blog African Development for the Completely Bloody Ignorant posted under Useful sources. The recently discovered, The Profits of Famine: Southern Africa's Long Decade of Hunger is an older article from back in 2002, but it still provides some good insights into how we were brought to the present circumstances.

It is hoped though that the article will become even more out of date as people continue to endeavor to change the world for the better. As many of the stories in the TED Talks Africa, The Next Chapter tell us, Africa has unrealized potential and does not wish to be seen as either the charity case for the world or as the stepping stone for the world. One of my past posts Accession of African Activists. A DIY approach to the MDGs has a number of videos taken from the series.

Another worthwhile site, The Bread-for-the-World Institute provides a new perspective on Global Development: Charting a New Course and topping its agenda is Goal One: Eradicate Hunger and Extreme Poverty.

It is still possible to continue making the needed changes to create a better world.

Related Posts -

FAO not Schwartz part 2- Opposing Pathways to Ending World Hunger and Malnutrition
FAO not Schwartz part 1 - Global Plan of Action Addresses a Global Challenge Hunger


Friday, January 2, 2009

FAO not Schwartz part 2- Opposing Pathways to Ending World Hunger and Malnutrition

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My last post dealt with the global efforts of the FAO to address the global challenge of world hunger and malnutrition. I took my usual public policy wonk approach that the organizational infrastructure and business-like strategy were as important as social relevancy and moral inspiration. The ability of the FAO to conduct evaluations of past activities at an in depth level was as important as its laudable intention to be more proactive in its future endeavors.

There is another level of discussion that goes beyond the efforts of the FAO and United Nation's efforts to the basic philosophy behind the best means of addressing these problems. My inspiration once again comes from the End POVERTY / Fim POBREZA group forums. How we see the problem will influence how we see any potential solutions. One of group's members used a famous bet to frame the debate.

The ongoing debate centers around a bet between Noble Prize winning scientist Paul Ehrlich and the famous American economist Julian Simon. The metric of the bet was the price that five metals reached on the Chicago Stock Exchange in the following decade. Ehrlich claimed that population growth would raise the demand and the price of metals. The metal lost value, and Ehrlich lost that particular bet.

Paul Ehrlich wrote the controversial best-seller the Population Bomb in 1968 which made projections about the catastrophic consequences of population explosion. Ehrlich was trained as an entomologist and has an affinity for systems and seeing the big picture. Ehrlich follows in the tradition of English philosopher Thomas Malthus, who in the eighteenth century posited "his hypothesis that (unchecked) population growth always exceeds the growth of means of subsistence" creating a Maltusian catastrophe. His "Essay on the Principle of Population" also influenced Darwin's theories.

Losing that particular wager did not stop the debate, the question is whether Ehrilich's work on population is still relevant. Taking the affirmative, the blog Yale Environment 360 discusses the matter in The Population Bomb: Has It Been Defused?

The Ehrlichs are sometimes ridiculed because Paul’s original book predicted hundreds of millions of deaths from famine in the 1980s, when we were bailed out by the Green Revolution. But they are right to question the new orthodoxy that technological fixes will always save the day. For myself, I fear that when the Wall Street Journal talks about a revival of Malthusian fears, it reflects a tendency to excuse those guilty of overconsumption, while instead blaming the poor for their poverty and our planetary predicament.

Fred Pearce
Environment consultant for New Scientist magazine

Others are still supportive of Simon, for example Jeffery Goldberg's article in the Atlantic, The Population Bomb That Bombed.

Ehrlich is now leading the Center for Conservation Biology research at Stanford University in California, and still holds to his central thesis: the earth is nearing its limit of sustainability of human life. Ehrlich's current work was featured in Wired Magazine back in March of this year, Population Bomb Author Tackles Cultural Evolution.

My own personal view is an attempt to find a middle path that incorporates both perspectives. Defining the problem as Ehrlich does, but recognizing the viability of Simon's arguments. This blog continues to be against an unfettered free market approach to economics and at the same time support social entrepreneurial efforts incorporating effective business discipline. Ehrlich proposes a Fix For Next Extinction: Educate Women. Where I come somewhat closer to siding with Simon is in applying the solutions. Finding that middle path, however, continues to be an ongoing debate with myself.

Related Posts -

FAO not Schwartz part 1 - Global Plan of Action Addresses a Global Challenge Hunger
FAO not Schwartz part 3 - A World Tragedy Too Long

Change Initiative to Empower Adolescent Girls Investing in the Girl Effect

Social responsibility,seeking the good



FAO not Schwartz part 1 - Global Plan of Action Addresses a Global Challenge Hunger

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FAO members approve $42.6 million reform plan.

I have been learning more about the work of the FAO, (Food and Agricultural Organization) of the United Nations, inspired by some of the discussion at End POVERTY / Fim POBREZA.

Back in November of this year, the FAO member countries agreed to a $42.6 million, three-year immediate plan of action to enable the FAO to “reform with growth”. The recommendations were based upon an independent external evaluation (pdf) (View as HTML) completed last year and form the foundation of a strategy though which the United Nations Calls for New World Agricultural Order. Here is a draft addressing both an immediate Plan of Action for FAO Renewal, and a rationale for "Why reform?" (pdf)- (View as HTML) More insights are provided by MIJARC President George Dixon Fernandez in his review of the special session of the FAO convened (pdf) - (View as HTML) 18 – 22 November 2008, in Rome.

To my mind the evaluation and the plan of action are of equal importance. Evaluation is an important aspect of what FAO does.

The policies for evaluation of these programmes have been set by member countries in the Governing Bodies and the Director-General. Evaluation is designed:
  • a) for accountability on results, particularly in terms of evidence of contribution to sustainable impacts for the benefit of member countries; and
  • b) to assist decision-making by the Governing Bodies, the Organization’s management and individual member countries as part of a results-based approach to decision-making.
The introduction in 2000 of an enhanced results-based planning model for FAO has made it somewhat easier to identify the outcomes and impacts (objectives) towards which programmes are working

The FAO did not avoid criticizing its own programs. One program sponsored and evaluated by the FAO was Telefood. Their evaluation highlighted some of the shortcomings of the program.

TeleFood events have not made their audiences aware of the causes of hunger, at the international ,national or local levels and of the multifaceted FAO activities in policy development, emergency response and field projects.
Evaluation Brief 10 Evaluation of TeleFood

All of this can be placed under the ongoing discussion as to how to best address the challenge of world hunger and malnutrition. There is always the heartfelt, fully justified and understandable urge to do something to relieve suffering. There is also the need to make sure that such programs are effective in their impact, efficient in their use of resources and sustainable.


Related posts -
FAO not Schwartz part 2- Opposing Pathways to Ending World Hunger and Malnutrition
FAO not Schwartz part 3 - A World Tragedy Too Long

Financial Fears * Global Challenges * Some Potential Answers

Millennium Bloggers (more at the Wiki)

Global News Sources

The Other Blog - My Pathways to New Paradigms

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