Reshaping Global Giving One BRIC at a Time

For more than half a century, Western DAC donors have monopolized foreign aid to the developing world. However, at the turn of the 21st century, this traditional flow of aid has begun to shift dramatically. According to a recent article, the four BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) are increasing their foreign aid at an astounding rate. Western aid is no longer the only foreign aid that is alleviating global poverty and promoting economic development. Even though the traditional DAC donors are still the largest contributors to foreign aid, the BRICs have started to reshape the distribution and philosophy of foreign aid.

High and Low Estimates of BRICs ODA Per Year

Estimates of ODA dispersed by the BRICs range from $3.1 billion to S31.3 billion per year. The biggest swing factors are China, where ODA estimates range from $1.5 billion to $25.1 billion and Brazil, where ODA estimates range from $356 million to $4 billion.  There are many reasons for the different estimates. First, there tends to be lack of transparency in foreign aid spending by these emerging donors. In addition, emerging donors such as Brazil and China see foreign aid differently than the traditional DAC countries. ODA, as defined by DAC, includes grants and highly subsidized loans. They do not include Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and in-kind transfers. There is no standard system for reporting ODA among the BRIC countries. China, for instance, doesn’t even define its foreign aid as “aid,” and describes it as “external assistance.” Continue reading

Mongolia’s Rapid Economic Growth: A Blessing or a Curse?

Mongolia is experiencing a period of remarkable economic growth. While many economies are struggling with global financial uncertainty, Mongolia has become the world’s fastest growing economy. In 2011, its economy grew by 17%, nearly twice as much as China. Mongolia possesses untapped deposits of coal, copper, gold and uranium. Mining experts estimate that Mongolia possesses $1 trillion worth of untapped metals and minerals in 6000 sites across the country that can enrich its population of 2.9 million.

Some economic forecasters project Mongolia’s economic growth to reach 20% this fiscal year. If its informal economy is factored in, growth could reach an astounding 40%. Two sources at the forefront of this growth are the Oyu Tolgoi and the Tevan Togoi Mines. Oyu Togoi will produce 3% of the world’s copper, contributing $5 billion per year to the Mongolian economy and is expected to have a lifespan of 50 years. The Tevan Togoi coal mine is estimated to have a lifespan of 200 years and can generate $1.6 billion per year for the first 29 years.

Oyu Tolgoi Mine

In the midst of its economic boom, Mongolia has great potential. It houses a treasure chest of untapped geological wealth and it is right next to the biggest and fastest growing market for these minerals. Mongolia supply plus Chinese demand will result in Mongolians being rich beyond their imagination. A generation ago, Mongolia was an underdeveloped and largely ignored. Today, Mongolia has to potential to become the next Qatar or Brunei, where the population is small but rich. People are already feeling the benefits of Mongolia’s mining boom. Mining companies are offering competitive salaries and benefits to attract local workers. Educated Mongolians who have left home years ago are now returning to take up high level positions in the mining firms. Even civil servants have cause for celebration, they have just received a 50% pay raise. Continue reading

The Men in Black and the Campaign Against Polio In Pakistan

Polio is a viral disease that can affect the nerves and lead to full or partial paralysis. The most likely to get affected are the elderly, pregnant women and children under 5. Due to a global vaccination campaign, polio exists only in a handful of nations. One of these is Pakistan. According to the WHO, polio has declined from just under 1200 cases in 1997 to 28 cases in 2005. This is a remarkable trend that could see Pakistan finally become polio free.

Number of Polio Cases 1997-2006

To combat polio, the Government of Pakistan re-evaluated its National Emergency Action Plan (NEAP) and set the ambitious goal of eradicating all wild polio in Pakistan by the end of 2012. This plan seeks better accountability and program management.  In the districts where polio infections are high, such as those in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), the plan seeks to improve the security situation in these areas so that health workers can have better access to vulnerable children. Last of all, the plan calls for an aggressive media campaign to educate and inform atrisk communities about the risks of polio and the need for vaccination.

On the international level, the WHO launched the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in Pakistan in 1994. This is a publicprivate partnership between the WHO, UNICEF, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other donors. Since 2000, it has followed the successful approach of supplementing routine polio immunization with large countrywide campaigns several times a year in an attempt to deliver the vaccine to all children under five. Continue reading

Keeping It Real: Fake Malaria Drugs in Southeast Asia

Between 2000 and 2010, malaria cases declined by 25%, and deaths caused by malaria declined by an even greater 57%. Despite these tremendous accomplishments, Southeast Asian nations still face many challenges brought on by malaria. Perhaps the most pressing of these issues is the growing trend of counterfeit anti-malaria drugs emerging in Southeast Asia.

Can you tell the difference between the real and fake pills?

According to a recent study, over 1,400 anti malaria drug samples were analyzed from seven countries in Southeast Asia between 1999 and 2010. The results show about 35% of these anti malaria drugs were counterfeit, low quality, or incorrectly packaged. This poses many challenges to anti-malaria campaigns in Southeast Asia. First, most affected people live in poor, remote rural regions where local officials do not have the training to distinguish real and counterfeit drugs. Second, many of the counterfeit pills contain trace amounts of genuine artemisinin, an anti-malaria drug, in order to fool drug tests. This would cause the malaria parasite to develop resistance to many forms of malaria treatment while not adequately treating the disease.

According to a WHO report, in Cambodia, up to 70% malaria patients seek treatment from private vendors. Most of these patients live in poor rural areas where the only access to malaria drugs are from unlicensed and untrained vendors, who cannot distinguish between real and counterfeit malaria pills. These vendors are supplied by traveling merchants who offer unbeatable bargains. A Cambodian government research project found that over 27% of malaria drugs purchased from rural pharmacies were counterfeit. Continue reading

Stories in Development: Meeting the MDGs

In September of 2000, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Millennium Declaration, from which emerged the 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that the members of the international community had agreed to try to achieve by 2015. Recently, the 4th MDG  (reduce the under 5 child mortality rate to 66% of 1990 levels) drew particular interest from the international community. Child mortality is measured in number of deaths per 1000 live births, and according to a recent article in the Economist, Africa is currently experiencing some of the biggest falls in child mortality.

Of the 20 African countries surveyed by the World Bank, 16 have recorded declines in their child mortality rates. Senegal, Rwanda, and Kenya have recently seen declines in child mortality by over 8% per year. Twelve other countries, including Uganda and Ghana, have recorded declines over 4% per year. These rates far exceed the global decline of 2.8% per year. The two regions, Sub Saharan Africa and Northern Africa have seen total declines of 28% and 68% respectively since 1990. Rarely do we hear such good news in development!

Decline of Child Mortality in Africa

Though the remarkable trend in the decline of child mortality in Africa is astounding, the trend in non African countries deserves some applause as well.  East Asia in particular has seen a 58% drop in child mortality between 1990 and 2008. Among these countries are Bangladesh, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and Nepal, all of whom have seen declines of 60% or more.

Currently, 9 million children die each year around the world before they reach their 5th birthday. The highest rate of child mortality continues to still be found in Sub-Saharan Africa. There are many factors influencing the child mortality rate in developing countries. Children in rural households have a higher risk of dying before they reach the age of five than children in urban settings. Children from the poorest households are 2-3 times more likely to die than children from richer households. For example, in a survey from 66 countries, children from the poorest 20% of households are twice as likely to die than the richest 20%. In addition, a mother’s education is a very powerful determinant of child survival. A child’s chances of survival increase with the level of education the mother receives. Continue reading

Food Security in Africa: Can PPPs help?

Global hunger and malnutrition are two of the greatest developmental challenges the world faces today. Currently, close to 1 billion people suffer from chronic hunger. By 2050, the world population is expected to climb to 9 billion people, requiring a 70% increase in agriculture production.

G8 Summit Working Session on Global Economic Issues

During his keynote address at the 2012 G8 Summit at Camp David, President Obama unveiled a new initiative to combat hunger in Africa. The G8 leaders, along with the leaders of Benin, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Ghana, have committed to The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. This shared commitment between the G8 members, African leaders and the private sector, seeks to combat hunger, raise 50 million people out of poverty in the next 10 years, and achieve sustaine agricultural growth.

Initially, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Ghana will take part. And more than 45 local and multinational private sector corporations have signed on to the New Alliance and have collectively pledged to invest over more than $3 billion in African agriculture over the next 10 years. This investment will go into areas such as crop protection, irrigation, infrastructure and financing. Continue reading

Sending Money Home: Closer Look at Remittances to LAC

According to the World Bank, remittance flows to Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) are projected to increase from $64 billion in 2008 to $77 billion by 2014. In 2010, Official Development Assistance to LAC totaled only $10.8 billion. Remittances, on the other hand, can amount to 10-20% of the GDP of LAC nations. For instance, remittances to Honduras account for 19.3% of its GDP.  This demonstrates the importance of remittances to the continual economic development of this region.

Remittances to LAC Region

There are many reasons for the increase in remittances to the LAC countries. According to a 2012 report published by the Inter-American Dialogue, US economic recovery and the decline in US unemployment rates have played a role in the growth of remittance flows to LAC. More importantly, increased access to financial tools such as online banking in host and home countries has a significant effect on remittance flows to the region. People’s access to financial institutions has grown to 51% in Latin American countries.

In addition, female migrants are also having a significant impact in increasing remittances to the region. More female migrants have tertiary education degrees than their male counterparts. Since 2008, female migrants with tertiary education have remitted just as much or even more than men. Also, they are migrating to higher income countries with the increased demand for highly skilled female laborers. For the first time, women amount to 50% of the total migrant population. This shows a remarkable change in the gender dynamics of remittances. Continue reading