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Poverty—the next wave

Mahmudur Rahman | November 12, 2018 00:00:00

Poverty is an enigma that has defied the best of planned interventions and the billions that have gone to fund it. Inherently tied up with the loud voices of development it fails due to an essence of bad planning that ignores sustainability of redress. Food in the bellies and clothes on frail figures and possibly roofs over the head provide for good photo opportunity but little more. Medical expertise that are rushed in to conflict and humanitarian crisis areas are necessary but do not address the required follow-up. More and more of the development actor are asking for sustainability of aid so that the vicious circle cam be broken.

Where governments have been able to rise up above ghoulish corruption and mismanagement is where there has been semblance's of success, China, the first frontier has been won to the extent it is now the second largest commercial economy in the world. That that has happened due to self-reliance rather than with dollops of foreign aid is an interesting but different question altogether. And it is their success that has drawn the unhappy situation of trade sanctions to actually cut down their wealth and foreign reserves. Be it in industry, armaments, technology and now even space China has found a position that others aspire to to the point of a grudging difference of opinion.

There is still somewhat of a question whether the second frontier of poverty -- India -- has been overcome even as the focus shifts to the third. Economic indicators and such suggests vast improvements as does its industrialisation but the fact is that it is still one of the largest recipient of World Bank Aid. Its ambition to be a major manufacturing hub for the world hasn't achieved much purchase nor has its ability to create a brand that stands out among global entities.

The third phase of poverty drawing the attention of donor agencies to NGOs is Africa. After a long, protracted battle with life threatening diseases poverty is now the main focus. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is looking to set aside $ 5 billon dollars a year for the next twenty-years to address African pro poetry and that on its own sounds strange. With population growing at some 4.5% unless institutions in health and education are properly equipped for the future investments won't make sense. Migration has put forward a major point. Liveability in their own countries is the factor behind people wanting to flee. The kind of money spent by other nations in looking after migrants could be better utilised in sound investments. The issue is one of governance and countries willing to invest cannot always agree on the spending priorities of the countries concerned.

The long list of businesses, predominantly Chinese lining up with investment proposals aren't doing it out the goodness of their hearts but they are well ahead of a west bedevilled by internecine rifts .The difference is that the Chinese are adding infrastructural spend to their business thereby making it all the more proactive. Skill development best suited for the developing world aren't being worked on fast enough. Mike Bloomberg has a point when he said the United States shouldn't lose the PhDs they churn out. And to an extent that's why Jeff Bezoz with a net worth of $156 billion gets castigated for saying he wants to give away $2 billon for the homeless. It's not the money but the intent that comes in for ridicule. The Amazon chief must realise building houses is an important first point. Making a home is a different matter altogether. Internet access is a priority to better access to the world both in terms of education and business. But the money to be spent on on-line commerce has to come in from somewhere. Countless and worthwhile progress has been made on developing e-business models with innovative entrepreneurs creating and filling their skill-set demands. Which is why the Melinda and Bill Foundation has a better chance of success. It's a holistic process that aims at creating a sustainable form of development that is better rounded than others.

Administrators and policy planners don't like being shown up but the lack of accountability for long-term programmes such as the five-year plans and the lack of input to variability and possibly disrupting divergence ruin long-term planning that doesn't include 'what if' scenarios. And that applies to all such plans including the 100-year Delta Plan. Somehow one doubts if sufficient scientific, demographic and economic vision has been incorporated with all relevant players involved. Without this any plan loses relevance too soon.



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