Global poverty doubled since 1970s

The number of very poor countries has doubled in the last 30 to 40 years, while the number of people living in extreme poverty has also grown two-fold, a UN think-tank warned.

In its annual report on the 49 least developed countries (LDCs) in the world, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said that the model of development that has prevailed to date for these countries has failed and should be re-assessed.

The report indicated that the situation has sharply deteriorated in the past few years.



Social networking and slacktivists

Raising money through social networks is inherently unpredictable. Sometimes a message will resonate with the online hordes, and other times it will fall flat; in the same way that nobody can predict which YouTube video will go viral.

The question of whether the Internet has revolutionized activism and altruism, or whether its potential for nonprofits has been exaggerated, is a heated one among people in philanthropy. In a widely circulated article in The New Yorker magazine recently, the writer Malcolm Gladwell argued that social networks encourage people to express sympathy for various causes — solidarity with democracy activists in Iran or genocide victims in Darfur, for instance — but that Twitter and Facebook do not compel us to do anything practical beyond that, like giving money.

His claim was not novel. People who raise money online have a derisive term for the slackers who paper their Facebook walls and Twitter feeds with vociferous support for sympathetic causes but fail to do anything else to help. They’re called “slacktivists.”

Nonprofits who successfully raise money online say that the slacktivism problem is overblown. The organizations that can deliver say they are discovering that people do not remain slackers forever. In other words, they can be converted into donors, volunteers and even offline activists.

[The New York Times]


The Paradox of Deaths and Drama Impacting Donors

Five weeks after the Haiti earthquake, 48 aid groups polled by The Chronicle of Philanthropy had collected three-quarters of a billion dollars.

Five weeks after the flooding in Pakistan, a similar poll found 32 aid groups had collected just $25 million.

“Pakistan was left rather alone in the most devastating flood in its history,” said Farooq Tariq, a human rights activist long accustomed to helping hapless civilians through Pakistani disasters.

It was hard for activists like Mr. Tariq not to look back at how the world had responded to the other major catastrophe in 2010 — the devastating earthquake that flattened much of Haiti and killed an estimated 250,000. The Pakistan floods affected 20 million, who now need food, shelter and clothing to face a harsh Pakistani winter. The entire population of Haiti, by contrast, is fewer than 10 million people.

Humanitarians have long struggled with this paradox. The number of dead, along with the swiftness and drama of their demise, trumps almost any amount of agony among those who survive a disaster, particularly a creeping one.

“Donors use the number of deaths as a barometer with disasters,” said Randy Strash, strategy director for disaster response at World Vision. “When you have a slow-onset disaster, like the flooding in Pakistan, which accumulated for three weeks and sustained for much longer, you don’t have that same shock value.”

The needs in Pakistan remain dire. Pledges of aid amount to just 40 percent of the total required, according to the United Nations.

[The New York Times]


World sleeps as Haiti suffers

Leveled by an earthquake, staggered by a cholera outbreak and, now, lashed by a hurricane, Haiti remains a country in dire need of critical care and sustained aid. Instead, it has been shoved once again onto the backburner of international neglect and left to its own misery.

Of the billions pledged at the United Nations to rebuild Haiti, barely a fifth of the total, around $1.3 billion, has been approved or dispersed by donors. In some cases - including, scandalously, in the United States - all or part of the funds has been held up by lawmakers or bureaucrats. Of the $1.15 billion Washington promised for long-term reconstruction projects, only a trickle has been received so far in Haiti.

The heart of the problem, in Washington and in other donor countries, is that rebuilding Haiti has been treated as a routine development task, akin to improving an irrigation system or extending rural electrification. This makes no sense given the extent of ruination, the scale of needed reconstruction and the ongoing humanitarian suffering in Haiti.


China and its Charity Blue Book results

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences concludes that China's charitable donations exceeded 4.9 billion dollars (33-billion yuan) in 2009, which represents a 3.5 percent increase from the year before.

That said, the country's generosity ranking is still near the bottom of the list of an international scale. Chinese philanthropists might be a little discouraged by the ranking, considering what they've done, as we are, in fact, seeing more and more Chinese making generous donations.

The blue book numbers also tie in giving with GDP, and China's charitable donations account for only 0.01% of the country's GDP, much lower than developed countries like Britain and the US.

Experts say the low percentage may partially have to do with China's underdeveloped donation system. And while China currently has 128 billionaires, second only to the US, the wealthy of China have emerged almost entirely within the past thirty years, so philanthropic practices that are entrenched in Americans and Europeans are still new to the Chinese.

The new China Charity Blue Book highlights Chinese real-estate tycoons, which account for 5 out of the top 10 donors, and real-estate companies accounting for 16 percent of all corporate donations. Among the reasons why: The real-estate industry is booming, and housing prices are high in China.

Source: CNTV