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Child Mortality

Performance anxiety about the MDGs – are all poor countries lagging?

Delfin Go's picture

An old man, in Livingston, Zambia, stooped to scoop muddy water from a puddle into his pail. “What I want most is clean water,” he said, to me. I was conducting a World Bank field survey back in 2000 in Livingston. Even as the man expressed his desire for such a basic need, I could hear the roar of the mighty Victoria Falls just a few kilometers away. That was the sound of billions of gallons of fresh water, but not immediately drinkable. I never forgot the sound of it.

The extent to which people across the world have access to clean water, education, food, healthcare and other basic needs is measured by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of internationally agreed targets adopted in 2000. Last week, world leaders and the developmental community gathered in New York for the MDG summit to urge the international community to speed up progress toward the MDGs.

Life and Death in South Asia

Eliana Cardoso's picture

In the film, Venus, an old and frail Peter O’Toole discovers the Greek goddess in the guise of his best friend’s niece. The ironic and good humored story explores the theme of the games played in a mutual seduction between the older man with experience, money and a nostalgic yearning for carnal desire and the young woman who soon finds out the power she wields and negotiates three kisses in return for a pair of earrings. In the final scene, wearing only one of his boots on a cold beach, O’Toole feels the caress of the sea’s salty foam with the sole of his foot and smiles. His face expresses the happiness of someone who knows the joys of being alive.

It is impossible to weigh up Peter O’Toole’s smile, measuring the degree of his happiness or comparing it to what you would feel if walking barefoot in the sand. But, the idea that his feelings can be measured as a metric has become fashionable, ever since the King of Bhutan decided that GDP fails to portray the well-being of his subjects and summoned a team to create the Gross National Happiness index.