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When It Comes to Tackling Inequality, Start Early

Ana Revenga's picture

It seems that everyone is talking about inequality these days, and I, for one, am happy to see this issue at the forefront in the development discussion.

We can look at inequality in a number of ways, which are not unrelated. One of the most visible types of inequality on the radar is inequality of outcomes — things like differences in academic achievements, career progression, earnings, etc. — which, in and of themselves, are not necessarily bad. Rewarding an individual’s effort, innate talents and superior life choices can provide incentives for innovation and entrepreneurship, and can help drive growth.  

However, not all inequalities are “good.” When inequality perpetuates itself because those born poor consistently do not have access to the same opportunities as those born rich, what emerges is a deep structural inequality that is bad for poverty reduction, bad for economic growth, and bad for social cohesion. How pervasive are these deep inequalities? Much more than we would like. Indeed, when we examine what is happening in many countries around the world today, we find large and persistent, even growing, gaps in earnings between rich and poor. And we find that those who start out in poverty or are part of a disadvantaged group tend to remain there, with little opportunity to work their way out.

How do we explain this, and what can we do to tackle it? We need to take a step back and look at where this inequality originates, and that is where the concept of equality of opportunity comes in to play. This concept broadly refers to access to a basic set of services that are necessary, at the minimum, for a child to attain his or her human potential, regardless of the circumstances — such as gender, geographic region, ethnicity, and family background — into which he or she is born. Too often, access to such basic services like electricity, clean water, sanitation, health care and education is much lower among children born into circumstances that place them at a disadvantage. Children from disadvantaged groups thus set off on an unequal path from day one, which curbs their opportunities and potential into adulthood.

A Trip to the Sahel Shows New Opportunities

Jim Yong Kim's picture

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso — I arrived in the Sahel on a four-country trip thinking of the trouble in the region: drought, hunger, and conflict. I left impressed by the political leadership and the resolve of the people. To learn more, please watch this video blog.

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Talkin’ ‘bout a (solution) revolution
Gov Fresh

“As entrepreneurial innovators hone in on how the merging powers of mobile, big data, cloud and the crowd can be leveraged to build sustainable, social enterprises, authors William D. Eggers and Paul Macmillan make the case for the “The Solution Revolution.”

What is the “Solution Revolution?”

A burgeoning new economy where players from across the spectrum of business, government, philanthropy, and social enterprise converge to solve big problems and create public value. Over the last decade or so, a dizzying variety of new players has entered the societal problem-solving arena. Acumen and Ashoka, Kiva and Kaggle, Zipcar and Zimride, Recyclebank and Terracycle, SpaceX and M-Pesa, Branson and Bloomberg, Omidyar and Gates—the list is long and growing briskly. Where tough societal problems persist, these new problem solvers are crowd funding, ride-sharing, app-developing or impact-investing to design innovative new solutions for seemingly intractable problems. They operate within what we call a ‘Solution Economy.’” READ MORE
 

Water and sanitation in rural Haiti still just a trickle

Victoria Flamant's picture

También disponible en español y francés

Alphonsine and her three children walk over 10 hours a week just to meet their basic need for drinking water. The journey is best done in the early hours of the morning before the heat becomes unbearable.

Rural water coverage in Haiti continues to be the lowest in the Western hemisphere, with only 55% of the population having access to an improved drinking water source compared to an average of 80% for rural areas in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to the latest available figures from WHO and UNICEF.

GSBI Business Plans Presentations: Is Targeted Education Part of the Solution?

Virginia Ziulu's picture

GSBI 10th Anniversary logo - Image credit: GSBIOn August 23th, in Santa Clara, California, I attended business plan presentations of 19 competitively selected social entrepreneurs, who delivered their pitches to a panel of experienced professionals plus a general audience. These presentations marked the culmination of the 10th annual Global Social Benefit Incubator (GSBI™) program organized by Santa Clara University. The Development Marketplace has been one of its partners since its beginning. The program includes intensive work by each entrepreneur with two to three designated mentors, and a series of on-campus classes. Its main objective is to strengthen material that each entrepreneur already has available, refine their business models and develop professional organizational documentation that can be presented to attract investors.