Arsenic Mitigation and Social Mobilisation in Bangladesh (AMRF)

This is a short 8-minutes version of a 60-minutes documentary Development in Bad Waters (AMRF). In Bangladesh, millions of rural poor are currently drinking water that is contaminated with high levels of arsenic. Although the problem was described as the worst mass poisoning in history, little has been achieved to resolve it. Among the few projects that are being implemented, even fewer have managed to reach the poor and to implement water supplies and health support provisions that last. The Arsenic Mitigation and Research Foundation has implemented an integrated and participatory program that links research with project activities in a manner that reflects the priorities of local communities.

Extremely ridiculous extreme poverty lines (WFP)

In a previous video post, we discussed uncertainty in World Bank data and methodology measuring extreme poverty (see What is happening to poverty? (Rammelt and Surace)). The Bank (and the UN) overestimate progress towards reaching the first Millennium Development Goal of halving extreme poverty. In our video, we made the point that the $1, $1.25 or $2 poverty lines are extremely low (especially considering the rise in food prices). Here is a simple illustration of this point. Melese Awok, World Food Programme Public Information Officer in Ethiopia, finds out what he can buy for a dollar at a food market in Addis Ababa.

Note that Melese is using the official exchange rate ($1 = Br16 in 2011, when the video was made). However, $1 buys a lot more in Ethiopia than it does in the US. For the purposes of comparing international poverty levels, this difference in purchasing power has been accounted for in World Bank estimates of global poverty (We explain this in our video, and in our article for AIDWATCH here). In 2011, $1 adjusted to purchasing power in Ethiopia was not Br16, but less then Br6 a day (see conversion factors here). Melese should have asked: “what can I buy for $0.37?”

Challenging our measure of progress (Robert Kennedy)

In 1968, Robert F. Kennedy challenged the basic way progress and well-being is measured through Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This has only become more relevant since then. See similar arguments here Economists must learn to subtract (Adbusters). An alternative to GDP is proposed here The Genuine Progress Indicator, an alternative to GDP (Ron Colman).

Debate: Food – Who Pays the Price? (TVE, BBC World, IFAD)

Food – Who Pays the Price? (October 2008) raises important questions about who produces the food we eat and how. Urbanization, climate change, changing diets in emerging economies and the impact of supermarkets are putting new pressures on the land and changing the face of farming. Meanwhile small farmers around the world are leaving the land in increasing numbers.