Thursday, December 27, 2007

Rich Nations and the Amount of the Foreign Aid Assistance

By Tiina Mustakangas-Laukka

No one knows exactly how much money is needed to halve the poverty. However, there are some estimates on the “price” of the UN Millenium Goals. According to them, the foreign aid assistance of the rich nations should be doubled in order to be able to reach all the eight UN Millennium Goals. This amount of aid would equal 0.5 % of all the aid giving countries’ GDP, being therefore much less than the UN 0.7% target.

In forty years, the economic welfare of the aid giving countries has doubled, but then again their foreign aid assistance has halved. Every cow within the European Union gets a financial support of
more than two dollars a day, and at the same time there are 2.8 billion people who earn less than two dollars a day.

Finland’s foreign aid assistance for the year 2006 was 670 million euros. In reality, only 500 million euros of that aid was used, and it equalled 0.39% of our GDP. Finland’s aim is to reach the UN 0.7% target by the year 2010. It has reached the 0.7% target only once, in 1991. Right after this, during the economic recession of the 1990’s, Finland cut its foreign aid assistance more than any other country in the world. Now that the economic situation has improved, Finland has not raised its aid to the earlier level.

How shameful is that?! And how shameful is it that almost all rich nations have failed this obligation?!

What is the amount of the foreign aid assistance in the US? How well has US reached the UN 0.7% target?

Source: Kivistö, Jari (ed.). 2007. Growing into Global Responsibility. Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Finland.


Development towards global partnership

What should we do to get developing countries in the same level with us, industrialized countries? We always only discuss this problem but that isn’t enough, we have to take action!
We usually help developing countries for example with different kinds of development aids.
Typical aid can be a development project which is related to everyday life, like infrastructure. We also provide help to develop their school system so that every boy and girl gets an opportunity to go to school.

Developing countries and global economy

We must help developing countries as much as we can so that they can survive on their own. The United nations calculate that only African countries alone took a loan worth of 540 billion dollars in 1972-2002. Just from that you can see how poor countries can easily resort to take a loan which can lead to a circle of debt. Economical problems can also present political conflicts, like civil war. The Millenium declaration of the United Nations encourages the industrial countries to carry out debt allowance program for countries that are seriously in debts. Countries that are working to get out of poverty should be aided by reducing the debts. Other economical ways for helping developing countries are for example getting their export products into our market economy, as well as increasing both development aid and technological development. The United Nations recommends that the industrial countries should give 0.7 of their GDP to developing countries. When you are giving money through charity to developing countries, you have to pay attention to that the money finds the right owners i.e. those who need it.

Developing countries and politics

We have to advise developing countries in political things but we also have to accept their political structure. Also enhancing and supporting their mechanism is important because it is a good way to avoid conflicts between poor and rich countries. We should have more public meetings regularly where we could discuss together with developing countries.

What can I do for developing countries?

There are lots of things to do, and you can do a lot. You can have a godchild from a poor country and give him clothes and food, as well as finance the child’s education. Volunteering is a good way to help because then you can literally go and help there. It will also provide you with unforgettable experiences.

You can give different kinds of donations or buy things that are sold for poor countries’ credit. Your attitude towards developing countries is an important thing because if you are not interested, nothing will change. But if you are willing to help those in need and you are ready to take action you can change the world. You can’t do everything all by yourself, but you can encourage the others to participate with your example. A good example of this is U2’s singer Bono who has talked about the subject in public and inspired people to help others. YOU CAN MAKE A CHANGE!

By Pirita Niemelä (student at Haukipudas High School)


Saturday, December 15, 2007


By Tiina Mustakangas-Laukka

Make-believe 1:
If we diminished the entire mankind to our school of 300 people and took all nations into account, there would be:
171 Asians, 63 Europeans, 42 Americans, and 24 Africans in our school.
156 of us would be girls, and 144 boys.
90 of us would be Caucasians, and 210 of us would represent the other human races of the world.
90 of us would be Christians, and 210 of us would represent the other religions of the world.
18 of us would own more than half of all the riches of the world, and all 18 would come from the USA.
240 of us would not have proper living conditions. 210 of us could not read or write.
150 (ie half of us) would suffer from malnutrition.
Only three of us would have a computer. And only three of our students would be able to continue their studies at a university and get an academic degree.

So this is what the diminishing of the world into our school of 300 people would mean.

Empathy is an ability to empathize with someone else’s situation.
It’s the beginning of all aid.

Make-believe 2:
If we moved our school to Sudan, Africa,
The dismemberment of the girls’ private parts would be real for 90% of the girls in our school. The dismemberment of your private parts would have been carried out when you were 5-9 years old, and the operation would have had many physical and psychological after-effects on you.
A child marriage would be another tradition which would have serious negative effects on your mental development and welfare, as well as educational opportunities and sexual health.
If we moved our school to Sierra Leone, Africa,
An exceptioanlly cruel civil war would have made us suffer for ten years now. The war would have witnessed significantly more extensive human right violations against children than just the ordinary cruelties of a war. And even if the war was already over, you would still suffer from it, because, as a consequence of the war, many of you would have been forced to quit school.
If we moved our school to Togo, Africa,
Child trade and child abuse would be very familiar problems to many of us and as many as 70% of us would live in extreme poverty.
If we moved our school to Ethiopia, Africa,
About 70% of our health problems would have been caused by infectious diseases which would be easy to prevent with the help of clean water and better hygiene.
If we moved our school to Uganda, Africa,
We would be the poorest people in the world, and our poverty would be even worse because of the serious AIDS epidemic in our country. The biggest amount of infections would be exactly in your age group. The infectioned ones of you would very seldom have a chance to get medical treatment or medicine for your disease. The average living expectancy would be 43 years.
If we moved our school to Kamerun, Africa,
The members of the minority groups that study in our school, such as the Lappish people and the Swedish-speaking people, would not have been registered after their birth, and that is why, officially, they wouldn’t exist. Also, they wouldn’t have the right to own land, and that is why the other Finns could easily drive them away from their houses. Their other living conditions would be bad too, and they wouldn’t have clean drinking water and bathrooms at all. Their children would get sick all the time, because the houses would be shaky and their clothes wouldn’t give them enough protection. Their health care would be poor too and their living expectancy would be under 30 years.

So this is what the life in a developing country concretely is.

When you look at the world from this angle, it’s very obvious for everyone that the need for understanding, tolerance, education and aid is essential.

Empathy is an ability to empathize with someone else’s situation.
It’s the beginning of all aid.

So, if you woke up healthy this morning, you’re luckier than one million people who won’t be able to live till next week.
If you have never seen battles of a war, or experienced loneliness in a prison, torture or hunger – you’re luckier than 500 million people in this world.
If you’re able to go to church without the fear of others’ hatred, imprisonment or death – you’re luckier than 3 billion people in this world.
If you have food in the fridge, clothes on your body, a roof above your head and a bed where to sleep – you’re richer than 75% of the people in the world.
If you have a bank account or money in your wallet – you’re one of the 8% of the wealthy people of the world.

We’re all victims of the conditions – some winners, some losers.
We may congratulate ourselves and enjoy our healthy, safe and wealthy life in Finland, but please do remember that

Empathy is an ability to empathize with someone else’s situation.
It’s the beginning of all aid.

(African statistics from Plan Finland's campaign