September 2, 2008

Millennium Development Part II: Livelihood and Education

The first of the eight Millennium Development Goals is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. Encompassed in this goal are targets to halve between 1990 and 2015 the number of people living on less than one dollar a day, ensure employment and “decent work” for all, and halve the number of people suffering from hunger.

This first objective in particular is quite broad and stands precariously on vague language. There is no concrete definition for concepts like “extreme poverty” or “decent work”. Terminology of this sort threatens to undermine the legitimacy of the UN’s aims. The language conveys overwhelming international social problems that seem impossible to solve over the course of a decade by member states simply tweaking their respective foreign policies.

One Step Forward:

The Citizens Network for Foreign Affairs is a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit organization that runs Farmer-to-Farmer projects in Moldova, Belarus, and the Ukraine as part of USAID’s John Ogonowksi Farmer-to-Farmer Program. Volunteers along with paid staff advisors travel abroad to provide agricultural and entrepreneurial support. CNFA representatives collaborate with local citizens to establish long-lasting economic and nutritional sustainability.

The second Millennium Development Goal is to provide free primary school education to all children. Many children live in areas that lack facilities and teachers, or cannot go to school due to the danger of local conflicts. Others must work to help support their families or take up arms in war-torn zones. According to Oxfam International, over 72 million school-age children are not receiving a primary school education.

One Step Forward:

CODENI started out as the final project of a group of ITESO graduate students in Guadalajara, Mexico. Today it is a legally established non-profit organization that affords educational services to the street children of Guadalajara. Volunteers and staff not only offer lessons, but CODENI also provides counseling services, scholarships, and monthly food baskets. CODENI also organizes field trips and social events for students and their family members.

Whether through international cooperation or localized efforts, people around the world are trying to help fulfill the admirable, albeit slightly grandiose, goals set forth by the United Nations. For more information or to get involved with CNFA’s Farmer-to-Farmer program, please visit To learn more about or offer services to CODENI, go to

This blog was written by Allison Tritt, a former high school English teacher, volunteer for Oxfam Japan and volunteer blogger with Literacy ‘n’ Poverty Project. She blogs to foster global awareness and remind others that there is always a way to get involved. Please leave your comments and feel free to email Allison at with any questions!


Marina said...

It's true that the vaguely phrased "extreme poverty" is a potential hindrance for the individual governments, especially since the level of poverty is measured on different terms. A "poor" Greek for instance is definetely making more than a "poor" Malaysian. What might be considered as extreme poverty in a european country, is not the same as in an african state. Sure, by and large an extremely poor person is one that is a destitute, don't have enough to eat or have a house and cloth themselves. But since poverty changes faces in every country, we cannot have a unified definition of it. Rather, every region must create the terms with which to refer to their poverty, define their poverty and thus enable the governments to implement the appropriate policies. Thanks for the amazing blog Allison!!!!

Chanelle C. said...

Poverty does change face in every country, in every neighborhood and in my opinion, in every household.

For example, the 2006 US poverty threshold for one person under 65 was $10,488. I think many people would argue that even with $15,000, $20,000 or $25,000 income, you could still be in poverty. Perhaps you have school loans, live alone, and pay all your bills without the help of family and friends. $10,488 is not going to cut it!

Great post Allison :)

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