Why millions of people choose to live in urban slums – Part 2

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In part, better quality of life in the urban slums of the developing world is because of better access to services.

Data from surveys across the developing world suggest that poor households in urban areas are more than twice as likely to have piped water as those in rural areas, and they’re nearly four times more likely to have a flush toilet. In India, very poor urban women are about as likely to get prenatal care as the non-poor in rural areas. And in 70 percent of countries surveyed by MIT economists Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, school enrollment for girls ages 7 to 12 is higher among the urban poor than the rural poor.

Banerjee and Duflo found that, among people living on less than a dollar a day, infant mortality rates in urban areas were lower than rural rates in two-thirds of the countries for which they had data. In India, the death rate for babies in the first month of life is nearly one-quarter lower in urban areas than in rural villages. So significant is the difference in outcomes that population researcher Martin Brockerhoff concludes that “millions of children’s lives may have been saved” in the 1980s alone as the result of mothers worldwide moving to urban areas.

That said, modern slum dwellers — about one-third of the urban population in developing countries — are some of the least likely to get vaccines or be connected to sewage systems. That means ill health in informal settlements is far more widespread than city averages would suggest. Slum residents are also at far greater risk from violence, outdoor air pollution, and traffic accidents than their rural counterparts.

But all things considered, slum growth is a force for good.

It could be an even stronger driver of development if leaders stopped treating slums as a problem to be cleared and started treating them as a population to be serviced, providing access to reliable land titles, security, paved roads, water and sewer lines, schools, and clinics. As Harvard University economist Edward Glaeser puts it, slums don’t make people poor — they attract poor people who want to be rich. So let’s help them help themselves.

[Excerpts of a Foreign Policy article by Charles Kenny]

 

More slaves today than any time in human history

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In the West, and particularly in the United States, slavery has long settled in the public imagination as being categorically a thing of the past.

However, the International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates the number of slaves in the world today at around 21 million.

Kevin Bales, of Free the Slaves — the U.S. affiliate of the world’s oldest human-rights organization, the U.K.-based Anti-Slavery International puts it at 27 million. Siddharth Kara of Harvard’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy says more than 29 million.

That range represents a tightening consensus. Bales’s 27 million — which as a statistician he considers a “conservative estimate” — is derived from secondary-source analysis.

In which case, assuming even the rough accuracy of 27 million, there are likely more slaves in the world today than there have been at any other time in human history. For some quick perspective on that point: Over the entire 350 years of the transatlantic slave trade, 13.5 million people were taken out of Africa, meaning there are twice as many enslaved right now as there had been in that whole 350-year span.

The Atlantic

December Online Charitable Giving

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‘Tis the season to be jolly — and for many Americans, to give to charity. A seven-year study of online giving found that a third of all charitable donations in a given year come in December, with the giving rate increasing as the New Year approaches:

Of all giving in a year, 22% of online giving takes place on the last two days of December.

Philanthropy enlisting capitalists to address world needs

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Gray Ghost Ventures, an investment firm established by Bob Pattillo, a real estate developer, provides capital for projects that address the needs of low-income communities around the world.

It has invested in companies that cater to the poor, like D.light Design, which is developing low-cost lighting products for people without reliable electricity, and Babajob, a Web- and mobile-based job search and placement business aimed largely at India’s maids, gardeners and other household workers.

Gray Ghost has also set up the Indian School Finance Company to lend money to private schools, which serve more than 60 percent of the country’s students. Such schools find it hard to obtain financing for improvements and upgrades.

The company is trying to fill that gap with midsize, market rate loans. “Making those investments can help them attract more students, so they generate income to pay off the loan and more kids get an education,” said Jennifer McReynolds, head of investor relations at Gray Ghost.

Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook donates half a billion dollars

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Almost two years to the day since Mark Zuckerberg promised to give half of his wealth away to charitable causes, the Facebook founder has announced (on his Facebook page, natch) a donation that amounts to around half a billion dollars.

The recipient is a Silicon Valley-based charity, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, which will receive 18 million shares in his social network, which floated earlier this year. Its value? A shade under $500 million.

Philanthropy a meaningful legacy

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How many people can you name who lived 100 years ago? Including politicians, scientists, artists, inventors, historical figures and our own ancestors, many of us struggle to name even three dozen. How many of the 314 million Americans or 7 billion planetarians will be remembered 100 years from now?

Most of us seek meaning in our lives and hope to be remembered after we’re gone. And effective and meaningful philanthropy can be achieved, in part, by asking what kind of legacy you want to leave.

The majority of the Americans who grew up in the Depression and fought abroad and worked at home during World War II are unknown by name to those of us alive today. But, collectively, we know of them as “The Greatest Generation,” whose courage and sacrifice rescued freedom from the threat of totalitarianism. Their generational legacy is the free society that we enjoy today.

Legacy Project chair Susan Bosak writes, “The idea of legacy may remind us of death, but it’s not about death. … Legacy is really about life and living. It helps us decide the kind of life we want to live and the kind of world we want to live in.” She adds, “Through legacy, ‘me’ becomes ‘we.’ … ‘We’ encompasses past and future, old and young, and the society we create and perpetuate.”

How do we create a legacy for future generations? By living a life consistent with our values, in harmony with others, and in a manner that repairs the world and preserves those things that are essential to a healthy, sustainable and productive society and planet. Generous, thoughtful, focused philanthropy is a necessary element of that goal and will help create and solidify the legacy of our generation.

Support the many great nonprofit organizations working here and globally to help preserve the good things in the world that we cherish, and repair those things that cry out for help, improvement and change.

The perfect gift for friends family and co-workers –giving to a cause

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Tired of searching for the perfect gift for friends, family and co-workers (or, at the least, something that won’t be re-gifted?)

And could you use an end-of-the-year tax deduction?

If so, here is an easy solution: Give to a cause in that person’s name. It’s fast and easy, it’s tax deductible and it’s a nice thing to do in someone’s honor.

Most important, charitable donations help people who most need some assistance.

Whether donations are made out of passion or as a convenience during a hectic season, they will be welcome and put to good use.

Nonprofits invest in For-Profits

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When the W. K. Kellogg Foundation set aside $100 million in 2007 to invest in companies that could produce both social and financial benefits, it was considered revolutionary. Historically, major foundations had used mainly stocks, bonds, real estate and other traditional asset classes to build their endowments.

In 2010, the Kellogg Foundation invested $5 million in Wireless Generation, a tiny educational software maker working to improve public education in New York City. Just 219 days later, it made a 25.9 percent return after Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation bought Wireless Generation for $360 million.

Philanthropy is taking its cues from Wall Street and Silicon Valley. The language of finance is so common that it is sometimes hard to tell the difference between an investment conference and a fund-raiser. Grants are referred to as investments, and public-private partnerships as innovations. Money used to buy vans, computers and buildings is called growth capital.

“It’s not just the language that is changing,” said Antony Bugg-Levine, chief executive of the Nonprofit Finance Fund. “The actual distinction between the two sectors, for-profit and nonprofit, is starting to collapse.”

The shift stems from a new generation of philanthropists, like Bill and Melinda Gates, Pierre and Pam Omidyar and Steve and Jean Case, hoping to stretch their dollars. As they see it, the pool of philanthropic assets — even at a whopping $4 trillion-plus — is too small to make a dent in seemingly intractable social problems like malnutrition, chronic homelessness, water quality and sanitation. So they are trying to find ways to reuse existing financing and to attract new types of capital.

Finding the balance between charitable giving and shopping

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At the peak of the shopping and giving season, consumers are increasingly combining both activities. They are buying products that have charitable tie-ins, shopping through Web portals that send savings to nonprofits, and donating at the registers when they check out at stores.

These charity-linked purchases might give consumers a good feeling, but are they good for charities? Maybe so, but only if those shopping decisions aren’t taking the place of other charitable giving, say some specialists.

Charitable shopping “undermines the philanthropy of a nonprofit through diminished charitable donations,” said Sondra Dellaripa, principal consultant for the nonprofit consultancy Harvest Development Group. In fund-raising development for charities, she said, it is important to build a relationship with a donor — ­something that doesn’t happen in these ­transactions.

So, how can you make your shopping turn into giving while keeping in mind how much you’re really giving to charity? Not all products with charity tie-ins are created equal.

For those shopping online, there are pass-through sites where a charity gets money every time a consumer makes a purchase. The donated percentage of the purchase price varies from 1 to 25 percent.

Some deliver no money to charity at all; they’re just for awareness. Consumers can check this, before they buy, on the product’s website or by reading the tiny print on the product’s packaging.

Vietnamese restaurateur turns philanthropy into business

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Among the countless street children Jimmy Pham has met over the decades, the one who comes to mind most often is a young girl whose mother slammed her head against a wall some 16 years ago.

The girl’s mother, who was beside her, had suggested she beg for money from Pham, who had become a kind of casual benefactor to the local children. When the girl refused to beg, her mother punished her with a beating.

The memory of that girl, and others like her, played a key role in the origin of KOTO, the restaurant chain Pham went on to found in 1999. KOTO uses its eateries to take young people off the street and train them in the service industry.

Pham, who as a baby fled Saigon for Australia as the Vietnam War was winding down, returned in 1996 as a travel agent. He was struck immediately by the poverty and says he spent his first few weeks buying meals for street children and giving them money.

Unlike when Pham started out, Vietnam now has a whole host of vocational charities that take the teach-them-to-fish approach. Instead of a handout, the organizations specialize in a teaching marketable skill – from baking brownies to tailoring trousers. The thinking is that they can pass these skills on to poor or disabled people, who then can support themselves.

But Pham says even this approach is no longer enough. “We’re not content with showing them how to fish anymore,” Pham, 40, said in an interview at KOTO’s restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City. “We want to show them how to set up the fish shops and teach others to fish.”

The recruits live together for two years at a training center, but food service makes up just part of their lessons. They learn English and play soccer, but also take 36 workshops that cover everything from personal finance to sex education.