Friday, August 15, 2008

Blog Action Day 2008

Click on the title to this post to visit Blog Action Day's home page. The theme this year is poverty.


OOTJ will spend a post or two looking at the bigger world beyond law libraries and legal information, because it’s time for Blog Action Day 2008. The theme this year is poverty.

Poverty in the U.S. is a terrible thing. I worked in the early ‘80's as a poverty lawyer, at Central Kentucky Legal Services. I saw clients who were locked in a cycle of poverty. The disparity in wealth was shocking, especially as the 80's and Reagonomics failed to trickle down much wealth from those top layers of society. The gap between the richest few and the increasing number of lower income Americans is growing, even now (see Boston Globe article, 8/15/2008)

But poverty around the world can make poor people in the U.S. look positively well-off. The disparity between even the poorest folks in the U.S. and the poorest people in the world is shocking. Basic human needs, like clean drinking water, sanitation, minimal nutrition, education, health care and personal safety are lacking for so many people around the world. Here are some statistics:

* Half the world — nearly three billion people — live on less than two dollars a day.

* The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the 41 Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (567 million people) is less than the wealth of the world’s 7 richest people combined.

* More than 800 million go hungry each day.

* Over 100 million primary school-age children cannot go to school.

* With more than 1 billion people – about one in six people in this world – lacking access to clean and safe drinking water, the effects of unclean water often lead to a cycle of poverty, conflict, disease and death.
There are a zillion websites that pop up affiliated with global poverty issues. In grand librarian tradition, here are links to some sites I found useful in looking for information on global poverty:

* Global Issues by Anup Shah - Shah writes most of the information on this site himself and works to keep it updated. The link connects you to his page listing issues. He has a section on Causes of Global Poverty, one on Hunger and Poverty and a section on how Food Aid Causes Poverty. Shah was born and educated in Great Britain and now works in the U.S. as a computer science worker. His interest in global issues developed after moving here, and being dissatisfied with U.S. mainstream media coverage. I like his care in citing and updating his articles.

* NetAid, In 1999, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Cisco Systems joined forces to launch NetAid. Founded as a public-private partnership, NetAid set out to use the power of technology—specifically the Internet—to channel the time, resources, and voices of individuals and corporations in the fight against global poverty. (This was kicked off with high profile rock concerts.)

In 2001, NetAid became an independent not-for-profit organization, no longer operated by UNDP and Cisco Systems, but still working in close cooperation with these and other partners. (From ) They have a new website and name: This website has excellent links to many other organizations that focus on poverty issues.

* Care, An organization tied to the United Nations. News, reports, videos, photo montages, virtual field trips and lots of ways to donate or become involved.

* Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Providing grants and alliances to improve world health, access to financial services and information. Working in the United States to improve education, libraries and opportunity.

* U.S. News & World Report article with Jeffrey Sachs (Columbia University economist) on how to overcome global poverty, at

* World Bank document on Implications of Higher Global Food Prices for Poverty in Low-Income Countries at

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