Tag Archives: international development

Recap & Response: Measuring Poverty

On September 23, 2016, CAPP-USA and Fordham University co-sponsored a conference called “Pope Francis’ Call for Escaping Poverty: Practical Examples and New Proposals.” The conference examined the definition and measurement of poverty and proposed specific, practical efforts which operationalize Pope Francis’ insistence that people “be dignified agents of their own destiny.” What follows is the latest in a series of posts authored by graduate students in Fordham University’s International Political Economy & Development Program that offer a summary and response to a topic discussed at the conference.

When Pope Francis spoke at the United Nations in September of 2015, he delivered a powerful message on poverty calling all to action “to enable these real men and women to escape from extreme poverty [by allowing] them to be dignified agents of their own destiny.”

Professor Henry Schwalbenberg and his students at Fordham University answered this call.

Using Pope Francis’s speech as a guidepost, they developed a new tool to measure areas of human need, titled “Fordham’s Pope Francis Global Poverty Index.”

Dr. Henry Schwalbenberg.

Dr. Henry Schwalbenberg.

From the speech, they identified seven indicators across two categories: material well-being (water, food, housing, and employment), and spiritual well-being (education, gender, and religious freedom).

Unlike previous indices, such as the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), Fordham’s includes measures for both gender equality and religious freedom.

The index was created with easily obtained public data, focusing on impact indicators. This led to some interesting results—for example, the study found that literacy is correlated to graduation rates, but not to primary school enrollment, nor spending on education. This may suggest the importance of focusing policy to help students stay in school and get their diplomas.

The study also found that access to water was strongly related to several other indicators, especially housing and gender. This is an area where the index can be improved, with future work looking at different measures for gender and housing.

Fr. Elias D. Mallon expounded on the inclusion of religious freedom in the index, raising several philosophical questions with which the development field is currently grappling:

  • Does the right to religious freedom reside within the individual or within the corporate body?
  • When does the right to religion impinge upon the rights of other religions (intentionally or otherwise)?
  • At what point does one group’s right to religious freedom end?

According to Fr. Mallon, these issues become political when one group calls on the state to promote their own beliefs.

Fr. Elias Mallon

Fr. Elias Mallon.

The potential for these issues to unravel into myriad loose ends is great, but Fr. Mallon pulled everything back to the centrality of our humanity.

“When Pope Francis talks about, ‘goods,’” said Fr. Mallon, “he means more than just physical things. He means ‘the common good’ as well.”

“Thus religious freedom is a shared space, built with everyone’s participation. We are to regard all as brothers and sisters, with our work done in the service of the common good.”

Because Fordham’s Pope Francis Index strongly correlates with the standard Human Development Index (HDI), it provides a powerful new way to begin to not only address the material needs of people, but to identify ways to attend to spiritual well-being as well.

IPED Conference (Sept. 23, 2016) Photo by Bruce Gilbert

Luther Flagstad is a first-year student in Fordham University’s Graduate Program in International Political Economy & Development.

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Recap & Response — Insights into Pope Francis’ Views on International Poverty and Development

On September 23, 2016, CAPP-USA and Fordham University co-sponsored a conference called “Pope Francis’ Call for Escaping Poverty: Practical Examples and New Proposals.” The conference examined the definition and measurement of poverty and proposed specific, practical efforts which operationalize Pope Francis’ insistence that people “be dignified agents of their own destiny.” What follows is the first in a series of posts authored by graduate students in Fordham University’s International Political Economy & Development Program that offer a summary and response to a topic discussed at the conference.

The Most Reverend Archbishop Bernardito Auza

The Most Reverend Archbishop Bernardito Auza

Optimistic is the word that the Most Reverend Archbishop Bernardito Auza repeatedly used to describe “Pope Francis’ Views on International Poverty and Development,” in his presentation at the CAPP-USA and Fordham University conference last Friday. Above all, the Archbishop emphasized that in the words of Pope Francis, the poor are “dignified agents” of their own destiny. As such, they should be empowered to actively participate in the fight against “undignified” poverty.

According to the Pope, there are three “illnesses” that cause and perpetuate poverty: the globalization of indifference, consumerism and over consumption, and “ferocious idolatry of money.” To those suffering from these illnesses, Pope Francis ascribes a lack of empathy, a blunted conscious, and a loss of ethical control. In spite of this, the Pope’s message remains hopeful, asserting that spiritual renewal, restrained consumption, and a return to God are antidotes that will resolve the three illnesses.

Just as each of the three illnesses has an antidote, so does extreme poverty. The Pope’s answer is “integral human development.” The key components of this holistic approach to development are solidarity, a preferential option for the poor, and the three T’s: Tierra, Techo, and Trabajo (Land, Lodging, and Labor). Integral human development entails a return to the culture of encounter that is central to the Church and incorporates a renewed focus on the Gospel. This guide for treatment of the poor underscores the necessity of basic prerequisites for a dignified life. The Pope’s final sentiment is, unsurprisingly, highly optimistic. He insists that international poverty can and must be defeated and that we have the power to accomplish this task if we all work together.

In the midst of relaying the Pope’s views, the Archbishop seemed to caution us against blind optimism, reminding us that it is difficult to classify poverty. He inquired, “how do we know that only 1.2 of 7.2 billion people live in extreme poverty today? Can we trust the statistics presented by the World Bank?” The Archbishop reveals a cynicism of international institutions and arguably a bit of exasperation at the extent of the challenge before us. Nevertheless, he echoes the Pope’s optimism, especially when it comes to the growing recognition that religion and religious organizations are receiving from the United Nations, as catalysts for change at the grassroots level. Perhaps the Archbishop’s purpose, in voicing his concerns regarding multilateral organizations as well as his pleasure at the credit being afforded to the Church for its work on the ground, is to offer clarification. In order to effectively answer the Pope’s call to work together to fight poverty, we should turn not to the IMF or World Bank, but rather to the Church.

Kelsey Garcia is a first-year student in Fordham University’s Graduate Program in International Political Economy & Development.

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Three IPED Graduates selected for CRS International Development Fellows Program

3 crs fellows

Three recent Fordham IPED graduates were selected for the Catholic Relief ServicesInternational Development Fellows Program (CRS IDFP) for 2016. Camille Tacastacas, Veronica Muoio, and Josh Voges (IPED 2016) were among the roughly 25 fellows selected from hundreds of applicants for this year’s IDFP. The IDFP is a year-long program that provides a fast-track for people interested in careers in international relief and development via experience working in CRS’ programs overseas.

 

Joshua Voges

Josh was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco. As an Arrupe Fellow in the Fordham IPED program, he interned with the UNDP Equator Initiative.  Josh is currently interning with CRS’ office in Senegal, where he serves as Program Quality and Growth Fellow.

 

IMG_0496 (1)

Pictured here in the Philippines, Veronica served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Jordan. She joined Fordham IPED on a Peace Corps Coverdell Fellowship and interned with the Fordham Road Business Improvement District. Veronica currently works with the United Nation’s Development Programme’s Gender Team.


camille

Camille was Jesuit Volunteer from the Philippines, and joined the Fordham IPED program on a Presidential Scholarship. Camille is currently interning with CRS Sierra Leone, where she assists in their Infant and Young Child Feeding and Integrated Management of Acute Malnutrition Program.

Veronica has received an offer to join CRS’ office in Lebanon, Camille in CRS Malawi, and Josh in CRS Rwanda. Their deployment to these country offices is set to begin in August.

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