Guardian Launches Global Development Website

The Guardian on Tuesday launched a new website that will cover global development issues, such as hunger and infant mortality, according to an introductory note on the site (Bunting, 9/14).

“One aim of the website, which launches just a week before a major U.N. summit, is to hold governments, institutions and NGOs accountable for the implementation of the United Nations millennium development goals (MDGs), which 192 countries signed up to in 2000,” a Guardian press release states, adding that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is “part-funding the site along with Guardian News & Media.”

The release also highlights the site’s data store page, which will provide tools to help monitor each country’s MDG progress (9/14).

The new site has four features examining progress on MDGs in specific countries:

  • The likelihood of “war-torn, hungry” Afghanistan “getting anywhere near meeting millennium development goal 7 – which covers water, sanitation and the environment – is zero in the next decade and probably for far longer,” according to one article. “Government statistics, which are sparse and unreliable, are shocking: in rural areas, it is estimated that 80% of all Afghans are drinking contaminated water. A similar proportion of hospital patients in Kabul suffer from diseases caused by polluted air or water. The burgeoning city generates nearly 2,000 tonnes of solid waste a day but only has the capacity to handle 400 tonnes” (Vidal, 9/14).
  • Another article looks at Brazil’s success in reducing child mortality. “A 2008 study by UNICEF found that Brazil had slashed infant mortality rates, those among children between 0 and 1 year of age, by over 50% between 1990 and 2006. … Even in Brazil’s indigenous communities, some of the worst-affected areas, the government says things are improving,” the Guardian writes. “All of which means that Brazil is on course to meet the fourth millennium development goal, which calls for a two-thirds reduction in the infant mortality rate by 2015. Other countries performing strongly include Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Mexico, Nepal and the Philippines” (Phillips, 9/14).
  • “Estimates of the number of women who die worldwide while pregnant or in labour every year range from 350,000 to over 500,000. … A third of these deaths are in southern Asia, but half are in sub-Saharan Africa, where the chances of a woman dying as a result of pregnancy or giving birth is one in 22,” according to another article. “But in Rwanda … gradually things are changing.” To illustrate how maternal health care (goal 5) has improved in Rwanda, the piece reports on one Rwandan woman’s pregnancy (Boseley, 9/14).
  • A fourth article looks at why malnutrition in India persists despite the existence of feeding programs and other government efforts to address it. “One reason for the persistence of malnutrition in India is that the myriad schemes set up to combat it are hugely inefficient. … Corruption on the part of both food distributors and officials, combined with administrative incapacity and poor logistics all impede delivery,” the article notes. “In its last MDG interim report, the U.N. also identified the food crisis of 2007 and the financial chaos of the same year as contributory factors in India and other countries’ continuing poor record in this area.” Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger is MD goal 1 (Burke, 9/14).

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