Recent research by the Institute of Development Studies has shown that almost three quarters of the world's poor (almost 1 billion people) now reside in middle-income rather than low income countries. This has important implications for both international aid and the children and adults who make up this new 'bottom billion' themselves.
What does this mean for international aid?The shift in where the world's poorest people live is due to a growth in the wealth of countries previously classed as low-income such as India, Peru and Brazil. The growth which has turned such countries into middle-income countries has not trickled down in many cases to its poorest and most disadvantaged citizens. Therefore, despite overall economic growth many people in these countries still live on less than $1.25 a day and for those who comprise this 'bottom billion,' life remains the same. The work of ChildHope's partners in India such as Butterflies, shows that huge numbers of children still live and work on the streets and their day to day realities have not changed just because India is now a middle-income country.
ChildHope's work supporting children living and working on the streets in middle-income countriesThe departure of many donors and international agencies from middle-income countries now perceived as lower aid priority is worrying. This is why ChildHope is still working in middle-income countries and bringing donors' attention to the need for aid to continue in order to address the needs of the poorest people. While international aid focussed purely on poverty reduction has contributed to lifting countries out of poverty, it can only lift the poorest people out of poverty if it also focuses on addressing the inequalities that trap people in poverty cycles. This means a focus on addressing inequalities based on age, gender, race, education and ethnicity to combat disparities between rich and poor.
This is the sort of change that ChildHope seeks in all work with our partners. Our projects therefore aim to address the immediate needs of the children and families we support, but also focus on long term change, such as lobbying governments and policy makers to adopt suitable laws and policies, working with communities to change opinions and educating children in both formal education and life-skills. For instance, our new project with local organisation The Concerned for Working Children in India is working to improve services for children's basic protection and health needs but also involves initiatives aimed at long term commitment of the government and other NGOs to improve children's services and protection.
Working in this way, ChildHope and our partners hope to remove the inequalities that cause poverty and injustice and reach the bottom billion.