The Brookings Institution has recently put out a fascinating bit of data related to Development and Aid. According to the Washington D.C. based think-tank, its’ Development, Aid and Governance Indicators (DAGI) will:
facilitate evidence-based policy analysis and foster discussions about trends in foreign assistance, governance and global development by providing a user-friendly and interactive database that features six indicators covering foreign aid, governance, and global poverty and middle class.
Foster discussion, it likely will, but how much it will actually influence policy is yet to be determined. For more on the possible impact of DAGI, check out Tom Murphy’s recent post on the Humanosphere blog.
Brookings’ DAGI allows for quick and easy searching by region or country and provides a wealth of data about indicators ranging from global poverty to aid quality. For someone very interested in development trends, this is great stuff. I focused my searching on Haiti and what I discovered is very telling.
Here is a graph shows the middle class in millions of Haiti and a handful of other countries I chose to compare it against.
It may be difficult to read, but the disparity is clear. Haiti has a middle class that numbers less than one million in a country with a population of around 9 million.
Here is another graph that depicts the “headcount ratio” by country, of those living below a poverty line of $2 a day. This is the percentage of the population living below that poverty line.
This data is tough because it is raw. It doesn’t come with any background, explanation, or solution.
I want to stop here and share with you why I hesitated even posting this information. The data DAGI provides us with, in some ways, reinforces certain assumptions we already have of places in the world like Haiti. I can hear now the “I could have told you that these countries were poor” thought crossing your mind. We have all seen the pictures on the news and heard the stories. I don’t want to be another voice simply describing how messed up and hopeless the world is. In fact, I want you to know that Haiti is a beautiful place. Haiti still faces a number of challenges as it moves forward, but wow have there been some wonderful successes. The people of Haiti are innovative, resourceful, and fun loving. As someone invested in this wonderful country, I want you to know about the beauty and not just the sadness.
There is a fine balance I am attempting to achieve. I want to share with you stories of hope and show you the transformation that is happening at the community level in Haiti. However, I also feel the need to help you remember Haiti and to communicate the realities facing our Haitian brothers and sisters on a daily basis because we have a short memory. Often, before one “humanitarian crisis” is over, our attention is already on the next one. I am in pursuit of finding this perfect balance and I admit I am still learning.
So why share this data? Well, I wanted to communicate two points:
- Great needs remain in Haiti, as individuals and communities continue to rebuild.
- Hope is present and transformation continues.
Development, positive change, transformation, and relationships take time. Continue to remember Haiti! Thank you for your prayers, passion, interest, and continued partnership.