Foreign Aid and Family at Risk: Role of Foreign Aid to Myanmar

Foreign Aid and Family at Risk: Role of Foreign Aid to Myanmar

Kana Takamatsu (International Christian University, Japan)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1807-6.ch009


This chapter uses the case study of Myanmar to examine how the foreign aid policy should have supported families facing risks. The chapter addresses the issue of poverty, which continues to be the gravest risk in the developing countries. Family could be the cause of poverty as well as the solution of poverty in foreign aid policy discussion. The situation of poverty and migration as risk management tools is examined. Interviews of migrant workers in Thailand and Japan were conducted. There is also a discussion about the developments of Myanmar and foreign aid and how the international community has inadequately responded to the democratization of Myanmar and to the needs of its people.
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Changing the size and capacity of family, increasing instability of labor market and globalization, new social risks have continued to emerge. How we should manage new social risks? International Social Security Association (ISSA) mentions that new social risks require the state to have a new family policy targeting parents who provides childcare and pursues a full professional career (ISSA website (A)). It tries to manage risks by supporting family. ISSA also considers that developing countries face different risks and indicates “a better articulation of formal social security policies with the traditional family and community-based model could attenuate some of these problems” (ISSA website (A)).

What are these risks in developing countries? Poverty has been the key foreign aid policy issue for a long time, but it is clear that poverty is linked with a multitude of other social issues.

In the Millennium Assembly in 2000, UN member states adopted the United Nations Millennium Declaration. This declaration is “the basis for a ‘road map’-the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)” (Sumner and Tribe, 2008, p. 23), and the international community commits these. The MDGs aimed to eradicate poverty through eight goals with time-bound targets should be achieved by 2015 (UN Millennium Project, 2005, p.1, p. 281-293). These eight goals were developed by the pre-existing agendas, which were proposed by the international conferences and summits in the 1990s (Feeny and Clarke, 2009, p.3). The Millennium Development Report 2015 showed that the number of populations living in extreme poverty has declined by more than half, and many achievements have occurred since 2000 (UN, 2015, p.4). Even though UN agencies evaluated the achievement of MDGs, various issues relating to poverty reduction are still remained, for example inequalities, social stratifications, conflicts and climate changes. So that new agenda as SDGs with 17 goals from 2015 to 2030 is developed.

The “Multidimensional Poverty Index” (MPI) is implemented in UNDP’s Human Development Report (HDR) since 2010. This index describes the deprivations of most disadvantaged population by three dimensions such as health, education and living standards (UNDP, 2010, p5). According to UNDP and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), the population below PPP $ 1.90 a day in the developing countries is 14.2 percent (2007-2017), even though the population in multidimensional poverty is 23.1 percent (headcount) (UNDP and OPHI, 2019, p.4). Accordingly, poverty eradication is still the most critical and internationally most recognized agenda item, and achieving these goals clearly requires far more ambitious efforts.

Figure 1.

Situation of Poverty

Source: UNDP and OPHI (2019)

Foreign aid agendas in many cases have been directly targeting poverty. Many poverty eradication programs/projects in developing countries have also shifted their focus to targeting families to better manage risks that are directly contributing to poverty situations. One of the major concerns is family size. Estimations show, “the average poverty incidence in 45 countries would have fallen by one third if the crude birth rate had fallen by an additional 5 per 1,000 in the 1980s” (UNFPA, 2012, P.17). UNFPA indicates rapid population growth continues to be a threat to poverty reduction, and “family planning programs” create an opportunity for women to join the labor force, which then provides resources to family and improve family living standards (UNFPA, 2008).

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