Feature: How much is $700 billion really? A humanitarian perspective.

Kids in Caia (Mozambique)

The arguments for a bailout to avoid systemic collapse are of course genuine and persuasive, but so are the arguments for aid and against standing by and allowing a child to die every 3 seconds, or a woman to die in childbirth every minute.

To put the proposed Wall Street bailout into perspective. $700bn:

· Would clear the accumulated debt of the 49 poorest countries in the world ($375bn) twice over
· Is almost 5 times the annual amount of extra aid needed to achieve all the Millennium Development Goals on poverty, health, education etc ($150bn a year)
· Is about 7 years of current global aid levels ($104bn in 2007)
· Is enough to eradicate all world poverty for over two years (UNDP calculates it would take $300bn to get the entire world population over the $1 a day poverty line).

On the other hand it’s
· only a quarter of the cost of the Iraq war ($3 trillion on Joseph Stiglitz’ calculation)
· a half of annual global military spending ($1339 bn)

All about perspectives...

Source: Oxfam blogs, via The Road to the Horizon. Picture courtesy Joakim Kembro (WFP)