Today’s Fuel Explosion in Nairobi

September 12, 2011

I’ve got a special place in my heart for East Africa, having visited there three times and with investments in Pengo Loans and Think Impact, both with operations in Kenya. After visiting the Kibera slum in Nairobi in 2009 to see the work of Carolina for Kibera, I feel especially for those who are living day-to-day in the slums of Nairobi and other parts of the developing world.

Today in a Nairobi slum called Sinai a fuel pipeline starting leaking. Immediately hundreds of people gathered around, grabbing every container they could to capture the fuel. Soon thereafter, the pipeline caught fire and exploded. At least 100 people immediately burned to death in the explosion and ensuing house fires in the densely concentrated slums. Another 120 went to the hospital with severe burns.

Below is a news video of the story from the local Kenyan NTV. Take a look at the living conditions of these communities. Often without electricity, running water, and sewage. Yes, it’s true that 39% of the world survive on less than $2 per day (a per capita income of $730 per year), and yet so few people are aware of this. For those of us in the United States living on an average of $130 per day (the U.S. per capital income as of 2011 is $47,240), this type of existence is surely hard to fathom.

And here is another video from NTV showing some of the burn videos in the hospital (warning: graphic):

Here’s the NY Times article.

Why Poverty?

November 20, 2009

As I sit on the 28th floor of a hotel in San Francisco I am angry, yet hopeful.

I wonder why in a world with as much wealth as we see, as much luxury that we experience, should 40% of the human species live on under $2 per day?

2.56 billion human beings, people just like you and I, live on under $2 per day. On average, 24,900 children under 5 die each and every day in the developing world, often from preventable diseases and starvation. 24,900 children under 5. Check out the sources below. This is absolutely unacceptable.

Why does no one talk about this?

Were you aware of this? Please comment…



1 – 2008 World Development Indicators: Poverty Data Supplement, World Bank

From p. 10: “…the number of people living on less than $2.00 a day has remained nearly constant at 2.5 billion. From Table 3: “People living on less than 2005 PPP $2.00 a day (millions), 2005 – 2.564″

2 – UNICEF State of the World’s Children, 2009

From p. 121, Statistical Tables, Table 1 Basic Indicators, Summary Indicators, Developing Countries “Annual Number of Under 5 Deaths (Thousands), 2007 – 9109″ We arrived at 24,956 deaths of children under 5 per day by taking the 9,109,000 total deaths per year for children under 5 in developing countries and dividing by 365.

25 Facts on Global Poverty

August 1, 2009

25 Facts on Global Poverty

August 16, 2009 · Print This Article

One of the challenges I’ve faced as I’ve sought to learn all I can on global poverty over the past few years has been how challenging it is to find accurate, trusted statistics on the topic. I spent a few hours tonight beginning a compilation of stats on global poverty, which I’ve added as a new page on The Humanity Campaign web site.

What do you think about these facts? What can we do to end extreme poverty in our lifetime? Please feel free to comment at the bottom of the page.

Special Thanks:

Thank you to the site for their work in collecting verifiable facts and statistics on major global issues. Their page “Poverty Facts & Stats” was of great help in compiling these statistics. Thank you also to the World Bank, UNICEF, UNICEF Cananda, and UNDP for vital reports neccessary for the compilation of these statistics. The United Nations report “The Millennium Development Goals Report 2009” was also particularly helpful.

A Collection of Sourced & Verifiable Facts on Global Poverty

To make it on this list a statistic must be from a trusted primary source with a clear “as of” date. All statistics are sourced and cited at the bottom of the page.

  1. As of 2008, 79.8% of humanity lives on less than $10 per day. (5.15 billon people) (1)
  2. As of 2008, 48.6% of humanity lives on less than $2.50 per day. (3.14 billion people) (1)
  3. As of 2008, 40.2% of humanity lives on less than $2 per day. (2.60 billion people) (1)
  4. As of 2008, 21.7% of humanity lives on less than $1.25 per day (1.40 billion people) (1)
  5. As of 2008, 13.6% of humanity lives on less than $1 per day. (880 million people) (1)
  6. As of 2008, the world’s richest 20% consume 76.6% of private consumption (1)
  7. As of 2008, the world’s richest 10% consume 59.9% of private consumption (1)
  8. As of 2009, 25,000 children under 5 years old die each day due to poverty (2)
  9. As of 2006, access to piped water into the household averages about 85% for the wealthiest 20% of the population, compared with 25% for the poorest 20%. (3)
  10. As of 2007, every year there are 350–500 million cases of malaria, with 1 million fatalities: Africa accounts for 90 percent of malarial deaths and African children account for over 80 percent of malaria victims worldwide. (4)
  11. As of 2007, 1.6 billion people — a quarter of humanity — live without electricity (5)
  12. As of 2007, the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the 41 Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (567 million people) is less than the wealth of the world’s 7 richest people combined. (6, 7, 8 )
  13. As of 2009, the poverty line in the USA for a single individual is drawn at $10,830 per annum or $29.67 per day. (9)
  14. As of 2006, 10.6 million children die every year from causes that are easily preventable – equal to 29,000 children every day (10)
  15. As of 2006, half of these deaths 29,000 daily deaths of children occur in just six countries – China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria and Pakistan (10)
  16. As of 2006, 2 million children die every year from pneumonia and other acute respiratory infections, making it the leading cause of death of children under five years of age (11)
  17. As of 2006, 1.6 million children die every year from Diarrhoeal disease, primarily from the resulting severe dehydration that can quickly result in the failure of vital organs in young children (11)
  18. As of 2006, 1.1 million children die every year in Africa from malaria, making it the largest cause of death for children under five in Africa. (11)
  19. As of 2006, 657,000 children under the age of 15 are infected with HIV every day, most through transmission of the virus from mother to baby during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding (11)
  20. As of 2006, 500,000 children die every year from measles. (11)
  21. As of 2008, on the whole, people are healthier, wealthier, and live longer today than 30 years ago. If children were still dying at 1978 rates, there would have been 16.2 million dealths of children globally in 2006. In fact there were only 9.5 million such deaths. This difference of 6.7 million deaths is equivalent to 18,329 children’s lives being saved every day. (12)
  22. As of 2007, each year, more than 500,000 women die from treatable or preventable complications of pregnancy and childbirth. (13)
  23. As of 2007, in sub-Saharan Africa, a woman’s risk of dying from complications from childbirth over the course of her lifetime is 1 in 16, compared to 1 in 3,800 in the developed world. (13)
  24. As of 2005, an estimated 15.2 million children had lost one or both parents to AIDS (14)
  25. In 2008, net disbursements of official development assistance (ODA) reached $119.8 billion. That is equivalent to 0.3 per cent of developed countries’ combined national income. (15)

Global Poverty Facts in Graphs







Source: UN Millennium Development Goals Report 2009, p. 51


Source: UN Millennium Development Goals Report 2009, p. 52


  1. World Development Indicators 2008, World Bank, August 2008
  2. UNICEF State of the World’s Children, 2009
  3. 2006 United Nations Human Development Report, pp.6, 7, 35
  4. 2007 Human Development Report (HDR), United Nations Development Program, November 27, 2007, p.25.
  5. UN Millennium Development Goals Report 2007, p.44
  6. World Bank Key Development Data & Statistics, World Bank
  7. Luisa Kroll and Allison Fass, The World’s Richest People, Forbes
  8. World Bank’s list of Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (41 countries)
  9.“. The 2009 HHS Poverty Guidelines.
  10. UNICEF Canada 50 Year Progress Report 2006, Overview Sheet
  11. UNICEF Canada 50 Year Progress Report 2006
  12. World Health Organization, World Health Report 2008, p. 14
  13. UN Millennium Development Goals Report 2007, p.16
  14. UN Millennium Development Goals Report 2007, p.20
  15. UN Millennium Development Goals Report 2009, p. 48

The Great Challenge of Our Generation

February 1, 2009

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I write as my roommates watch the sci-fi movie Anti-Body through the amazing new Xbox/Netflix partnership in a cold and icy Chapel Hill…

This weekend I had the opportunity to speak at StartingBloc’s Greater New York Institute for Social Innovation at Yale University in New Haven. I had the chance to speak after Tom Szaky, the 27 year old CEO of TerraCycle, who is good work on upcycling waste into usable products.

In attendance were 150 of the smartest, most ambitious, and most caring individuals I’ve met, all from age 19 to 30. 25% were undergrads, 25% were grad students, and 50% were young professionals from firms like Goldman, JP Morgan, Acumen, Ashoka, McKinsey. They were all social entrepreneurs or future social entrepreneurs. If you’re under 30 and interested in social responsibility you should apply for their future Institutes in New York, Boston, or London.

StartingBloc has now reached 1000 fellows who have gone through their program. I first met their founder, the 27 year-old ebullient Kenyan Jo Opot last May in New York. She and their Director of Programs Taryn Miller-Stevens are examples of committed, driven, caring world changers.

I challenged the group to over the next 50 years, work together to create a world in which…

  1. There is no killing of humans on a mass scale (genocide or warfare);
  2. All humans have access to the basic human needs of clean water, nutritious food, shelter, and primary education;
  3. We end preventable diseases like malaria, TB, and measles; and
  4. We are environmentally sustainable

This challenge was based on the key simple principle from the Gates Foundation that all lives have equal value. I first shared the great challenges we face in the world including the most difficult economic news we’ve seen in our lifetimes, then the great opportunities (subsequent post on these coming soon) to frame the debate.

So, can we actually end genocide, warfare, starvation, and preventable disease in our lifetimes?

And can we actually provide accessible clean water, food, shelter, and primary education to every human in our lifetimes?

Your thoughts?