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Global Poverty:Is Global Action Enough ?

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Poverty is a problem experienced throughout the world today. Poverty is experienced not only in developing countries, even citizens in developed countries experience poverty. If it is ignored, poverty may be the cause of other problems in communities, such as social diseases that emerge and affect the community. Over several years many member countries of the United Nations have committed to measures to face and overcome the poverty around the world, specifically in developing countries. During 6-8 September 2000 the Millennium Summit was held in New York. It was attended by 149 heads of state and government. One of the global commitments to come from the Summit is to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which are targeted to be achieved by 2015.

According to David Gordon (2005) in his essay, which refers to the United Nations’ statement, which was signed by the head of all agencies in 1998:

“Fundamentally, poverty is a denial of choices and opportunities, a violation of human dignity. It means lack of basic capacity to participate effectively in society. It means not having enough to feed and clothe a family, not having a school or clinic to go to, not having the land on which to grow one’s food or a job to earn one’s living, not having access to credit. It means insecurity, powerlessness and exclusion of individuals, households and communities. It means susceptibility to violence, and it often implies living on marginal or fragile environments, without access to clean water or sanitation” (p.4)

In 2005, The World Bank defined the new international poverty line as $1.25 a day (extreme poverty), a figure derived from the average of various national poverty lines adopted by the world’s poorest countries. A second international poverty line is considered to be $2.50 per day (moderate poverty) and is calculated from the average of national poverty lines adopted by lower- and middle-income countries (Martin, 2013).

According to Michelle Sowey, who refers to The World Bank statistical report on poverty, globally the number of people living below the international poverty line of $1.25 per day fell from 1.8 billion to 1.4 billion 1999 and 2005. However it doesn’t mean poverty all around the world has been reduced significantly. For instance, Sub-Saharan Africa registered a devastating increase in extreme poverty during this period with more than 100 million people living below the poverty line. People living in countries such as Burundi, Malawi, Madagaskar, Rwanda and Tanzania live on less than $1.25 per day, and people living in Nigeria, Mozambique, Central Africa, Chad, Zambia, Zwaziland live on less than $2 per day, whereas more than a quarter of people living in the South and South East Asia, such as Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Indonesia live on less than $ 2 per day (Sowey,2011).

There are a number of questions relating to the causes of poverty. Nadejda Ballad mentioned that causes of poverty are often hard to identify and analyse because poverty is so complex and related to many issues such as hunger, gender, health, ethnicity, location, culture and education (Ballad, 2006).

Michelle Sowey also explained that some phenomena that are a result of poverty in turn give rise to further poverty. Consider for example, the lack of access to birth control and the educational attainment of women, both hallmarks of extremely poor communities. These conditions lead to over-population, which in turn can cause further poverty if rising population levels are not matched by increased resources or development capacity. To take another example: ill, health, unemployment and poverty are linked in a vicious circle of cause and effect in which poor health blocks a person’s ability to work, thus reducing earning capacity and deepening poverty. It is worth bearing in mind this relationship between cause and effect when reflecting on the causes and effects of poverty outlined below. Some of the principle causes of poverty are international governance, international debt, national governance, inability to meet basic needs and barriers to opportunities (Sowey, 2011).

Poverty has a great impact on communities and individual people. Some of the major effects of poverty are: hunger, illness, poor living conditions, and low educational levels. Close to one billion people in the world suffer from hunger and malnutrition as a result of living in poverty. Hunger manifests in many ways other than starvation and famine, most poor people who battle hunger deal with chronic undernourishment and vitamin or mineral deficiencies.

According to 2010-2012 United Nations data, 870 million people are undernourished. That is to say, they consume less than the minimum number of calories essential for sound health and growth. Chronic undernourishment causes stunted growth, weakness, and heightened susceptibility to illness, disability and premature death. Hunger and malnutrition are the most serious threats to the world’s public health, and malnutrition is a problem afflicting nearly half of the children in Asia, so far the biggest contributor to child mortality (FAO, 2012).

Poverty is the world’s deadliest disease, according to World Health Organization. In certain developing countries life expectancy is diminishing and the poorest die for want of safe water, adequate sanitation and basic health care. Developing countries account for 99 percent of all deaths due to communicable disease worldwide. 884 million people lack access to drinking water, mostly in developing regions. More than 2.6 billion people live without access to adequate sanitation, posing a high risk of death and disease. Water supplies in developing countries are contaminated by a variety of microorganisms that cause typhoid, fever, cholera, diarrheal disease, amoebic dysentery and other virulent diseases. Each year, more than 3.5 million people die from water related diseases or inadequate sanitation (Sowey, 2011).

Poverty gives rise to inadequate housing conditions. More than 828 million people, a third of the world’s urban population, now live in slums, mostly in the Asia Pacific region. Poverty also increases the risk of homelessness for adults and children and there are over 100 million street children worldwide, in addition to those who live in orphanages due to poverty. Provision of adequate housing is further strained by unsustainable rapid population growth and by urbanization. Low quality housing is often unhealthy and unsafe, causing injury and disease. Furthermore poor housing tends to limit school performance and economic opportunities, as well as reduce community cohesion (MDG’s report, 2011).

Around the world, more than 67 million primary school age children do not attend school. Among those who do attend, school completion is a significant problem. The proportion of children who complete primary school is just 51 per cent in Africa, and 74 per cent in South Asia. Lack of schooling contributes to extremely low literacy. Most of the world’s illiterate adults live in developing countries, and two thirds of all illiterate adults are women (MDG’s report, 2011). Children who live in poverty achieve far less educational success than other children. So long as there is inequality in access to education, poverty will continue. Education can help to build a skilled workforce, and promotes more advantageous economic conditions. According to EFA global monitoring report, If all children in low income countries left school with basic reading skills, it could eradicate 12% of world poverty (EFA, 2013).

According to Justin Healey in the Issues in Society journal, one approach to reducing poverty is to supply more effective emergency aid to benefit people who most need it. Steps must be taken to ensure that aid money is spent on programs that really work: programs that help countries and communities to lift themselves out of poverty and prevent dependence on aid in the future. To offset the risk of aid money being stolen by corrupt government officials, rigorous auditing is needed. Where aid programs are effective in serving poor communities, they improve population health, provide education, business opportunities and supply basic infrastructure such as roads, water supply, sewers, power grids and telecommunication (Healey, 2006).

If we look at many developing countries, they have debt levels that are much higher than their Growth Domestic Product (GDP). They have limited capability and financial capacity to pay their debts. They do not have the resources for investing in basic services to improve their prosperity. Another support to reducing poverty is in providing debt relief, which can assist developing countries to invest in the future and to support their future development. Debt relief refers to cancelling debts, in whole or in part, or helping to slow the rate of debt growth. Debt relief helps to lessen poverty because money, which would otherwise be spent by poor countries on debt repayments, can instead be spent on health care, education and other priorities that can help populations escape poverty(Sowey, 2011).

Furthermore, as Justin Healey explains, a dynamic private sector creates jobs and income, generates wealth and ensures resources are used efficiently as well as providing government revenues to fund essential services and infrastructure development. Trade is a way of supporting private sector business to become more of a prospect for developing countries. Developing countries have advantages and resources that allow them to be competitive through global trade (Healey, 2006). This would mean some developing countries would need to become more aware of their economic and private sectors. They would need to develop policies that protect the private sectors in their domain, and apply strict import policies to make their private sectors more competitive in the market place.

Consider the following Universal Declaration Of Human Rights 1948:

“Everyone has the right to work to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection for himself and his family (and) an existence worthy of human dignity..“ (article 23)

also, ..”Everyone has the right to standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care…”  (article 26).

The emphasis on dignity in the above quote from the Universal Declaration Human Rights should be the foundation of policy created by all countries solving and overcoming poverty in the world, especially in developing countries. At the Millennium Summit in 2000, members of United Nations adopted the Millennium Declaration which stated :

“We will spare no effort to free our fellow men, women, and children from the abject and dehumanising conditions of extreme poverty, to which more than a billion of them are currently subjected” (Millennium Declaration, 2000, point no.11).

To deliver on this promise, United Nations member nations agreed to make eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) a key framework for international action and cooperation to reduce poverty:

  1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  2. Achieve universal primary education
  3. Promote gender equality and empower women
  4. Reduce child mortality
  5. Improve maternal health
  6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other disease
  7. Ensure environmental sustainability
  8. Develop a global partnership for development

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were a pledge to uphold the principles of human dignity, equality and equity, and free the world from extreme poverty. The MDGs framework has eight goals, which have to be achieved in 2015, but it appears that progress remains uneven and slow although in different ways and areas, good results have occurred as documented in The Millennium Development Goals Report 2014, released in July 2014. None of the world’s regions are on track to achieve all the MDGs and some regions are far off track. So far, progress in achieving the MDGs has varied greatly by goal and by region. Greater resources and renewed commitment are required if the world is to achieve its target. Most developing countries will only attain the MDGs if they receive substantial support from other countries (The Millennium Development Goals Report, 2014).

Poverty is a problem experienced around the world. It occurs in developed countries and is most prevalent in developing countries. The causes of poverty impact the global community. That is why the effort to face the poverty and try to overcome and eradicate poverty is the responsibility of every person and every country in the world to uphold human dignity, as mentioned in the Declaration of Human Rights. But the action to eradicate poverty also have demanded to the countries who facing poverty to stop every policy that causes another structural poverty. This is one the way to protect their private sector from rapidly globalization trade scheme.

@SA

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Bibliography

Ballard, Nadejda, 2006, Globalization and Poverty, Chelsea House Publisher, Philadhelpia

EFA report, 17 October 2013, ‘We will never eradicate poverty without quality education for all’, http://efareport.wordpress.com/2013/10/17/we-will-never-eradicate-poverty-without-quality-education-for-all/, viewed, 28 August 2014

Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nation, 2012, Globally almost 870 million chronically undernourished – new hunger report, viewed, 17 August 2014, <http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/161819/icode/>

Gordon, David, 2005, ‘Indicators of Poverty And Hunger’, http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unyin/documents/ydiDavidGordon_poverty.pdf , retrieved, 7 August 2014

Justin , Healey, 2006, World Poverty, The Spinney Press, NSW

Millennium Development Goals ; ‘United Nation Millennium Declaration’<http://www.un.org/millennium/declaration/ares552e.htm>, retrieved 17 August 2014

Ravallion, Martin; Chen, Shaohua; Sangraula, Prem, 2008, ‘Dollar a Day Revisited’, World Bank, Washington DChttp://www.wds.worldbank.org/servlet/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2008/09/02/000158349_20080902095754/Rendered/PDF/wps4620.pdf> retrieved 11 June 2013.

Sowey, Michelle, 2011, Global Poverty, ibook, retrieved, 7 August 2014

United Nations, 1948, “Universal Declaration of Human Right” ,http://www.un.org/en/events/humanrightsday/udhr60/hrphotos/declaration%20_eng.pdf, retrieved 17 August 2014

United Nations, 2011, “The Millennium Development Goals Report “, New York. http://www.undp.org/content/dam/undp/library/MDG/english/MDG_Report_2011_EN.pdf, retrieved,17 August 2014

United Nations, 2014, “The Millennium Development Goals Report”, New York. http://www.undp.org/content/dam/undp/library/MDG/english/UNDP%20MDG%20Report%202014%20EN%20Final.pdf, retrieved, 17 August 2014

 

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