Oxfam Estimates That It Would Take $60 Billion Annually To End Extreme Global Poverty–That’s Less Than Quarter Of The Total Income Of Top 100 Richest Persons Living Amongst Us.
IMAGINE, the everyday increasing poverty, the widening gap between haves and have not’s. Nature, the most gracious and merciful has granted more than enough resources in this universe that these resources could feed every living being. But we, the greedy human beings, are misusing these resources thus creating CRISIS OF “hunger and starvation” for not only human beings but many other creatures too on this planet. Today, more than 1.4 billion people around the world live in poverty- so extreme that they can barely survive- and around 25,000 people die from hunger each day whilst a new billionaire is created every second day.
The figures are frightening when we look at the map of the world populated by people, just like us. Nearly one half of the world’s population – more than 3 billion- live on less than $2.50 a day. More than 1.4 billion live in extreme poverty i.e. less than $1.25 a day. One billion children worldwide are living in poverty. More than 750 million people lack adequate access to clean drinking water. Diarrhea caused by lack of clean drinking water, sanitation, and hand hygiene kills an estimated 842,000 people every year globally, or approximately 2,300 people die per day.
165 million children under the age of 5 were stunted (reduced rate of growth and development) in 2011 due to chronic malnutrition. Preventable diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia take the lives of 2 million children per year as they are from such poor families who cannot afford proper treatment. As of 2013, 21.8 million children under 1 year of age worldwide did not receive the three recommended doses of vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis.
Imagine, if it were you who was forced to live on less than $1 a day, the same amount other people mindlessly spend on a bottle of water or a pack of cheap candy or gum. Imagine going to bed with empty stomach that night spent becomes unbearable.
1/4 of all humans live without electricity. Approximately 1.6 billion people. 80% of the world population lives on less than $10 a day. Oxfam estimates that it would take $60 billion annually to end extreme global poverty–that’s less than 1/4 the income of the top 100 richest persons living amongst us. The World Food Program says, “The poor are hungry and their hunger traps them in poverty.” Hunger is the number one cause of death in the world, killing more than HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that about 805 million people of the 7.3 billion people in the world, or one in nine, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2012-2014. Almost all the hungry people, 791 million, live in developing countries, representing 13.5 percent, or one in eight, of the population of developing counties.
Just imagine, if it were you who was forced to live on less than $1 a day, the same amount other people mindlessly spend on a bottle of water or a pack of cheap candy or gum. Imagine going to bed with empty stomach that night spent becomes unbearable. Imagine yourself in a territory where blood is more easily accessible than clean water. Imagine witnessing the children playing with guns and dead bodies instead of toys. Imagine to be residing in an area where the very concept of education is so out of reach that hopelessness and despair has taken the place of hope and aspiration. Now imagine yourself being a parent (mother or father) who has to feed the children, manage the clothes and other necessities of life while living in such awful circumstances. This man made hell has defeated the concept of humanity and stripped it off any emotion. Looking at the figures of increasing death rates due to hunger and poverty this world seems nothing more than a different version of a man-made hell for the majority of human beings.
It is not a fiction story written by an experienced novelist to be marketed. It is a naked truth and bitter reality of the present day world, we are living in. It is happening in our world, in front of our eyes and in our neighborhoods. I know it is hard for many of us to even imagine this type of life. More than a billion people in this world or one sixth of the world’s total population is living a wretched life. As you finish reading this sentence, almost eight people have starved to death. Each day almost 30,000 children have lost their lives to hunger-related plights – one child every third second. Their bare feet and weak bones were simply too fragile to walk on this earth along with us. In addition to that, every day over 4,000 children die from preventable diseases such as severe diarrhea as a result of poor sanitation and hygiene.
The question now arises and the responsibility to reply this question lies on the shoulders of all of us that how can we proudly say that we are sending the men and women to other planets of this galaxy by spending trillions of dollars but still can’t find ways to feed and care for almost 1/3rd of planet earths population? Don’t we have enough natural resources to be shared justly among all? If we do then where is the missing link that hampers us to act humanly?
There are different theories explaining the reasons for poverty. Inequality is considered to be one of the prime reasons among all. Although, among certain theorists poverty and inequality are two different things, but they also believe that inequality can feed widespread poverty by barring groups with lower social status from accessing the tools and resources to support themselves. According to the United Nations Social Policy and Development Division, “inequalities in income distribution and access to productive resources, basic social services, opportunities, markets, and information have been on the rise worldwide, often causing and exacerbating poverty.”
One should not buy the argument that poverty is the natural state of mankind. Nor should one buy the argument that lack of access to modern amenities necessarily constitutes “poverty”. You can find the examples of the people, such as indigenous tribes in South America, who live in farms, grow their own foods, dig their own wells, use herbs as medicine, play their own music and do not watch TV or listen to radio. Many of these sub-tribes still do not speak Spanish or practice any known religion. While we classify them as living in poverty, they view themselves as rich children of nature, who live in harmony with it and its ways. One important factor makes them better than all of us (so called modern humans) that they always have enough food for them because they believe in sharing instead of stuffing their refrigerators and piling their store rooms at the cost of someone else’s hunger. Sadly, there are others in Africa, Asia and other parts of the world who do not enjoy these harmonious lifestyles. Indeed, they do live in poverty. But we can all agree that much of this depravation can be removed by the benevolent actions of other fellow humans, especially by their own governments.
Nelson Mandela was very right when he said “Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.”
Human beings long ago had surrendered their natural freedoms and formed societies for mutual co-existence. These primitive societies after going through evolutionary processes entered into medieval and finally to the modern civilized societies. In modern societies unfair distribution of resources has created a man-made world where overwhelming majority does not have control over the resources. Only a tiny majority is the sole master of these resources which nature has granted for all of us. It is clear that a human being who does not have free and open access to all resources and freedoms that nature has granted him/her, cannot be expected to be totally and fully responsible for every aspect of his/her survival; unless we are to return to living in the jungle.Obviously that is not a desirable or likely choice for any member of a modern civilized society and evolutionary process and mechanism would not let the society to go back in that phase too. Given that people living in modern societies are not truly fully free, they cannot be expected to be fully self-reliant. Therefore they are in fact entitled to certain protections from society (which is government in the political mechanism) for their survival, in exchange for the natural freedoms that society has taken away from them. When society has taken away the natural freedoms then question arises how to manage the natural resources, so that everyone should have fair access to these resources?
We can conclude that poverty and inequality are organized, methodical and structural outcome of human behaviors controlling the society; inequality is one of the major detrimental factors for the health of society; social policies, political and economic theories that do not advocate reducing inequality, have a direct impact on the health and life-conditions of the people living in a particular society. A reasonable and just alternative is a more equitable distribution of wealth and resources in society. If we did not feel the hunger and starvation of others, surely tomorrow it will be us starving and no one will be there to feed us as we are not doing it today. Fair distribution of natural resources and sharing bonds among the human beings like the natural cycle of eco-system can guarantee a hunger free world. Otherwise, in future only those who are equipping themselves to control the resources would be limiting the access to these resources for their own personal and private benefits and poverty would be spreading all over the planet.
Author is a US based peace activist of Kashmiri origin. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org
Courtesy: Kashmir Observer
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