Why ending poverty is important to us
Poverty is a prevalent and prominent issue currently It is an indicator of underdevelopment and socio-economic backwardness. Poverty halts economic growth and leads to instability through socio-political conflicts and tensions. It is observed in the most immediate spaces of human interaction, whether it is the unhoused in the U.S. or the working poverty in India. Poverty eradication is necessary to ensure accessibility to basic necessities of life such as clean water, food, health, education and sanitation, as guaranteed by universal human rights.
This lack of access stems from insufficient economic resources and social support, reiterated by unemployability, marginalization and discrimination. Employability is seen as an alternative to economically uplift impoverished communities. However mere employability is not sufficient in cases of a few developing and underdeveloped nations, wherein minimum wage does not rise over the poverty bracket of income and thus is insufficient to afford basic amenities. This phenomenon is known as working poverty, which along with unemployment poses a challenge to the resolving of poverty. Poor socio-economic situation paired with working poverty is a major cause for homelessness (Schneider, 2020)
As per Sustainable Development Goals Report-2020, an estimated 700 million people were living in extreme poverty in 2015. The report states that efforts made so far in the form of resource allocation, resilience measures, education etc have seen a consequent decline in poverty from 10% in 2015 to 8.2% in 2019. The pace of the decline was initially estimated to reach 6% in 2030, thus not meeting the exact target of complete eradication of poverty, due to both insufficient efforts and resources. This estimate has fluctuated greatly due to the ongoing pandemic, with the current forecast suggesting an increase in poverty to 8.7% in 2021.
Understanding the root cause of poverty
Economic disparities which came into existence due to differing economic resources and activities, are a primary cause of poverty today. These disparities spread across nations, and are concentrated in different degrees based on the resources, vulnerability to diseases and disasters etc. Social parameters such as social exclusion, minority discrimination etc are also reasons for a community of people to be improverished.
These social parameters and insufficient economic resources make vulnerable groups more prone to damage and loss of life caused by natural disasters. The recent onslaught of hurricanes, forest fires etc have further deteriorated the impoverished. Additionally to this, the pandemic has brought various changes with negative implications as it threatens to reverse the progress made so far.
According to the report on socio-economic impact of Covid 19 published by the UN, there is a threat of the pandemic causing a push of approximately 70 million people into poverty. Bloomberg (Schneider, 2020) reported that the pandemic had further worsened the situation for the unhoused. The deterioration is a result of the inefficiency of the existing social protection protocols and initiatives.
With the pandemic increasing both unemployment and working poverty, paired with economic losses of $23.6 billion, the world is expected to observe the worst economic fallout since the Great Depression.
This altogether, has not only slowed down the progress of alleviating poverty, but has added heat to the crisis by exposing the instability of existing practices. This has prompted The UN to create a Covid 19 recovery fund. Ultimately, the world is in crisis, with the vulnerable communities becoming even more vulnerable to poverty.
Changemakers fighting poverty
There are various individuals, institutions and organizations which are currently engaged in activities which impact the world to bring a positive change. Fighting poverty has become these changemakers’ purpose and aim, as the consequent effect of the social change eradication of poverty brings world peace and prosperity.
Individuals like Andrew Mwenda, a Ugandan journalist, founder and owner of The Independent; Anthony Lake, Executive Director of UNICEF, and Dave McMurtry, Senior VP of Strategy, Habitat for Humanity etc are some of the many advocates for the fight against global poverty.
Organizations such as The Global Citizen, Care International, and Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) are some of the major organizations that are engaged in the fight against poverty, by contributing in fields such as resources, philanthropy, police making, advocacy etc.
What can youth do as a TALTransformer
Most effective way to eradicate poverty, as identified by the UN, is to generate employment and increase resilience against improverishment. For this, various stakeholders such as the citizens, the government, the private sector and institutes of science, have various possibilities of contributing by critically questioning policies, innovating solutions, generating employment, promoting inclusivity in growth and improving lifestyle. Ideation of solutions ranging from growth of business to basic sanitation have contributed significantly to assisting the impoverished, both as a whole and at the grassroots level.
What you as a transformer for the society can do, is use social advocacy, philanthropy and entrepreneurial/business ideas in an innovative manner to provide a progressive direction for reaching the goal. Instances of which are as follows:
- Modes of spreading awareness in immediate spaces such as at school/work, regarding the crisis of poverty
- Tools for educating a larger community regarding methods of identifying and alleviating poverty
- A platform, such a youth councils and forums, for citizens to come and coordinate together, and lobby for change in policies to help support the poor
- Assist in asset building competencies within the poor
- Design upskilling programs which are beneficial to the unemployed
- Modes of financial counselling etc
- Innovations improving productivity, extended to social spheres
- Entrepreneurial strategies which are inclusive of vulnerable populations in the economic impact
- Economic empowerment through creation of jobs for the informal economy
United Nations (2020). Shared responsibility, global solidarity: Responding to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19. New York: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Statistics Division. Retrieved April 13, 2020 from https://www.un.org/sites/un2.un.org/files/sg_report_socio-economic_impact_of_covid19.pdf
United Nations (2020). The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2020. New York: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Retrieved from https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/report/2020/
Schneider. B. (2020, July 6th) Understanding Homelessness in America. Bloomberg. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2020-07-06/why-is-homelessness-such-a-problem-in-u-s-cities