Poverty is equivalent to powerlessness. People that live in poverty are not able to educate their children; the children therefore cannot read or write. When they are sick, they cannot afford to go to hospital. Poverty leads people to live in unhealthy conditions and suffer from illnesses caused by lack of proper sanitation; they have no access to clean water. The poor lack proper shelter and live in shacks. Poverty also leads to lack of representation as well as freedom. Poverty changes from time to time and the poor always want to escape from this situation. This means that there is need for action to end poverty so that every person on earth can have access to clean water, have enough food, afford education and be able to seek medical attention when sick.
Events in recent times about poverty
The current economic crisis has highlighted the issue of poverty. The crisis has hit the world’s poorest nations the hardest (Bafana, 2009, para. 2). About 1.4 billion people living in extreme poverty are in the developing world. The impact of the recession has affected many countries of the world. Many people have lost jobs and the unemployment levels are to still rising. For example in the US, the unemployment rate projected to reach 10%. The US GDP for the year 2009 will be between 0.1 and 0.2% (Parvez, 2009, para. 9).
The global downturn has turned poverty into a catastrophe and this has reversed the gains made towards poverty reduction. It has led to unemployment or underemployment and many people are not able to meet their financial obligations such as buying food, paying bills or loss of medical covers.
There has also been a global food shortage caused by global warming or environmental crisis, which has led to drought-like conditions in many areas (Climate Change 2009). This means that adequate food was to feed the world lacked especially in the countries that depend on rainfall. Lack of employment makes the problem worse and people cannot afford to buy food leading to malnutrition and other illnesses. Food has become very costly for the poor to afford (UNEP, 2009, Role of Environment, para. 1). In addition, cropland has reduced due to other issues such as urbanization and industrialisation. With reduced cropland, there is reduced food production (UNEP, 2009, Cropland, para. 1)
High population growth rate has also led to an increase in the number of people living in poverty. This is because this people need shelter, food, medication and they have to share the few resources available.
Impact of poverty in Australia
The most affected group is the low income Australians. This group includes the indigenous people, renters, unemployed people, sole parents and people living with disabilities. Throughout the last decade, income for other Australian has increased but this group’s income has not. Poverty level in Australia has risen due to the rise in the cost of living. The cost of petrol is very high and rose by about 17% in 2005 and this has affected the cost of transport negatively. The cost of rent, groceries and utilities has also risen and many people have had to struggle to meet their financial obligations. This has led to poverty for some people (ACCOSS, 2008, p. 4). The government therefore, has more people relying on welfare to meet their basic needs. There are many homeless people in Australia due to the current financial crisis (Human Rights, 2009, para. 9).
There has been local and international response to poverty. Locally, the Australian Federal government has plans to re-establish the Racial Discrimination Act to protect the indigenous Australians. It hopes to reduce poverty among this group (Amnesty International 2009).
Non-governmental organisations have responded to the poverty levels in Australia by challenging the government to take action to reduce poverty among the poor and underprivileged minorities in the country. The Human rights law Resource Centre, Kingsford Legal Centre and National association of Community legal Centres wrote to the Human Rights Committee. In their report, they talked about issues such as discrimination against indigenous people, disabled, women, children and others (Major NGO Report’s n.d).
Poverty in Australia has evoked an international response and the UN Committee on Economic; Social and Cultural rights has urged the Australian government to prioritise human rights during this period of economic downturn to protect the poor as well as the vulnerable groups. Moreover, Australia has a request to increase aid to the developing nations as well as take an urgent action on climate change (Human Rights, 2009, para. 1).
International response to poverty
At the international level bodies like the United Nations has responded to poverty through the formulation of the millennium Development Goals (MDG). The deadline for meeting the goals is 2015. To meet MDG rich countries pledged aid to poor countries. The countries are yet to meet the target for their annual target donations although in 2008 the level rose significantly. Other bodies such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund are also involved in MDG.
People in over one hundred countries urged world leaders not to break their promise to end poverty due to the global downturn in a campaign dubbed “Take Action End Poverty Now”.
The European Union (EU) put in place a policy called Coherence for Development in 2005 and in a meeting conducted this year EU retaliated its commitment to policies that govern fisheries, trade and energy as they have an effect on development (EU Policy, 2009, para. 1).
Caritas Australia together with The Australian Government Agency for International Development conducted an exhibition in Brisbane in February 2009. The exhibition called ‘Blueprint for a Better World: The Millennium Development Goals and You.’ During the campaign, the issue global poverty and ways of reducing it took centre stage. Organisations and individuals’ action are required to address the issue of poverty (Caritas Australia 2009). In addition, the Australian government showed a commitment to combat global poverty by not cutting its foreign aid.
The UN Human Development urges nations to cut their carbon print, as it will help to reduce poverty and achieve MDG. Green gas emissions threaten food security due to climate change. The rich countries have an obligation to donate to the poor nations to help in adaptation of clean energy technologies because emissions from the rich countries affect the poor nations heavily yet they are the least contributors of green gases (Global Poverty Guide, 2009, Climate change, para. 1).
Solutions to poverty
Poverty is inevitable, but eradication is possible. To eradicate poverty money must be availed. The developed nations need to contribute towards poverty eradication in the developing countries to restore dignity of the poor. For any achievements to be seen in poverty eradication individuals must demand their governments to be committed to the cause of poverty eradication. Individuals in leadership positions should ensure that their governments make eradication of poverty a priority (The Solution 2008). This takes political will of both the governments and people.
Poverty in poor countries remains a problem to both the poor nations and the rich nations. The rich nations have to shoulder the burden of giving financial aid to the poor nations sometimes at the expense of their won development. The poor countries should be empowered to come out of poverty so that they can be independent. This is because giving food handouts to the poor does not empower them. They will still be hungry the following day, but if they are empowered to grow their own food by offering then training and providing farm equipment they can sustain themselves. This will enable the poor nations provide adequate food by increasing the yields (World Poverty Solutions, Urgent solutions, para. 1). In addition, the rich countries should stop believing that having poor countries is beneficial to them. This belief makes such countries fail to empower the poor nations. On the other hand, the Non-governmental organisations should provide aid to the poor who need it without discrimination (World Poverty solutions, para. 1).
In the poor countries, issues such as safe drinking water need prioritisation. This is because people waste a lot of time that would have been used productively looking for water that is usually unsafe and causes diseases. Healthcare must be accessible and affordable to reduce cases of children and adults dying from treatable diseases.
On the other hand, poverty in the rich countries such as UK, the USA and Australia needs to attention. Some citizens of such countries do not belief poverty exists and this could explain why the governments have not prioritised the issue of poverty. The minority groups in these countries live in hardship and economical exploitation. Policies should be put in place to ensure that such groups are protected for instance, enacting the Human Rights Act in Australia. As long as there are poor minorities the rate of crime will always be high and this discouragers investors.
The governments setting a higher minimum wage and improving the welfare systems can help the poor minority in countries. Educational systems improvement will give the poor children access to quality education. Young women should be discouraged from having children while young and financially unstable. Furthermore, the working conditions need improvement so that the poor can provide for their families.
The government alone cannot tackle poverty. It should be a concern of every individual because a little action will go along way in alleviating poverty in the world. The rich countries should be at the forefront in fighting poverty because they are the ones who control the world. They do so through trade rules that do not give the poor nations a fair chance in the world market. Through political will, such rules need an overhaul so that all countries get a fair opportunity to compete in the global market and make a profit to benefit their citizens. More importantly, the best solution to poverty is empowerment. This gives people an opportunity to improve their lives in both in the short term and long term. Governments and charitable organisations have a role to play in ensuring that the poor in their countries are empowered. In addition, the rich nations have a duty to ensure that the money they donate as aid trickles down tackle the issue of poverty because many a time such funds have been embezzled corrupt people in leadership positions. It will be very difficult to rid the world of the poor, but this should not discourage the efforts to act towards this noble cause so that every human being lives in dignity.
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