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Published On: Tue, Jan 6th, 2015

Can the world end extreme poverty by 2030?

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Exposing the great ‘poverty reduction’ lie

Exposing the great ‘poverty reduction’ lie

By Ese Awhotu

Can the world end extreme poverty by 2030? Will it be able to avert the worst effects of climate change or stop Ebola? These challenges are among the biggest we face today.

It’s an important question, and the numbers are staggering. 2.8 billion People live on less than $2/day (USD), and roughly 1.2 billion people live on less than $1.25/day (USD)

3.4 million People die every year from water related diseases around the world, and roughly 768 million people do not have access to clean water.

Around 35 million people are living with AIDS today. 67% of them are living in Sub-Saharan Africa. Malaria deaths occur in 17 countries, 80% of which are children under the age of five.

In 2011, 57 million children of primary school age were out of school. More than half of them are in sub-Saharan Africa and a further one fifth in South and West Asia.

A woman dies every two minutes due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth. Only 1/2 of women in developing regions receive recommended medical attention.

Worldwide, it’s estimated that 29.8 million people are enslaved. Malnutrition is the underlying cause of death for at least 3 million children under the age of 5 per year.

Poverty being an economic condition of lacking both money and basic necessities needed to successfully live, such as food, water, education, healthcare, and shelter. It becomes imperative that the world tackles poverty significantly.

Lack of income security, economic stability and the predictability of one’s continued means to meet basic needs all serve as absolute indicators of poverty.

In the wake of the financial crisis, developing countries were the engine of the global economy. In 2014, they faced new risks: lower growth, less financing, and lower prices for their commodities. In January and again in June, the World Bank urged developing countries to get their houses in order. Countries need blueprints to maintain the kind of growth that helped cut extreme poverty nearly to half globally in the last couple of decades. With the financial crisis fading, now is the time for developing countries to strengthen their economies so they can keep reducing poverty, according to the twice-yearly Global Economic Prospects.

“Shared prosperity” a goal supported by the World Bank’s 188 member countries says society should be judged by how its poorest members fare. With inequality increasing globally, developing countries need to create conditions for higher incomes and living standards for the bottom 40% of the population. They need to track income data and other indicators to measure progress.

More than 3 million refugees have fled war-torn Syria for neighboring countries – straining infrastructure and budgets.

About 1.2 billion people live without electricity and 2.5 billion people don’t have toilets. Some 748 million people lack access to safe drinking water. Developing countries need an estimated $1 trillion each year to close these big gaps.

In October, the World Bank Group announced a new Global Infrastructure Facility that would help deliver a pipeline of economically viable and sustainable infrastructure projects that could attract financing. The facility so far has won the support of some of the world’s largest asset management and private equity firms; pension and insurance funds; commercial banks; and donor countries.

Typhoons, droughts, and other disasters shatter lives and economies. Global losses have grown over the last few decades and now amount to about $200 billion a year.

 “The poor are disproportionately affected by disasters and are the least able to cope,” said President Kim during a visit to the Philippines, hit last year by Typhoon Haiyan. “If we don’t build resilience to climate change and natural disasters, we won’t end poverty.”

With women’s potential still untapped in many parts of the world the efforts at reducing poverty seems like an illusion. According to experts helping girls and women pays off for women, men, communities, and countries. “The numbers are really clear. Discrimination is bad for economic growth”.

With the Ebola epidemic growing into a major crisis, a report by the World Bank Group which fast-tracked more than $500 million in emergency grants for Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, and pledged another $450 million in assistance, predicted economic losses could spiral if the virus spread to other countries

Apparently, the world is in trouble over poverty, especially developing countries. Recall that after the industrial revolution, mass production in factories made production goods increasingly less expensive and more accessible. Of more importance is the modernization of agriculture, such as fertilizers, to provide enough yields to feed the population. Responding to basic needs can be restricted by constraints on government’s ability to deliver services, such as corruption, tax avoidance, debt and loan conditionalities and by the brain drain of health care and educational professionals.

Strategies of increasing income to make basic needs more affordable typically include welfare, economic freedoms and providing financial services.

Poverty reduction is a major goal and issue for many international organizations such as the United Nations and the World Bank. The World Bank estimated 1.29 billion people were living in absolute poverty in 2008. Of these, about 400 million people in absolute poverty lived in India and 173 million people in China. In terms of percentage of regional populations, sub-Saharan Africa at 47% had the highest incidence rate of absolute poverty in 2008. Between 1990 and 2010, about 663 million people moved above the absolute poverty level. Still, extreme poverty is a global challenge; it is observed in all parts of the world, including developed economies.

 UNICEF estimates half the world’s children (or 1.1 billion) live in poverty.

In Nigeria poverty is biting very hard. This makes it imperative for the country to key into global efforts to tackle poverty.  The World Bank President, Jim Yong Kim, had recently estimated that Nigeria is one of the top five countries that have the largest number of poor. Nigeria, he said ranked third in the world while India ranked number one with 33 per cent of the world poor. China is ranked second with 13 per cent of the world’s poor, followed by Nigeria where seven per cent of the world poor live in. He said that Bangladesh has six per cent share of the world’s poor while the Democratic Republic of Congo has five per cent of the world’s poor population.

Jim Yong Kim said these five countries are home to 760 million of the world’s poor, adding that another five countries, Indonesia, Pakistan, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Kenya would encompass almost 80 per cent of the extreme poor.

The top five countries, in terms of numbers of poor, are India (with 33 percent of the world’s poor), China (13 percent), Nigeria (7 percent), Bangladesh (6 percent) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (5 percent), which together are home to nearly 760 million of the world’s poor. Adding another five countries – Indonesia, Pakistan, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Kenya – would encompass almost 80 percent of the extreme poor. “Hence, a sharp emphasis on these countries will be central to ending extreme poverty, he said

According to him, a sharp focus on these will be central to ending poverty. He noted that while economic growth remains vital for reducing poverty, growth has its limits, according to findings of the Word Bank

Going by the findings, countries need to complement efforts to enhance growth with policies that allocate more resources to the extreme poor. These resources can be distributed through the growth process itself, by promoting more inclusive growth, or through government programs, such as conditional and direct cash transfers.

To end extreme poverty, Kim suggested that the vast numbers of the poorest, those earning less than $1.25 a day will have to decrease by 50 million people each year until 2030. This means that one million people each week will have to lift themselves out of poverty for the next 16 years.

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