The dictionary defines poverty as ‘the state or condition of having little or no money, goods, or means of support.’ Although accurate, this abstract definition does little justice to the reality of poverty that is faced by billions of people worldwide. While some countries are doing well in their fight against poverty, many others are languishing. The difficulty in the eradication of poverty is the fact that there are so many facets; that tackling one area simply leaves many others untouched. Hunger, climate change, disease, unequal trade relations, gender inequality, and natural disasters…the list goes on.
The most recent stats tell us that over 1 billion children live in poverty and around 21,000 children die every year from hunger alone. Over 640 million people live without adequate shelter, while 400 million do not have access to clean drinking water. While stats are helpful, they do little to paint an accurate picture of the situation in many places around the world. It is only when you can put a face on these countless, devastating statistics, that it becomes reality.
The world response to the crisis has been varied. While many policies implemented by governments and multilateral organisations have assisted many, countless others are left behind. Many countries continue to be exploited by western governments and global corporations, who emphasize profits over any social costs that may occur. But, there have been significant gains. Since 1990, world poverty has been halved and we have seen substantial drops in child mortality rates. Diseases such as small pox have been eradicated, and there have been promising developments in the search for a cure for HIV/Aids. What is clear is that no one solution will fix this blight on humanity. It will require a global response, made up of governments, organisations, corporations, and individuals, who care about seeing change in their own lifetime. The most important thing to do is to be aware and engaged with these issues. It is only by chance that some of us were lucky enough to be born into a place with significant wealth, and it is our responsibility to assist those that weren’t.