Can we get rid of poverty?

rsz_11img_8472Saturday, October 17 marked the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Although this day has been observed every year since 1993, this was the first time it had been observed since the conclusion of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and post-2015 development agenda, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDGs aim to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030 and ensure that everyone has equal rights to economic resources. Moreover, the World Bank announced that the proportion of the population that lives in extreme poverty will fall below 10% by the end of 2015 for the first time. Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank, credited investments into education and social safety nets for the dramatic reduction in poverty.

Despite this, there will still be over 700 million people around the world who remain in extreme poverty. Can these people be brought out of poverty? Although this is an ambitious goal, I do believe that if we work together we could eradicate poverty. Of course, eradicating poverty is a long-term commitment – there is no quick fix solution. It will require a lot of work and a lot of resources, but it is more than possible. In my view the world already has the resources to achieve this; it is just the proper allocation of resources that is the key issue.

I applaud the few countries, including the UK, that met the official development assistance (ODA) target (0.7 % of GNI) that was set by the MDGs and again by the SDGs. Nonetheless, the majority of developed countries around the world have failed to meet their commitment of ODA. If they provided their full commitment, more resources could be aimed directly at eradicating poverty and other world issues such as the environment, social issues and education—all of which, if improved, would inevitably lead to poverty reduction.

Secondly, if private companies were asked to focus their corporate social responsibility (CSR) spending on activities that directly or indirectly reduce poverty, this would strengthen the movement to eradicate poverty everywhere. India, comprising of the highest percentage of population in extreme poverty, is already seeing expanded support from private companies in reducing poverty. Promoting education and eradicating poverty received the maximum amount from the CSR spending within the country, and it is already reaping the benefits.

Finally, and perhaps more controversially, if the work of charities was more directly aligned with governments, we would see another source of support to meet the SDGs. There are numerous local and international charities aimed at promoting education as well as alleviating poverty around the world. There are many success stories from charities fighting poverty, and many of them are international charities based in the UK. Oxfam, Christian Aid, Save the Children and ActionAid are good examples of such NGOs. These charities have extensive practical experience in supporting people stricken by poverty in some of the most destitute regions around the world. Governments should seek greater partnerships with these organisations to aim to work closely with such charities, increase their contributions to them, and perhaps partner with them in fighting poverty across the world.

Poverty can be eradicated! This day we should celebrate the successes that the world has faced in eradicating poverty so far and unite in this fight to eradicate poverty once and for all. And if you won’t take my word for it, take a look at this short presentation by the enthusiastic Hans Rosling. He demonstrates how close we are to the task.

What do you think? Has the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty achieved any impact? We’d love to hear your views.




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