Fighting Poverty

May 29, 2012
By ChristopherPham BRONZE, San Jose, California
ChristopherPham BRONZE, San Jose, California
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

According to the World Bank, almost 80% of the world lives on less than 10 dollars a day. Poverty is one of the most salient issues occurring in the world. Due to rapid globalization and a changing world, a majority of people live without adequate shelter, food, and water. Yet with all the new technologies that enable the growth of huge amounts of food and easily created sanitation systems, more than 40% of poor children live in households that are hungry and suffer two to four times as many health problems as other children (Stamenkovska). Corruption, lack of education, environmental issues, and other factors contribute to poverty individually. The effects of it, such as homelessness, hunger, and lack of education, sustain and even exacerbate the problem. Thus, poverty in the world remains one of the most pressing problems that needs to be solved because of the causes and effects that continue its vicious cycle, especially in third-world countries.

Poverty initially begins insidiously, evolving from causes like lack of education, corruption, and environmental degradation. Due to the lack of compulsory education and the rapid industrialization of many developing countries in their rush to achieve economic competitiveness, an adequate education is often deficient or even nonexistent. According to the Millennium Goals Report 2007, nearly 72 million children of primary school age worldwide are not in school, with 121 million worldwide. Along with that, nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names. Funds allocated to industrialization and resources instead of public schools only worsens the predicament, as a private school education simply is not affordable for those working to survive day by day. “Today, many developing countries are experiencing massive industrialization” (World Resources Institue). If fortunate individuals are able to attend school and higher education, few employment opportunities that involve higher education are present because of the focus on labor in developing countries. This leaves many educated people that spent years of learning in the same predicament as other people who began working at a young age on making a minimal living, which translates to working in unskilled jobs in factories funded and expanded by their political leaders.

Corruption, often rampant in poorer countries and even in wealthy developed nations like the U. S. , inhibits social mobility into higher classes because of the lack of sufficient education and produces poverty because of leaders’ policies. People in the lower classes are not represented enough, especially in developing countries, where power is concentrated into a one or a few individuals that do not have the best interests of the multitude of the commonality. Dictators like Kim Jong Il exemplifies this, where the poverty level of his respective country is nearly 27% according to the United Nations. Instead of allocating funds for poverty aid, education, and other important issues that cause poverty, leaders siphon funds into other programs. For example, according to the New Internationalist, less than one percent of what world governments spent on weapons for warfare, 780 billion dollars, was needed to put every child in the world in school by 2000, but yet it did not happen, even though only 7. 8 billion was needed. With the inherent fact that taxpayers money funds these projects, they should be given a perspective on what or how their money is spent on. Politicians are the people who pass measures that fund the projects that they themselves propose, not the citizens. Even in developed countries with solid governments, economies, and national defense such as the United States, projects like military spending takes up 39% on taxpayer dollars according to the Friends Committee of National Legislation, even though the poverty level of the U. S. is 14. 2 percent, which translates to 43. 1 million people living below the poverty line (Smith). Even worse is the fact that such pursuits also drain money from crucial environmental projects that affect both the poor and wealthy classes.

Environmental degradation, accelerated by the corrupted policies of politicians because of their focus on industrialization, cause problems for all people, especially the lower classes. Shortages of food, clean water, materials for shelter, and other important resources deteriorate the living conditions of people (Stamenkovska). Furthermore, the industrialization and massive production of resources to be exported from developing countries destroy the natural environment, such as deforestation. “Many rural people, particularly in tropical regions, depend on forests as a source of food and other resources, and deforestation damages or eliminates these supplies” (Stamenkovska). Natural disasters strengthened and made more common by the effects of global warming, such as Hurricane Katrina, displaces millions of people that are separated from the families and destroys their shelter, food, and water (McKie). The overuse of land and other resources also causes environmental degradation and the exhaustion of arable land for growing crops.

Eventually, the effects of poverty become apparent, such as hunger and lack of good health. On any given night, 1. 2 million children are homeless and are 400% more likely to drop out of a school and 200% more likely to repeat a grade compared to their counterparts that possess shelter (Stamenkovska). Along with that lack of shelter comes lack of food and water. According to the World Institute, 790 million people in the developing world are still chronically undernourished, and according to the United Nations 2006 Report, it states that 1. 1 billion people have inadequate access to water (Shah). What makes it even more heart-rending is the fact that the rate of food wastage and international policies make existing food nearly impossible to reach people in poverty. The International Monetary Fund that is forcing the government of Mawali to export food resources in order to pay off their debts while the people in the country starve provides a good example of such polices (Berribi). Wasteful industries that grow food that provides little sustenance but requires a lot of land, such as bananas, beef, and sugar, take up valuable resources that could be used to grow other crops that provide more nutrition and sustenance (Shah). Though of course the elimination of such commodities would be ridiculous, it would certainly help if such industries reduced the amount of luxury foods grown and instead sold foodstuffs like grain.

Hunger and homelessness also contribute to lower health. Children born in poverty are four times more likely to need special care after birth (Stamenkovska). However, as they are obviously poor, they do not possess the resources for proper health care and are thus vulnerable to commonplace diseases. The dangerous working places created with industrialization in without laws to protect workers in developing countries also cause lower health. Similar factories created in the Industrial Revolution of America did not protect the rights of workers. It was common for them to work 12-13 hour days and lose fingers and limbs to the dangerous machinery. They also contracted diseases like tuberculosis, cholera, and typhoid as an aftereffect of working in harsh and toxic conditions. The lack of affordable and attainable medicine causes health problems as well. “Some 1.8 million child deaths each year as a result of diarrhea” (Shah). To put this into perspective, it would take 600 September 11 attacks to equate the number of children who die each year from diarrhea, an easily preventable and curable disease.

The effects of poverty do not just end with the person. As their children grow, they are exposed to such unsafe conditions and lack the basic necessities of life. They are also not able to obtain the education necessary to escape the chains of poverty, a chain that grows more unyielding and tighter with every succeeding generation, culminating in an endless cycle of suffering. Causes like corruption, failure of education, environmental degradation, and other exigencies begin poverty, and it is sustained by homelessness, hunger, and lack of basic health. However, there are achievable solutions that can be enacted to minimize poverty. Though poverty is an extremely difficult problem to eliminate due to its many factors, there are achievable small steps that can be done to minimize or even eliminate it. Aid efforts such as the ones done by the Red Cross and UNICEF can help relieve the consequences of poverty by providing relief for hunger, homelessness, and health problems. But stopping poverty cannot just end there. Like any other chronic problem, the factors that cause poverty must also be addressed. The best way to do that is for people to take an active role in the policies that shape poverty. Talking to the government to provide a detailed report on government spending and reforming the way policies are proposed and passed will help reduce wasteful spending in our own governments and direct funds towards projects knowledgeable citizens want. Poverty may be one of the most chronic problems in the world, but by tackling its causes and effects, people can improve the living conditions of the 80% of people that live on less than 10 dollars a day.

Works Cited
Berribi, Dario. “Food Crisis: The Emergency and The Future of Mankind.”, n. d. Web. 12 October 2011.
McKie, Robin. “Climate Change: Melting Ice Will Trigger Wave of Natural Disaster.” Guardian. co. uk. The Observer, 5 September 2009. Web. 23 October 2011.
Shah, Anup. “Poverty Facts and Stats.” Global Issues, 20 September 2010. Web. 12 October 2011.
Smith, Donna. ”Poverty Rate Hits 15 Year High.” Reuters, 17 September 2010. Web. 4 November 2011.
Stamenkovska, Roza. “Hunger.” Fight Poverty, 7 March 2006. Web. 12 October 2011.
“Industrialization. ” wri. org. World Resources Institute, n. d. Web. 20 October 2011.
Ravallion, Martin Chen, Shaohua, and Sangraula, Prem. “Dollar a day revisited. ” The World Bank. econ., 1 May 2008. Web. 4 November 2011.
“Millennium Development Goals Report.” United Nations, n.d. Web. 4 November 2011.
Brazier, Chris. “State of the World Report. ” New Internationalist. New Internationalist Mag., 5 January 1997. Web. 4 November 2011.
Hellman, Chris. “The Runaway Military Budget: An Analysis.” Friends Committee on National Legislation. Friends Committee on National Legislation, March 2006. Web. 4 November 2011.

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