Humanitarian Aid Explained- Development, Part 2
“We recognize that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development.”-The United Nations
In our last blog we covered the issues around development in general. In this blog, I hope to be able to cover the most complicated part of development work, the issue of fighting poverty. Poverty ties together the impacts of emergency and the lack of planning during post emergency development phases.
As we look towards sustainable development, poverty must be addressed. Approximately a tenth of the world’s population lives in extreme poverty which is defined as less than $1.90 per day. Almost 3.3 billion people, which is more than 40% of the world’s population, live on less than $5.50 per day, according to the World Bank.
This means that roughly half the world’s population is one small life event away from extreme poverty.
Extreme poverty is a major issue around the world. According to the World Bank, 18 of the 20 poorest countries in the world are in Africa. In addition, almost half of the poorest people in Sub-Saharan Africa live in just five countries; Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Tanzania, Ethiopia, Madagascar.
Numerous factors lead to extreme poverty and keep people there. Conflict, climate change, structural inequality, rapid population growth and corruption are all major factors in extreme poverty. Each factor cannot be solved by a quick fix. These are complex, layered challenges that pose great difficulty.
In most impoverished countries, there are also certain populations that have enriched themselves greatly on others’ poverty. They tend to also be the most likely to make decisions for their countries, and they don’t have incentive to sacrifice potential gains for others to have improved lives. This corruption keeps people down. The rich then get richer and the poor stay poorer.
Extreme poverty leads to many challenges. It is systemic and chronic. Unfortunately, poverty begets poverty and leads to long-term structural inequalities. The system changes how it operates, and becomes harder and harder to get back to a proper balance.
Non-monetary factors of extreme poverty include adult literacy, life expectancy, child mortality rates, school enrollment and education, employment rates and access to healthcare. With big strides towards development and poverty reduction, huge challenges still remain. More people are poor today than in 1990, two in five adults are still illiterate and violence is on the rise. The World Bank
Furthermore, the Covid-19 pandemic has complicated development work in Africa and around the globe. With all the progress that has been made in development in the past few years, the pandemic and global recession are estimated to push upwards of 150 million people into extreme poverty in 2020 and 2021. Experts on poverty were expecting the poverty rate to drop to 7.9% in 2020 but now predict that this rate could be upwards of 9.4%.
There is so much to write about regarding combating poverty but I will just touch on one major way that has been identified by the World Bank. That is to leverage the food system. Raising small stakeholder agricultural productivity, especially in staple crops, increases the incomes of the poor directly and addresses rising urban demand for higher-value agricultural products. Complementary public/private investment remains key. Development of cheaper technologies in agriculture can bring poor populations closer to reaching the benefits of a more efficient food supply.
In DRC, we have seen things change in our 13 years in North Kivu. We have seen that the aid system has been unable to structurally change the situation that most Congolese face. The leaders of the country do not have an interest in systemic poverty being addressed as this would take money out of their pockets. In addition, the constant insecurity in eastern DRC keeps millions of people in extreme poverty.
This is why we have adapted our approach to how we work in DRC. With our support, our staff is growing food and raising livestock, generating revenues that provide for their families and profits that support the local healthcare system. By keeping the revenue generation and investment local, everyone benefits and the change is real. We are very hopeful that the change will be effective, life-changing and long lasting for many in need.
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