The ugly truth about poverty

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As the year comes to an end, everyone is hopeful that the coming year would bring prosperity to one’s life.   

But once the clock ticks 00:00 for January 2019, reality quickly checks in and reminds us that the prosperity struggle will continue.  

It means come 2019, the poor will remain poorer and the rich become wealthier. The former will be forced to remain poor but the latter will become wealthier by choice. Yes, this is the world we live in – where people care about what kind of cars ministers will drive in 2019 rather than how many people can be lifted out of poverty in the New Year.    

And even worse, once the poverty statistics are out of the suitcases, the prosperity hope is quickly dashed and turned into agony.

Statistics by the World Data Lab show that while for the first time in history the world will enter the New Year with the lowest extreme poverty at 8%, 600 million people will still enter 2019 in extreme poverty and by end of the year only 20 million people are expected to move to a better level of poverty. A better level of poverty? Is there even such a thing? That’s the norm made by those who are wealthy, while the rest of the people are suffering. There is no better poverty; poverty is poverty!

If you bring it closer to home, latest statistics by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) shows that the continent still has its most population living in extreme poverty. It is estimated that by 2019, about 70% of the world’s poor will live in Africa, up from 50% recorded in 2015.

If nothing drastic is done, the world’s poor statistics who lives in Africa will increase to over 80%. This is despite the continent being the richest in terms of mineral resources.

If you bring it even closer to home, one would realise that the richest people do not care about poor people. In Namibia, South Africa and Botswana, for example, about 80% of wealth is controlled by a mere 10% of the population in each country.

Poverty reduction is further impacted by high inequality levels. When inequality levels are high, economic growth delivers less impact on poverty. Across many countries in Africa, the richest 20% controls up to 60% of the wealth, as a consequence, growth has not been inclusive.

This means that the richest will make sure that the poor will remain rock bottom.

Africa’s poverty gap index, which is a measure of the intensity or depth of poverty, is nearly double the global average at 15.2% in 2013 (global averages is 8.8%).

According to ECA, the average consumption of the poor across the East, Southern, West and Central regions is US$1.16 a day, which is US$0.74 below the international poverty line, thus posing a challenge to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals target of eliminating poverty by 2030.

Southern Africa and Africa at large are both rich in mineral resources, no person should live in poverty let alone extreme poverty. Poverty should be regarded as a continent and a world crisis.

The mothers and fathers who wake up every day to do nominal jobs just to feed their kids should be lifted out of poverty. We owe it to them to provide platforms that would bring prosperity into their lives.

The leaders and stingy wealthy people should be castigated for not doing enough to end poverty. Cry beloved continent. No one deserves to die in poverty!

 

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