City Sunday

When will poor people see the light?

While the richest people are getting richer and richer each passing year worldwide, most of the poor around the globe still struggle to meet their ends.

Two-thirds of the world’s poorest people live in just five countries, according to a new World Bank study. Poverty is on the decline globally and those who are subsisting on less than USD 1.25 a day are concentrated in five areas- India, China, Nigeria, Bangladesh and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The successive governments in India fail to address the menace of poverty, fail to bring social reforms through social welfare schemes that can feed them. Malnourishment is very rampant in villages among children and pregnant women in remote places. The undernourished pregnant women giving birth to malnourished children is very common.

The World Bank has a set a goal of reducing extreme poverty to 9 per cent by 2020 which will require more than just economic growth, the group said. The study stressed the need to develop policies that allocate more direct resources to people living in extreme poverty.

There has been marked progress in reducing poverty over the past decades. The world attained the first Millennium Development Goal target—to cut the 1990 poverty rate in half by 2015—five years ahead of schedule, in 2010.  Despite the progress made in reducing poverty, the number of people living in extreme poverty globally remains unacceptably high. And given global growth forecasts poverty reduction may not be fast enough to reach the target of ending extreme poverty by 2030.

As Mahatma Gandhi once said that India is a nation of villages and unless the villages get all the benefit of social upliftment, the country can’t progress.

A vast majority of the global poor live in rural areas and are poorly educated, mostly employed in the agricultural sector, and over half are under 18 years of age.

The work to end extreme poverty is far from over and a number of challenges remain. It is becoming even more difficult to reach those remaining in extreme poverty which often lives in fragile contexts and remote areas. Access to good schools, healthcare, electricity, safe water and other critical services remains elusive for many people, often determined by socioeconomic status, gender, ethnicity, and geography. Moreover, for those who have been able to move out of poverty, progress is often temporary: economic shocks, food insecurity and climate change threaten to rob them of their hard-won gains and force them back into poverty. It will be critical to find ways to tackle these issues as we make progress toward 2030.

  • NAVEED AHAMAD

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