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International Day for Eradication of Poverty

In the 1940s William Beveridge the great social and liberal British reformer, cited 5 great evils that keep human beings poor: ignorance, unemployment, poor health and hunger. The evil that poverty brings is human suffering. It has therefore been assumed that tackling poverty is not only a route to bring about economic well being but also a moral duty. Overcoming poverty may involve taking poverty reduction measures and this is seen as a building block to close the gap between the 'rich' and the 'poor’.

In an attempt to tackle extreme world poverty and to coincide with the dawn of a new millennium, the UN set and agreed to 8 Millennium Development Goals. These goals were targeted at the very poor countries with a completion date of 2015. The ambition of these goals would require a continuing and highly focused commitment from developed countries to see through the project. Most developed countries have struggled to commit just 0.7% of GDP resources in the form of development aid to the poorest countries, as they had pledged to do at the UN. In 2007, the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, said "we are concerned that many African countries are off track...countries in the sub-Saharan regions...were not even a single country is on country is on track". He then announced an African Steering Group to meet the ambitious goals the world had set itself to combat poverty.

The Political Left cite colonialism as the main historical cause, arguing that European powers in the 'Scramble for Africa' were more concerned with acquiring the land and exploiting resources, both human and natural, at the expense of African people. The only interest the people in power showed was an imperialist policy of self interest exercised in the form of control and over the Africans for the economic and social gains.

On the other hand, The Political Right argue that poverty is the result of barrier to trade. They argue the most damaging barrier is the state, which creates a dependency culture within the economy. The state monopolises economic activity, which leaves no room for innovation and competition. For the Right the state must withdraw itself from the monopoly position and allow development of private enterprises. The role of the rich state, is to help with this development.

The conclusion that has been drawn from these divisions is that the rich countries experience economic growth, that is largely absent in poor countries. It therefore begs the question why are countries still poor in a world of relative affluence?

If you want to read more about eradicating poverty, visit http://www.un.org/en/events/povertyday/ for more information.

 

BY SHAHANA TASNIM 

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