Africa can get out of poverty

17Oct 2020
The Guardian
Africa can get out of poverty

​​​​​​​In 2004, the former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev told world leaders: "We are all agreed that poverty is the key problem of our times." He called it "a political problem" since the world had enough resources to solve it - if decisions to solve it were taken.

"But the problem has not been solved. It's becoming more acute and political will is needed," Gorbachev told the World Political Forum.  

Africa can pull itself out of poverty and become an information and communication technology centre. The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is an international observance celebrated each year on October 17 throughout the world. In 1992, four years after Fr. Joseph Wresinski's death, the United Nations officially designated October 17 as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Born to immigrant parents, he grew up poverty and experienced social exclusion. Fr. Joseph Wresinski established major landmarks throughout his life in the fight against the worst forms of poverty, in collaboration with the very poor themselves and other partners.

Wherever men and women are condemned to live in extreme poverty, human rights are violated. To come together to ensure that these rights be respected is our solemn duty.

Early in his career as an activist, Wresinski recognized that governments often ignored the plight of those living in poverty, leading to feelings of rejection, shame, and humiliation.  As a result, one of the primary goals of the Day is to recognise the struggles of the impoverished and to make their voices heard by governments and citizens.  Participation by the poorest of people is an important aspect of the observance of the Day.

Poverty is not having enough material possessions or income for a person's basic needs.  Poverty may include social, economic, and political elements. Absolute poverty is the complete lack of the means necessary to meet basic personal needs, such as food, clothing, and shelter.  On the other hand, relative poverty occurs when a person cannot meet a minimum level of living standards, compared to others in the same time and place. For example, a person who cannot afford housing better than a small tent in an open field would be said to live in relative poverty if almost everyone else in that area lives in modern brick homes.

Many governments and non-governmental organisations try to reduce poverty by providing basic needs to people who are unable to earn a sufficient income. These efforts can be hampered by constraints on government's ability to deliver services, such as corruption, tax avoidance, debt and loan conditionalities and by the brain drain of health care and educational professionals. Strategies of increasing income to make basic needs more affordable typically include welfare, economic freedoms and providing financial services.  Meanwhile, the poorest citizens of middle-income countries have largely failed to receive an adequate share of their countries’ increased wealth.  

Fundamentally, poverty is the inability of having choices and opportunities, a violation of human dignity. It means lack of basic capacity to participate effectively in society. It means not having enough to feed and clothe a family, not having a school or clinic to go to, not having the land on which to grow one's food or a job to earn one's living, not having access to credit. It means insecurity, powerlessness and exclusion of individuals, households and communities. It means susceptibility to violence, and it often implies living in marginal or fragile environments, without access to clean water or sanitation.  

Poverty is pronounced deprivation in well-being, and comprises many dimensions. It includes low incomes and the inability to acquire the basic goods and services necessary for survival with dignity. Poverty also encompasses low levels of health and education, poor access to clean water and sanitation, inadequate physical security, lack of voice, and insufficient capacity and opportunity to better one's life.