HEADLINES OF THE DAY: ANOTHER 15,000 PEOPLE DIED YESTERDAY BECAUSE THEY WERE TOO POOR TO LIVE. THE RICH INCREASED THEIR WEALTH YESTERDAY BY $0.3 BILLION. THE 21st CENTURY VERSION OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION IS ONE DAY NEARER.
“O Ye rich ones on earth! The poor in your midst are My trust; guard ye My trust, and be not intent only on your own ease.”
A preview of the unpublished book A CIVILIZATION WITHOUT A VISION WILL PERISH: AN INDEPENDENT SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH by David Willis at firstname.lastname@example.org. CHAPTER 1: INDIFFERENCE TO POVERTY (Part 86). This blog is a continuation of the review of ENDING GLOBAL POVERTY: A GUIDE TO WHAT WORKS by Stephen C. Smith, published in 2005.
Rapid population growth
Rapid population growth creates a race between needed and available resources. It challenges carrying capacity and can ultimately led to ecological collapse, as indeed looms in parts of the Sahel, where desertification and other forms of environmental degradation threaten to make growth unsustainable and the cost of ecological restoration unattainable.
The poor are both the victims and also unwitting perpetrators of environmental degradation. A common conjecture is that the richest billion and the poorest billion do most environmental damage. The poor have a high rate of fertility. They practice slash and burn agriculture in the tropical rainforests. They over use soil, overforage for fuelwood. The cause is poverty.
There will be a need for assistance for poor countries for some time to come
With increasing income, the poor are able to improve their environment, through both individual and collective action. With the aid of NGOs, the poor learn how to maintain the environment, and to get help with environmental protection when it is needed. In part because of the damage that we in the rich countries are indirectly doing to the environment of the poor countries, we will have to accept that there will be a need for assistance for poor countries for some time to come.
Problems of the urban environment receive less attention than rural problems. But slum dwellers can face environmental hazards that can exceed those in rural areas.
The rich find ways to insulate themselves from the worst of it, although they are by no means immune, but the poor suffer the greatest impact.
Located just a short walk from the modern high-rise office buildings and hotels of downtown Nairobi, Kibera is Africa’s largest and most infamous slum.
A UN study found that a majority of the landlords of Kibera were actually government officials and politicians.
Without empowerment, in many cases the poor can do little to protect their own environments.
The Seventh Key: Personal empowerment to gain freedom from exploitation and torment
Personal empowerment may be the most important key to capability, because it can unlock the strongbox where other keys are found. Professor Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank said, “a $20 loan is really just a pretext to give a woman an opportunity to find out who she is, to give her a chance to open up her natural creativity.”
When the poor are powerless they remain poor
Poverty and powerlessness are two sides of the same coin. When the poor are powerless they remain poor. Those without power find it very difficult to get the power and resources they need to make a better life. All too commonly, local elites work to reinforce this vicious cycle. When elites benefit from others’ poverty or powerlessness, they often actively perpetuate both. They do this with coercive exploitation enforced with terror. When you ask the poor about their lives, they frequently speak of their feelings of impotence and fear. “Today we’re fine, tomorrow they will throw us out,” said the squatter in Ecuador. “If you don’t know anyone, you will be thrown to the corner of a hospital!” said the man in rural India.
I want to commit suicide
The Voices of the Poor study found that “mental health problems – stress, anxiety, depression, lack of self-esteem, and suicide are among the more commonly identified effects of poverty and ill-being by discussion groups,” particularly in Latin America and the Caribbean. This is starkly seen in the woman in Ecuador who said “I want to commit suicide, I want to run out because to see the kids crying and I do not have one sucre to give them some bread. Life is so sad.” The poor and those who live in close proximity to them are well aware of these links. In parts of Africa, people describe a mental condition associated with poverty as “madness.”