“Imagine no possessions… No need for greed or hunger; a brotherhood of man.” The lyrics of John Lennon’s famous world uniting ballad, “Imagine”, are a testament to the peace-loving 70’s and all the love that the decade hoped to harbor. Whether or not the people of the 1970s succeeded in doing so is arguable, but Lennon’s message still hangs clear: there is poverty, destitution, and despair everywhere in the world and those who inhabit this Earth have the tools to eradicate the darkness… if they really want to do it.
Currently, nearly half of the world’s population — more than 3 billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day; this hits the poverty line exactly. More than 1.3 billion live in extreme destitution, which means that they survive on less than $1.25 a day. To make matters worse, poverty doesn’t just hit unfortunate adults; approximately 1 billion children worldwide are struck by poverty.
According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to destitution. Many of them die from treatable diseases, malnutrition and life-threatening hunger. In addition to all of that, more than 1 billion people lack adequate access to clean drinking water and an estimated 400 million of these are children.
One might live in Kenya and think that the occasional power outage is, at most, irritable. However, a quarter of all humans live without electricity — approximately 1.6 billion people live in the dark every day. The scariest part is that it would cost approximately $40 billion to offer basic education, clean water and sanitation, reproductive health for women, and basic health and nutrition to every person in every developing country.
This may seem like a big number, but consider the fact that top ten richest people in the world are worth a combined $451.5 billion. That’s enough to provide basic necessities to every person living in poverty in eleven different countries. And that’s only the ten richest people in the world. What does this mean? It means that the people on this Earth have more than enough to eliminate all forms poverty but something’s holding a lot of them back. Why may this be?
It may be because the unfortunate situation that human kind is put in is made even worse by the fact that a great deal of relief programs that try to aid in the lifting of poverty focus mainly on treating symptoms of the poverty cycle instead of directly addressing the problem at the root and eradicating it completely. There has been a world-wide push towards giving children in third world countries clothing and used books; however, this fails to see exactly what people in developing nations really need.
“It’s fairly easy for someone in a third world country to get cheap clothing and books.” Dr. Mariam Githau, a researcher at the World Relief Program has been working in developing nations for over twenty years and has been advocating for women’s educational rights from around the world. She is very well-versed on the topic of world poverty, “Even if it wasn’t, giving a child two shirts and a Dr. Seuss book isn’t going to bring them out of the vicious cycle they’re stuck in from birth.”
So if relief programs that push for books and clothing do not help, what does? Dr. Githau says that the best way is through “directly participating in the education of people stuck in extreme poverty” and “not shying away from interacting with them on a level beyond shallow needs” are the best methods for ending poverty.
– Milkah K