My Itch: Global Poverty

Are you sitting comfortably?
Are you enjoying your surf around the interweb today?
Are you having a nice cup of tea and chocolate biscuit while you read your blogs of choice?
Good, I’m glad you have a comfy seat, can afford your internet access, and are enjoying your food and drink. Now, at the risk of putting you off your chocolate biscuit, please take a look at some statistics with me…

orange_arrow.gifMore than 1 billion people live on less than US$1 a day.
orange_arrow.gif852 million people suffer from chronic hunger or malnutrition.
orange_arrow.gifA child dies every 3 seconds because of AIDS or extreme poverty.
orange_arrow.gifMore than 1 billion people do not have access to clean water.
orange_arrow.gif104 million children do not go to school because of poverty.
orange_arrow.gifEvery day, 29,000 children under the age of 5 die from largely preventable diseases

Still eating that biscuit? Or are those your tonsils that I see flapping at the back of your gaping mouth?

Yup, sitting in my nice warm home with my evening cup of tea, it is a little daunting to read those numbers, no matter how many times I re-read this while doing my editing.

What’s the plan to address these horrendous statistics you may be asking ? (Hopefully you asked yourself that !)
Well, there is one.
And, funnily enough it is under the auspices of the United Nations.
Ladies and Gentlemen I present to you…

The Millenium Development Goals

There are eight goals, with a date of 2015 for accomplishing them.

  1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.
  2. Achieve universal primary education.
  3. Promote gender equality and empower women.
  4. Reduce child mortality.
  5. Improve maternal health.
  6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.
  7. Ensure environmental sustainability.
  8. Develop a global partnership for development

Each of these goals has a bit more detail attached to them, so I would recommend you visit the UN site here, and read more on the Millenium Summit and the Development Goals.

If I am preaching to the converted, and you are worldly wise about the MDGs, then may I suggest that you take a moment to review the progress report for 2005 (pdf).

If you are new to the concept of chronic global poverty rather than tsunamis or famines in Africa, or are not old enough to be in the Band Aid generation, then I would recommend that you take a wander through the 1,670,000 results from a Google search on “Global Poverty”. Or shortcut that by visiting the UN Millenium Project. There is more than enough here to start your journey of enlightenment off.

Now, one final thing before you go link-jumping.
There is a small number that you should know about.
It is, drumroll please…


Told you it was small. But like my 5 foot 2 inch tall mother has always said… “good things come in little packages.”
This is a commitment to the world’s developing countries to reserve 0.7% of gross national product (GNP) to redistribute as “Official Development Assistance”.

Want to see how your country is doing on meeting this promise?
Take a look at the list or the graph. Are you proud of what you see, or are you going to be asking awkward questions of your politicians?

Enrich your day, follow Marcus Aurelius’ example and

  • do good
  • be useful

I’d suggest asking questions on behalf of those who can’t, or at very least educating yourself on the daily reality for a billion or so of your fellow man.

That chocolate biscuit should taste really good now. 😉

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