Monday, October 17, 2022 12:50 am
By Olasoji Fagbola
Today is the International for the Eradication of Poverty which is always marked, yearly, on 17 October to raise awareness about the global issue of poverty and how it is a violation of human rights and human dignity.
Poverty is of the same colouration but differs in degree thus, it is an opportunity to honour the courage of the millions living in poverty across the globe while saluting the struggles they face daily to make a decent living. In a world of surplus, poverty comes in diverse forms such as unemployment, underemployment, lack of access to basic amenities, hunger, conflict, violence and homelessness. The seismic events of 2020 are still here with us and their harrowing consequences making developing countries more at risk.
“We have…resolved to free the human race from the tyranny of poverty and want and to heal and secure our planet. We are determined to take the bold and transformative steps which are urgently needed to shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path. As we embark on this collective journey, we pledge that no one will be left behind.” Declaration of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
At the heart of every human organization, be it societies, communities and/or groups, is the need to preserve human lives. From antiquity, different societies have evolved different ways of coping with their needs by way of proper organization of their activities which leads to the possibilities of equitable distribution of various necessities of life. In other words, the provision of basic necessities such as food, shelter, clothing, healthcare, sanitation and clean water, and employment, among others epitomizes the Hobbesian social contract.
That is, in return for payment of taxes and other forms of national service, the state is expected to provide means by which members can articulate and achieve their goals and aspirations within the confines of available resources. This formed the basis for the formation of the “Welfare State” in the then Western Europe. Subsequent development of this region cannot be separated from the idea of a welfare state as it has become a distinguishing factor between the core (developed countries) and the peripheral (less developed countries) state formations.
The dichotomy between these two regions in terms of the human condition of living necessitated global concern for issues of development. The situation in the less developed countries as indicated by widespread poverty, unemployment, increased crime rate, malnutrition, poor education and health care services, etc. pointed to the need for ameliorative changes. This is even more pressing since more than half of the world’s population lives in this area widely regarded as backward and underdeveloped.
Nigeria, like many other African nations, suffers from a number of the same economic ills inherently associated with low-income Sub-Saharan African countries. The most notable shortcomings of the country’s development are noted in its below-average GDP/PCI, education rates, lack of access to potable water and sanitation facilities, and widespread unemployment. The Global Hunger Index of October 2022 ranked 103 out of 121. A very dismal rating in the month in which the World Food Day was observed
These basic requirements necessitated the development and adoption of the critically conceptualized 17 goals toward advancing humanity. The 17 goals of the SDGs are ambitious and comprehensive; and cover social, economic development, and environmental outcomes. Inter alia, these outcomes include ending poverty and hunger; achieving food security and sustained agricultural development; promoting inclusive (pro-poor) economic growth, sustainable development, and full employment; building resilience against natural and external shocks; ensuring greater equity and fairness in education, income distribution, and among women and girls; making cities and communities inclusive, safe, reliant and sustainable; combating the effects of climate change; protecting and conserving natural resources and ecosystems; ensuring access to essential services such as health, water, sanitation and energy; and revitalizing and strengthening global partnerships for sustainable development.
SDGs otherwise known as the Global Goals are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. Goal 1 is an aspiration to end poverty in all forms but, 10 percent of the world’s population still live in extreme poverty and are unable to fulfill most basic needs. Majority of the people in sub-Saharan Africa still live on less than $1.90 a day. A lot of Nigerians employed are not guaranteed decent living. We have people earning below the minimum wage. Then, what exactly does the declaration of the 2030 agenda looking to achieve? The indices are not encouraging.
This year’s theme is ‘‘Dignity For All in Practice’’. Let’s all commit our efforts toward ending poverty in all forms while striving for justice, peace and the planet. Ensuring that we support the poorest and most vulnerable amongst us and governments at all levels ensure access to social services and social protection and making human needs drive socio-economic development.
Olasoji Fagbola is a Sustainable Development expert, policy analyst with flair for Science Journalism