The recent economic breakdown has left many people frighted. Why? There is a natural tendency to fear hunger or sleep in a cold alley, at least here in the US. The inability to feed, shelter or cloth yourself and your family keeps us working. It is fair to state that Americans are evaluating what is near and dear with the current economic crisis. Today, some people wake-up with no job, struggle to place food on the table, and scrounge enough change to barely make rent. That said, even struggling Americans are a lot luckier than many people around the world.
According to UNICEF,
approximately 26,000 children under the age of five die around the world, mostly from preventable causes. […] More than one third of these children die during the first month of life, usually at home and without access to essential health services and basic commodities that might save their lives.
Here in America, we take so many things for granted. Something as essential as clean water in other parts of the world are hard to come by. Globalissues.org, a website that provides all kinds of information about poverty and the fight against it, says water problems affect half of humanity. Here are some more facts:
- 1.8 billion people who have access to a water source within 1 kilometre, but not in their house or yard, consume around 20 litres per day. In the United Kingdom the average person uses more than 50 litres of water a day flushing toilets (where average daily water usage is about 150 liters a day. The highest average water use in the world is in the US, at 600 liters day.)
- Some 1.1 billion people in developing countries have inadequate access to water, and 2.6 billion lack basic sanitation.
- More than 660 million people without sanitation live on less than $2 a day, and more than 385 million on less than $1 a day.
- Access to piped water into the household averages about 85% for the wealthiest 20% of the population, compared with 25% for the poorest 20%.
- To these human costs can be added the massive economic waste associated with the water and sanitation deficit.… The costs associated with health spending, productivity losses and labour diversions … are greatest in some of the poorest countries. Sub-Saharan Africa loses about 5% of GDP, or some $28.4 billion annually, a figure that exceeds total aid flows and debt relief to the region in 2003.
The information I have shared is only a fragment of the story – hardly chipping away at the stone. These facts put paint on a brush by fall short from even starting a painting that expresses the full story. Luckily, there are people doing what they can to fight poverty.
Bono, lead singer from U2, is a longtime activity fighting poverty and disease. As one of the biggest rock stars on Earth, Bono has leveraged his fame to what we can to fight poverty. A few years ago, Bono created the following video.
Earlier this month, the United Nations launched the In My Name program, which has pledged to cut global poverty in half by the year 2015. On October 1, Elle MacPherson, Kristin Davis, Bono, Queen Rania al Abdullah of Jordan, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, economist Jeffrey Sachs and musician Angelique Kidjo convened outside the UN to bring greateer attention to the campaign. Here is a video by will.i.am from the Black Eyes Peas.
More importantly, what can we do?
For starters, support the artists by providing encouragement for the work they do and join them, if possible, in their endeavors. The obvious is a donating to a myriad of organizations that work “in the trenches” doing everything they can to help the impoverished in their own way – UNICEF is one of them.
We can also talk about the problems more than we do now. If we were willing to have more frequent conversations about poverty, then maybe it would show we care. Whenever I care about an issue, I usually talk about it and I am more likely to take action. Volunteering is something else we can do. Fighting poverty not just abroad, but here in the US is just as important. According to the US Census Bureau, in 2007, 37.3 million people were in poverty, up from 36.5 million in 2006.
Really, the best thing we can do is care for each other a little more. If we can do that, then we might be more willing to fight for those less fortunate.
Even under difficult economic times, let’s remember those that have it worse…