How to Solve Poverty & Why is it “Our” Problem?

In 2015, the United Nations set up the 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), with the first goal to “end poverty in all its forms everywhere”. About 600 million people (8% of the world population) live in extreme poverty, and many people often think of poverty as “their” problem. But the reality is far from it. For example, global pandemics (such as Ebola or COVID-19) are more likely to spur and spread due to a lack of basic health services in parts of the world, and young men who are desperate for food are also more likely to join guerrillas and terrorist groups. Extreme poverty poses a threat to everyone, and we should eradicate it as soon as possible.

Eradicating poverty is not just our socially ethical duty to help those in need, but is also an enabler for achieving the 16 other SDGs. The reason being is simple, it is much harder to think about gender equality, nature conservation, and peace, when you are suffering and struggling to survive on a daily basis. As Ban Ki-moon, former General-Secretary of the UN said, “saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth… these are one and the same fight.

It is a common myth that poverty cannot solved, but we have already drastically reduced it from the 1980s. This means that unlike the threat of a global pandemic, which is riddled with uncertainty, we already know the tools to reduce poverty: peace, education, universal basic health care, access to electricity, clean water, toilets, contraceptives, and micro-loans. The issue now lays in allocating the necessary resources to tackle such significant goal.

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According to Jeffrey Sachs, one of the world’s leading experts on economic development and the fight against poverty, we could end poverty if every living person donated an estimated $23 a year for 20 years. Of course, this is impossible, so we need the cooperation of individuals, organisations, and governments. OpenTabswas born out of the idea of allowing everyone to passively contribute to this cause without spending any resources. For this reason, we created a browser homepage, a search engine, and a flight finder that allow you to passively raise funds towards providing microloans and preventing malaria. Click hereto explore our free products and begin to passively have a positive impact.

The late Hans Rosling was an acclaimed Swedish physician, academic, statistician, and public speaker, who co-founded the Gapminder Foundation. He argued that extreme poverty was one of the five global risks we should be worrying about (along with Global Pandemic, Climate Change, World War III, and Financial Collapse). If you haven’t read it yet, I definitely recommend reading “Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World - and Why Things Are Better Than You Think” by Anna Rosling Rönnlund, Hans Rosling, and Ola Rosling. If you need more convincing on why we should tackle poverty, read the following extract from Hans’ book:

The other risks I have mentioned are highly probable scenarios that would bring unknown levels of future suffering. Extreme poverty isn’t really a risk. The suffering it causes is not unknown, and not in the future. It’s a reality. It’s misery, day to day, right now. It is also where Ebola outbreaks come from, because there are no health services to encounter them at an early stage; and where civil wars start, because young men desperate for food and work, and with nothing to lose, tend to be more willing to join brutal guerrilla movements. It’s a vicious circle: poverty leads to civil war, and civil war leads to poverty. The civil conflicts in Afghanistan and central Africa mean that all other sustainability projects in those places are on hold. Terrorists hide in the few remaining areas of extreme poverty. When rhinos are stuck in the middle of a civil war, it’s much more difficult to save them.

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Today, a period of relative world peace has enabled a growing global prosperity. A smaller proportion of people than ever before is stuck in extreme poverty. But there are still 800 million people left. Unlike with climate change, we don’t need predictions and scenarios. We know that 800 million are suffering right now. We also know the solutions: peace, schooling, universal basic health care, electricity, clean water, toilets, contraceptives, and microcredits to get market forces started. There’s no innovation needed to end poverty. It’s all about walking the last mile with what’s worked everywhere else. And we know that the quicker we act, the smaller the problem, because as long as people remain in extreme poverty they keep having large families and their numbers keep increasing. Providing these necessities of a decent life, quickly, to the final billion is a clear, fact-based priority.

The hardest to help will be those stuck behind violent and chaotic armed gangs in weakly governed states. To escape poverty, they will need a stabilizing military presence of some kind. They will need police officers with guns and government authority to defend innocent citizens against violence and to allow teachers to educate the next generation in peace.

Still I’m possibilistic. The next generation is like the last runner in a very long relay race. The race to end extreme poverty has been a marathon, with the starter gun fired in 1800. This next generation has the unique opportunity to complete the job: to pick up the baton, cross the line, and raise its hands in triumph. The project must be completed. And we should have a big party when we are done.

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