President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s address at the 74th UN General Assembly has brought to the fore a global threat that deserves sustained attention but is often drowned by other issues including politics.
We speak of poverty, a threat that has rippling consequences on living standards, health, education and triggers crime, delinquency, teenage pregnancy and many social issues.
The World Bank’s (WB) most recent estimates, indicates that 736 million people, representing 10 per cent of the world’s population lived on less than US$1.90 a day in 2015.
Although the figure indicates a reduction from almost 36 per cent in 1990 as nearly less than 1.1 billion people were living in extreme poverty in that year, the fall has not been widespread.
While East Asia, Pacific, Europe and Central Asia have reduced extreme poverty to below three per cent, achieving the 2030 target, more than half of the extreme poor, live in Sub-Saharan Africa, per World Bank data.
The number of poor people in the region shot up by 9 million, with 413 million people living on less than US$1.90 a day in 2015. This was more than all the other regions put together.
If this trajectory continues, global development experts and analysts have forecasted that, by 2030, nearly nine out of 10 extremely poor would be in Sub-Saharan Africa.
We find this disturbing because it is in this same 2030 that the world is expected to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of which the first goal calls for a global end to poverty.
This is why we deem as timely and deserving of emphasis, President Akufo-Addo’s call on world leaders to exert their energies and resources to end extreme poverty in the world.
“ For us (in Africa), poverty is a daily reality that we live with and feel, for far too many of our people are burdened with it , and it robs us of the dignity that should be the inherent right of every human being” he said.
With the continent’s rich natural resources, we should not find ourselves in this situation but for many reasons that are of public knowledge , the continent does not enjoy a fair share of its owns resources.
The past is gone, if we can take charge of the future and reserve this trend, then world leaders must heed to President Akufo-Addo’s call for collaboration to stop the illicit financial flows from Africa which costs her $50 billion annually.
Aside this, we should find innovative solutions to other factors that is worsening poverty on the continent including climate change and its associated impacts that is affecting agriculture .
The digital revolution presents many solutions which when adopted could help modernise agriculture, make it attractive to the teeming youth on the continent and reduce unemployment.
While at it, efforts must be made to curtail bad trade practices and corruption as they are sources of energy that help the vicious cycle of poverty amongst the citizenry, to spin.
As the world leaders continue to jaw-jaw, the issue of poverty situation should constantly feature on their agenda. Efforts to eradicate poverty must be prioritised.
President Akufo-Addo said in his address that “our performances as governments will be judged by how successful were are in reducing and eventually eradicating poverty in our countries”.
He is right. Posterity is looking at them from the abyss of time. The clock is ticking. Their commitment to the welfare of their people should reflect in the efforts they put in poverty reduction.