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Poverty is above all a political problem; it results from the human and institutional indifference of policy makers towards the less powerful. Only a global social movement can influence politics radically enough to end world poverty, says a report by Christian Aid.
7th August 2009 -Eurodad
Christian Aid has just launched a new report 'Poverty Over'.
The report sets out briefly Christian Aid's understanding of poverty, and the broad strokes of a strategy that can contribute to the eradication, rather than just the reduction, of poverty. Fundamentally, the report argues that poverty is political and so the solutions must also be political. The financial crisis presents a window of opportunity in which civil society and social movements can try to leverage real political change that could have long-lasting benefits for millions or even billions of people.
The Goal Must be Nothing Less than the Complete Eradication of Poverty
Lip service has often been paid to the need to tackle poverty. Despite the wealth of good intentions, the result is that poverty, with all its attendant hardships and humiliation, remains firmly entrenched.
The economic crisis has called into question old ways of thinking and old economic models have been exposed as fundamentally unsuited to promoting human development. The crisis thus provides an opportunity to make fundamental changes - the kind of opportunity that has not been seen for generations.
At the 2009 G20 in London, UK prime minister Gordon Brown let the attack on economic policies, known collectively as the Washington Consensus, that poorer countries have for decades been strong-armed into adopting. Far from a recipe for success, the formula, which includes deregulation, privatisation, wholesale liberalisation of trade and financial markets, and lower corporate taxes, can now be seen to have precipitated the global economic crisis.
The comfortable myth that growth will eventually benefit all, even if inequality rises at the same time, has been shattered. And k as we now know, the growth itself was unsustainable.
A Global Movement Hungry for Change is Needed to Create the Political will Essential for Real Progress
It is not just the economic meltdown that provides an opportunity for change, A climate crisis looms, with some of the poorest nations on earth already feeling its impact through droughts, flooding and other extreme weather events.
The climbing levels of inequality in income and consumption, within and between so many countries, mark a social crisis, as huge and widening gaps between rich and poor weaken social relations and undermine democratic politics.
Historically, crisis have prompted massive social change. The fear, chaos and upheaval that accompany them can have a galvanising effect. Change can bring with it the opportunity to shape what is to come, giving birth to hope and sense of purpose.
The determine manner in which governments have recently pumped many billions into shoring up their economies shows clearly that when the scale of emergency is understood, politicians can find the will to act. There are many who, in the fact of the world's lack of progress on poverty, will scorn the idea that its eradication is possible. They would regard the idea that poverty could be ended within a reasonable time-frame as preposterous.
But the main obstacle to the eradication of poverty is political. A global movement hungry for change is needed to create the political will essential for real progress. Come with us. The opportunity for change may never be more real. We must seize the moment to end poverty once and for all.
July 09 - Christian Aid
Douglas Alexander, Secretary of State for International Development, today welcomed the launch of Christian Aid’s ‘Poverty Over’ drive which says that poverty can be ended in the foreseeable future if its structural causes are addressed.
‘I welcome this latest campaign by Christian Aid which stands in a fine tradition of activism and campaigning from an organisation for which I have the highest respect,’ he said.
‘The message is very simple – that we can defeat poverty but only if we work together. It is important to get that message across to the British public.’
Mr Alexander made his comments while looking at 3D pavement artist Max Lowry’s vision of ‘Poverty Over’, commissioned by Christian Aid, at Waterloo Station. The painting played on the fact that the word ‘Poverty’ includes the word ‘Over’.
Also in attendance were Bishop Joe Aldred, from the Church of God and Prophecy, one of Britain’s largest Pentecostal churches, and Christian Aid trustee Kumar Jacob.
’This time of economic crisis represents both a challenge and an opportunity for all of us,’ said Bishop Aldred, who is also Chair of the Council of Black-led Churches, and Secretary for Minority Ethnic Christian Affairs with Churches Together in England.
‘The temptation is to retrench and focus on ourselves. Christian Aid's vision of ‘Poverty Over’ offers a different way forward, highlighting this time of turbulence as a time of opportunity when we can seize the initiative and break the systems and structures that cause poverty. I am proud to commit to the cause of eradicating world poverty. Urgent action is required now.’
Mr Jacob, who is a member of the Ethics of Investment Committee of the Methodist Church, said: 'At this time of economic financial crisis it is tempting to hunker down and focus on ourselves.
‘Poverty Over challenges us to do the opposite, to look outwards and see this time of turbulence as an opportunity to change the systems that oppress people and create poverty. I'm here today, because I want to take up the ‘Poverty Over’ challenge that is represented by Christian Aid's work and its climate change, and tax campaigns '
Christian Aid launched ‘Poverty Over’ with a report which says the fight against poverty cannot be won unless its structural causes are first uprooted. These, it says, can be traced directly back to human and institutional indifference to people without power by those that have it to wield, and even, in some cases, policies intended to impoverish.
‘Poverty is political,‘ the report says. ‘Rather than being merely an unhappy fact of life, it is the result of structures and systems created by humans, and of people being effectively excluded from decision-making. As such, the solutions must be political too.’
The report explores some of the measures that must be taken to end poverty. They include a tough new international climate change agreement, greater transparency in finance systems, and an end to tax dodging by multinational companies and corporations.
‘The world is in crisis,’ said Christian Aid director Dr Daleep Mukarji. ‘It isn’t just financial. Climate change, the food security crisis and worsening levels of inequality are also undermining quality of life for many millions of people.
‘Historically, crises have prompted massive social change. The fear, chaos and upheaval that accompany them can have a galvanising effect. Change can bring with it the opportunity to shape what is to come, giving birth to hope and a sense of purpose. Now is the time for new thinking and new ideas.
‘That poverty still exists in the world today is morally scandalous. It’s not that we don’t know how to treat or cure many diseases, enable the hungry to be fed, educate children or create jobs.
‘It is simply that all too often we look the other way from what needs to be done. There is enough in the world today for everyone’s need, if greed and indifference don’t stand in the way.
‘Over the next year we plan to engage widely on this subject with partners, supporters, businesses and leading development thinkers to identify the new ways of thinking that can take us from global crisis to global solutions.
‘We want to build both the technical detail of the approach, and also the support necessary to make poverty eradication a reality. The utmost urgency is needed if the world is to seize this opportunity for change.’
The result of a You Gov poll released today by Christian Aid show that almost three quarters (72 per cent) of British men and women want to see poverty ended in their life time.
And more than half (55 per cent) believe the present economic climate must not be allowed to hinder efforts to help the world’s poor. A fifth (21 per cent) say that instead, even greater priority should be given to the fight against poverty.
Almost half (45 per cent) feel the UK government should be doing more to help, while around the same number (46 per cent) say a political party’s policies on ending poverty would influence their vote.
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