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Reducing extreme poverty in the next thirty years
John Manieri (NC)

Poverty will continue to be a growing concern not only in America but worldwide as well. The world over, billions of people continue to go homeless, starve, or otherwise languish in extreme poverty. As populations of developing and underdeveloped nations continue to grow exponentially, the increased population bases will continue to compete over already limited resources of shelter, food and water. Just as there has been competition over resources since the dawn of civilization, this current trend in competition over limited resources worldwide will ensure a global society of population segments with adequate access to those resources and population segments with less than adequate access to the resources, or a global society with poverty. It is for these reasons that I believe poverty can never truly be eradicated in our society, though there is potential to reduce the number of people who live in extreme poverty worldwide in the next thirty years.

In quantitative terms, the World Bank defined “extreme poverty” in 2005 as living on less than US $1.25 a day and buying US goods. The period of 1981-2005 saw the global percentage of people living at or below the extreme poverty line fall from approximately 40% to approximately 20%, a decrease of almost 50%. This shows that recent campaigns to raise awareness in and reduce extreme poverty (such as the UN’s Millennium Development Goals that hope to halve the number of people who are living in extreme poverty by 2000-2015) are working. Though the data from the World Bank shows regional increases of millions of people living in extreme poverty, mainly in the Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia region, as well as that the percentage of people worldwide at risk of falling into poverty has increased steadily since 1981. The latter may be attributed to a global rise in food and energy prices while the extreme poverty line has remained the same. Nonetheless, it is clear that poverty reducing policies must be re-examined to increase their effectiveness in reducing poverty numbers in every region of the world. I believe that a realistic reduction in poverty can take place worldwide by increasing the effectiveness of policies that promote raising global levels of education, employment and income. Most of these ideas are resounded in the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals created in 2000, and I believe that a combination of these polices will help to reduce poverty levels across the world.

Implementing better polices to promote education can have a positive effect on reducing poverty levels worldwide. Being that my mother is an educator, and spending a great deal of time around elementary school settings myself, I can see that providing with proper access to education even at the earliest stages can make a strong positive difference in their future. I also believe that technology is a key component in providing children with proper education. Software or websites such as Khan Academy (which was recently featured on a segment of NBC Nightly News) are available free of charge to students who need additional instruction in educational subjects. In the particular case of Khan Academy, Sal Khan, who holds multiple degrees from MIT and one from Harvard, has created a free website of instructional videos of many math concepts. Khan Academy has attracted well-known donors with the likes of the Gates Foundation and Google contributing to Khan Academy’s cause and turning it into a global classroom of sorts. It is easy to imagine how online libraries of instructional videos in every educational subject could help young students develop basic educational foundations the world over. I believe it will take efforts such as these, with people willing to advance educational opportunities for children, and altruistic individuals or organizations willing to adopt policies that invest in educational opportunism, to increase educational attainment at a global level.

Employment and income levels must be increased to reduce poverty worldwide. This not only means raising the employment rate in countries, but also increasing the Per Capita Income of individuals who are living at the extreme poverty line or who are in risk of falling below it. More effective services to retrain unemployed or underemployed workers are needed to raise employment rates. These workers should be trained in areas of critical need, such as green or renewable industries in developed countries. Though workers at micro levels should be trained in areas that are in critical need in that community, region, or country. It would be more effective to have unemployed or underemployed workers in Sub-Saharan Africa trained in areas of irrigation or food production than wind turbine production or information technology. I believe governmental employment and income policies need to be customized at the micro level in order to effectively increase these levels. I also believe that governments should take the lead in bridging gaps in critical need employment areas by matching critical need jobs to workers and companies who specialize in the areas. Citing my professional experience with funding programs such as the NC Department of Commerce’s SBEA grant program, I’ve seen that local or state governments rarely take initiative to actively seek out small businesses that along with the community could benefit from added investment. Government initiative should be a high priority in implementing policies economic reinvestment. A combination of effective economic development policies and effective worker training policies can raise employment rates and individual income levels in America and worldwide, having a positive impact on reducing poverty.

While these strategies are by no means the final answer to reducing worldwide poverty levels, I believe that implementing effective policies that will promote increases of education, employment and income levels will have a strong positive impact on reducing the number of people who live in extreme poverty worldwide.

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Sifiso Ginindza

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