WHAT IS POVERTY?

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT - ---Reprinted from the New Brunswick

Poverty is about not hav­ing enough money to meet ba­sic needs in­clud­ing food, cloth­ing and shel­ter. How­ever, poverty is more, much more than just not hav­ing enough money.

The World Bank Or­ga­ni­za­tion de­scribes poverty in this way: “Poverty is hunger. Poverty is lack of shel­ter. Poverty is be­ing sick and not be­ing able to see a doc­tor. Poverty is not hav­ing ac­cess to school and not know­ing how to read. Poverty is not hav­ing a job, is fear for the fu­ture, liv­ing one day at a time. Poverty has many faces, chang­ing from place to place and across time, and has been de­scribed in many ways. Most of­ten, poverty is a sit­u­a­tion peo­ple want to es­cape. So poverty is a call to ac­tion -- for the poor and the wealthy alike -- a call to change the world so that many more may have enough to eat, ad­e­quate shel­ter, ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion and health, pro­tec­tion from vi­o­lence, and a voice in what hap­pens in their com­mu­ni­ties.”

In ad­di­tion to a lack of money, poverty is about not be­ing able to par­tic­i­pate in recre­ational ac­tiv­i­ties; not be­ing able to send chil­dren on a day trip with their school­mates or to a birth­day party; not be­ing able to pay for med­i­ca­tions for an ill­ness. These are all costs of be­ing poor. Those peo­ple who are barely able to pay for food and shel­ter sim­ply can’t con­sider these other ex­penses. When peo­ple are ex­cluded within a so­ci­ety, when they are not well- ed­u­cated and when they have a higher in­ci­dence of ill­ness, there are neg­a­tive con­se­quences for so­ci­ety. We all pay the price for poverty. The in­creased cost on the health sys­tem, the jus­tice sys­tem and other sys­tems that pro­vide sup­port to those liv­ing in poverty has an im­pact on our econ­omy.

While much progress has been made in mea­sur­ing and an­a­lyz­ing poverty, the World Bank Or­ga­ni­za­tion is do­ing more work to iden­tify in­di­ca­tors for the other di­men­sions of poverty. This work in­cludes iden­ti­fy­ing so­cial in­di­ca­tors to track ed­u­ca­tion, health, ac­cess to ser­vices, vul­ner­a­bil­ity, and so­cial ex­clu­sion.

There is no one cause of poverty, and the re­sults of it are dif­fer­ent in ev­ery case. Poverty varies con­sid­er­ably depend­ing on the sit­u­a­tion. Feel­ing poor in Canada is dif­fer­ent from liv­ing in poverty in Rus­sia or Zim­babwe. The dif­fer­ences be­tween rich and poor within the borders of a coun­try can also be great.

De­spite the many def­i­ni­tions, one thing is cer­tain; poverty is a com­plex so­ci­etal is­sue. No mat­ter how poverty is de­fined, it can be agreed that it is an is­sue that re­quires ev­ery­one’s at­ten­tion. It is im­por­tant that all mem­bers of our so­ci­ety work to­gether to pro­vide the op­por­tu­ni­ties for all our mem­bers to reach their full po­ten­tial. It helps all of us to help one another.

The World Bank wants to set the spe­cific ob­jec­tive

of wip­ing out poverty in the world by the year 2030, Switzer­land’s Wirtschaft.com re­ports. The ques­tion is: For how many in Saint Lu­cia will help

come too late?

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