Poverty Eradication: The Restart Button For Africa To Achieve Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs]

The new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) –an outlined universal agenda that is predicated on raw motives for transforming the world for human family– come with an objective to end extreme poverty, foremost on its list. This sounds so much infallible, most particularly in the case of the African people! It is the truth that the most notorious threat faced by Africa is poverty and hunger. Let it be therefore established that a full accomplishment of the new SDGs without actions to eliminate extreme poverty may be an uncharitable venture, just like the MDGs have been said to be inconclusively achieved. In order to understand the symbiotic relevance of the first goal to others, particularly in the African context, there’s the need to give a brief account of the meaning of poverty.

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Poverty therefore, according to the World Bank, is: hunger; lack of shelter; being sick and not being able to go to school; not knowing how to read; not being able to speak properly; not having a job; fear for the future; losing a child to illness brought about by unclean water; powerlessness; lack of representation and freedom.

The above apt and encompassing definition suggests that poverty is the bedrock of other human predicaments. It equally reveals how poverty encapsulates all other challenges confronting human existence on the planet earth and how it remains the main gateway for all sorts of health, educational, social and environmental, among other challenges. It is thus explicit that all other goals of the SDGs can and should simultaneously be pursued in furtherance of the first goal. On the strength of this argument, The Economist (a weekly news magazine owned by the Economist Group), had opined that all other Sustainable Development Goals are founded on achieving SDG number one.

Although the UN, in its MDGs 2015 Report, has called the erstwhile Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) the most successful anti-poverty movement in history. That the Poverty goal is appearing on the apex rank of the SDGs is an indication of partial failure or inconclusive success, nonetheless. According to the UN, the number of the global people living in extreme poverty has declined by more than half, falling from 1.9 billion in 1990 to 836 million in 2015. From this report, and sincere credence to other sources that have raised serious suspicions about its veracity, what is indisputable however, is that the percentage of the destitute people who are starving across the world is still alarming. It honestly poses a huge anxiety!

Where does Africa belong in this realm of extreme poverty and hunger?

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Four hundred and fourteen (414) million people out of the eight hundred and thirty six (836) million living on $1.25, or lesser, per day are from Africa. After Asia, the Sub-Sahara leads other part of Africa in making the second continent with the largest number of hungry people in the world. The shocking rate of mortality, literacy, insecurity and environmental crisis killing the African people is solely as a result of entrenched poverty in the region.

Seventy-five (75) percent of the world’s poorest countries are located in Africa, including Zimbabwe, Liberia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia, the Africa’s second largest country, which has also been ranked the poorest in the world. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations also estimated that 239 million people in sub-Saharan Africa were hungry in 2010. This is the highest percentage of any region in the world. Also, malaria deaths in Africa alone account for 90 percent of all malaria deaths, worldwide.

If poverty is truly worse than malaria and HIV/AIDS which are claimed to be the highest killer diseases and even worse than EBOLA’s rate of killing, it is truer that it cannot be compared to any disease in the history of mankind. If poverty, in the same vein, is the foundational cause of illiteracy, increasing insecurity, under-development, and impoverishment of ideas and ideals, then there’s no iota of doubt that this continent needs expedient action on achieving the first goal of the SDGs than any other one, or needs all others to work for its achievement, so to say.

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The falling percentage in the above analysis rekindles our hope. It may be argued that the institutional frameworks and mechanisms put in place by several domestic and international bodies to alleviate poverty and increase standard of living in these regions, are somewhat productive. Strides by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), World Food Programme (WFP), African Union (AU), African Development Bank Group (AFDB), OPEC Fund For International Development (OFID), and the impacts of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) didn’t only play substantive role but reinforces the hope for a poverty-free society.

For the umpteenth time, poverty is the source of our multifaceted problems as a continent. If defeated, there’s high chance for the return of our refugees abroad, accelerate an end to endemic diseases and high mortality rate in our communities, human capacity development would improve. There would equally be more abundant workforce to boost our economy with full exploitation of our resources, which is loosing cheaply to foreign hands; internal crime rate and unnecessary terrorism would end. Our internally displaced persons (IDP) would be taken back to their lovely homes, and our continent would stop begging for every-time rescue and help from her sisters. Consequently with more secured lives and intact welfare for the people of this continent, the dream of Africa becoming the power-holder of the world will be at the brink of actualization.

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Corruption, poor governance, impunity, nepotism, poor resource usage, wars and unending conflicts, poor and inconsistency of policies, all these and other factors are responsible for MDGs inconclusive success. For the sake of the SDGs uninterrupted realization, within the next fifteen (15) years of its life span, there must be renewed commitment by governments, immense contributions from institutions –public and private sectors, equitable distribution of resources, zero tolerance for corruption, proper monitoring of implementation rate and reinforcement of actions must be given constant priority.

It is imperative to end with a call that the timeframe of the SDGs is not ambitious enough. Instead of aiming for an end to poverty by 2030 (another 15 years to come), the dire need of eliminating hunger and under-nutrition is enough to quicken all plans and make things happen in a lesser period. Shenggen Fan and Paul Polman in alluding to the above postulation had opined in a report by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) that poverty alleviation should be achieved in 5 years less. (i.e. 2025).

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Article by:

Akorede Shakir



What a year for Europe! By Caroline Dollman

In 2015, Global Citizen launched in Europe, making the movement’s collective voice for change even louder on the global stage. From music events in Munich, to getting the European Commission to pledge half a billion euros to refugees, it’s safe to say we’ve seen some fantastic and life-changing things happen from the continent over the past 12 months.

We always knew that 2015 was going to be a massive year, with historic summits, elections, global treaties popping up left right and centre – but wow, I don’t think any of us realised quite how big we were talking. Here’s a quick recap of everything we have achieved together in Europe in 2015.

UK Aid: We liked it so we put a law on it

We kicked off the year in spectacular style by enshrining the amount of money the United Kingom will spend on overseas aid into law. You may remember that there was a proposal put forward – the “Private Members Bill” (catchy name huh?) which proposed the nation protect its commitment to spend 0.7% of our Gross National Income (GNI) on international aid.

Global citizens got together with all the other great campaigning organisations in the sector and we made sure that every MP we could reach would vote in its favour – and it worked! This means the UK aid budget is protected, so the government is able to focus on the quality of aid given, rather than having to battle for the amount spent. Hooray!

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$1bn pledged toward life saving vaccines

So once the UK aid budget was sorted, Global Citizen got straight to work in making sure the money was being spent in the right way. In January 2015, Global Citizen worked with our friends at Results UK, ONE and Save the Children to secure $1 billion USD from the UK government toward GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance. Why is this important? Well, in a nutshell, by ensuring that GAVI is adequately funded, they can continue their proven and important work to ensure every child is reached, no matter where they are born, with live-saving vaccines to stop preventable child deaths.

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Global Citizen gibt es jetzt auch in Deutschland!

Sorry, sometimes I just slip into German these days – one of our biggest and best successes this year was to launch Global Citizen in Germany, providing a platform for campaigning at the European level.

Our first big step was to set up a German version of the Global Citizen platform, so if you’re a German speaker (or know someone who is), tell them to check it out – schnell!

You may also remember that the G7 was hosted at Schloss Elmau in Germany this year. So with our new German wing, Global Citizen hosted our first event, United Against Poverty, which brought thousands of global citizens together on the Königsplatz in Munich to call on the G7 to take important steps toward ending extreme poverty. The most notable outcome was the G7 leaders committing to lift 500,000 people from hunger – now global citizens just need to make sure they follow up (and you’ve guessed it – that’s exactly what we’ll be doing in 2016)!

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We ate and drank on £1 a day for 5 days, raising £750,000 GBP to combat extreme poverty

Meanwhile, in the UK, over 6000 people took on the Live Below the Line challenge, raising a whopping quarter of a million pounds and changing the way we think about and act on poverty. Living on the equivalent of £1 GBP a day is a harsh reality for 1.2 billion people in the world today and is exactly why Global Citizen exists – to fight the systems and rules that allow this to happen.

Live Below the Line challenges groups and communities to eat and drink on £1 a day for 5 days, not to replicate what it’s like (because we could never, nor would we want to do that), but to bring the issue to the forefront, and to fundraise to for some of the best UK charities fighting poverty across the world.

The Live Below the Line campaign will be back in 2017 after an exciting make-over.You can register your interest here to be the first to know when we’re back.

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We got to grill Bill Gates

We were joined at Facebook HQ by the one and only Bill Gates to talk about how we can end extreme poverty and the role we all have to play as global citizens. Hosted by the lovely Greg James from Radio 1, we heard thought-provoking questions from global citizens in the room, celebrities via social media, and young people from Mexico, Kenya, India via video link (how’s that for modern technology?). We were delighted to hear Bill Gates conclude the event with these words: “Global Citizen is the idea that all humanity matters. What we want is people’s voices. Your voice is the most important thing”.

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The Global Citizen Festival: Europe stood up for refugees and girls’ education 

There were many stars on the stage of the Global Citizen Festival this year – Beyoncé, Michelle Obama, Coldplay, Ed Sheeran, Big Bird, Leo DiCaprio, Malala and loads more. They were joined by 60,000 people in New York’s Central Park, and watched by an online global audience of millions, who collectively took 2.7 million campaigning actions in order to secure the 27 commitments announced on stage. These commitments – from governments, institutions and businesses – are set to affect the lives of 92 million people.

You know who else was a star at the festival? EUROPE! The team successfully convinced the European Commission to commit 500 million euros to assist the facilitation of refugees, which was announced on our festival stage. What made this commitment so significant is that it’s in addition to the Commission’s existing Overseas Development Aid budget.

UK Secretary of State for International Development, Justine Greening was also a star of the show. She reaffirmed the UK’s commitment to women and girls across the world, saying we’ll ensure an additional 6.5 million are able to access an education over the next 5 years.

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The new Global Goals were launched

You (hopefully) have heard us talk A LOT about the Global Goals which were gavelled (yes, gavelled – look it up) into existence by the UN on 25 September 2015. These are 17 Global Goals which have the power to combat the three biggest issues of our time: poverty, inequality and climate change.

We believe that to ensure these Global Goals don’t become yet another government piece of paper, we need as many people as possible to know that they exist, so they can hold their government to account for the promises they’ve made.

So – in partnership with Project Everyone and the World Bank, we used our Global Citizen Festival stage to launch the Global Goals, broadcasting them into 160+ countries, reaching 3.2 billion people. We also convinced a dozen companies to communicate to their about 2 billion customers about the Global Goals – you might have been one of the billions of people who received a Global Goals text message…

This is just the first step, and we’ll need all our global citizens to now make sure these Global Goals are realized.

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We saved the planet

Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but we did manage to get a breakthrough agreement at the COP Summit in Paris in December 2015, which many considered to be our last chance to save the planet.

The day before world leaders met, 785,000 people took to the streets in cities across the world which is the single biggest demonstration against climate change that the world has ever seen. This agreement sets us on a good path to convert to the use of renewable energy – a critical decision if we’re to lower global warming below 2 degrees celsius. Take a read here about why the agreement is such a breakthrough.

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Thank You

We have only achieved this because of you. In order to influence policy, secure vital funding and government commitment, we need a movement of global citizens speaking out for change. Our collective voice is getting louder every year, meaning we’re able to influence decisions and make sure our governments, institutions and business leaders are making the right choices.

Our work isn’t done yet – now that we have the Global Goals, we’re going to need everyone to ensure they are realised. Thank you for being a global citizen in 2015 and we can’t wait to see what we’ll achieve together in the years to come.

This piece is originally posted by global citizen.org