“Wherever men and women are condemned to live in extreme poverty, human rights are violated. To come together to ensure that these rights be respected is our solemn duty.” Joseph Wresinski, the founder of ADT Fourth World
Today is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Nearly half of the world’s population (that’s three billion people) live on less than $2.5 a day. 1.1 billion people have inadequate access to water and 2.6 billion people live without basic sanitation. Approximately 790 million people in the developing world are still chronically undernourished, almost two-thirds of them residing in Asia and the Pacific. 18 million deaths a year, one third of the world’s deaths, are caused by poverty.
All the more shockingly, an average cow in the European Union receives more than £1.40 a day in subsidies, which is more than the amount that half the world’s population survives on.
This year’s theme for International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is “Ending the Violence of Extreme Poverty: Promoting Empowerment and Building Peace.” Just like the quote above by Joseph Wresinski, this theme recognizes poverty as a human rights violation, rather than simply as a low income level.
Amnesty International writes, “Everyone, everywhere has the right to live with dignity. That means that no-one should be denied their rights to adequate housing, food, water and sanitation, and to education and health care. “
Widney Brown, Amnesty International’s Director of International Law and Policy, adds that, “All too often, living in poverty excludes people from making decisions about the things that affect them. Other people decide on their behalf, ignoring their needs, beliefs and opinions. Not only does this result in ill-informed decisions, but it also robs people of their right to participate, and to learn from the process, in order to be change makers and retain control over their own lives”
So, let us use this day to recognize the rights and dignity of people living in poverty. Like Michael Nyangi, a grassroots activist from Kibera, Nairobi, says: “Change cannot be realised if people cannot be given time to express themselves and talk of the problems they are facing.”