Category Archives: poverty

How Poor Is Too Poor?

New Internationalist
The world is on track to meet the first of the Millennium Development Goals – to halve the number of people living below the poverty line by 2015. The trouble is that this line – set at a dollar a day – is a deeply flawed and unreliable measure of poverty. David Woodward explains why, and proposes a radical new rights-based measure.

More than a billion people live on less than $1.25 a day. Desmond Boylan / Reuters

How we define poverty is critically important. Poverty is a moral concept: ‘poor’ is something we consider that people should not be. So, by setting our poverty targets according to a particular poverty line, we are saying that it is quite acceptable for people to live at that level of income, just as long as they don’t fall below it.

Millennium Development Goal One defines poverty as having an income below the dollar-a-day line – although actually this is now $1.25 per person per day, at purchasing power parity (PPP), at 2005 prices. This means that it is an income which would buy the same as $1.25-a-day in the US in 2005. Continue reading How Poor Is Too Poor?

General Zuma and troops face defeat

Sunday Independent
What is the status of the South African state’s War on Poverty (WoP)? We don’t really know, because it is one of the most clandestine operations in SA history, with status reports kept confidential by a floundering army in rapid retreat from the front. Initially, the WoP appeared as a major national project. Early hubris characterised the wa r, as happens in most, with victory claimed even before then-president Thabo Mbeki officially launched it in his February 2008 State of the Nation speech. Five months earlier, Trevor Manuel bragged to Parliament that South Africans in poverty “dropped steadily from 52.1 percent in 1999 to 47 percent in 2004 and to 43.2 percent by March this year”. Continue reading General Zuma and troops face defeat

Inequality costs the earth

New Internationalist
If we really want to avert climate change, argues Bob Hughes, we’d better tackle inequality first.

Divided we fall: social inequality adversely affects the rich as well as the poor. © Mark Henley / PANOS

The modern global economy doesn’t just run on fossil fuels. It runs on inequality, which now stands indicted by a rapidly growing mountain of evidence, as the real driving force behind all the harms, and more, that have led to climate change. A world without inequality is not just desirable: it’s an urgent necessity. And it can be achieved. The market may or may not have an ‘invisible hand’ but it most definitely has an ‘invisible foot’ – inequality – which has been bearing down harder and harder on the world and its people in the frenzied pursuit of economic growth. Emissions will not reduce until that pressure is eased. Continue reading Inequality costs the earth

Thousands protest against World Cup spending

Mail and Guardian


Security guards leave Soccer City in Johannesburg on Tuesday. Stadium stewards went on strike for better wages. The strikes were part of a wider dispute between security staff at the World Cup stadiums and a private contractor. (Guillermo Arias, AP)

Thousands of South Africans staged a march on Wednesday to protest against lavish spending on the tournament and the sacking of security staff, inflicting a new embarrassment on organisers.

As the country marked the 34th anniversary of the Soweto uprising against apartheid rule, about 3 000 people marched in Durban to denounce Fifa and the government for their spending priorities when millions live in poverty.

“Get out Fifa mafia!” chanted the crowds in a Durban park, their ranks swelled by stewards who were involved in clashes with riot police on Monday after protests over their wages.

Monday’s protests triggered walkouts by other stewards, which have led South Africa’s police to take control at the World Cup stadiums in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg and Durban. Continue reading Thousands protest against World Cup spending

Petroleum, pollution and poverty in the Niger Delta

AFR 44/017/2009
Amnesty International
June 2009

2.1. Oil Spills

The Niger Delta has suffered for decades from oil spills, which occur both on land and offshore. Oil spills on land destroy crops and damage the quality and productivity of soil that communities use for farming. Oil in water damages fisheries and contaminates water that people use for drinking and other domestic purposes. There are a number of reasons why oil spills happen so frequently in the Niger Delta. Spills result from corrosion of oil pipes, poor maintenance of infrastructure, spills or leaks during processing at refineries, human error and as a consequence of deliberate vandalism or theft of oil. Continue reading Petroleum, pollution and poverty in the Niger Delta

Speculators must stop exploiting poor nations, says Vatican official

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican supports international efforts to prevent speculative investors from exploiting heavily indebted poor countries, said a top Vatican official. Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the church’s representative to U.N. organizations in Geneva, said so-called vulture funds are taking advantage of current international debt-relief measures. Continue reading Speculators must stop exploiting poor nations, says Vatican official

Poverty, Global Trade Justice, and the Roots of Terrorism

Yes Magazine
To combat terrorism, we should address the root causes of poverty, says former “economic hit man”
by John Perkins
The following is adapted from Hoodwinked: An Economic Hitman Reveals Why the World Financial Markets Imploded—and What We Need to Do to Remake Them. Random House, 2009:
Navy Seal snipers rescued an American cargo ship captain unharmed and killed three Somali pirates in a daring operation in the Indian Ocean on Sunday, ending a five-day standoff between United States naval forces and a small band of brigands in a covered orange lifeboat off the Horn of Africa. Continue reading Poverty, Global Trade Justice, and the Roots of Terrorism

Fair Trade Chocolate on Halloween!

afjnOn Halloween, chocolate is the tastiest of treats. Yet, in reality, our favorite candy is bitter sweet…
284,000 children toil in abusive labor conditions in West Africa’s cocoa field, many trafficked from neighboring countries
Cocoa companies pay prices so low that many cocoa farmers cannot meet their families’ basic needs
Will you help spread the word on the cocoa industry’s dark side while also supporting more sustainable alternatives? Participate in Global Exchange’s third annual Reverse Trick-or-Treating! Continue reading Fair Trade Chocolate on Halloween!

Motel Rooms Become Home for Some

New York Times

Johnny Garza, left, his wife Tamara Garza and their daughter Celine, 9. Monica Almeida/The New York Times Audio Slideshow
Johnny Garza, left, his wife Tamara Garza and their daughter Celine, 9. Monica Almeida/The New York Times Audio Slideshow

COSTA MESA, Calif. — Greg Hayworth, 44, graduated from Syracuse University and made a good living in his home state, California, from real estate and mortgage finance. Then that business crashed, and early last year the bank foreclosed on the house his family was renting, forcing their eviction.

Local officials estimate that 1,000 families who live in motels in Orange County, Calif., go uncounted in federal homeless data.
Continue reading Motel Rooms Become Home for Some