Poverty is the state of human beings who are poor. That is, they have little or no material means of surviving; little or no food, shelter, clothes, healthcare, education, and other physical means of living and improving one’s life. Some definitions of poverty are relative, rather than absolute.
Recent economic research says that financial aid has not been effective in reducing poverty. Close to 1.6 billion people – more than 25% of the world’s population – rely on forest resources for their livelihoods and most of them (1.2 billion) use trees on farms to generate food and cash. Moreover, many countries in the developing world draw on fuelwood to meet as much as 90% of energy requirements.
Despite the importance of these resources for the range of economic, environmental, social and cultural benefits they provide, data on such dimensions are either sketchy or not available. During an international forum which took place in 2001 to discuss the potential of forestry to reduce poverty, experts developed a four-point agenda for action which calls for:
- strengthening the rights of poor people, local capabilities and governance;
- reducing vulnerability of poor people;
- removing constraints to access profitable and dynamic opportunities in forestry;
- working in partnerships.
As a consequence, not only are poor children less likely to enrol in primary school, but those who do so are more likely to drop out. Low quality education reinforces this problem, as parents are less willing to bear those costs if they cannot see the benefits of education.With research showing low-income youth are much less likely to attend college than their higher income peers.
People felt that the causes of low income poverty included:
- low productivity in agriculture, fishing and livestock
- lack of jobs, and youth moving to the towns to find jobs
- limited availability of
- resources and jobs especially for women and the youth
- land, especially for women
- infrastructure eg ( roads, energy, communications)
People also gave some ideas about how to reduce non income poverty. These covered access to social services, survival and vulnerability, and social well being.We can work to reduce poverty by growing community food, health and education programs and providing Micro-credit schemes to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
People felt that some possible ways of reducing income poverty might include:
- improving the machinery and methods in agriculture
- improving the employment and income possibilities of the wealth creation sectors and making sure that local communities can share in the wealth that is created
- creating more effective safety nets to help vulnerable people
People were concerned about access to education, health services and water supply. Women and youth were particularly concerned about access to education and women and the elderly were concerned about access to health. Women were also concerned about access to safe water.
People thought that their living conditions were not as good as it might be because of:
- corruption and bureaucracy
- lack of social and political harmony
- limited opportunities to participate in development efforts
- not enough attention being given to citizen’s rights and responsibilities
- lack of good governance
- lack of political commitment to poverty reduction amongst the political leadership
Many stakeholders were worried about good governance. Issues which they mentioned included:
- poor relationships between government officials and the public
- complicated decision making processes
- unclear division of responsibilities between central and local government
- weak local government because of staffing and money problems
- weak separation of powers between the legislature, the executive and the judiciary
- the need for the government and private businesses to work together better
- tackle the problems of education, health, water, infrastructure and good governance
- support trade, tourism and agriculture as wealth creating areas
- emphasise water and electricity as priorities for government action
- make the work force more productive, especially in agriculture
Tourism an important force to reduce poverty and foster global solidarity
- Expand early childhood care and education
- Provide free and compulsory primary Education for All
- Promote learning and life skills for young people and adults
- Increase adult literacy by 50 percent
- Achieve gender parity by 2005, and gender equality by 2015
- Improve the quality of education