Post 1 – Defining Before Redefining Poverty

IDP in UNAMID base in Khor Abeche

In this week’s readings and talks we were introduced to ideas on how society currently views poverty and how that language has changed and is geared to change over time. Jacqueline Novogratz, an advocate for the eradication of poverty, puts it that poverty is defined in a way today that is actually a detriment to long-term relief efforts; poverty is considered in the main-stream as something that can be resolved with handouts or individual funding. But it was realized in Novogratz’s talks that poverty is a system and not a status, and cannot be dealt solely with means of nationally allocated funding. While funding is important, it is not the only part of poverty which needs to be examined; a mistake made by some current efforts around the world. Poverty in today’s age has been emphasized as resolvable by a combination of means including funding, which also call to social restructuring, governmental attention and concerted effort, and an added emphasis on providing self-sustainability to countries and peoples involved.

Providing structure that creates the ability for individuals in countries of poverty to be self-sustaining in their daily lives is highly advocated by Novogratz and is outlined as a main goal in the SDG’s. That is wherein the community and social structure of the country is capable of producing economic wellbeing, safe and healthy working environments, as well as individuals who are both involved in the working and entrepreneurial class as well as confident that they can make a difference in their situation, their community, and the world around them. A great barrier to realizing this goal however is the level of coordination required for such an endeavor. Cooperation from governments worldwide is necessary for such a grand impact of social-sustainability to find its way not only to countries of intense poverty, but also countries that are just teetering on the brink of poverty as well.

The help of entire governmental bodies, with their great abilities to plan and budget necessities, creates enormous strides in battling poverty. But to shift the governmental focus to the world in poverty, there needs to be an incentive to change perspectives on how poverty is currently affecting the world and its peoples on a much grander scale. However, the incentive itself is the creation of new economic stabilities in these developing countries, outlined in the SDG’s, as these would provide the world economy with a strengthened work force in more countries which can lead to more players in the macroeconomic perspective.

Who are the primary sources who will ultimately be deemed as responsible for focusing the global perspective on poverty, or for providing funding for the goals of the SDG’s? Those are the United States and the World Bank, but in recent years they have been criticized by John McArthur, a prominent economist, for being hesitant in the past about endorsing the goals of the SDG’s. Currently, both bodies do in some way recognize the SDG’s as a valid reference in battling poverty, however there are miles more to go in terms of full support and endorsement of these goals.

Achieving full support of the United States Government, the World Bank, as well as many other key players is in reality a crucial necessity in achieving the SDG’s, and it is here where neo-liberalism will come into play. The call for government spending cuts, if the call is successfully heeded, will essentially make room for opportunity spending within any governmental or financial budget. These excess funds can be allocated elsewhere, hopefully somewhere in the sector of assisting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and aiding countries in need.

As always though, aid cannot just be pulled from thin air; it must be provided, but even still oftentimes aid is hard to come by. Aid to be given is obviously there, but there is at times no direction toward which to allocate it. It was outlined in the readings however that there are many ways and suggestions of how aid, or support in general, can be distributed and sustained. First, it was disclosed that though aid may help for short term items like clean water resources or mosquito netting for countries in need of these, aid is not well-suited for creating an environment of sustaining and developing upon these resources given. It is suggested that there needs to be a healthy income of aid, but that aid is not a standalone mode for poverty deconstruction. It was emphasized that the EU should play not only a large economic role in developing countries, but also a political role in allocating funding and attention to different poor countries across the world. The EU should also assist in the creation of a multilateral trading system for these countries to rely on as protection in the event of economic implosion, which has been a common trend in developing countries. Finally, however, it is suggested that there must be a political focus by the EU, or the key players, or the supporters in general to minimize social conflicts and corruptness in these countries in poverty to provide a platform for development and growth, to make these countries self-sustaining.

Self-sustenance was the main message of Novogratz’s talks for this week, as well as the main goal of the SDG’s. In everything that is done by outside help, be it governmental or otherwise, if the outcome is not the country or countries’ self-propelled development, then there is much more work to be done in the battle on poverty and its hold on the growth of nations.

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