As a new day dawn in Africa, Latin America and some parts of Asia, people throughout these continents wake up under very different circumstances. Some live in more comfortable homes with more than enough food to eat, at least a car to drive to work and drop kids to schools, imported entertainment gadgets and will in most cases have a higher degree of financial freedom. The other half, which constitutes the majority of the world’s 7.5 billion people, are by far less fortunate. Some live on an average of less than $1 per day with little, or just the required minimum, food for survival to feed on.
In Africa for instance, about 15 million people die every year because of preventable diseases such as malaria, typhoid, malnutrition, etc. Others will die simply because less than a half dollar worth inoculations are too expensive for them.
Majority of the poor from these three continents live in poorly constructed houses with each house being shared by extended family with an average of eight to ten members with every adults required to work for long hours to place food on the table. This might not always be possible.
A good number of children from these regions will not attend school. They will be forced into hard labour to help their parents in acquiring basic necessities. If they do, they do it irregularly and will hardly find any teacher in class. These schools will in most cases lack the basic necessities such as desks and books.
This half will not enjoy economic freedoms which include the ability to make informed choices, ability to appear in public without shame, freedom from servitude, access to quality basic education, access to reliable health clinics, be informed and be able to participate in dialogues and so on…….. They may not have a say or may not even know what they really want.
ARE WE DOING IT RIGHT?
In 1930, John Maynard Keynes, a world known economist wrote a book titled The Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren which was looking into the future of the world economic stability. Keynes suggested that the future of his grandchildren would only be made possible through investment in technology. He was more concerned that throughout history there was no really great change in the standards of living of the average man living in the civilized centre of the earth. Ups and downs, visitation of plagues, famine and war, golden intervals , but no progressive violent change.
It’s eighty seven years down the line and we are left with no option but to question our whole commitment and preparedness to ending global poverty in a world of plenty, we cannot afford not to do it.
We have either chosen to ignore it, run away from it and pretended that all is well when we well know that it isn’t, or we have altogether chosen to move forward and forget about the other half. What we have forgotten is that the destinies of the haves are intrisically linked to the fate of the haves-nothing-at-all.
Every financial year, huge budgets are set aside to fight terrorism and finance our military. Well, while I am not here to suggest otherwise, we should keep in mind that some of the world’s terrorism activities are contributed by the very same condition we are running from, absolute poverty. Aren’t most terrorism attacks done by individuals who have found succor and sanctuary in the most neglected parts of the world? There is rigor to the logic!
POSSIBILITIES FOR OUR TIME
While this column will not suggest what we should do because we all know it, we will continue looking at economic freedoms that the other half does not enjoy and give possible suggestion of what might happen, or has happened.
In so doing, we must think about the future of the other half and ending absolute poverty as our priority. We must think about improving the economic freedoms that majority of the world’s poor lack. We must think about thousands dying daily because they were too poor to survive. We must also think where we are going in a world of abundance and where technology determines who your neighbour is.
Remember as noted earlier in this column, the future of this world will not be solved in boardrooms where delegates coin acronyms with huge paper works towering on the desks. It is smart just to do it now.
…….to be continued.