From: Michael Breheny, Greenthorpe Mount, Leeds.
WE are told by some there is a growing gap between the rich world and the underdeveloped countries, and that ‘the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.’ A recent UN development report shows that far from that being the case, in fact world poverty is shrinking rapidly, and that is due to well targeted international and national aid and to trade.
The UN report uses a groundbreaking new measure of poverty, pioneered by Oxford University’s Poverty and Development initiative, which uses ten measures of poverty, instead of old methods of looking at income levels – such as those living on $1.25 a day or less – which ignores other deprivations in, for example, nutrition, health and sanitation.
The 10 measures are: nutrition, child mortality, years of schooling and attendance, cooking fuel, water, sanitation, electricity assets and a covered floor. Based on these new much more accurate measures of poverty, the UN report says: “The world is witnessing a epochal ‘global rebalancing’ with higher growth in at least 40 poor countries helping lift hundreds millions out of poverty and into a new ‘global middle class’. Never in history have the living conditions and prospects of so many people changed so dramatically and so fast.”
The UN report stated in this regard that poverty reduction drives in the developing world were exceeding all expectations The Oxford University study predicted that countries among the most impoverished in the world could see acute poverty eradicated within 20 years if they continue at present rates.
It identifies “star performer” nations such as Rwanda, Nepal and Bangladesh as places where deprivation could disappear within the lifetime of present generations. Close on their heels with reductions in poverty levels were Ghana, Tanzania, Cambodia and Bolivia. The UN report pointed to trade as a key factor which was improving conditions in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Rwanda (which has one of the fastest growing economies in the world) and Sierra Leone.
The report said that aid and development projects investing in schools, health clinics, housing, infrastructure and access to water were a factor in the poverty reduction, but also trade. Having said that, whilst well-targeted foreign aid is making an impact, to a degree, it is clearly trade and free enterprise, which is having the biggest impact in reducing poverty.
In this regard globalisation has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty in India and China.
Twenty years ago, before globalisation, millions of people in Beijing, China’s capital, used to ride round on bicycles, but now everyone rides round in cars, because of globalisation. Also in the 1950s. the four ‘Asian Tigers’ of Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore, were very poor, but now they are among the richest countries in the world, because of vigorous free enterprise policies of free trade and inward foreign investment.
This is in contrast to the poverty-stricken people of tyrannical Communist North Korea, which crushes free enterprise and whose people suffer from chronic food shortages and malnutrition.
From: Diane Porter, Regional Public Affairs Co-ordinator, Oxfam North of England .
PHILIP Davies MP is wrong to say that the Prime Minister’s decision to stick to aid commitments is a ‘foolish promise given the financial situation of the country’ (Trade, not aid, is way to help tackle poverty”, Yorkshire Post, June 24).
It is understandable that in the current economic climate, with cuts to many services in the UK, some will question funding being allocated to aid overseas.
But using our own economic crisis should not be a reason to cut off a lifeline that many millions of people in poor countries rely upon.
The truth is that aid does work.
Aid is currently providing food, medical supplies, shelter and safe drinking water to hundreds of thousands of people who are fleeing the conflict in Syria.
It is training more than three million teachers, to help ensure every child, wherever they are born, has the possibility to go to school. It is preventing people from going to bed hungry and saving the lives of children who have the HIV virus by giving them the medicines they need to stay alive.
Instead of a false debate between whether to assist people in poverty at home or overseas, the Government should be putting an end to tax dodging by companies and wealthy individuals.
If everyone paid their fair share then we would be able to meet our aid commitments and prevent further cuts to services and support at home.