This week, i am taking on yet another #livingonlessthanaeuro, basically trying to live on 5euros for the week
I made a vow to myself that each month i would take a week (5days) out to live on 5euros, and yes i understand that people living in the developing countries do not get the ”option” but i figure why not do my bit?
Why am i doing this?
The World Bank estimated in 1998 that 2.8 billion people in the world live on less than $2 a day, mostly in developing countries. Since then studies have shown that there are now less people below the $2 a day line, but this good news is only part of the story; the number of people living on less than $1 a day (the UN level of extreme poverty) has increased. Every year, the situation is getting worse for hundreds of millions of people.
With so many images of wars, famine and AIDS tearing across Africa, it is difficult to see why poverty is the biggest problem, wouldn’t it be better to fight these other issues first? While poverty may not seem like headline news, it is often the root of these problems, and many more. Most famines in Africa could be prevented if people could afford to buy food from other countries when their crops fail. Donating food grown in Europe and America to starving Africans can actually prolong dependence on aid, because in most cases famine is caused not by lack of food, but by millions of people being unable to afford to buy food being grown right next door. There is enough food grown in the world to feed everyone on the planet, but some people can afford a lot more than others. (In fact Lappé, Collins and Rosset (1998) calculate there is enough food grown in the world to make everyone obese!)
Conflict can also be partly blamed on poverty, when people are desperate for land and food they will fight for it, and different factions will group together to protect their own interests at the expense of others.
You’ve probably heard of the analogy of the fisherman – give a man a fish and he can eat for a day, but give him a fishing rod and he can feed himself for life. Well, it actually goes a bit beyond that. If you teach someone to actually make a fishing rod, he can not only feed himself, but make fishing rods to sell to other people, who can also feed themselves and our fisherman can make money to buy clothes and rice to go with his fish.
This is how poverty reduction needs to work – not with handouts, but solutions that help the whole economy and society. Importing fishing rods from developed countries doesn’t help as much as if all the materials and labor are sourced locally, then all kinds of related jobs are created – and the whole country is richer, and has the means to keep making more money. This means that the nation won’t need to keep relying on handouts and loans. Removing poverty in a sustainable and practical way like this will reduce suffering of millions of people as a long term solution, not a quick fix.
So why am i doing this again? Not only will i be helping others and learning about the plight of the world’s poor, taking part will teach me how to live on a budget – useful when money gets tight.
$2 a day is the global poverty line below which people are defined as living in poverty. The World Bank produces estimates of the number of people living in poverty, and in 2004 they estimated that in 2001 2.7 billion people were living on less than $2 a day. Of these, 1.1 billion people lived on less than $1 a day, the level of extreme poverty.
Will you do your bit today?
You can make a real difference by buying things that come from developing countries, especially if it is fair trade. Fair trade products are goods like coffee, chocolate, and bananas where more of your money goes to the farmers not the profits of big companies and importers.