Theme: “Building Forward Together: Ending Persistent Poverty, Respecting all People and our Planet”.
By Constance Ndeleko
1.2 Billion Children Worldwide Are Living in Poverty. Children experience poverty due to lack of food, shelter, education, water or health services. Absence of these basic needs frequently results in scarcities that cannot easily be overcome later in life.
Unavailability of these basic social services can leave a child unable to fully enjoy their rights and reach their full potential. Too often, children living in poverty lack protection from abuse, and get little support to recover from harm. Children are not only experiencing more poverty than before, the poorest children are getting poorer as well.
A child born into a poor family today will take from 4 to 5 generations to reach the average national level of income. Globally, every region is set to experience an increase in child monetary poverty levels. However, the largest increases will be seen in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
October 17th presents an opportunity to acknowledge the effort and struggle of people living in poverty, a chance for them to make their concerns heard, and a moment to recognize that poor people are the first ones to fight against poverty.
The COVID-19 pandemic that gripped the world during the past year has resulted in over 3.7 million deaths and is reversing decades of progress in the fight against poverty and extreme poverty.
According to the World Bank report on “Projected poverty impacts of COVID-19,”between 71 to 100 million people are being pushed into poverty as a result of the crisis, with the majority of the new extreme poor being found in South Asian and Sub-Saharan countries where poverty rates are already high”. In 2021, this number is expected to rise to between 143 and 163 million.
These ‘new poor’ will join the ranks of the 1.3 billion people already living in multidimensional and persistent poverty who saw their pre-existing deprivations aggravated during the global pandemic.
As a matter of fact, the impact of COVID-19 has been the hardest on the people who – for generations – have lacked equal access to public goods and services, quality healthcare systems and strong social protection, making it harder to cope with any shocks.
A global network of people and organizations working to overcome poverty, conducted by the International Committee for October 17 made it clear that people living in extreme poverty do not want a return to the past nor to build back to what it was before. They do not want a return to the endemic structural disadvantages and inequalities. Instead, people living in poverty propose to build forward.
Building forward means transforming our relationship with nature, dismantling structures of discrimination that disadvantage people in poverty and building on the moral and legal framework of human rights that places human dignity at the heart of policy and action.
Building forward means not only that no one is left behind but that people living in poverty are actively encouraged and supported to be in the front, engaging in informed and meaningful participation in decision making processes that directly affect their lives.
In building forward, we need to let ourselves be enriched by the wealth of wisdom, energy and resourcefulness that people living in poverty can contribute to our communities, our societies and ultimately to our planet.
Save the Children