Spotlight on… Goal 1: No Poverty
Eradicating poverty remains one of the biggest challenges facing humanity today and the primary focus of VSO’s work. But what does ‘no poverty’ really mean? We delve into Sustainable Development Goal 1...
We usually associate poverty with a lack of money – not being able to afford to put food on the table or having a roof over your head. And while poverty definitely includes not being able to meet basic needs including meals, clothing and shelter, it is also about so much more than that. Poverty can mean being denied a voice in the decisions that affect your life and the opportunities that enable you to reach your full potential. In its definition of poverty, the World Bank states, “Poverty has many faces, changing from place to place and across time, and has been described in many ways. Most often, poverty is a situation people want to escape”. What it means to live in poverty in Ireland varies with other countries in the world, both in the Global North and South.
Agriculture as part of the solution
Extreme poverty figures have halved since 2000, showing real progress, but more than 800 million people still live on less than $1.25 a day. The majority of these people are based in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia, with around three quarters living in rural communities reliant on agriculture as a source of income and food. Climate change, and the increase in natural disasters, further threatens the livelihoods of these people. Agriculture is not just of importance to these rural poor people. It can also produce food, tackle malnourishment and provide jobs for others in urban areas, making it a focal point in discussions around poverty.
Goal 1 targets
Goal 1 has been put in place to encourage governments, communities and individuals to take the necessary measures to eradicate extreme poverty in all its forms by 2030. Its targets include:
- Reduce at least by half the proportion of men, women and children living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions.
- Implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and achieve substantial coverage of the poor and vulnerable.
- Ensure all men and women have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership, control over land, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services.
- Build the resilience of the poor and reduce their exposure to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters.
This is a big task, no doubt, but further change is possible given the commitment by countries around the world.
What is VSO doing to fight poverty?
There are enough resources in the world that no one need be poor. Exclusion and poverty are the result of what people do and the decisions they make. At VSO, we believe that putting people at the heart of development is the only way to make a real difference in the world. On our programmes, people from all walks of life come together to generate insights, ideas and actions to tackle poverty and exclusion. VSO volunteers are usually on placement for at least a year, and in that time they experience first-hand the conditions local people live in. This enables them, and VSO, to better understand the complex stories of marginalisation behind poverty. In general, our work is focused on reaching the poorest people in society so that we “leave no one behind”. We help them to access basic services, like health and education, and have more secure livelihoods. Many projects are based in rural communities and we support individuals, households and communities reliant on agriculture to gain better access to markets, improve their bargaining power and learn how to process raw materials to increase incomes.
Simple steps you can take to support ‘No Poverty’
Ending poverty is an almost unimaginable goal, no doubt about it. But there are small things we can all do to make a real difference and contribute to a fairer world.
- Increase your awareness: It’s far too easy to shy away from the stark statistics that poverty presents us with or become desensitised to the atrocities that we are faced with in the media every day. Take time to read the news and keep up-to-date with what’s going on in the world. This will ensure you don’t detach yourself from poverty, but understand its many voices and representations, both here in Ireland and overseas. To make it easy, sign up for news app notifications or subscribe to a blog so the information comes to you.
- Spread the word: Educate and inform your friends and family about the causes you know and care about, and encourage them to do the same. Sharing knowledge and initiating conversations around poverty is the first step in taking action and supporting long-term change.
- Make a donation: Think of all the money you spend on unnecessary goods and, bearing that in mind, set up a regular donation to a cause you care about. Monthly donations are really important because they are usually the means by which charities are able to carry out the bulk of their work. Make sure the charity you choose is registered and you know what funds are being used for.
- Volunteer: VSO’s work wouldn’t be possible without the incredible volunteers who dedicate themselves to our programmes. Similarly at home, many charities rely on volunteers to deliver and extend the reach of their services. Look into how you can help a charity you care about. If you aren’t in a position to make a long-term commitment, consider helping out at a one-off event.
- Fundraise: Fundraising results in much-needed unrestricted funds for charities and increases awareness about what that charity does. Almost any event can become a great fundraiser with some careful planning. If you’re participating in a sporting event or fun run, consider setting up an online donation page with the likes of Altruism Ireland. You could also organise a one-off event, like a bake sale or pub quiz, and donate the proceeds to your poverty-fighting charity of choice.
Goal 1 may seem like an insurmountable challenge, but we’ve already made great strides the world over. Do your bit and that can become even greater. If you need a little more inspiration, then check out The Lazy Person’s Guide to Saving the World and stay tuned for more tips from us on our blog throughout the year.