Poverty

Today is Blog Action Day. For those of you who don’t know Blog Action Day occurs every October 15th each year with a new global cause for bloggers to discuss and hopefully raise awareness about. This is something that I support because I think it helps to raise awareness in a way that would be impossible otherwise. With thousands of blogs, the message can be spread to groups who may not usually focus on that particular issue, or even know much about it.

This is the second this year and as you may have guessed the theme this year is Poverty. I don’t pretend to be an expert on poverty or the issues associated with it, however, I have made it a point to educate myself on this topic as best as I can over the years. So while I speak with no real authority on this subject my opinions are carefully constructed by what I’ve seen, read and been involved with. So please read my opinions then do your own research find out what experts are saying.

There are two things I wish to focus on more than anything else, Water and Education. (Both these fit in with the first two points on Millennium Promise’s list for global goals to achieve by 2015.)

Firstly water, it is essential that we get clean drinking water to those who do not have it. It is a fact that dirty water kills over 4,000 children a day*, yes you read that right. So it is vital that clean drinking water is made available for everybody. How much would this cost? I’ve read estimates as low as 9 billion dollars to estimates as high as 11.3 billion. Both figures may sound like a lot to some however when I first read this a few months ago I was astounded at how inexpensive it really is. For example, let’s take the current population of the United States (source) if every single person in the United States and only the United States donated $37 there would be enough money to eradicate the water shortage. With more wells being drilled, more clean water flowing to those who do not have it; there will be less disease, more water to grow food with, more water (of a lesser quality) for sanitation and more time for children to spend in school instead of walking an hour or two hours each way for the day’s water.

Education is what makes us tick. I once heard a representative of “One Laptop Per Child” say something to the effect of “education is the difference between developed and undeveloped”. I believe that to be true. The more we learn and higher the quality of our education the more likely we are to become members of a thriving society. With proper education, those who live in the shadow of poverty can create better lives for themselves. As well educated farmers growing food to feed themselves and for other or as valuable employees in growing cities. The best thing for a developing nation (assuming it already has the basic needs of food and water taken care of) is education.

I provided a simple solution to the complex problem of a water shortage, I know that. But think about it, think how little it would cost to fix something with such a great price. Both the water shortage and education are complex and multi-sided there is no easy fix, but there is one and  enough great minds with enough funding is a powerful combination. I am not an expert but I can raise awareness, research issues, research charities and donate to the ones I wish to support.

Thanks for reading,
Travis Fantina.

Some more facts on water and education from a 2006 UNICEF report: http://www.unicef.org/wes/files/Progress_for_Children_No._5_-_English.pdf

* http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=34927 this is the most recent article I found.
** http://www.religioustolerance.org/childeath.htm

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