As you know, my civic issues blog this semester has focused on poverty. Whether local or global, poverty is a major problem that touches so many lives and in such a personal, heartbreaking way. Up until this point, my civic issues blog has focuses on the causes, types, and ramifications of poverty. Of course there is still so much to learn about poverty before we can really dive in and immerse ourselves in the issue. In the meantime, however, I thought that I would round out my civic issues blog with this: what can we do to make a difference? With such a big topic, it seems like you and I are so far removed from the issue to actually do anything about it. Not true. By getting informed and developing ideas to help combat poverty, you are truly carrying out your civic duty; to the nation and to the world.
As I discussed in my first civic issues blog, poverty comes in two forms: absolute and relative poverty. To remind you, absolute poverty is widespread and affects a large group or sect of a particular population. Relative poverty, on the other hand is when a small portion of the population is living in much poorer conditions than the majority of the population. Because of these differences, absolute and relative poverty must be handled in separate ways. Lets discuss some of the major areas of reform that are needed in each:
Absolute Poverty: Improving clean water as well as easy access to clean water. Making sure that foul water is limited to reduce the spread of disease. Improving the supply of safe, easy, affordable healthcare especially for the vulnerable sections of the population, the elderly and the children. Improving the training and techniques of farmers to improve resource management and to increase crop yield.
Relative Poverty: Improving the quality of education especially in downbeat areas and providing incentives for education. Improving the opportunities for single mothers and giving incentives to only have children when they feel that they can ensure the children’s wellbeing. Finally, improving work incentives for the poor so that they can not only take care of themselves, but their families as well.
As you can see, absolute and relative poverty involve looking at poverty from two entirely new perspectives. There is no easy fix for either, and both involve working with a tackling a whole host of problems. If you are interested in making a difference in solving world poverty, make sure to get informed on these issues beyond what I’ve told you. The number one reason why we are not seeing any change occur when it comes to poverty is because people are so misinformed. There are even people who believe that poverty is a necessary, or even a good thing! These are the kind of mindsets that are going to hold us back in the future instead of moving forward.
So what exactly can you do?
Most people get intimidated when they think of poverty. It has been around forever and so it has a deep, twisted history. People see a problem that appears impossible to untangle and so they just give up. It takes one to make a difference, even if it is small. Remember that and here are some things that you can do to help combat poverty. The first, is make a personal effort to help homeless families. Even if you don’t directly interact with them, make an effort to help improve their lives. The second is to support an anti-poverty organization that helps promote economic development and self-sufficiency such as Unicef, Give Directly, or Mercy Corps. Next, make sure to support laws and bills that help alleviate poverty by paying attention to the laws that are being passed in Congress as well as letting your representatives and senators what is important to you. Finally, donate. It doesn’t necessarily have to be money. Donating food, toys, and old clothing can really help to make a difference in someone’s life.
You have to start small while thinking big. While poverty is not going to go away overnight, if we educate ourselves, get involved, and help out where we can, we can have a big impact on combating local and global poverty.