Many do not consider poverty alleviation an essential aspect of any company or business. But the truth is that world corporations and companies must look at ways to help alleviate worldwide poverty.
Poverty alleviation is essential for sustainable development. There are four primary reasons why this is important: poverty can cause people to circumvent sustainable development, a lack of education can exasperate the poverty situation, communities in poverty usually lack proper technological access, and finally, poverty can lead to overconsumption of resources, incredibly natural resources.
Table of Contents
- Poverty Causes People To Circumvent Sustainable Development
- Lack Of Education Can Lead To Unsustainable Practices
- People In Poverty Lack Access To Technology That Helps Sustainability
- Poverty Can Lead To Over Consumptions Of Resources And Hurt Sustainable Development
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Poverty Causes People To Circumvent Sustainable Development
People who live in poverty usually lack money and resources, so this can cause them to circumvent sustainable development. Many may think this does not matter, but in reality, it does matter, as there can be issues that happen years later due to this circumvention.
Years ago, I was in a part of North Vietnam known for its poverty issues. The area of Vietnam had a lot of deforestation issues that also caused problems with land erosion.
The mainly Hmong farmers who lived there had cleared land on the mountain, which caused land erosion and massive floods. These floods and land erosion drove more people deeper into poverty.
That is how poverty can cause people to do things that can hurt the environment for generations. And when it does, it can set up many other generations for poverty.
Lack Of Education Can Lead To Unsustainable Practices
One of the significant issues with poverty is education. In most cases, it is not that someone does not want to be educated, but where and how they live, they do not have access to education. Education can affect sustainability as these people are not educated in sustainable developmental practices.
Over 12% of the world’s population is illiterate, but this will be much higher in some parts of the world; the problem with literacy and education is if people are illiterate, then it will affect their ability to get a good job and to be able to improve their lives.
With our work with Project Sprouts, we have learned that the answer to education is not always straightforward. For many of the children, especially young girls that we have met and are not in school, we have found that it is usually a family issue; the parents need to work all day to try to support the family, so they need the older daughter to be home to tend to the younger children.
Other times the lack of education is simply about access. Many people live in parts of the world where the schools are too far for them to go to every day, or they do not have the funds to move to a major city to get the education they need, so the poverty cycle continues for generations due to a lack of education.
People In Poverty Lack Access To Technology That Helps Sustainability
Poverty not only causes people to find ways to circumvent sustainable practices that can affect future generations, but they usually lack access to technology that can help them be more sustainable.
Even if many people have access to the technology, they may not know how to use it properly. Or in other cases, well-meaning groups give them the technologies, but they have no proper plan to sustain the technology or use it.
For example, worldwide, well-meaning NGOs saw the need for safe water in many impoverished communities. They started to set up wells in these communities. But the truth is that in many instances, the water wells are no longer working; it is estimated that over 50,000 water wells worldwide are no longer working.
Poverty Can Lead To Over Consumptions Of Resources And Hurt Sustainable Development
Many communities in many parts of the world do not understand the full impact of selling their natural resources and how they can lead to environmental and other problems.
In 1988 in the village of Falealupa in Samoa, the villages there were pressured by a logging company to sell the rights to their rainforest so they could raise the money needed to build a new school for the village children. The village felt if they wanted their children to be educated, they had no choice but to sell the logging rights in their rainforest in return for their children’s education.
At the time, an Ethnobotanist from Brigham Young University named Paul Allen Cox heard about this and told the villages that he would raise funds to build the school if they promised not to destroy their rainforest. With the help of family and friends, he raised enough funds. He started a nonprofit called Seacology, whose focus is to help other villages worldwide save their rainforests and other natural resources.
The choice this village in Samoa had to make is not unique to many places where poverty is an issue. Many places may sell their precious natural resources to access clean water, education, or even the internet.
The problem with this is that this kind of development is not sustainable. Once those natural resources are gone, it will usually throw that part of the world into more intense poverty as now they have lost their most precious resources – their natural resources.
Poverty comes with some tough choices, tough choices for sustainable development; the answers to be able to solve this are not always easy. But if all companies worldwide can start to have a social conscience and begin to understand why poverty alleviation and sustainable development are crucial for everyone worldwide, it would help make the world more sustainable.
We can all choose to be part of the world’s solution and not the problem regarding poverty alleviation and sustainable development.
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