“The world is not on track to eradicate poverty by 2030.” So, began a recent backgrounder for an Inter-Agency Expert Group Meeting on the Third UN Decade for the Eradication of Poverty 2018-2030. According to this report, the progress made in the first two decades was not distributed evenly across and within countries. Gains slowed in the few years preceding 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically dislocated the global economy, derailing progress on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Global extreme poverty (<$1.90 USD per day) rose in 2020 adding an additional 119 million. By 2021 that number is expected to rise to 143 million.
The COVID-19 crisis has also exacerbated food insecurity and exposed and worsened inequalities within and among countries. Marginalized and disadvantaged populations are suffering the most. Women and youth have been particularly affected by job losses as the micro-, small and medium –sized enterprises they rely on as sources of employment and livelihoods have been shuttered by the pandemic. The pandemic makes the world’s pledge to leave no one behind and to reach those furthest behind first much more difficult to achieve. It has laid bare the immense challenges facing the world, ranging from pervasive structural inequalities to inadequate health infrastructure and the lack of universal basic social protection.
What does this mean in “real” lives? It means there is a mother who watches her sick child die for lack of food and medical care in sub Saharan Africa. A market place lacks customers for an entrepreneur who sells hand made goods to tourists, so her business cannot pay loans and her family suffers in Latin America. Children in rural areas enter workforces because schools are closed and there is no internet to connect them to virtual learning. Businesses are closing, rents are not paid. Many suffer hunger and preventable illnesses and families are forced into inadequate and insecure shelter.
As Vincentians in our communities we continue to alleviate the conditions of poverty and attempt to unravel the systemic causes. We offer food to the hungry, training for those who need technical skills. The “13 Houses” Campaign is more than 50% to its goal of changing the lives of 10,000 homeless people in five years. Our efforts. In our communities are good, positive and life affirming.
As Vincentians at the UN, we continue to amplify the voices of people who are suffering this poverty. This week I will be an “observer” at the Expert Group meeting on “Inclusive and resilient recovery from COVID-19 for sustainable livelihoods, well-being and dignity for all: eradicating poverty and hunger in all its forms and dimensions to achieve the 2030 Agenda.” We have the opportunity to learn from as well as to question some of the experts at these meetings. We will then begin to prepare our written statements to the Commission on Social Development (February 2022), the Commission on Women (March 2022) and identify opportunities to make oral statements and to meet with Member States. We are especially focused homelessness, which is an egregious form of poverty because of the essential nature of a secure home in human development while we recognize and work with others to bring in the importance of food, education and health care into the designs of National and Regional planning.
So, we ask you, our Vincentian colleagues, to continue to share the stories of people who are poor helping others to understand its structural underpinning, recognizing that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for Sustainable Development and a moral imperative. With less than ten years left to achieve the objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) we are called to get the world on track to achieving these objectives by 2030.
By Mary Ann Dantuono, Esq.
AIC NGO representative to the UN