What can you buy for one dollar? Almost nothing. But for millions of people around the world, this one dollar remains more than their daily income. And although poverty has been eradicated from many parts of the globe, it still kills 25,000 men, women, and children every day.
The United Nations hopes to eradicate extreme poverty by 2015. This was the pledge made by all member states, including the United States, at the Millennium Summit in New York in 2000. The declaration encouraged the signatories to work in concert to create such conditions that would allow poor nations to finally break away with their past and join the family of prosperous countries.
"We pledge our unstinting support for these common objectives and our determination to achieve them," read the declaration. But that was eight years ago. Since then, most leaders who signed it have been long out of power and those who replaced them do not feel bound to the declaration`s goals. The rules of economics are simple: the financial crisis has dented many budgets and with no spare money, countries reduce their international aid.
The United States is a good example. It continues to lead the list of donors with almost $13 billion but after close scrutiny it turns out that Americans are not as generous as believed. The American foreign aid equals 0.1 percent of the country`s gross domestic product (GDP) while to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, each state should spend at least one percent of its GDP. Only small Denmark and the other Scandinavian countries are near that level.
What politicians call national interest, young people call greed. This is why from October 17 to October 19, the Global Call to Action Against Poverty campaign will be staging a series of public performances and conferences to remind world leaders about the Millennium Development Goals. The campaign hopes to galvanize over 67 million people - one percent of the globe`s population - who will tell their stories and encourage their peers from other countries to push for a change.
"It is incredible to see that in times of economic instability people are even more motivated to show their leaders that they want poverty eradication to remain at the top of the agenda," said the campaign`s co-chairman, Kumi Naidoo. "From the smallest villages to city streets, sports events and political lobbies, the sheer diversity of actions is staggering. We are showing the power of our growing movement in an unprecedented way this year," he added.
That such actions do help proves the example of Yogesh Jain from India. Last year, he managed to mobilize some 200,000 people in his district to protest against the deplorable state of the local healthcare service offered by authorities. His effort resonated across the country and soon the government carried out inspections that resulted in better equipment for local hospitals and schools. This year, Jain joins the global cause to eradicate poverty in India and all over the world.
The current financial crisis is hitting both rich and poor, but it is the latter who must carry the heaviest burden. The problem lies not only in less money spent on foreign aid by developed countries. It also lies in the character of world leaders that give promises with no intention of fulfilling them. If one man could improve his area`s hospitals and schools, then maybe almost 200 presidents and prime ministers who signed the Millennium Declaration could eradicate poverty?
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