Poverty is laced with unfavourable social, economic, and environmental prevailing conditions and if not nipped in the bud, several negative social scenarios come to play.
Let us first note that people make their choices based on what makes sense to them
Looking at the ripple social effects of poverty in relation to equal opportunities and access to education and meaningful work, the following come to mind:
- Poverty comes with hunger and malnutrition – For an individual living under a dollar per day, it is obviously not possible to consume the required calories that make up a nutritious meal. So, all the food he/she can afford is barely enough to allow for going through the motions of living.
- Poor maternal nutrition, suboptimal infant and young child feeding practices, limited access to diverse nutritious food, and inadequate health services are major underlying causes of child undernutrition.
- Lack of good health and wellbeing – As an effect of not having access to adequate nutrition, lack of access to medical care, good housing and basic amenities, limited access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene which lead to poor health conditions, exposure to both communicable and non-communicable diseases etc
An excerpt from the book Poor Economics by Abhijit V. Banerjee & Esther Duflo – Every year, 9 million children die before their fifth birthday, A woman in sub-saharan Africa has a one in thirty chance of dying while giving birth, in the developed world, the chance is 5,600.
- Unemployment and low incomes – This creates an environment where children are unable to attend school and when they luckily do, they are actually not receiving any tangible learnings. These children must often also work to provide or augment income for their family.
- Poor Access to education – This which varies strongly across individuals’ incomes and gender. Among the 20% of the poorest in Nigeria, a child’s probability to be out of school is more than 70% with a greater number of this being the girl child. The vicious cycle of poverty means that lifelong barriers and troubles are passed on from one generation to the next.
- Growing Alienation, Radicalisation and Extremism – An example of this is the Boko Haram (Western Education is evil) insurgence which is as a result of lack of education, widening inequality gap and lack of meaningful work which has made those children who roam the streets grow up to become deviance to the society. This which has further caused a rise in illegal immigration and widening inequalities.
Things that can be done in my community to increase opportunities for poor people include
- A reform in the political system and a situation where civil society holds political society to account. This which comes with a transformation of social order, values, and methods of governing in an inclusive and participatory manner.
- Increased investment in healthcare is linked to economic growth, and consequently to reducing poverty.
- Strengthen the public education system and not just create policies that give all children access to good quality education leaving no one behind.
- Ensure children have access to at least one nutritious meal a day while in school. I.e. School Feeding Programme being run by the Nigerian Federal Government.
- A focus on local content optimization and production especially in the agricultural and technical field. This creates more job opportunities for unskilled labour.
- Enable access to affordable renewable energy and basic amenities a this fuels productivity.
- Financial Inclusion – Evidence suggests that when poor people even those in rural areas have better tools to manage their money, their income and consumption improve. Financial inclusion is a key enabler for reducing poverty and for achieving the rest of the UN SDGs including improved education, better health, food security, access to clean water in rural areas.