The poorest half of the worlds population receives only 3 percent of the global income. Poverty would not exist if this percentage was increased to 6 percent, according to Thomas Pogge.
- We have to help people
understand that it is not difficult to eradicate extreme poverty, says Thomas Pogge.
(Photo: Kim E. Andreassen)
Professor Asuncion St. Clair leads the Comparative Research Programme on Poverty (CROP) Crop is sponsored by the University of Bergen and the International Social Science Council (ISSC)
- We want CROP to become a leading international network and research programme on critical and alternative perspectives regarding problems connected with poverty issues, says St. Clair.
(Photo: Kim E. Andreassen)
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Facts/ World Poverty
*1.02 billion people are chronically undernourished
*884 million people do not have access to clean water
*2.5 billion lack basic sanitation
*2 billion have do not have access to basic medicines
*360 million have died from starvation and related diseases during the last 20 years.
Source: Sjur Holsen
Most politicians do not really try to eradicate poverty or unfair distribution; they just pretend to do so. For the most part, the official fight against poverty is in fact cosmetic, says Professor Thomas Pogge of Yale University.
Pogge is one of the worlds foremost researchers on poverty issues and is renowned for his books and lectures on poverty and global fairness. He participated in a panel debate at Bergen Resource Centre on Tuesday, together with members of CROPs scientific committee.
A deliberate touch-up
Pogge thinks that numbers and calculations concerning official poverty programmes are adjusted all the time, so that it looks as though targets are reached. As an example, he mentions the UNs intention to halve poverty within 2015.
- They keep up the pretence of working hard to get a result. The problem is that the numbers and targets are constantly changing, says Pogge.
He believes that this type of initiative against poverty is usually carried-out and presented intelligently and also done deliberately. They are not just innocent initiatives that have gone wrong
- The problem is that most politicians arent actually trying to reduce poverty. They are trying to look as though they are interested in reducing poverty, says Pogge.
Burying ones head in the sand
Pogge thinks that one of the reasons why politicians arent bothered is because the general public isnt interested in world poverty issues.
- Most people are like ostriches. They stick their heads in the sand when poverty issues are being discussed. People ignore poverty issues because they are afraid that their own prosperity might be affected if they have to contribute to combating global poverty, says Pogge.
Most people do not realise how easy it is to banish extreme poverty, and how little it would affect their own prosperity. The reality is that the poorest half of the worlds population receives only 3 percent of the global income, according to Pogge. Poverty would not exist if this percentage was increased to 6 percent.
-This means that the richest half of the world would have to reduce their share from 97 to 94 percent, something which would hardly be noticeable, says Pogge.
He says that media has an important role to play in informing the public about world poverty and how little is needed to eradicate it. The vicious circle has to be broken at some point. The public arent interested because the media doesnt cover issues concerning poverty. The media doesnt cover poverty issues because the public arent interested.
- The best way of breaking this circle is for the media to tell gripping stories about poverty issues. They can begin by delving deeper into subject matter and not just show headlines about earthquakes on Haiti and that people are poor, says Thomas Pogge.
He suggests that the media collect information from several disciplines, such as political science, economics and philosophy and thus gradually arouse the publics interest.