Together versus poverty and hunger

PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero-Ballescas (The Freeman) - October 10, 2020 - 12:00am

Extreme poverty has worsened throughout our country and the rest of the world. More now live at $1.90, the new 2015 global poverty line. Using 2011 prices, however, the real value of $1.9 is the same as $1.25 in 2005

Before the pandemic, those in extreme poverty were estimated at 615 million for 2020. Now, World Bank estimates between 703 million and 729 million people are in extreme poverty!

“Before the pandemic, those living in extreme poverty tended to be rural, undereducated, young and working in agriculture. But the pandemic is pushing poverty upon people in congested urban areas, with higher levels of education, who work in industries such as informal services, construction and manufacturing and less likely to work in agriculture than those living in extreme poverty before COVID-19,” it said.

Before the pandemic, the United Nations called on the whole world to actively pursue 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including SDG#1, no poverty, which aimed, “by 2030, to eradicate extreme poverty everywhere, to reduce, at least by half, the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions.”

SDG#1 also aspired to “implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors, and by 2030 achieve substantial coverage of the poor and the vulnerable.”

Another target was “by 2030, ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance.”

SDG#1 intended “by 2030, to build the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and reduce their exposure and vulnerability to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters by (1.a) ensuring significant mobilization of resources from a variety of sources, including through enhanced development cooperation, in order to provide adequate and predictable means for developing countries, in particular least developed countries, to implement programs and policies to end poverty in all its dimensions; (1.b) creating sound policy frameworks at the national, regional and international levels, based on pro-poor and gender-sensitive development strategies, to support accelerated investment in poverty eradication actions with proportion of government recurrent and capital spending to sectors that disproportionately benefit women, the poor and vulnerable groups.”

The present pandemic urgently compels us all and the whole world to unite and do our share to achieve no poverty/no hunger - by 2030 or earlier!

Gratefully, we are witnessing many individual, collective, private and public initiatives to fight poverty and hunger.

Worth mentioning are the laudable family home gardening initiatives of the nursery and grade school students of St. Theresa’s College, thanks to the active commitment of STC’s Dr. Teresa Nilda G. Pinili (assistant directress), Ms. Lesly Comiso-Magalso (community involvement program coordinator), the faculty, families and partners --Regional Center of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development (RCE-Cebu), Grace Ferrero of Kids Life Foundation, and Dr. Edna Lee of Permaculture Society of the Philippines-- to promote SDGs, especially encouraging the young to fight hunger and poverty!

There is also Councilor Alvin Dizon’s relevant ordinance for institutionalizing urban poor gardening in the city which, hopefully, will be implemented soonest with full support from the Cebu City Council!

Significant anti-poverty/hunger related goals of this ordinance include 1.) creating greener spaces in communities to help curb the increasing air pollution problem affecting people’s physical and mental well-being, and, 2.) strongly promoting and institutionalizing urban food gardening not only for short-term liveability but for long-term sustainable supply of healthier food for the people and food stability/security within the city especially during pandemics and disasters.

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