Life of poverty is like life in imprisonment. When you are in imprisonment you do not enjoy the freedom that those outside the jails enjoy. Imagine someone whose mother was convicted for a certain crime. The mother was convicted while she was still pregnant. Then later on she gave birth in the cells. From thereon the child lives in imprisonment. Such an enclosure. That is what poverty is to millions of people the world over. Probably the saying of one great philosopher holds water. The saying that,” men are borne free but everywhere they are in chains”. Maybe one of the chains would be poverty or the effects of poverty. Think of many people in the developing world where basic services such as clean water, electricity, proper clothing and accommodation are in scarcity. These are the people that Prahalad referred to as the bottom of the pyramid. The use of the word pyramid must not be taken for granted. The bottom of a pyramid is the widest of that structure or shape. And what Prahalad wanted to put across is the fact that the majority of the people in the world are the poor. According to his definition the bottom of the pyramid refers to the more than two and a half billion people who are in abject poverty. This discussion will look at the distribution of global wealth, how to eradicate poverty, how to find sustainable ecological solutions to ecological problems as well as how to make the private sector assist the poor and the vulnerable.
The current distribution of wealth shows amazing inequalities. The first thing to note is that the wealth, when we talk of the usable for of it, is more concentrated in the developed world. Generally the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita is far much higher in the developed world than in the developing world. The current figure shows that in most developing countries the average income which a person uses per day is US $2.50. But as a person who lives in one of the developed countries I would assure the rest of the world that the figure could be as pathetic as less as US $1.00 per day. The average of US$2.50 is in relation to another component of those that make the bottom of the pyramid. Wikipedia.org says, “In economic terms the BOP is the largest socio-economic group. This is 2, 5 billion people who live on less than $2.50 (US Dollars) per day.” However a number of people in the developed world also live below the datum poverty lines of their respective nations.
From the above discussion there is a question that emerges? The question is now how the poor could be saved. And who should assist them? There are several ways in which the poor can be assisted. Before answering these questions let’s identify some of the main problems which the poor face. These include: illiteracy, hunger, natural catastrophes, diseases, traumas, lack of basic facilities among others. The natural calamities that worsen the poor’s plight currently include; HIV/AIDS pandemic, floods, hurricanes, and earth quakes, among others. There are, however, more diseases other than HIV/AIDS. Some common disease includes cholera, malaria, tuberculosis, tetanus, measles and many others. There are also some new disease, such H1N1 Influenza, and Ebola that are affecting millions of people in developing countries. Some of the basic facilities the poor don’t usually access include, clean supply of water, clothing, decent accommodation electricity and medication. The cost of these is beyond the reach of many poor people. This is supported by the Indian case study, where at least half the population was illiterate; half the population had no clean water, no electricity, among other basic facilities.
Let’s look at the main global problems that have been noted by the United Nations. The choice of the United Nations has great significance as it is a global organisation that tries to bring peace, stability, equity, social justice and development through out the whole world. The assumption in choosing the UN here is that it has records of major global problems and developments. In one of its report quoted in Poverty Reduction and The World Bank: Progress in Operationalizing The WDR 2000/2001 (2001: 2) it says, “Attacking persistent poverty in low-and middle- income countries is the greatest challenge facing global development community as the world moves forward in 21st century” In passing this statement the united Nations knows the challenges ahead. The following problems were identified in the same report. These include:
“Over half a million women continue to die each year during pregnancy or child birth,
The poor people every where continue to suffer from unacceptably low social conditions and lack of access to services,
Malnutrition rates are systematically higher for the poor than the better off
The AIDS crisis is having a devastating impact on developing countries, especially in Africa
Life expectancy in the region (Africa) fell from 50 years in 1987 to 47 in 1999,
Child mortality rate increased from 155 per 1000 in 1990 to 161 in 1999 in Sub Sahara Africa.” Unfortunately the UN’s report on some of these issues is even outdated, the new figures recently reviewed, even paints a gloomier picture than this. For example, in Zimbabwe, with the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate of 25%, the latest report shows that the expected life expectancy has dropped down to 37 years. What a calamity, poverty has put humanity into! How could such dehumanizing conditions be overcome? The only answer lies in poverty reduction.
Before getting into how poverty could be reduced, let us look further at what exactly poverty is. Poverty is when a person, family or country fails to have its basic human needs. In the above quoted report (2001:2) the World Bank defines poverty as,”… income level below a socially acceptable minimum.” It adds that, “the condition of poverty has been interpreted conventionally as one of lack of access by poor household to assets necessary for a higher standard of income or welfare…education, financial…”
Poverty reduction is not an aspect that can be achieved by an individual, one company or a small group of people; it requires large conceited action from various stakeholders, who use various strategies or interventions based on the cultural, political and economical needs of a particular people or society. The following groups and agencies must be involved among others: the local community, rural institutions, the government, the private sector, local government, donor agencies and non-governmental organisation; using various strategies and mechanisms including changing the basic assumptions, innovation, partnerships, venture capital and micro-financing among others. The rest of this discussion will look at these aspects.
One key to poverty reduction is community involvement. The community is made of all the people in a geographical area. Usually a community is a group of people who share a lot in common. This may include the problems they have, their aspirations as well as shared resources and vision. To alleviate the problem of poverty in an area, the people in that area must be involved in finding ways to alleviate it. The people must be actively involved. One way to do that is to form community committees. In, Zimbabwe a group of about one thousand household make what is called a ward. All the community development projects are done at ward level. The ward has a ward committee that is headed by a councillor. The councillor liaises with the headman who is the traditional leader in that area. So any proposed projects and funding comes through the ward committee. The ward committee holds meetings with all the residents to identify immediate problems to be solved, proposed developmental projects, and how to source funding. Most non-governmental organisations bring developmental project funds through that basic community committee, whom they sit down with and discuss how to carry on with the projects. So the use of such participatory activities means that the community is involved. Sabburao (2004: XVI) says,” The broad conclusion… is that community driven interventions at the household level appear to be the most cost effective way.” This means the coming together of various stakeholders would assist in making the running of projects less expensive. For example if it is a farming community they can buy their inputs in bulk and they get discounts. They can have a cheaper transporter to carry their inputs and produce as may be compared to how expensive it could be for individuals to buy and transport.
Another essential aspect of community involvement is to find local solutions to their problems. If a consultant has to come all the way from New York to a local community in Zimbabwe to find a solution to a problem it would be both expensive and time-consuming. After all, the solutions may fail to work due to some cultural and political barriers which a foreign consultant might not know. For example if there is poor agricultural production in a certain area, it is the local people who should come together and search for solution, they may know the rivers around, they may know some traditional crops that are disease and drought resistant in their areas. That can not be known by some one who comes from a far away place. Tamsin (2006) says, “A participatory approach ensures the full involvement of all groups in the development process”. Again if the people are involved in the planning and implementation stage, they become emotionally involved. With emotional involvement it means that they are motivated to achieve what they set out to achieve. If the community comes together and succeed more than once, soon a culture of togetherness, hard work and success develops. These are the ingredients of future prosperity and ultimately the reduction of poverty.
There is one thing that will affect the people once they begin to experience success in what they do as a group. Ultimately their self esteem and self confident develops .People who have self esteem and self-confidence will definitely do much more than before and later achieves excellence. The concepts of self realisation, self-fulfilment and self actualisation, at that stage can be seen to be at work, and new personalities and a new community that is success- driven develops. From that point, on the road to poverty- eradication starts and extends. With success in a few areas, more success stories come as they introduce more projects. One projects lead to the next. In a certain community, in Zimbabwe the community introduced a garden project that ran successfully. From there, they introduced poultry project which in turn succeeded, they again introduced diary farming. Now they have developed into one of a successful venture in Zimbabwe. Poverty reduction in that area came about due to the income generation as well as employment creation. It is important to note that these developments were as a result of the community coming together and come up with some solutions. The innovation was a community based and run.
One essential facet that enhances development is innovation. McAdam and Moffett (2010:2) define innovation as, “the creation of any product, service or process which is new to a business.” It is important to note for it to be called an innovation it should have a positive and measurable impact on the community. From this definition we have to look at the types of innovation. The first one is a process innovation. It means there is a new way of doing an activity. For example in an account department of a company if the procedure for processing voucher papers was that the vouchers are written by a clerk, checked by a senior clerk, then passed on to the Accounting Technician and then to the assistant accounting. There can be change in the process or procedure. For example the completed voucher papers, completed by a junior clerk would be directed straight to the Accounting Technician; it means there have been a paradigm shift and a process innovation. Process innovation could be in the processing of farm products. At Makandi Estates, in Zimbabwe, where macadamia nuts are grown. They used to send the shelled nuts to their export market. However they had to change the process, whereby they had to dry the nuts and roast them in their own plant and they, now, send out as ready products for consumption. It means there was a change in the process.
The other form of innovation is called technological innovation. This means the introduction of new technology or technical way of doing things. This type of innovation usually takes place in manufacturing sectors. One example of innovation is the introduction of cable tractors in agricultural sector. At Chipinge Banana Company, harvested bananas used to be carried by tractors from the fields to the Pack shed. But the new system was introduced where overhead rail lines were introduced and cable tractors ferry bananas from the fields to the Packshed. This led to the improved quality of bananas, which have less bruises and it is faster and more efficient. This is an example of a technological improvement. It means more production comes about and more income is generated. If this was done as community project then there would be increased income generation and subsequent poverty reduction.
The other innovation could be product innovation. This is where a completely new product is introduced. The communities could come up with new products. It may not necessarily the introduction of a new product, but an improvement on an existing product. An innovation recently introduced in the area was the manufacturing of flour and animal food from bananas. This is an innovation, as bananas were not used for making flour in our country. Since there are a lot of bananas in the area, the people in the local community started making flour and animal feed from bananas. A lot of buyers are flocking the area in search of such products and the local community has an improved inflow of income which has impacted positively on their lives. Such a development at community level, which has been an initiative of the local people means their monthly per capita has increased, with regard to the involved community.
With respect to poverty reduction, another useful innovation could be in terms of marketing. This may deal with the introduction of cheap and more affordable products to the people. An example could be in terms of beer products in my country. Beer has been a very expensive product that used to consume a large amount of income from the residents .For example the normal price of a 250 ml of imported spirits is about US $3.00. This has been the price for a long time. However recently new imports of a brand of beer has been introduced that is coming in from the nearing Mozambique. The cost of the new spirits (250ml) is US $1.00. These new imports have a higher content of alcohol. Whereas individuals could consume beer worth $9.00 per day they now consume beer costing $3.00 per day. So a change in marketing strategy and introduction of new products can be an innovation. From the above example of beer it has shown that about $6.00 is now being saved from alcohol consumption per day per individual, just because of the new type of beer. That extra $6.00 per day per person can now be channelled to other usage. If there is an influx of products with that money saving impacts then poverty reduction could be achievable, over a longer period of time. Hang (2010) emphasise that the introduction of cheaper goods for the rural communities would assist in the community members having to spend their current income on more goods and services.
Another necessary innovation is the introduction of affordable units of products. It may be necessary to alter the packaging side, so that the consumers choose the quantity that is in line with the amount of money which she/he has. We have several such innovations in Zimbabwe. Traditionally the packaging of fertilizer used to be 50 kg packs. Until recently some fertilizer vendors started to repack the fertilizers. They would buy a 50 kg bag of fertilizer and repackage these into two kg packages. This became very viable. As a result the fertilizer manufactures realised the new developments. And now they have introduced new packs from 2kgs, to 5 kg, 10 kg and 50 kg. The consumers choose the amount they want. Previously if you needed 10 kg of fertilizer you could be forced to buy a 50 kg of fertilizer, after using the 10 kg you would put the rest in store, but you could have pumped out the money which you could be used to buy other products and services. At Chipinge Banana Company, we run a tuck-shop for the workers and we have realized that they buy the smallest units in most cases. The area is a farming community where the workers income is very low. Most employees earn US $30.00 per month. The best they could do is to buy the smallest unit around. This also applies to the local community around. Most of them are communal farmers and their incomes are very low.
The other necessary thing is to introduce a variety of brands of the same product in an area. Most low income earners are branding conscious. They do not get worried about the quality that they buy but the prices. Even if two products have a difference of ten cents in prices they would go for the cheapest. So it would assist the BOP consumers if variety of a product type is introduced.
The other important tool for fighting poverty is the use of micro-finance in poor communities to start income generating products.Wikipedia.com defines micro-finance as, “the provision of financial services to low income clients or solidarity lending groups including consumers and the self employed, who traditionally lack funds.”In simple terms that is where someone or a company wishes to give out small loans to would be investors. Those people or small enterprises that need funding borrow the funds to develop their small businesses. This is a noble idea and most people have gained from this facility. In Zimbabwe, there are lot of these micro-financing businesses, and they have assisted many people to start their own businesses. Many entrepreneurs have started small welding businesses, carpentry shops, tailoring shops, candle making business, vending business, and small scale agricultural operations. Many people who have been very poor at least have something to live on. The government has also come in to give soft loans to their employees. A lot of small to medium businesses have grown up in Zimbabwe since 1999. The re has been a huge growth in the informal sector due to such cash injection. There has been a lot of development in the communication sector. Many people who accessed such funds started phone shops, internet cafes, among other small businesses. Hossam and Tonya (2008) said that micro-finance has been a poverty alleviation mechanism. This is an acceptable observation, if we follow the current trends in many developing countries. Ford (2007) concurred with the above observation when he commented that although the sum disbursed to individuals may be small but that has managed to make a massive difference on small traders. The Zimbabwe economy for the past ten years depended heavily on the small scale investors and informal trading, including cross-boarder traders. In the past ten years most industries collapsed in Zimbabwe. The rate of unemployment rose sharply. It is currently unbelievable that the unemployment rate in the country is about 90%. Most people started self-employment projects. These are the ones that sustained the country for a long time. However whereas microfinance seems to be a noble and ideal instrument for poverty reduction it has its own problems , which if not addressed means the exploitation of the poor, which can even bring the conditions of these poor to even worse levels. Some of these problems according to Hossam and Tonya (2008) are, difficulty in repayment of loans, high interest rates, exploitation of women borrowers, unchanging levels of poverty and failure to cater effectively to target group. From the experience in Zimbabwe I can concur that the problems of high interest rates and failure to cater for a target group are serious ones.
Related to micro-financing are other financial services that can assist tremendously in poverty alleviation. There has been an increase in rural finance institutions in strategic alliances with small entrepreneurs, whether as individuals or as a group or as cooperatives. There has been the emergence and growth of credit unions, cooperative financial institutions, agricultural banks, postal financial services. Additional facilities that have assisted in poverty alleviation are payment facilities such as ATM, VISA cards, increased use of checks and smart cards. These are among the innovations that have revolutionised the way business is done in developing countries by ensuring that quick transaction is concluded. For example with a VISA card a person in Zimbabwe can make a quick transaction with some in the United States. It shows as well the impact of globalisation as a means to eradicating poverty.
The other trend that has been very vital in poverty alleviation has been the use of partnership. The poor, as individuals and particularly at community level have been able to forge partnerships as a means to harness funds and expertise that is essential for developmental drives. Gallardo et al (2006:2) says, ‘Strategic alliances comprise a new theme in rural finance” He cited the example of Guatemala where alliances were very helpful in poverty alleviation through partnerships. These were partnership to overcome obstacles and barriers. These alliances as well assisted in introducing new products, expansion of market coverage. Such developments were also significant in India and Ghana, according to Gallardo (2006). He further says (2006:2), “the alliances and partnerships enabled the rural finance institutions to access significant capital resources, manage transaction costs, and acquire technical and management skills, linking up with banking technology and infrastructure.” This partnership included engaging rural finance institutions, cooperative financial institutions, postal services, credit unions and rural banks. In Zimbabwe there has been a great development and introduction of rural banks. These rural banks have been in partnership with various groups and individuals involved in certain projects. For example Agriculture Bank of Zimbabwe has been working with small scale farmers in providing capital to buy farming equipment and inputs. The People’s Own Saving bank (POSB) has been loaning out, money to all government workers who want to start their businesses. Some Non –governmental organisations are also involved in starting partnership. For example the International Organisation for Migration has been assisting rural communities by sending their representatives to be trained in farming through out the country. Those who were trained have come back and started agricultural projects that have assisted in sustaining communities.
Poverty alleviation in a country could not be completely achieved without the involvement of the government. The government assists in several ways. One of the ways the government assists is in developing policies and guidelines on how, NGOs, government departments should operate in order to achieve sustainable development. The government acts as a coordinative and monitoring agency in the process of poverty alleviation. Cabbello (2008:421) says, “Policy change is presented as an ongoing process in which the choices available for agents are heavily influenced by contextual factors.” In this discussion he was referring to the policies that are created by the government. By government we also include the local government. Hong (2010) cited the examples of legislation that could be put in place by the government. He cited the statutory changes that were put in New York. These include; ‘Smart Growth and Flexible Zoning Techniques (FN7)’ ‘Codification of case law and modernization of Basic Enabling Statutes (FN8). These are example of laws where the local authorities have introduced to affect economic growth and the citizen’s welfare. Bach (2010:239) says, “State targeting has taken different forms, for example the creation of a legislative commission or issuance of reports”. According to Bach, in 2006 the State of Minnesota in USA created a commission to end poverty” and in 2006 Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in New York convened the commission for Economic Opportunity. The commission was composed of business and community leaders. The point here is to illustrate how government can be involved in poverty alleviation. The better policies and legislative frame work they make the better investment and poverty reduction initiatives are done. The government is also involved in infrastructure development. Among these is the construction of roads, airports, boarder posts, among others. The government can also appoint the personnel who monitor rural development and poverty eradication initiatives. This includes establishing ministries to deal with such issues. In Zimbabwe we have ministries such as, Ministry of Economic planning and Development, Ministry Of Commerce and Investment, Ministry of Child welfare and social services, Ministry of Empowerment as well as Ministry of Urban and rural planning and Development. These are the government agencies to assist in development, growth and poverty alleviation.
When we look at the government’s role in poverty alleviation, one main thing to emphasise on is on its political role. The government is probably the main actor in promoting peace and political stability in the country, which will subsequently affect investment. Without an unstable political system there is no development, there is no economic growth and poverty sets in. Political stability and its impact on development and on poverty reduction do not require much detailed written case studies. Probably not! What is necessary to look at is the current state of countries in political turmoil. Somalia, in Africa, probably is a country that has political instability for a long time, and the effect is that there is abject poverty. People are dying from malnutrition. There is no proper education system; the health system is almost now non-existent .In countries like Iraq, despite being naturally rich there is a lot of suffering and the state has been reduced to a begging state. People in Afghanistan, Pakistani and Democratic Republic of Congo are in a sorry state. The reason being political instability. In other words the governments, there, have failed to create political stability.
Poverty alleviation can also be dealt with through the involvement o fAid agencies and NGOs. Aid agencies and NGOS usually have their roots in developed countries. There are many aid agencies in Africa and Zimbabwe in particular. We have international organisations such as Red Cross society, World Vision, Care International, Plan International, OXFAM, among others. They have initiated and developed community projects such as toilet construction, building schools, building roads, starting projects in rural areas and child feeding programs. These NGOs have done various other projects. In Zimbabwe currently such organisations have assisted in paying salaries for government departments to ensure that there is sufficient delivery of public services such as education and health care. We also have the United Nations and its agencies such as UNICEM, UNICEF, ILO, and UNESCO among others. These have done a tremendous job in alleviating the suffering of the poor.
Then there is the role of the private sector in poverty alleviation. The private sector plays an influential role. Firstly the private sector is a major employer in any country. Thousands of people are employed and earn a monthly income. This assists them to have decent medication, educating their children and providing other basic necessities. What most private companies however fail to is paying their employees an amount that is above the poverty datum line. For example in Zimbabwe the current poverty datum line is $500.00, however most employees are paid between US $30 and $150.00. This means although the people are working they are not able to move above the poverty line. It also means individuals can not set aside a small amount of money for investment. The private sector is also the one that have micro-finance firms. Some private organisations also donate money towards community development projects. For example in the year 2010 Chipinge Banana company assisted in renovating schools and donated funds towards road construction. An estimated US $2000.00 has been set aside towards community development projects. A lot of companies are doing the same. The other ways in which some companies assist the community is through doing joint projects with the local communities, in business partnerships. Many agricultural companies in Zimbabwe have out grower’s projects. The out growers project is whereby the company assist the local communities to start some agricultural projects, similar to what the company does. For example Chipinge Banana Company has out grower’s schemes with local residents. What the companies does is to assist with technical expertise required in growing bananas, it also provides seeds, fertilizers and chemicals to the community. When the banana is ripe and ready for selling the out growers sell their produce to the company. The company deducts what it has expended towards the out growers ‘project. So out grower farmers are assisted. With five or more years the farmers will be able to farm such crops without the assistance of the company. In Zimbabwe there are a lot of out growers in citrus fruits, gum tree projects, coffee and tea growing as well as in sugar cane production, among others. So the private sector, the agricultural sector in particular gets in partnership with the local communities. Other partnerships are in the mobile phone business, where mobile phone operators have the money cards sold by vendors on commission. Vending commissions are also found in sale of stamps, newspapers and magazines, soft drinks and agricultural projects, such as fresh fruits. These are all ways in which the private sector can assist in poverty reduction.
Venture capital is another way which can be very important in poverty reduction. Wikipedia. Com says, “venture capital is financial capital provided to early stage, high potential, and growth start up companies.” Therefore it is essential in assisting very small companies to raise the required money to start businesses or even to increase viability and cash flow, if it is already a going concern. Usually venture firms operate as partnership. Venture companies own equities in the companies in which they invest. Wikipedia.com says,” venture capital firms are typically structured as partnerships, the general partner of which serve as the manager of the firm and will serve as an investment advisor. ” Venture funds usually comes from some companies that have excess funds, these are especially from pension funds and insurance firms. According to recent reports venture capital has assisted in many nations world-wide including the first world countries. The following statistics come from Wikipedia.com: In the United States Of America the venture capital for the third quarter of 2006 only was $6, 6 billion and 797 deals were made. The report was quoted from Money Tree Report Pricewaterhouse, coopers, data having provided by Thompson Financial. In the same report, in Europe in 2005 the venture capital exceeded 60 billion British pounds. Whereas Israel had a venture capital of $1.9 billion in 2008. These are just a few examples of how much venture capital is used. Using the principle of the multiplier effect it means the benefits reaped in these countries were tremendous. If a global trend of venture capital is maintained and even increased the poverty reduction goal stated in the United Nations Millennium plan will be met by the year 2020.
Another vital element that can assist in bringing growth and stability, and ultimately reducing poverty is the need to change basic assumptions on several issues, ranging from governance system, investment methods, social trends, economic outlook among others.Wikipedia.com defines an assumption as ,” a proposition that is taken for granted, as if it were true-based upon presupposition without preponderance of the facts.” Assumptions can be like blinkers, as they can make you fail to realise the reality and the surrounding facts. So people must develop an inquiry mind when faced with issues that they have done for a long time. Each aspect of business or aspect with great political, social or economic significance must be scrutinized to find as to how workable those long standing practices and view points are. Tamsin (2006:140) argues that,” the new approaches must be found that focus on listening to the diversity of needs that exist in any community” There an emergence of is a new approach based on the need and importance of having to listen to the generality of the people involved. Presently most governments and companies still hold on to a lot of bureaucracy. This means that to implement positive changes it takes a lot of time and effort. There must be a paradigm shift in terms of governance and participation of the majority. Sharma (2008: XV) says, “along with economic liberalisation, austerity programs, privatization and participatory governance, empowerment is now an accepted part of the development orthodoxy.” This statement emphasizes the need for shift in thoughts and assumption. The first issue is on participatory governance. To be very honest participatory governance is still a dream in many spheres of life. How many fledgling democracies are in the world, with political leaders not willing to involve people at the grassroots level just for a simple reason to hold on to power and to abuse the people and squander resources?. The other concept of empowerment, although is a new development is not easily accepted in organisations that range from corporate, to educational ,social institutions and even in the religious circle. The reason is that there are a few people who place themselves in aristocratic organisational or political system whose interests need to be protected at all cost, even at the expense of the majority. From a personal perspective this is the area where development is hampered. Until a time that people and organisations and nations accept to involve all the stakeholders at the fullest level can we expect meaningful development and further reduction in poverty. This participation must not be on a superficial level, it must be practical and with a lot of sincerity from all those involved. So there is need to have a shift in the way people do things. They need to run away from the traditional way to pragmatic approaches to deal with problems and new challenges. Bach (2010: 341) says,” Accompanying shifts in policy are radical shifts in governance.” With that, the vision for poverty reduction by 2020 may be realised in those areas where there is paradigm shifts in certain fundamental areas. To conclude at this matter let us quote the words of Bach (2010: 240), who says, “ through a process of deep democratic participation and continual experimentation and redesign…the governing enterprise will produce a set of policies that are more responsive to real needs of those in poverty.” Finally Cabelb (2008:3) says, “The main hypothesis that this article raises is that, implementing successful economic reform is not a technical process but a political process.”
Before we look at the final issue of globalisation let us deal with the issue of ecological sustainability. For the goal of real poverty reduction to be achieved there is need for sustainable development. Tom wells through his BlogSpot, the philosopherbeard.blospot.com says, “sustainability concerns the relationship between humans and their natural environment.” “Sustainability means not to harm.” Gro Brundtland’s influential report (1987) suggests that sustainability deals with the need to meet the current demands and yet not compromise the future generations’ needs. What we do today must not be detrimental to the human race tomorrow. If what we do today compromises what the world will be tomorrow in a negative way, it means it is not sustainable. We can not reduce poverty today to create even greater poverty tomorrow for our grand children. So in order to reduce poverty in a real sense we must be ecological friendly. This means that we must not damage the environment. About sustainable ecology ezineArticles.com says that there is need to have,” ecological production that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles, soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of farm in puts and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony. So our poverty reduction strategies must not be at the expense of environmental degradation. In our business activities we must evaluate the activities that we carry and find out if they are ecological friendly. Those activities that can damage the environment now or in the future must not be carried out. That is why, where there is need for huge developments that can affect the environment there is environmental assessments from experts. There is also the need too use renewable resources so that we can not deplete the non-renewable ones. Example of renewable resources is that of solar energy or wind energy being used as source of energy in industries or at home. This will mean that development will continue for a long time or for ever, without compromising future prospects.
The final issue to be discussed is the issue of globalisation and its impact on poverty reduction. Before expanding further it is important to note that most of all the other things that we have discussed in this paper are related to globalisation or has a link to it. All the issues discussed in here have a global focus and are a part of a global trend, hence are linked to globalisation. To show the global spectrum, were the examples that were cited from across the entire world- India, Bangladesh, the United States, Africa, and Europe and so on. Wikipedia.com defines globalisation as, “the process by which regional economies, societies and cultures have become integrated through a global network of communication, transportation…” The Wikipedia continues,” Globalisation is usually recognized on being driven by a combination of economic, technological, socio-cultural, political and biological factors”. Globalisation therefore hinges on the premise that the trends, being they economical, political, social or technological are now found through out the world. Something that is global has a potential to be found anywhere in the world, although it could not reached everywhere. Examples of such things include the internet, the cell phones, the existence of micro-financing, commercial banks, agricultural banks; internationalisation of the education system through e-learning, medical methods among others Globalisation is a great invention to fight poverty. The increasing influence of globalisation means that all inequalities will one day be overcome. Imagine how the inequalities in education system has been reduced through online education, the use of VISA cards means a person can buy medication anywhere in the world. If the medicine is bought in United States it can be in Zimbabwe within six days due to fast courier services such as DHL or FedEx. The use of internet and mobile phones means people anywhere in the world can easily communicate and facilitate business. International migration has also been made easy due to some agencies that now can process required documents. An example of how globalisation will assist in poverty reduction can be a case of Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe went through a period of economic melt down since 1999 up to date. Because of global access to information, infrastructure and institutions many people left Zimbabwe. Many are now working in America, Europe, and Australia and in other African Countries, mainly in South Africa. Those who work in United States send money home through the new inventions such as money grams, bank transfers and western union. What it means is that a lot of things could be bought from abroad, anywhere in the world and transported into Zimbabwe. Through that system a lot of people who work outside the country have invested in a lot of businesses and some have build a lot of infrastructures, particularly houses. So wealth is now being externalised from developed countries into the developing countries. With these few examples it can be verified that globalisation has a positive impact in poverty reduction. However it must be noted that globalisation has its own serious negative effects. These effects include, environmental degradation, spreading of diseases such as HIV/AIDs, H1N1 influenza, it can assist in causing global financial crisis, and it does bring about alienation, family disintegrations, moral decadence and cultural integration. Although there seems to be so many problems related to globalisation it can be concluded that globalisation is a necessary devil as it is vital for the global reduction of poverty.
The writer’s final perception is that globalisation is instrumental for poverty reduction. There is transfer of expertise through the globalisation of the education system. Wealth can be transferred from one country to the other. There is a new trend in international migration. The existence of NGOs and the arms of the United Nations mean that there is internationalisation of problem solving, innovation and standard of living. There is now the introduction of a global legislative framework for problem solving through The Hague International court. The World Bank is a serious instrument that is driving poverty reduction through the harmonisation of financial regulation, policies and procedures. The existence of international economic blocks furthers the globalisation agenda and poverty reduction. We have powerful economic blocks such as The European Union, ECOWAS, COMESA and SADC. Of all these SADC seems to be weakest of them all. Doing away with globalisation will no longer be an achievable goal. Globalisation is here to stay, because it was not created at a conference table or a political forum; it is a result of evolutionary state that can not only be linked to economics but to the social, political and technological developments, the world over.
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Tom wells. Department of Philosophy. (Erasmus University. Rotterdam.
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