Annie Gill-Bloyer's presentation this past Monday at up/rooted was informative and challenging. As we talked about the reality of extreme poverty and what we can do about it, I was personally struck by the simplicity of the solutions. For a relatively tiny fraction of our federal budget we can save the lives of millions. Over 1 billion people live on less than $1 per day, and thousands die every day from the effects of poverty, hunger and disease. And these things are entirely preventable!
One of the key points that we discussed the other night was that the solutions to extreme poverty have to include both governmental and faith-based involvement. We all expressed our desire to see the church lead the way with giving and service and compassion for the poor. However, Annie also made the point that governments are too powerful of a tool to leave out of the equation - not to mention the fact that when it comes to things like debt relief and trade justice, there are certain structural/systemic things that have to be changed on the national and international level beyond what individuals and churches are able to do. As we learned, the Millenium Development Goals, which are the United Nations' blueprint for eliminating extreme poverty by 2015, include both issues of charity and justice - i.e. addressing both structural injustices and material needs. The eight Goals are:
|Target 1: Reduce by half the proportion of people living on less than a dollar a day|
|Target 2: Reduce by half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger|
|Target 3: Ensure that all boys and girls complete a full course of primary schooling|
|Target 4: Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education preferably by 2005, and at all levels by 2015|
Goal 4. Reduce child mortality
|Target 5: Reduce by two thirds the mortality rate among children under five|
Goal 5. Improve maternal health
|Target 6: Reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio|
|Target 7: Halt and begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS|
|Target 8: Halt and begin to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases|
|Target 9: Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes; reverse loss of environmental resources|
|Target 10: Reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water|
|Target 11: Achieve significant improvement in lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers, by 2020 |
Target 12. Develop further an open, rule-based, predictable, non-discriminatory trading and financial system Includes a commitment to good governance, development, and poverty reduction — both nationally and internationally
Target 13. Address the special needs of the least developed countries Includes: tariff and quota free access for least developed countries’ exports; enhanced programme of debt relief for HIPCs and cancellation of official bilateral debt; and more generous ODA for countries committed to poverty reduction
Target 14. Address the special needs of landlocked countries and small island developing States
Target 15. Deal comprehensively with the debt problems of developing countries through national and international measures in order to make debt sustainable in the long term.
Target 16: In cooperation with developing countries, develop and implement strategies for decent and productive work for youth.
Target 17: In cooperation with pharmaceutical companies, provide access to affordable essential drugs in developing countries
Target 18: In cooperation with the private sector, make available the benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications
To achieve these goals, every member of the United Nations (including the United States) pledged a certain portion of their national budget towards these projects. The ONE Campaign's purpose is simply to hold the United States accountable for actually doing what we said we would do, which is to devote an additional 1% of our federal budget towards these goals. (Right now less than 1/2 of one percent is given towards global poverty reduction.)
The good news is that even if you weren't at up/rooted this past Monday, you can still get involved simply by going to ONE.org and signing the petition to our government, as well as making your own personal contributions towards the goal of ending extreme poverty in our lifetimes. You can also obtain resources to inform others at your church or school about these issues at Bread for the World.