Let me state an obvious fact: poverty is a huge problem, especially in the developing world. Although developed nations give foreign aid to countries in need, there are always strings attached. State actors don’t really donate aid–political, economic and geo-strategic interests are also motivators for delivering development assistance. Since the 1960s, the absolute wealth of developed countries has increased; however, the percentage of GNI allocated to foreign aid has substantially dropped. This is why it’s interesting to note that there are increasing number of non-profit organizations that work very hard to persuade our elected legislators and policymakers to implement change. Many NGOs recognize that eradicating poverty is in the best interest of western countries. One such organization is Make Poverty History.
This past weekend, Make Poverty History made strides again in making poverty a thing in the past. In hopes of achieving the Millennium Development Goals and eradicating poverty, millions of people around the world took part in Stand Up and Take Action. This campaign called upon all those who are interested in getting rid of poverty and achieving MDGs to organize events in a group to simply Stand Up.
In the midst of a global financial crisis, many leaders are too focused on appeasing domestic actors while the poor – the ones that did not contribute to the economic mess – feel the repercussions the most. In its fourth year, the campaign’s major focus was to emphasize the fact that time is limited, and decisive MDG-oriented policies and programmes must be implemented. The progress made in the last several years could simply unravel. A valid point that the campaigners made is that the financial crisis can’t be used as an excuse for overlooking MDG commitments. Moreover, Stand Up and Take Action understood that we all live in a global society and so, simply addressing domestic concerns during a time of insecurity is not the answer for a peaceful and prosperous world. To Stand Up and Take Action is one way to ask our leaders to stand with us to make poverty history. Is that really too much to ask for?
-Ahila Poologaindran is a student in her final year at McGill University, with a focus on International Development Studies. She has acted as a Community Connector for YCI, as well our 2008 summer intern.