Stamping out poverty in all its forms remains a herculean feat. While the number of people living in extreme poverty dropped by more than half between 1990 and 2015 – from 1.9 billion to 836 million, thanks in part to the Millenium Development Goals – too many are still struggling for the most basic human needs.
Globally, more than 800 million people are still living on less than US$1.25 a day; about ₦453.6 as of the time of writing, many lacking access to adequate food, clean drinking water and sanitation. The United Nations Development Programme statistics show that rapid economic growth in countries like China and India has lifted millions out of poverty, but progress has been uneven.
The statistics also point out that women are more likely to live in poverty than men due to unequal access to paid work, education and property.
Progress has also been limited in other regions, such as South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, which account for 80 percent of those living in extreme poverty. New threats brought on by climate change, conflict and food insecurity, mean even more work is needed to bring people out of poverty.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, poverty is more than the lack of income or resources. People live in poverty if they lack basic services such as healthcare, security, and education. They also experience hunger, social discrimination and exclusion from decision-making processes.
According to the World Poverty Clock, Nigeria is currently the poverty capital of the world with over 86 million of its citizens living in extreme poverty. This simply means that 44.2 percent of Nigeria’s population are living in poverty or surviving on less than a dollar a day.
It is worth noting that Nigeria overtook India as the country with the most extreme poor people in the world, with India having a population seven times larger than Nigeria’s.
From the National Accelerated Food Production Programme, Operation Feed the Nation, and Green Revolution Programme of the 70s to more recent poverty alleviation campaigns, several ineffective attempts by several governments of Nigeria has left the country with an uphill task of aligning with the objectives and desired outcome of the SDG goal number one by the year 2030.
The National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) is however considered as an improvement over the previous Nigerian government poverty-reduction programmes. According to a 2018 analysis, the program has been able to train 130,000 youths and engaged 216,000 people, though most of the beneficiaries were not poor.
Nigeria, India, DR Congo, Ethiopia and the likes can be within the reach of “No Poverty” through intense efforts by their governments, using a rural development approach, a basic needs approach and the targeting approach among others.
The basic needs approach has, as its main objective, the need to satisfy the essential requirements for the minimum standard of living. The approach is concerned with improving the income earning opportunities for the poor, the public services that reach the poor, the flow of goods and services to meet the needs of all members of households and the participation of the poor in the ways in which their needs are met.
The rural development approach derives from the perspective that the majority of the poor in developing countries live in the rural areas. The approach, therefore, emphasizes the need to focus development efforts on the sector.
Though there are variants to this approach, the most prominent is perhaps the integrated rural development variant. This variant recognises that poverty is multidimensional and, therefore, requires a multi-pronged approach.
The approach seeks to develop all sectors of the rural economy and link them up effectively. The components of the approach include infrastructure development, provision of social services and employment and income generating opportunities to the rural dwellers in general and the rural poor in particular.
The targeting approach requires the directing of poverty alleviation programmes to specific groups within the country. Components of the approach include microcredit, school meal, medical care, safety nets and public works programmes. The approach requires proper identification of the target groups for effective targeting.
The SDGs are a bold commitment to “finish what we started”, and end poverty in all forms and dimensions by 2030. This involves targeting the most vulnerable, increasing access to basic resources and services, and supporting communities affected by conflict and climate-related disasters.
There is an urgent need for governments to subscribe to the ideals of the SDGs and begin implementing poverty reduction policies.