DUBLIN, Ohio — Global poverty has been a key issue in the world for centuries, making it vital to understand what exactly it is. Many misconceptions surround the topic of global poverty, posing an obstacle in the path of ending it. For this reason, it is important to address and dispel common misconceptions about global poverty.
A common misconception is that if the U.S. focuses on international poverty, there will be fewer resources to address domestic poverty. The root of this misconception is the idea that the funding for global poverty and domestic poverty come from the same source. This is untrue as the budget for foreign aid is completely separate from domestic aid, as confirmed by the founder of The Borgen Project, Clint Borgen, in an article published in the HuffPost. Therefore, the idea that the issues are two competing causes is inaccurate. Aside from the moral reasons for helping those in need, foreign aid also helps boost the United States’ economy.
As the U.S. continues to form part of a global economy, it relies on consumers from all around the world, including developing countries. If the people in these countries cannot afford basic necessities, then they definitely cannot afford more expensive luxury items that the U.S. market offers. Thus, the U.S. is losing valuable business. Overall, aiding the economic growth of developing nations will pay off in the long run as these countries become lucrative consumers. Along with this, helping countries in their time of need creates allies, strengthening the national safety and global status of the United States.
Global Poverty is Increasing
Many it believe is impossible to completely eradicate global poverty or that poverty is getting worse. Despite popular belief, before the COVID-19 pandemic, poverty rates were actually decreasing greatly. In fact, Business Insider research explains that extreme poverty has reduced, affecting 70% of developing countries in 1981 in comparison to 36% in 2011. According to World Vision, in 2019, extreme poverty only affected 9.2% of the world. This is a dramatic decrease that signifies a hopeful outlook for the future. In the past two decades, the number of people identified as chronically undernourished was cut in half. When considering these statistics, it appears very possible to eradicate global poverty completely.
According to the U.N. Food and Agricultural Association, the world can completely end poverty with as little as $30 billion a year. This may seem like a large number until it is compared to other aspects of the U.S. budget; the annual military budget alone was about $693 billion in 2011. Even if the U.S. ends world hunger, it will still boast the most expensive military in the world. The U.N.’s research projects that if goals and funding are met, extreme global poverty can be completely eradicated in only nine years. Additionally, in the past years, foreign aid and volunteer work have contributed to much progress in the fight against poverty: the eradication of smallpox, the eradication of polio (with the exception of two countries), a 50% drop in casualties from malaria and a significant drop in HIV deaths.
The US Already Does Enough
Not only does this misconception stem from the idea that it is not the United States’ responsibility to eradicate poverty but it also works under the assumption that the United States is utilizing more resources for foreign poverty than it actually is. According to Oxfam International, less than 1% of the U.S. national budget is allocated to global poverty. Many polls show that U.S. citizens believe that a much larger percentage of the budget goes toward foreign aid: average responses usually vary from 10% to about 25%.
Overall, most citizens find it astonishing that such a minuscule amount of funds go toward reducing poverty throughout the world. Despite the status of the United States as a global superpower, its contributions are only a fraction in comparison to the donations of other countries (based on gross natural product). As early as 1970, wealthy nations agreed to donate 0.7% of their GNP to developmental assistance. The HuffPost highlighted a study showing that Norway, Sweden, Luxembourg, Denmark and the U.K. all donate beyond that percentage. The U.S. is much lower than average at less than 0.2% of its GNP.
One Person Cannot Make an Impact
Many people believe that one person cannot possibly change global poverty. While it is true that one person alone cannot raise the annual $30 billion necessary to eradicate global poverty, any individual can mobilize, fundraise, volunteer, advocate and more, Along with monetary donations and volunteer work, individuals can lobby government officials and become educated on laws that may help influence the acquisition of more foreign aid.
Calling congressional leaders also makes a significant difference as it can be the factor that causes them to cosponsor a vital bill. A notable organization that makes a large impact with a seemingly small donation is No Hungry Children, an organization focused on feeding impoverished children in Kenya. On its website, the organization writes that $1 is enough to feed one child twice a day for an entire week, whereas it would not do much in the United States. While it seems like an insignificant amount, even the smallest donations can save lives.
These misconceptions create an air of confusion around global poverty that can be easily dispelled through research and facts. A lack of knowledge about this subject is one of the obstacles standing in the way of ending global poverty. To successfully end poverty, it is essential to raise awareness and dispel common myths.
– Mariam Abaza