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Poverty as a Threat To Democracy, Human Rights, And Climate Change
In the contemporary world, the poverty levels have increased more than ever before, thus posing a threat to the health of individuals and the environment. 3 billion people in the world, which means nearly half of the world`s population, live for less than two dollars a day, while more than 1.3 million individuals live in less than 1.25 dollars a day (Commission for Social Development, 2012). The threats of poverty are hidden, and in most cases, they are under-estimated by the governments and other non-governmental organizations. According to UNICEF, approximately 1 billion children in the world live in poverty, with 22,000 dying due to inadequate standard of living. It can be justly stated that the suffering and indignity of individuals living in abstract poverty is a humanitarian tragedy. In most cases, poverty is the root of numerous challenges that humans, animals, and the environment are facing in the modern world. Poverty poses a distinct and severe threat to climate change resilience, food security, democracy, insecurity, and human rights, hindering a country from addressing most of the global challenges.
Link between Poverty and Democracy
Poverty poses a major threat to democracy in a myriad of ways. According to Esther Chilenje, the first Deputy Speaker of Parliament in Malawi, when most individuals are poor, they tend to be incapacitated (Skoufias, 2012). More specifically, Mrs. Chilenje highlighted that poor individuals can rarely pursue or fulfill their ambitions, which means that they are always disadvantaged compared to those who have financial muscles. Therefore, when the local or national government allocates opportunities to the poor, they cannot manage to reach them since they have no financial means, leaving their opportunities to the rich few in the society. In the long last, the numbers of poor continue to grow each day, while the rich continue to get wealthier, which is against the notions of a democratic society (Berg-Schlosser & Kersting, 2003). Apparently, such tendency violates the principles of democracy, which advocates for equal allocation of resources to all without favor or discrimination. In addition to that, it should be mentioned that the situation becomes worse when the politicians start taking advantage of the poor instead of fighting for their plights, thus failing to give them any opportunities or resources to pursue their ambitions, instead allocating them among the rich.
In addition, poverty contributes to the propagation of discrimination. It a common situation when some health facilities, schools, churches, and estates are meant for the poor, while others are set aside for the rich. In addition, in a democratic nation, all individuals are equally subject to adherence to the law, and any citizen who violates it is subjected to the punishment or fines that have been established by the judicial system. However, this is not the case in a nation where discrimination is part of the governing strategies. Precisely, the poor normally face the full force of the law even for minor offences only due to their low status, while the rich, who propagate major atrocities such as murders, are set free since they have money to bail out or even bribe judges.
Moreover, poverty propagates corruption in government offices and affairs. For example, most politicians take advantage of the poor by giving them bribes in order to be voted in government offices, which means that most of the leaders elected into office are not chosen in a democratic way due to engagement in electoral malpractices such as bribing and buying for votes. However, the situation becomes worse when the corrupt leaders continue disrupting democracy throughout the entire term of holding the government office.
Links between Poverty and Human Rights
According to the Amnesty International, poverty is an issue related to the sphere of human rights. Precisely, poverty forces most human beings to live in slum conditions, exposing them to numerous health and security issues. In most nations, it is the right of every individual to live in a safe and healthy environment, but these rights are rarely accomplished due to high poverty levels. In addition to that, it should be mentioned that when individuals are subjected to living in slums, the government cannot manage to provide security even when it wants to do so since there are numerous hideouts and breeding grounds for criminal gangs. Actually, most of the criminal activities, such as murder, rape, and illegal drug use are high in the slum areas as compared to the urban areas. In addition to that, it should be mentioned that in most societies, poverty stimulates most parents to embrace early marriages in order to get dowry in return. However, early marriage violates the basic rights of the young girls since it is done without their consent, and if they decline to get married they are expelled from society and treated as outcasts. In addition, early marriages increase the levels of deaths during birth.
Moreover, poverty hinders individuals from enjoying most of their basic rights, whether political, economic, social, or cultural, especially without fundamental resources, such as physical security, employment, health, education, participation, property, and due process. In addition, poverty makes most individuals lose the value of human dignity, which is detrimental as far as the human right to safety is concerned, thus being the core reason why there are numerous cases of parents selling their children into slavery, especially in Bangladesh, Nigeria, India, and many other nations (Ghai, 2018). In addition to that, it should be mentioned that poverty greatly affects children, and considering that it is the root cause of misery in adulthood, the rights of children must be given priority. Children cannot manage to move from one place to the other in search of food or water, and short periods of exclusion and deprivation can irreversibly harm the survival and development of a child. There were numerous cases when the men who fail to provide for their families due to high levels of poverty opt to draw away from their roles, putting the wives and children at risk of starving.
Links between Poverty and Climate Change
The equivocal increase of the average Earth`s temperatures has been greatly influenced by the increased levels of poverty. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), climate change is currently a reality, especially due to the fact that the dangers associated with it are being observed. Presently, the average temperature is higher than ever before, which provokes increased droughts and famine, communicable and non-communicable diseases, pests, floods of lowlands, and extinction of numerous wild animals. Apparently, global warming is caused by human and natural activities. Poverty poses the greatest risk as far as global warming is concerned. For example, most poor communities use the cheapest and most accessible means of cooking, including the use of firewood (Hallegatte, 2016). Consequently, extensive cutting down of trees has been the order of the day in most rural areas. Most individuals cut down trees in order to burn charcoal in large scale. However, the biggest challenge associated with cutting down of trees is massive deforestation as well as the gases that are released as a result of burning charcoal.
In addition to that, it should be mentioned that massive deforestation is the major cause of droughts and famine, especially due to the fact that trees attract rainfall. In addition, forests serve as the habitat for most of the valuable wild animals, which means that cutting down of trees threatens the survival of animals, which in the long run contributes to some of them becoming extinct. In addition, cutting down of trees also poses the threat of water shortage, which further complicates the health challenges faced by individuals, especially due to the various waterborne diseases that tend to arise due to water scarcity and contamination. Moreover, burning of charcoal releases carbon monoxide, which reacts with oxygen to form carbon dioxide, one of the major green house gases that contributes to the occurrence of global warming, especially by forming a ‘blanket’ that prevents heat from escaping into the atmosphere. However, most individuals are aware of the dangers associated with the use of charcoal to the environment, but there is no close alternative, which is frequently attributed to expensiveness.
In addition to that, it should be mentioned that, most global environmental agencies such as the IPCC have taken the bold measure of sensitizing both the developing and the developed nations concerning the importance of embracing and implementing climate change mitigation measures (Skoufias, 2012). Some of such policies include carbon taxing, polluter pays principle, the maximum carbon level thresholds that a nation can emit, as well as the adoption of environmental friendly practices such as the use of renewable energy sources. However, it should be mentioned that implementing the use of renewable energy technology is expensive the extent that most of the developing nations cannot afford, which means that most of such countries are left with no other option but to use the non-renewable energy sources. For this reason, most of the developing nations continue to use fossil fuels despite that fact that they are aware that it is one of the major factors contributing to the global warming.
Considering the argument and fact mentioned above, is evident that poverty is the greatest threat to human rights, democracy, and climate change. A democratic society cannot be achieved if poverty levels are not addressed first. In addition, human rights are designed to enhance the respect to human life as well as the interaction between individuals, which is greatly jeopardized when poverty levels are not addressed. In addition, climate change does affect the survival of not only the current, but also the future generation, which means that poverty levels need to be addressed in order for both the current and future generations to be saved from severe environmental threats.
Ghai Y., (2018). Poverty, human rights and dignity. Accessed from, http://wma.hk/article/poverty-human-rights-and-dignity/
Skoufias, E. (2012). The poverty and welfare impacts of climate change: Quantifying the effects, identifying the adaptation strategies. Washington D.C: World Bank.
Hallegatte, S. (2016). Shock waves: Managing the impacts of climate change on poverty. Washington, D.C: The World Bank.
Commission for Social Development, (2012). Poverty as a threat to democracy, human rights and climate change resilience. Retrieved from, https://www.un.org/development/desa/dspd/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2018/01/Poverty-a-threat-to-Democracy.pdf
Berg-Schlosser, D., & Kersting, N. (2003). Poverty and democracy: Self-help and political participation in Third World cities. London: Zed Books.