Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Blog Action Day: Poverty as a Threat to Human Security

Jacques Necker, a Swiss royal adviser to the French crown in the XVIII century proposed the idea of assisting the poor as a political imperative to preserve stability of the state. To what extent is poverty a catalyst for insecurity? Can poverty worth being perceived as a threat to Human Security? Let's see two instances in which the link between poverty and security is evident.

According to the 2007 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
Thailand is "a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor". Like in many of its neighbors, the generational poverty and despair among Thailand's poorest have spawned social symptoms that can be described euphemistically as perverted and wholly demeaning. Debt bondage, labor trafficking, sexual exploitation, and the selling of young progeny to slavery are among the dangers that mainly poor women and children are exposed to under the pressures of day to day survival. This damning trait has taken place mainly in the Northeast area of the country, but it is among the poorest sectors of the whole nation where these social diseases prevail. The good news is that Thailand is starting to enforce their anti-slavery laws, which will surely translate in a more secure future for the coming generations.

Our next example takes us to my birth country, Venezuela. In 1999 the population of Vargas State located in the northern coast, suffered one of the most devastating floods mudslides our country ever had. After a group of torrential clouds stationed for weeks on the northern areas of the nation, the ground in the "cerros" (shanty town hills), as well as many other areas gave in bringing down the devastating combination of mud, trees and rocks, ravaging the entire state and taking a toll of 30,000 + of missing persons. Not for naught we Venezuelans refer to this horrid event as "La Tragedia de Vargas". Whereas the disaster affected and decimated the middle-class populations considerably, the brunt of the damage and loss of life was received by the poor inhabiting the "barrios" in Vargas, who under the economic pressures of life opt to live in an increase state of vulnerability by building their houses in grounds that unsuitable for construction, making them even more prone to erosion.

Poverty is an underlying variable that touches the safety of every country on the earth. It represents a direct and imminent threat to the security of human beings around the globe and represents a complex and challenging issue to tackle. The United Nations Millennium Development Goals (or MDG's) include halving the world population who live under $1 per day by 2015. Do you think it's possible? Can one do something about this scourge? What if it was possible to reduce it? What if it was possible to eradicate it? What if you could do something about it? What if I tell you that there are thousands of people who are working on this goal, waiting for a way to bring together the power of good into actions that will improve the lives of people around the globe?

They just want you to do something. Here are some suggestions of the many I could give you.

For a palliative approach:
  1. Promote the work towards fulfilling MDG's by joining organizations like The Interface Foundation, or Millenium Promise
  2. Donate to organizations that go to the poorest and most devastated places in the world like the World Food Program, International Federation of the Red Cross, and Stop Hunger Now among others
  3. Help in your local food bank, or homeless shelter (Hey, there's poverty also in your neighborhood, open your eyes to reality and you will find it)
For more long-term solutions:
  1. Become a lender to entrepreneurs overseas by joining Kiva
  2. Sponsor local Microfranchising ventures around the globe
  3. Support Fair Trade initiatives
  4. Offer your expertise in your field of experience to someone who can use it to survive (yeah, the teach a man how to fish thing)

It's time we all do something. Don't have much money? That's OK, since many times money is not the solution, but dedicating one's time, talents, influences, networks, and heart to a noble cause.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Something to reflect upon

Don't need to say much. The kids deliver the message better .