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Hunger and World Poverty

About 25,000 people die every day of hunger or hunger-related causes,

according to the United Nations. This is one person every three and a
half seconds, as you can see on this display. Unfortunately, it is children
who die most often.
Yet there is plenty of food in the world for everyone. The problem is that
hungry people are trapped in severe poverty. They lack the money to
buy enough food to nourish them. Being constantly malnourished, they
become weaker and often sick. This makes them increasingly less able
to work, which then makes them even poorer and hungrier. This
downward spiral often continues until death for them and their families.
There are effective programs to break this spiral. For adults, there are
food for work programs where the adults are paid with food to build
schools, dig wells, make roads, and so on. This both nourishes them and
builds infrastructure to end the poverty. For children, there are food for
education programs where the children are provided with food when
they attend school. Their education will help them to escape from
hunger and global poverty.
Poverty in the Philippines - Philippine Unemployment in the Philippines
Poverty in the Philippines is a major obstacle to the success of future generations of
the Filipino. But we can break the Philippine poverty cycle and reduce unemployment in
the Philippines.
Because it poses such a significant threat to political stability, poverty in the
Philippines is a very serious problem.

Munyan Children and I


It is mainly a rural problem, and tends to be worse in the southern Philippine

islands of Visayas and into Mindanao. However, Luzon and the northern
islands have a considerable number of Filipino people living below the
poverty line.
In fact, almost a third of all of the population of the Philippines lives below
the poverty threshold, which is a number inconceivable to most people in
America and western Europe.
According to the most recent data collected by international sources
concerning poverty in the Philippines, 44% of the population
survives on less that $2 US per day!
I know many people will say, Yeah, but everything costs so much less over
there, but, in my experience, the cost of most necessary items in the
Philippines seem to be about one quarter to one third of comparable prices in
the U.S. Many luxury items, like electronics, are priced about the same as in
the U.S.
Do the math, and youll quickly see the seriousness of the situation. Could
your family live on less than $3,000 per year in the U.S.? Now, that would be
The fact of the matter is that the average Philippine family spends almost
half of its income solely on unprepared food items. On average, American
families spend less than 10%.
In addition to the poverty caused by natural disasters and the continuing
conflict in Mindanao, poor agricultural productivity, high Filipino population
growth, minimal social services, and lack of significant investment continue
to weigh heavily on the Philippine people living in rural areas.
An additional and related result of these problems is a rate of high
unemployment in the Philippines.

Poverty in the Philippines is a crisis.

The poverty threshold itself weighs in at around $1.70 per day, or about
$600 per year. Approximately 33% of the population lives below this poverty
line. In addition, despite advances in sanitation, nearly 20% of the population
still does not have access to clean and safe drinking water.
Approximately the same number of people do not have electricity.
Amazingly, there is still a vast number (>14%) who do not have the luxury
of a sanitary toilet, but instead use a latrine or the nearest bush.

What about nutrition itself? The primary cause of malnutrition is related to

the poor distribution of food which certainly manifests itself in the
widespread poverty and high unemployment in the Philippines.
Protein and fat sources are much more difficult to find among the poor, with
the primary staple being rice.
Rice is high in carbohydrates, but is a starch which turns to sugar when
This is a main factor in the spread of diabetes among the Philippine people,
which is devastating to the poor who already have inadequate access to
medical help.
It is not all bad news, however. As the Lord continues to raise up those who
understand the causes of poverty in the Philippines and the resources to
respond the situation is improving with each passing decade.
Filipinos are a people of hope, work ethic, and resourcefulness, and the
onslaught of poverty will slowly begin to be repelled and the victory won.
Together we can all work to break the cycle of poverty in the
Philippines and give these children a chance to live productive and happy

Article 25.

(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and
well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and
medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the
event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack
of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All
children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social

Human rights would be fully realized, if all human beings had secure access to the
objects of these rights. Our world is today very far from this ideal. Piecing together the
global record, we find that most of the current massive under fulfillment of human rights
is more or less directly connected to poverty.
The connection is direct in the case of basic social and economic human rights, such as
the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of oneself and
ones family, including food, clothing, housing, and medical care. The connection is
more indirect in the case of civil and political human rights associated with democratic
government and the rule of law.
Desperately poor people, often stunted, illiterate, and heavily preoccupied with the
struggle to survive, typically lack effective means for resisting or rewarding their rulers,
who are therefore likely to rule them oppressively while catering to the interests of other
(often foreign) agents more capable of reciprocation.
The statistics are horrifying. Out of a total of 6,373 million human beings (in 2004),
about 1,000 million have no adequate shelter; 831 million are undernourished; 1,197
million have no access to safe water; 2,742 million lack access to basic sanitation;
2,000 million are without electricity; 2,000 million lack access to essential drugs; and
799 million adults are illiterate. About 170 million children between 5 and 14-years-old
are involved in hazardous work (for example, in agriculture, construction, textile or
carpet production); 8.4 million of them in the unconditionally worst forms of child labor,
defined as slavery, trafficking, debt bondage and other forms of forced labour, forced

recruitment of children for use in armed conflict, prostitution and pornography, and illicit
activities. People of color and females bear a disproportionate share of these
Roughly one third of all human deaths - about 50,000 daily - are due to poverty-related
causes (pdf file 60KB), easily preventable through better nutrition, safe drinking water,
mosquito nets, re-hydration packs, vaccines and other medicines. This amounts to 300
million deaths in just the 16 years since the end of the Cold War - more than the 200
million deaths caused by all the wars, civil wars, and government repression of the
entire 20th century.

Never has poverty been so easily avoidable. The collective annual expenditure of the
2,735 million people living below the World Banks $2 a day poverty line is about $400
billion. Their collective shortfall from that poverty line is roughly $300 billion per year.
This is 1.1 per cent of the gross national incomes of the high-income countries, which
totals $27,732 billion.
These countries contain 15.5 per cent of the worlds population with over 80 per cent of
the global product. The global poor are 43 per cent of the worlds population with 1.2 per
cent of the global product. At market exchange rates, the per capita income of the
former is nearly 200 times greater than that of the latter.
The rich countries response to world poverty is mainly rhetorical. Official development
assistance has shrunk steadily throughout the prosperous 1990s, though it has recently
been increased in connection with the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. The
portion targeted to basic social services stands at 8 per cent or under $6 billion per year.
The citizens of the rich countries give another $7 billion annually to international nongovernmental organisations.
On closer inspection, even the rhetoric is appalling. At the 1996 World Food Summit in
Rome, the worlds governments grandly promised to halve the number of extremely
poor people between 1996 and 2015, implicitly accepting 25,000 daily poverty deaths in
2015 and some 250 million such deaths in the interim. In the 2000 UN Millennium
Declaration, they modified their promise - replacing number by proportion and
extending the plan period backward to 1990. Taking advantage of rapid population
growth and a huge poverty reduction in China during the 1990s, these clever
modifications greatly dilute the target: the new promise, if fulfilled, would reduce the
number of extremely poor people by only 19 per cent over the same period.
Confronted with such facts, citizens of the rich countries may concede that we affluent
should do more to help the poor. But most see this as a demand of humanity or charity not as a demand of justice and certainly not as a moral duty imposed on us by the

human rights of the poor. As the US Government declared after the Rome World Food
Summit: The attainment of any right to adequate food or fundamental right to be free
from hunger is a goal or aspiration to be realised progressively that does not give rise
to any international obligations.

The presumption behind this denial is that, internationally at least, human rights entail
only negative duties. They require that one not deprive foreigners of secure access to
the objects of their human rights, but they do not require that one help them attain such
secure access by protecting them against other threats.
This presumption can be attacked by arguing that human rights do impose positive
duties, even internationally. But, even if the presumption is accepted, it shields us, the
affluent, from human-rights-based obligations only insofar as we bear no responsibility
for the existing radically unequal global economic distribution. And this claim to
innocence is highly dubious.