International Day for the Eradication of Poverty and our Environment

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“Poverty is the worst form of violence”- Mahatma Gandhi.

N. Munal Meitei
Environmentalist, email- nmunall@yahoo.in

Poverty is a disease that has no cure. The deeper this disease is, the deeper its wound. International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is celebrated on 17th October with this year’s theme “Dignity For All in Practice”. The dignity of the human being is not only a fundamental right in itself but constitutes the basis for the life.

Poverty is a situation when a person starts to lack important things in his life such as the roof, food, clothes, medicines etc. to continue his life. Inequalities of opportunities and income are sharply on the rise and each year, the gap between the rich and poor gets even wider. In last year, due to COVID-19, millions faced the jobs erosion and records of poverty unprecedentedly increased. Poverty and inequality are not inevitable.

The causes of poverty are excessive population, fatal and contagious diseases, natural disasters, low agricultural yields, unemployment, casteism, untouchability, illiteracy, gender inequality, environmental problems, changing trends in economy of the country, little or limited access to people’s rights, problems such as political violence, sponsored crime, corruption, lack of encouragement, inaction and ancient social beliefs etc.

The climate change and global warming constitutes new violence against people living in poverty, as these communities are unduly burdened by more frequent occurrences of natural disasters and environmental degradation, leading to the destruction of their homes, crops and livelihoods.

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Poverty is akin to being a slave. Living in a world of poverty is a curse. Poverty makes children spend life in compulsion. About half of India’s population suffers from this epidemic. Poverty is not just a human problem but it is a national problem. Poverty robs people of their freedom, mental health, physical well-being and security. Everyone must strive to eradicate poverty from the country, ensuring appropriate physical and mental health.

It is very important for everyone to recognize that poverty and environment are interrelated. Poverty among people puts stress on the environment; at the same time environmental problems cause severe suffering to the poor. People, whether they are rich or poor, consume water, food and natural resources in order to remain alive. All economic activities are directly, indirectly or remotely based on natural resources and any pressure on natural resources can cause environmental stress. Environmental damages can prevent people, especially the poor, from having good and hygienic living standards. As poor people rely more directly on the environment than the rich for their survival, they are mostly on the receiving end of environmental problems

Poverty often causes people to put more pressure on the environment which results over-exploitation of natural resources and more deforestation. On the other hand environmental problems add more to the miseries of poor people and cause more suffering among poor as environmental damage increases the impact of other environmental catastrophes. In short, the worst consequences of environmental deterioration, whether they be economical, social, or related to mental or physical wellbeing, are most experienced by poor people.

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Environmental degradation due to pervasive poverty is a matter of great concern in both rural and urban areas in India. The interaction of poverty and environmental degradation sets off a downward spiral of ecological deterioration that threatens the physical security, economical well being and health of many of the country’s poorest people. Thousands of forest dwellers have traditionally managed and controlled the forests and ensure sustainable use of their lives.

The effect of natural hazards on the loss of human lives is directly related to the poverty. Now climate is the driving factor for natural disasters. WHO has called poverty the world’s biggest killer. Although efforts to reduce poverty and increase income levels continue, the key to identify new strategies lies in an understanding of how poverty affects both the environment and human health.

Environmental health problems emanate from a lack of access to essential environmental resources, primarily sufficient and clean water, enough food, appropriate shelter and fuel and healthy air. This implies that developed countries will need to play a proactive role in accepting responsibility and should bear a larger burden through the means they have at their disposal, particularly spending their wealth in conserving the environment.

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In Manipur agriculture is our main source of economy and food sector contributing state’s 22.13% GDP according to 2011 census. About 7.41% of the geographical area i.e. 231.19 sq. km is used for cultivation in which rice accounting for about 98% and 52% of cultivation confined mainly in the valley. Thus 67% of the state population is in agriculture sector.

There are18 main cultivated crops in the state which are under tremendous pressure to meet the food demand of the increased population which is next to impossible to meet by the capacity of the high-yielding varieties. Food production in Manipur is also crucial due to irregular & erratic monsoon, floods, tropical cyclones, heavy precipitation events, heat and cold waves.

The poverty and environment are inseparably intertwined. Sacrificing environment for poverty will also be an injustice for the planet. People living in extreme poverty, are the first to act decisively within their communities in response to poverty, climate change and environmental challenges.

Participation of the poor themselves and recognising their rights has been at the center point of today’s celebration. Therefore with coming of International Day for the Eradication of Poverty-2022, let’s uproot the poverty, save the food and the mother earth for the future generations.

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