Our To-do List for 2020


Our To-do List for 2020

“Our planet is a beautiful place. We can easily forget how much it has to offer because we are constantly being reminded of the challenges we face daily, from inequalities to poverty to climate change. If nothing changes to stop, prevent or reverse these challenges, it will only get worse … We want to preserve the good that exists in people, places and the planet and put an end to issues that takes hope away from us. That is why world leaders came together in 2015 and mobilised the 2030 Agenda: a set of 17 goals for sustainable development.

This matters to each of us because we are all responsible for being a part of the change. Our actions today affect our children tomorrow.” (170 Daily Actions, United Nations Office at Geneva, 2019)

The Future Depends on the Present

Every year, we set new personal goals for ourselves, and turn them into a series of to-do lists for the following weeks, days or a certain period of time, so that we can achieve everything we set out to do. Actually, there is a to-do list for the whole world that is set to be completed by 2030. The list includes a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that concerns the well-being of humanity, with clear targets set for each of the goals. However, as the 2030 Agenda is not legal-binding, it really is down to all the countries to each play their part through relevant policy-making, concrete action plans, execution and reviews, in order for the goals to be effectively met.

In late September 2019, just as the 2030 Agenda was entering its fifth anniversary, world leaders gathered at the United Nations Headquarters to attend the SDG Summit to follow up on the implementation of different goals and present the latest progresses. However, as most nations have yet to establish corresponding measurement and data collection mechanisms, more than half of the targets do not have sufficient data to fully analyse the progress and challenges faced.

In spite of this, in this year’s Vision Voice issues, we will go through the implementation of four of the SDGs, 1. No Poverty, 2. Zero Hunger, 3. Good Health and Well-being, and 4. Quality Education, and what World Vision is doing to help achieve them.

While governments have the responsibility of achieving these grand goals, we as global citizens can also help through small actions we do in our daily lives, and add them to our to-do list for this year. The United Nations’ 170 Daily Actions recommends the following regarding to eradicating poverty:

  • Buy fair-trade products to support the sustainable trade system, meaning workers are rewarded fairly for their work.
  • At birthday parties offer the option to donate money to your chosen charity in replacement of a birthday gift.
  • Teach a skill or short course at a community centre (computer skills, building a resume, preparing for job interviews).
  • Sponsor a child so they can have access to food, education, and health.
  • Volunteer in homeless shelters. Your time can be more valuable than money.
  • Clean out your pantry. Fill a box with non-perishable foods and donate it to a food bank.

SDG 1: Eradicating Poverty

According to The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2019, the world is constantly making progress in eradicating poverty, with the share of the world’s population living in extreme poverty decreasing to 10 per cent in 2015, from 36 per cent in 1990. This represents more than one billion people who have lifted themselves out of poverty over the past 25 years. Much of this progress was in Eastern Asia, where the poverty rate fell from 52 per cent in 1990 to less than 1 per cent in 2015. However, if current trends continue, it is projected that 6 per cent of the world’s population will still be living in extreme poverty in 2030, meaning that the SDG will not be attained.

Poverty is normally measured by wealth. However, money or purchasing power alone does not provide a full picture of poverty. Therefore, in 2010, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and a group of academics came up with the Global Multi-dimensional Poverty Index (MPI), which identifies people in poverty by 10 indicators across three key dimensions: health, education and standard of living. Those who experience deprivation in at least one third of those indicators are considered to be multi-dimensionally poor.

Dimensions and Indicators

  • An adult under 70 years of age or a child is undernourished in the household.
  • Any child has died in the family in the past five years.

  • No household member aged 10 years or older has completed six years of schooling.
  • Any school-aged child in the household is not attending school up to the age at which he/she would complete class 8.

Standard of Living
  • The household cooks with dung, wood, charcoal or coal.
  • The household’s sanitation facility is not improved or it is improved but shared with other households.
  • The household does not have access to improved drinking water or safe drinking water is at least a 30-minute round trip walk from home.
  • The household has no electricity.
  • Housing materials for at least one of roof, walls and floor are inadequate: the floor is of natural materials and/or the roof and/or walls are of natural or rudimentary materials.
  • The household does not own more than one of these assets: radio, TV, telephone, computer, animal cart, bicycle, motorbike or refrigerator, and does not own a car or truck.

The MPI allows us to define poverty by factors other than wealth and purchasing power, thus giving us a deeper understanding of how poverty exploits people’s lives. Some of the indicators, such as school attendance, nutrition and quality of life, are also helpful for further analysis on how poverty affects children’s growth and personal development.

The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2019 highlights that close to half (46 per cent) of extremely poor people are children under 14 years of age. In every five children, one of them is living in extreme poverty. If the world is to meet the SDG of eradicating poverty, efforts of helping children out of poverty must be included in the corresponding policies and strictly implemented. If the efforts to eradicate poverty among children are successful, it will also help meet other SDGs such as good health, quality education and zero hunger.

Eradicating Poverty among Children is Key

Helping children out of poverty is exactly why World Vision was founded. Back in 1947, when Bob Pierce, an American journalist, visited poor children in China, a girl named Baiyu was thrown out of her home because she followed his words and told her father about her desire to go to school. Bob immediately took the last five dollars that he had and asked people to take good care of the girl. This experience inspired him to found World Vision in 1950 to call for people to help children out of poverty.

As of today, World Vision’s development work is still child-centred. We work on all levels, including families, communities and institutions, to achieve our goal of child well-being. Not only are children the focus of our work, but they are also important participants and invaluable members of communities who play an important role in eradicating poverty. Therefore, we always begin working in a community by asking a lot of questions, inviting community members, especially children to tell us about the problems they see in their communities. We then address the root causes of poverty and injustice together, designing integrated, sustainable solutions such as a focus on child protection, access to health and education, and opportunities for economic empowerment to help families become sustainable and improve their children’s lives.

All poor people have their unique stories. And the most devastating ones are those in which parents helplessly pass on poverty to their next generation, leading to children suffering since a young age, being deprived of opportunities of education and personal development, and even becoming victims of child labour and child marriage. What World Vision can do is to continue to centre our work on meeting children’s needs and making communities a better place for children to thrive alongside families. As global citizens, we can all help by adding daily actions that help reduce poverty onto our to-do lists for 2020 and putting them into practice consistently.

A Success Story (India)

Walking out of Poverty, Step by Step

When her husband passed away, Lalbiaki and her children’s lives were plunged into poverty, with the young family having no source of income. She took upon herself the responsibility of raising her children but life was tough. They were staying in a small rented room and the rent was about HK$44 per month. For Lalbiaki, this was not a small sum of money, because she had dropped out of school after completing 4th grade and her jobs were limited to working as a hired farm hand.

Lalbiaki wanted to give a better start for her children, but things were so bad that she could only watch her daughter Lalraupuiia drop out of school after 4th grade just like her. To cut down on the family’s expenses, she sent her daughter to live with her grandparents in another village. This was one of the lowest points in Lalbiaki’s life.

“Life is difficult for a widow without a regular income. The situation can be very difficult if I become unwell. Then the family is left with no source of income and without food,” says Lalbiaki.

In 2014, after receiving help from World Vision India and a plot of land on lease from Lalbiaki’s brother, the family finally was able to build and own a house of their own. “Having our own house makes us feel so much better. We didn’t have enough space in the past, but here we have enough space for the children to read,” says Lalbiaki.

By having a house of their own, they were able to divert the money they spent on rent to other expenses like education and food. But even then, the family’s fortune was still fully dependent on Lalbiaki’s deteriorating health. They were still poor.
A breakthrough came in 2017, when the family took part in a World Vision poverty alleviation programme in India. The programme targets ultra-poor households in the community to help them rise from poverty to sustainable livelihoods. It combines elements of three distinct approaches—social protection, livelihoods development and financial aspects. Lalbiaki’s family received 100 chicks and three bags of bird feed. They were able to raise the chicks and sell them for profit. “With the money I got from selling the chickens, I was able to send my daughter for handloom weaving training,” says Lalbiaki.

Today, her daughter Lalraupuiia is employed in a traditional handloom weaving workshop and is able to support the family with a steady source of income. “I didn’t know anything about savings before joining the programme. Now I have opened a savings account and have started saving a little bit,” says Lalbiaki.

Lalbiaki’s son Himnakulhpuia is now studying in ninth grade and is also part of a World Vision Children’s Club. Lalbiaki wants her son to be of good service for the community, and while Himnakulhpuia has his own thoughts, they are quite similar to his mother’s wishes. “I like science and maths, and I want to become an engineer one day,” says Himnakulhpuia with a broad smile. And this is how the family continues their journey out of poverty, one step at a time.

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