Poverty and Population

jacdon at earthlink.net jacdon at earthlink.net
Wed Dec 18 14:43:01 MST 2002

The following article appeared in the Dec. 15, 2002, Mid-Hudson Activist
Newsletter, published by the Mid-Hudson National People's Campaign in
New Paltz, N.Y., via jacdon at earthlink.net


World population will zoom from 6.28 billion people this year to 9.2
billion by the year 2050, the UN Population Fund reported this month.
According to other UN estimates,  over 80% of those 9.2 billion people
will be living in countries officially designated as poor.

Today, over 3 billion people exist on an income of less than $2 a day (1
billion of them scrape along on less than $1 a day).  Not only the
number but the proportion of  people living in poverty will be much
higher by 2050 because most of the population increase is taking place
among the poor -- an age-old survival pattern.  The Population Fund
estimates that the poorest of the poor nations will triple their
population from 600 million to 1.8 billion in the next 48 years, while
most industrialized countries anticipate small population gains or

There are two ways to ameliorate this situation, short of an eventual
worldwide uprising of the wretched of the earth:

• The world's rich nations must sharply increase their technical and
financial aid to the poor nations, plus remove unequal trade barriers
and other practices that keep such societies in deep debt and poverty.
Despite repeated pledges, the industrialized capitalist world, led by
Washington, has essentially turned its back on world poverty that
derives entirely from its own international economic system.  In
proportion to its wealth, the U.S. is the least generous of all
nations.  Ambitious UN goals to alleviate poverty consistently fail,
largely due to rich-nation indifference.

•  Reducing the extreme increases in population in the developing world
through investing in education and health care, including family
planning.  The UN agency maintains in its report, "The State of World
Population 2002," that such programs both reduce population increases
and elevate productivity and economic growth.  However, according to
Environmental News Service, "Spending on basic reproductive health and
population programs in 2000 was $10.9 billion, $6.1 billion short of the
$17 billion the international community agreed was needed to achieve
universal access to reproductive health care by 2015."

The United States is an obstacle to the success of the population
program because it refuses to help support family planning programs that
include even the hint of abortion.   In July, President Bush went
further by withholding a previously pledged $34 million for the
Population Fund.  On Dec. 11, U.S. officials attending a 30-nation UN
population conference in Bangkok demanded that delegates eliminate
references to "reproductive rights" or "reproductive health services"
from the 1994 UN-sponsored international agreement on population
control.  The U.S. had been one of 179 nations approving the agreement.
Now, the White House insists that the terminology leaves open the
possibility of the right to abortion.

UN experts argue that failure to adequately satisfy the need for a major
expansion of family planning options will negatively impact the UN's
recent Millennium Development Goals in terms of reducing hunger,
poverty, mother and child mortality rates, the spread of HIV/AIDS and
sustainable development, while also delaying gender equality.

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