Poverty can be seen on many faces in many places.

I was caught by the words of Kailash Satyarthi the Indian Nobel laureate who wrote: “Child slavery is a crime against humanity. Humanity itself is at stake here”.

He demands a complete ban on kids working before 14 years of age. I would go further but that is an excellent starting point for some Asian countries.


A 2011 census revealed that as many as 4.35 million kids between the ages of 5 – 14 are employed in full-time work. That India has 90 million out of a total of 250 million  children at work world-wide. With some 15 million employed in hazardous jobs. According to UNICEF India has the highest number of working children between 6 – 14 age bracket. While Channel News Asia reports that children can still be bought and sold in the northern state of Bihar, for a sum of $80 – $160.

I cannot understand that in the 21st century we are still as backward as 200 years ago. I have to look again at the words of Kailash Satyarthi  and reiterate – humanity itself is at stake here. Can we dig ourselves out of the morass we find ourselves in?

However, it is not simply a problem in India as the economist Ha-Joon Chang points out: 1.4 billion live on less than $1.25 a day. 170million in China and 450 million in India. Economics: The User’s Guide.

Bangladesh accounts for 63% of employed children in the 5-9 years old bracket; in the South Asia region. We need to stop buying goods from this area until they stop this inhumanity.

Nonetheless many more millions are spread throughout the world. Sadly the children take the brunt of the pain. Women fare little better, hence the picture with the placard saying: poverty has a women’s face. Women all over the world are the ones who have to cope with whatever reality throws at them; they are the ‘copers’.

Men make the rules and women are left to cope with the consequences. It doesn’t seem to matter what part of the world you live in or whether rich or poor. When will women take their right, not ask, just take?

An International Labour Organisation (ILO) study concluded that there are seven (7) times more economic benefits by introducing school and welfare rights. If that is not a reason to improve things I don’t know what would be!

According to UNICEF 22,000 children die each day due to poverty. www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats/

The worse affected areas of the world are Sub-Sahara Africa and South Asia. In S-SA life expectancy is on average 56 whereas in the more developed nations it can be up to 80 years of age in the richer areas. It is a very big difference and illustrates quite clearly the advantage of good nutrition over a longer period. Simply supplying aid will not close that gap. Aid is a means of survival in the short-term it, is not a long-term solution.

Africa has witnessed a huge surge in loans (disbursements) in the last few years. An increasing number from private creditors in the form of ‘bonds’ when the bond matures the loan must be paid in its entirety. Overall loans have increased by 121%. The balance favours the private creditors though official creditors i.e. World Bank etc. still give many loans. China has significantly increased  the volume of loans it gives in the region. That’s how the big boys buy political influence.


The problem with loans as many will appreciate is that they have to be paid back. Bummer! Some countries will find it very difficult to repay the loans. This is especially so when income levels in Africa are dropping. Aid has also slowed and,”…any longer-term aid has been misappropriated for personal wealth by corrupt officials or for military spending”.


Famine is still taking its ugly toll in Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan in 2014.

It is not just poverty that cruelly makes life hell for children. The cost of physical, psychological and sexual violence against children can be as high as $7 trillion. That is an incredible sum of money in any language. More horror figures suggest that the annual cost of the worse forms of child labour is around $97 billion. Wow! Such vast sums. It becomes obvious therefore that prevention pays.


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