Ecosystem to fight poverty [Archives:2005/874/Health]

September 5 2005
The mismanagement of the natural sources leads to poverty
The mismanagement of the natural sources leads to poverty
By Amel Al-Ariqi
Yemen Times Staff

When Ali Aben Abi Talb said ” if poverty was a man I would kill him ” he was noticing the intractability of the problem. Poverty is not a man, it enslaves men, but it cannot be killed by one. Poverty is a global crisis.

Today nearly three billion people live on less than two dollars a day. 1 billion children live in poverty (1 in 2 children in the world). 640 million live without adequate shelter, 400 million have no access to safe water, 270 million have no access to health services. 10.6 million died in 2003 before they reached the age of 5.

Poverty's influence is not restricted to human life but also on environment. Many studies have shown that there is a strong and reciprocal relationship between poverty and the environment. A poor environment is considered a main factor which leads to poverty, and conversely, poverty leads to the misuse and depletion resources.

However, programs to reduce poverty often fail to account for the important link between them. ” Traditional assumptions about addressing poverty treat the environment almost as an afterthought ” said Jonathan Lash, president of world resource institute (WRI), which released a report that is endorsed by the UN, and comes two weeks before a major summit to review progress on the Millennium Goals. The first and possibly most important of those goals is to halve the number of people living in poverty by 2015.

According to the report, environmental organizations have not addressed poverty and development groups have not considered the environment enough. ” “If the natural resource base is not managed for the long term, if it is exploited and polluted for short-term gain, it will never provide the fuel for economic development on the scale demanded to relieve poverty,” the

World Resources foreword says

This emphasis on the role of environment to reduce poverty comes due to the fact that most of world's poor are rural poor, who depend on nature for their income. Therefore, the report concluded, that it is important to stress the urgent need to look beyond aid projects, dept relief and trade reform and focus on local nature resources.

In Yemen and according to World Bank reports By the late 1990s, 42 percent of the population lived below the poverty line. In rural areas, the number is 45 percent. Low average income means that 18 percent of the population is unable to afford adequate nutrition. Despite improvements in health services, 46 percent of children under five are malnourished.

The results of the national survey of the poverty phenomenon in Yemen conducted by the central statistical Bureau in 1998, pointed out that poverty in Yemen is basically a rural phenomenon as 81% of the total poor and 83% of those who suffer from absolute poverty reside in the rural areas.

The poor, In Yemen as in other countries, are sufferers of the deteriorating environment when it takes place, and at the same time they are those who contribute to environmental degradation unintentionally. They are forced to satisfy their immediate basic needs through the uncontrolled utilization of the available natural resources like over use of the water resources, and overgrazing in the rural areas, land clearance for timber and fuel, and over hunting of the rare and expensive animals together with the over utilization of marginal lands. Consequently this leads to disappearance of these resources, then the rise of the poverty rates in the rural areas forcing numbers of rural poor to migrate to the cities. When they arrive in the cities and join the urban poor who reside in the regions marked with the absence of the basic services like safe drinking water and a system of sanitation etc. that exposes them to epidemics and infectious diseases.

The dangers of the over utilization of the natural resources are not limited to the disappearance of one of the resources or lowering of its value, but the impact of this exploitation can cause very dangerous consequences on the environment and speeds up its deterioration. For example, we can note the shortage of water and its pollution, desertification (often called creeping sands) and the spread of wasteland areas.

Obviously there is a mismanagement of natural resources in Yemen. Since Yemen is characterized by rich biodiversity and natural resources in the sea and on land, associated with different climatic conditions. Therefore Yemeni environment requires to be rehabilitated to enable the poor to utilize natural resources both wisely and for wealth.