Friday, September 2, 2016

Dolla Dolla Bill

Money, money money! In a rich man’s world! Yes, money makes the world go round, the rich man’s world in which flouting cash is seen as a key strength, just look at the American presidential race. Likewise, this seems to filter through to our everyday life, with new things smartphones, smart TVs smart watches, smart things being a necessity in our existence. This attitude to spending money occurs in western businesses too, after all you’ve gotta spend money to make it, right? Well, perhaps for some, but this is far from sustainable especially in the developing world.

  Indeed, overtly pumping money into the developing world does not necessarily force growth or initiate rapid change, especially when it comes to eradicating global poverty. In contrast growth must be organic and community driven, so to create the best opportunities for people across the world.

  Sustainable development is essential to eradicating poverty throughout the world. In 2015 the UN  setup the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals, building upon the millennium goals; these include promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all, to achieve gender equality and of course to end global poverty. As part of the 17 goals, there are 169 targets to be completed. Yeah....That’s right 169, accentuating the complexity of sustainable development.

   This is where NGOs like TradeAID come into play; TradeAID focuses on the creation and enhancement of sustainable businesses and communities. During our ICS experience, we have worked with the vibrant arts and crafts communities in Bolgatanga. The craft sector employs almost 23% of the local population, surely this is already sounding pretty sustainable, eh reader? Well, not exactly, many are working on the poverty line likewise many of the craftspeople are illiterate making the basic tenants of bookkeeping are a real struggle. Similarly, sustainable business practises are still not fully understood as a few groups want TradeAID to buy all of their equipment for them. In these tough economic times, growth has stalled.

  This problem, of course does not only relate to Ghana however. In Africa, Asia and South America poverty continues to be the lead brick, attached to the swimmer trying to swim out of the pool. That said, poverty is becoming more of an African problem, it is estimated that by 2030 that 83% of the world's population in poverty will be African. This emphasises the need for sustainable development, emphasised by further by the rapid urbanisation that is happening across the world. By 2050, 90% of the world’s population are expected to live in cities, inevitably leading to overcrowding and an increase of urban poverty.

   This accentuates the need for swift action from NGOs and societies to attempt to build a sustainable core. But fear not! The picture is not totally bleak. In Accra, and other in cities in Brazil and India there has been the creation of protected urban areas, promoting of tourism and of renewable energy, like solar power. I digress; sustainable development is not only limited to big projects like these, it is necessary for it to be nurtured in communities, as TradeAID does.

TradeAID provides sustainable growth in the local communities by providing and facilitating training sessions, selling artisans work online and by organising BICAF, a festival showcasing the work of the local artisans to people. By doing this, we provide a holistic development experience, thus we are empowering people, providing social mobility, using natural resources and promote efficient growth in local communities. Despite our limited experience, the importance of training and spending in the right into the right areas seems as a clear as day. Whilst working on a BICAF awareness raising session, in Sandema we met a trainer who was educating disabled women on how to market their shea butter, and with small communities in Tamale, had sold shea butter to the Body Shop. Likewise, we met with the inspirational charity, Afrikids, a local orphanage that has become a charity that has empowered orphans, created hospitals and schools across Ghana. Afrikids is set to become financially independent from its U.K. subsidiary in 2018, showing that throughout the Upper East Region, where poverty is an undeniable problem, there is real hope because of NGOs and charities promoting sustainable development.

   So, we may live in a rich man’s world, but it is vital in the developing world, to spend the money, but spend it in the right areas, spend it smart, to enhance long and short term local led progression, we can alleviate poverty in Africa and across the developing world.

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