Why Poverty?

68 countries will focus on this question as from Sunday. During a week public broadcasters will try to inform around 500 million people around the globe about poverty, sometimes around unexpected corners (Amsterdam, Zuerich, Paris, New York), sometimes in the usually suspect countries. It is not about money. It is not about donations. The organizers want to start discussions animated by documentaries, films and even cartoons (Ben Lewis’ ‘Poor Us. An animated history of poverty.’ In theory, there is enough food for all of us, we just can’t get it to the right spot in time. In Gambia, for example, the natural resources are large enough to make the whole population happy, but for all sorts of dark reasons this is more complicated than it seems. We are looking for solutions and creative answers to questions that have been on the table for centuries now. Why poverty if it can be avoided? Who is responsible? Could it be that some unknown forces want to keep poverty alive? Politics? Religion? The economy (stupid!)? The week long activities around poverty are a wake up call in difficult times for most of the Western world. It is the right timing: consciousness about the relativity of growth and the end of greed may help the world to distribute wealth in a new way. Look at China, where millions of workers and farmers have reached a higher level of wealth in just a few years. They may be ‘communists’ but at least most of them aren’t hungry anymore. Solutions are there, we just have to see them. The almost 70 participating countries should create a Prize for the best answer and a program to keep us awake after the end of the awareness campaign as well.

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