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Causes and Effects of Poverty

Grade: 7 | Year: 2010

Poverty is defined by the dictionary as “The state or condition of having little or no money, goods, or means of support”. This is an extremely vague definition and covers Poverty as a whole, although this speech will elaborate on the details of poverty in Africa. The focus of this speech is to educate you on the Causes & Effects of Poverty in Africa and the ways you can help these victims.

What causes poverty? There are many reasons why this would occur, the most prevalent of these being corruption, and lack of resources in the region. Corruption occurs in Africa when the governments do not use money responsibly and instead use it for themselves. Corruption destroys trust between the government and its people in ensuring that money is used responsibly. A survey taken in Kenya by Transparency International asked people living in Kenya to describe what their encounters with bribery are and how frequently it occurs. 67% of the respondents claimed that their interactions with various public authorities (including Banks) often involved bribes and bribery, and consequences would occur if the bribe was not paid. These bribes take away from the income of hard working African families and instead direct it towards the higher ranking government officials.

A lack of resources in the region is another main factor of poverty. Even though there are abundant natural resources in Africa, the people living there lack the infrastructure and knowledge to obtain the resources. Clean sanitary drinking water is usually directly underground and yet Africans have to walk several kilometers to get water which is not clean. $500 billion has been sent to Africa in the past as a way of paying off the national debts. Developed countries, such as the United States and Canada, pressure Africa to prioritize on debt repayment rather than health and education, which is an irresponsible way of doing things, because it affects the lives of people in Africa. The money that is sent to these nations should be done so responsibly and it should be used for long term infrastructure such as building wells, schools and hospitals.

In Africa, poverty can have a devastating effect. No food, improper healthcare, homelessness and lack of jobs all play a role in the effects of poverty. A lack of food leads to health problems. Food and water is in low supply because of unmaintained or non-existent infrastructure. While water is easily found underground in vast amounts, these families must rely on finding ground water which is often dirty and unclean. When the human body does not have sufficient calories or nutrients, it begins to “borrow” nutrients from fat stores, and parts of the body where they are non-essential. The body continues to break down its tissues, until eventually the body’s internal organs are damaged enough to cause serious health problems.

Many of such diseases would be easily prevented by a vaccine. Common vaccines are not readily available in Africa while we take them for granted. Additionally, some children’s parents have died from diseases and so the children must care for themselves. People living in extreme poverty are homeless. This has a long list of risks attached to it as homeless children are less likely to receive the proper care and nutrition that they require.

A child whose parents died must assume the role of the parents, usually while caring for the younger siblings. This can happen at a young age and these children are neither mentally nor physically ready to undergo these tasks.

If Africans had proper jobs, they could at least afford some essential items to help them live better lives. Child labour can also become an issue, especially when the children are taking care of the family. All of these things have a form of a “domino effect” in which one problem leads to the next: A lack of food leads to health problems, there is no health care available therefore the person may die. Homelessness exposes you to various health diseases which would be preventable with a vaccine, and which is not available. You would be able to have some of these things such as food or some healthcare, if you had a proper paying job. You have no job. They are linked, and poverty ends up having a terrible effect on a community.
Ways we can help poverty

Most of the people in this nation believe that they are unable to directly help poverty victims. One of the most popular ways to help victims of poverty is through charities. Every donation counts. Some people do not donate to these charities because they believe that their donation will have little effect. People who are about to donate a small sum of money do not because they believe that it will not be a significant help. This mentality has to change. It is similar to the philosophy that if everyone litters, then why can’t I? If it spreads, then more and more people will begin to litter. If you donate money to charities, your act of kindness has an influence on the people who surround you. Some charities focus on a certain community. This helps you to gain more of a sense of accomplishment as your efforts will be helping people directly. There are also projects that focus on a certain sector of poverty rather than it as a whole, like shelter, health care, or education. Furthermore, there are self-sustaining projects in Africa devoted to helping African families live on their own through education. These projects work by sending out people to a country to teach people how to efficiently farm, build houses and dig wells.

Education Africa is a good example of a charity that helps Africans. Education Africa takes donations from people around the world and then uses them to make a difference in Africa, by building schools. Education Africa sponsors Masibambane College, a school that was built in the poverty-ridden community Orange Farm to help people gain an education. This region was once plagued by the unemployed and illiterate but the college has had a massive footprint on these statistics. Another charity that helps Africans is known as World Vision, they allow you to focus on a specific child or family and donate to them. Their agents travel to these communities and help to make a difference. Another is known as OFA, or Orphanages for Africa, which is a charity that offers assistance to Africans caring for orphans.

One of Unicef’s Millenium Development Goals is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. This is to be completed by 2015. Unicef is to help out by building hospitals in Africa to help the children who have no access to healthcare at all, although they are an individual entity, they represent themselves well by making such goals. Remember, that in order for these charities to operate, the require donations. Several of them are not-for-profit and therefore may rely on volunteer work for assistance. These associations need your help to reach their goals, so think about donating today.

I hoped you enjoyed learning about the various aspects of poverty in my speech today, and to conclude in a good note, remember that you are certainly in a position to help people in Africa. All it requires is a bit of spare change, potentially a small amount of your time and your heart. Give to these African communities and let them thrive!