Rising global poverty is the real impact of the Corona fight

For the first time in 30 years the number of people in extreme poverty globally, is rising. Extreme poverty, as defined by the World Bank, entails surviving on less than $1.90 a day.  

The consequences of the global shutdown on global poverty are causing problems that will result in many deaths. We should be more concerned with how the following graph is forming than with what the covid computer models are plotting.

The struggles of small businesses, such as rural pubs (with the Vintners Association saying 2/3 of Irish pubs will close forever), show the effects of closing the economy on a developed nation. The typical pro-lockdown response is that it is worth it to save a single life: “what is money in comparison?” This does not take account of the effects of lost opportunities. Not just lost economic growth, but also the health consequences of not having an effective economy or society.

More pertinently for the worlds poor, the WHO’s policies of ultra-safety are anything but safe to the ultra-poor of the developing world. Human progress for those most in need of economic development is now in reverse, and the number of people in absolute poverty is increasing.

It is estimated that this number will increase by 70-100 million people because of the shutdowns. Likewise the number of people in poverty will increase by a similar magnitude. The problems they face are far worse than the hardship that is being faced in Ireland, and will entail the loss of basic essentials such as clean water, basic nutrition, electricity, and schools. Perhaps our collective paranoia is not helping to keep people from dying.

When FG and FF – taking full credit for caring about everyone – blather on about staying home, they are conveniently omitting the stories of massive migration from the cities to the countryside in India of 10 million people (that’s the official number but the reality is estimated to be 5 times that), , and an increase in waterborne parasitic diseases in South East Asia,  The DRC and other countries.

On top of this, a new scandal has rocked  the WHO in relation to an “Aid for Sex” abuse of vulnerable women in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 30 women have described incidents of sexual exploitation by men who were working directly for the WHO, and more women told of incidents involving contractors and other “charities”.

Local women were the subject of exploitation and assault by doctors and other aid workers who allegedly plied them with drinks, attacked them in hospitals, and raped women, causing two to become pregnant.

How is it that aid from the western NGO’s – the classic feel-good gesture for liberals – is so often tied to sexual abuse? This seems to be a perennial problem that nobody wants to address.

This particular type of abuse, propagated and protected by institutional protectionism, is a repeating pattern amongst NGOs in the developing world. Vulnerable people (mostly women) are being horrifically abused and nothing seems to change. We hear nothing of root and branch reviews, or changes of practice; it’s like the priority is to protect the institution before the victim. Does this pattern sound familiar?

The view in the West of the WHO is divided broadly between those who see them, after their unreliable (at best) response to Covid, as corrupt and controlled by China; and those who see them as the world’s saviours. The similarity of the latter’s deference to the WHO, to the deference which the clerical hierarchy were used to, is striking. It has the psychological appearance of a post-modern pseudo-religion that acts as a spiritual fillip for liberals and atheists.

At this stage, shouldn’t the public, especially the Irish public, be losing their faith in these institutions?

 


 

Lorcán Mac Mathúna

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