They say ignorance is bliss. You live happily in your little bubble and then one day you’re hit by something so real that it leaves you panting. I’m talking about the magnitude of the social and economic injustice the world over.
A minority of the world’s population (17%) consume most of the world’s resources (80%), leaving almost 5 billion people to live on the remaining 20%. As a result, billions of people are living without the very necessities of life - food, water, housing and sanitation.
Specifically, 1.2 billion (20%) of the world population now lives on less that $1/day, another 1.8 billion (30%) lives on less than $2/day, 800 million go to bed hungry every day, and 30,000 - 60,000 die each day from hunger alone.
The story is the same, when it comes to other necessities like water, housing, education etc. On the flip side, we have increasing accumulation of wealth and power, where the world’s 500 or so billionaires have assets of 1.9 trillion dollars, a sum greater than the income of the poorest 170 countries in the world.
Here are some obscene facts:
Rich Man-Poor Man:
The amount of money that the richest 1 percent of the world’s people make each year equals what the poorest 57 percent makes.
The world’s 358 billionaires have assets exceeding the combined annual incomes of countries with 45 percent of the world’s people. The richest 5 percent of the world’s people have incomes 114 times that of the poorest 5 percent.
The combined wealth of the world’s 200 richest people hit $1 trillion in 1999; the combined income of 582 million people living in the 43 least developed countries is $146 billion.
The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the poorest 48 nations (i.e. a quarter of the world’s countries) is less than the wealth of the world’s three richest people combined. A few hundred millionaires now own as much wealth as the world’s poorest 2.5 billion people.
Rich Nations-Poor Nations:
20% of the people in developed nations consume 86% of the world’s goods. 12% of the world’s population uses 85 percent of its water. Globally, 20% of the world’s people in the highest-income countries account for 86% of total private consumption expenditures - the poorest 20% account for a minuscule 1.3%.
Specifically, the richest fifth (1/5): Consume 45% of all meat and fish, the poorest fifth consume 5%. Use 58% of the total energy, the poorest fifth use less than 4%. Have 74% of all telephone lines, the poorest fifth have 1.5%.
Consume 84% of all paper, the poorest fifth use 1.1%. Own 87% of the world’s vehicle fleet, while the poorest fifth own less than 1%!
An analysis of past trends shows that the gap between the richest and poorest countries is increasing: In 1820, it was 5 to 1. In 1913, it was 11 to 1. In the 1950s, it was 35 to 1. In 1973, it was 44 to 1. In 1992, it was 72 to 1.
The cost of providing basic health care and nutrition for all people in the world would be less than the annual cost of pet food in Europe and the United States.
Rich Corporations-Poor Nations:
The annual revenue of Motorola, Inc. is almost equal to the annual income of Nigeria, Africa’s second largest economy. This country is almost the size of Europe and has the largest population of any African country - 120 million people.
Over 840 million people in the world are malnourished—799 million of them are from the developing world. Sadly, more than 153 million of them are under the age of 5 (half the entire US population).
Every day, 34,000 children under five die of hunger or other hunger-related diseases. This results in 6 million deaths a year. Of 6.2 billion living today, 1.2 billion live on less than $1 per day.
Nearly 3 billion people live on less than $2 a day. 1.2 billion people lack access to clean water; 2.4 billion live without decent sanitation; and 4 billion without wastewater disposal. 12 million people die each year from lack of water, including 3 million children from waterborne disease.
More than 113 million children in the developing world are without access to basic education; 60 percent of them are girls.
Nyagapfizi Emmanuel is a Management Information Systems manager