Global Poverty Project begins third year at Rutgers


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Photo by Grace Richiez |

Sukaina Alikhan and Eva Mendelson, vice president and president of Rutgers UNICEF, speak at Trayes Hall.


One billion people around the world went to bed hungry last night, 2.5 billion people will not have access to a toilet today and 57 million children are not able to attend primary school.

There are 1.2 billion people who live on less than $1.25 per day and battle the daily decisions about food versus health care for their children, said Judith Rowland, senior campaigns associate for the Global Poverty Project.

Rowland, who spoke last night at Trayes Hall in the Douglass Campus Center, said a ration of $1.25 per day is considered extreme poverty.

Only with access to food, water, a working toilet, education and a job can people pull themselves out of extreme poverty.

Photo: Grace Richiez

Judith Rowland, senior campaigns associate for The Global Poverty Project, speaks about eradicating world poverty at Trayes Hall on Douglass campus.

Eva Mendelson, a Rutgers College of Nursing senior and president of Rutgers UNICEF, introduced the event and invited the audience to take out their smart phones and visit UNICEF’s website to see their Tap Project, a campaign in which anyone with a smartphone can participate.

The purpose of the project is to help provide clean water and sanitation to children in need around the world, according to UNICEF’s website.

The campaign challenges people to go without their phones for as long as possible. For every 10 minutes, participants go without picking up their phones, UNICEF Tap Project donors and sponsors fund one day of clean water for a child in a developing nation, according to the website.

Sukaina Alikhan, vice president of Rutgers UNICEF, said this is the third year that the Global Poverty Project is visiting Rutgers.

Alikhan, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said 1400 kids die everyday because they do not have access to clean water.

Rowland opened the presentation,“1.4 Billion Reasons,” by explaining that the Global Poverty project works on campaigns to see the end of extreme poverty.

After growing up on a farm in Missouri, Rowland went on to study and live in places like Ghana, Puerto Rico, China and the United Kingdom.

Throughout her experiences abroad, she interacted with people living in or overcoming extreme poverty.

Though she was nervous about what she could possibly find in common with such poverty-stricken communities, she found that extreme poverty is more than a lack of money.

Rowland said 25 percent of the world’s population currently lives in extreme poverty, but the Global Poverty Project aims to bring this number down to zero.

In 2000, world leaders came together to develop a framework of goals and objectives to end extreme poverty around the world, she said.

The eight Millennium Development Goals agreed upon include improving maternal and child health care, promoting gender equality and empowering women, all by the ambitious target date of 2015.

“Empowering women and girls can be one of the key solutions to increasing the economy and ending extreme poverty,” Rowland said.

Now that 2015 is one year away, the world has a unique opportunity to create a new framework to move forward, known as the post-2015 development agenda.

“One of the easiest ways to allow women to be equal in their community is to give them access to contraceptives,” she said.

Women in developing nations who do not have access to contraceptives are not able to plan their lives, and therefore have trouble engaging in the global community in the same way men can, she said.

Another Millennium Development Goal is reducing child mortality, and one way to do this is to encourage vaccines and immunizations.

Polio has been 99.9 percent eradicated, which she said proves that when the global community comes together to accomplish a common goal, a difference can be made.

Going forward, a lot of progress still needs to be made, Rowland said. The post-2015 agenda has offered a new set of priorities, like equality for girls and women.

“Who wouldn’t want women and girls to be treated equally?” she questioned.

There are many misconceptions about aid in the United States, she said. This country spends about 0.23 percent of its federal budget on aid.

“Not a lot, is it? Not a lot at all,” Rowland said.

Rowland believes ending extreme poverty is a moral issue.

“It just isn’t right that we can allow 1.2 billion people around the world to live on less than $1.25 a day,” she said. “It just doesn’t seem fair.”

In addition, diseases from other countries can easily come back around to the U.S. She said people have picked up polio in countries like Niger and brought them back to Canada and France.

The point is, these problems are not so far removed from our country. They can easily become U.S. problems if good health care is not something that exists worldwide.

“We only have one planet, and we know what it takes to end extreme poverty,” she said.

In order to help eradicate global poverty, students can become global citizens and take the “Live Below the Line” challenge, where they live on $1.50 per day for five days to gain a small understanding of what extreme poverty feels like.


By Sabrina Szteinbaum

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