October 17th marks International Day for the Eradication of Poverty and the central theme for 2015 is coming together to end poverty and discrimination. The United Nations are using this opportunity to highlight the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, where ending poverty in all its forms everywhere is one of the goals. What changes can we expect in this coming period?
Earlier this month, the UNICEF’s Executive Director Anthony Lake entitled his blog about adoption of the 2030 Agenda “A revolution in early childhood development.” He points out that early years are not only about education and stresses the importance of other factors in the development of a child’s brain. Nutrition, clean environment and security are essential, yet many of the world’s children still lack the basics necessary for healthy development.
Anthony Lake also highlights the negative effects of toxic stress on the developing brains, especially in major conflicts. Unfortunately, the appalling conditions of many Romani families are not very different from those caught up in the trauma of war. Large numbers of Romani and Travellers families remain stateless, in a situation similar to the growing number of refugees from regions struck by war. The undesirable impact on children and their early development is evident. According to the UNDP data from 2011 about 90% of households in the Romani settlements are below national poverty levels. Housing evictions present a permanent threat to many Romani families in informal settlements. On 14 October, 9 Members of the European Parliament met non-governmental organizations at a hearing on forced evictions of Roma. The message was clear: some steps can be done, but they take a very long time and still may not be as effective as we would need them to be. While we search for other avenues to bring about change, children suffer from not having a chance to develop to their full potential.
When I was a child, my mother used to joke with me about ‘tomorrow’. It was the usual answer to any of my requests she did not want or was not able to fulfill. “Sure, you’ll get you a new computer. Tomorrow.” Since then I have been little reluctant to accept tomorrow as an answer to anything. Tomorrow is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. But to really eradicate it, we need to start today.
ISSA Program Manager/ REYN Coordinator