Feed the People, not the War Machine

By Herb Boyd

     It was great news to see that the eradication of poverty is at the very top of the list at the United Nations Development Programme plans this year.  This announcement came on Sept. 6 during the second regular session of the UNDP Executive Board.

     Ten months ago, said Achim Steiner, the UNDP Administrator, a new Strategic Plan was launched to transform the UNDP “into the world’s most forward-looking, most widely networked development organization, one that could deliver 21st century solutions to the complex development challenges countries are tackling—whether eradicating poverty, overcoming economic crises or navigating massive transitions.”

     We all know about promises, but the UNDP has taken substantial steps in carrying out theirs and six signature solutions, they announced, are already being applied at country level, thus facilitating new ways of collaborating within and across government networks.  “At least 50 countries where UNDP has a physical presence will have established at least one or more platforms by the end of the Strategic Plan in 2021,” according to a UNDP press statement.

     For example, in Moldova, the UNDP has begun to work on the country’s first electric vehicle infrastructure with an aim toward making charging stations more profitable and sustainable. In Colombia, with a relative peace in place, the UNDP is actively involved in gathering private funds to scale up investments with the purpose of bringing the rural sectors of the country out of poverty.  A half century of violence has severely limited a number of growth opportunities.

     New ground is being broken as well in Indonesia hoping to tap the Zakat, or Islamic finance that has an estimated value of $16 billion.

      Meeting these goals will require increased donations from member nations, and already such countries as Germany, Luxembourg, Japan, Norway and Sweden have increased their core donations this year. Moreover, flexible funding has come from 54 partners who have prioritized their contributions.

      Success of these plans will vastly decrease the ever-mounting global poverty that varies depending on the source.  One thing for certain, relieving global poverty will definitely have an effective impact on U.S. security concerns, and it’s encouraging to see how it configures into the nation’s overall foreign policy.

      Even so, there are critical domestic issues in the states that are just as crucial as the international situations.  According to the latest reports from several agencies that monitored such problems, some 40 million people in America live below the poverty line. And you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that the majority of the impoverished are people of color.

      Poverty was high on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s  agenda, and the Poor People’s Campaign was among his most promising plans to alleviate it. “God never intended for one group of people to live in superfluous inordinate wealth, while others have lived in abject deadening poverty.” If the wealth of this country was equally distributed or if the government was more concerned with caring for the needy and not pumping more dollars into the war machine things would be demonstratively better for those living at the bottom of society.

       Given the latest announcements from the UNDP there is every indication that it plans to put Dr. King’s words into practice, and what’s done in one part of the world to help the poor has ramifications throughout the globe.

Herb Boyd, a noted journalist and historian is the author of Black Detroit—A People’s History of Self-Determination (Amistad Press, 2017) and several other books on Malcolm X and James Baldwin. He is a member of the National Advisory Panel at The PuLSE Institute.

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