Poverty – The International Violation of Human Rights 4

These days there are much talks of rights violation from the criminal to LGBT, however there is one issue that is not seeing as much motion or effort for something that we consider the most basic of human rights violation; Poverty.

Belizeans must not take freedom and human rights for granted.

We need to focus on the poverty level and underdeveloped communities of Belize first then we can move onto other rights for what sense does it make if you can live safe in jail or have same sex marriages when you can’t afford to buy food for your child or when we continually see children going to school with empty tummies?

Poverty is the state of one who lacks a certain amount of material possessions or money. Absolute poverty or destitution refers to the one who lacks basic human needs, which commonly includes clean and fresh water, nutrition, health care, education, clothing and shelter. About 1.7 billion people are estimated to live in absolute poverty today. For most of history poverty had been mostly accepted as inevitable as traditional modes of production were insufficient to give an entire population a comfortable standard of living. The supply of basic needs can be restricted by constraints on government services such as corruption, debt and loan conditionalities and by the brain drain of health care and educational professionals.Wikipedia

We need to create an infrastructure system that will connect rural and urban communities to economic opportunities through education, small business grants and aides, etc. We need to create environments where all Belizeans have an equal opportunity at moving forward in life. We need to connect farms and villages to the energy grid and build more schools and clinics in rural areas.

The fastest way for Belize to escape poverty is to invest in improving the country’s education. With 38.9 percent of the population 14 years old or younger, improving education could be a major step forward in the right direction. The Belize government needs to figure out how to keep more of their younger population in school, because educating their youth would be the first step toward helping to eliminate their substantial national debt and helping the country of Belize grow.

Large amounts of the elderly are currently living below the poverty level. A big reason for this is because of what is considered elderly in Belize and the age at which social security is received in Belize. In Belize, people over the age of 55 are considered elderly. The elderly often cannot obtain jobs because no one will hire them and compounding that problem is that social security will not be given out until a person reaches the age of 65. This combination of factors can lead to increasing levels of poverty among the elderly.

What does the United Nations and World Bank have to say about what poverty is?

United NationsWorld Bank
Fundamentally, poverty is a denial of choices and opportunities, a violation of human dignity. It means lack of basic capacity to participate effectively in society. It means not having enough to feed and clothe a family, not having a school or clinic to go to, not having the land on which to grow one’s food or a job to earn one’s living, not having access to credit. It means insecurity, powerlessness and exclusion of individuals, households and communities. It means susceptibility to violence, and it often implies living in marginal or fragile environments, without access to clean water or sanitation.
Poverty is pronounced deprivation in well-being, and comprises many dimensions. It includes low incomes and the inability to acquire the basic goods and services necessary for survival with dignity. Poverty also encompasses low levels of health and education, poor access to clean water and sanitation, inadequate physical security, lack of voice, and insufficient capacity and opportunity to better one’s life.
East Asia and Pacific15.40%12.33%9.07%
Europe and Central Asia3.60%1.28%0.95%
Latin America and the Caribbean9.62%9.08%8.64%
Middle East and North Africa2.08%1.69%1.47%
South Asia35.04%33.44%30.84%
Sub-Saharan Africa46.07%42.63%41.09%

Random Facts

  • Almost half the world — over 3 billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day.
  • The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the 41 Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (567 million people) is less than the wealth of the world’s 7 richest people combined.
  • Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names.
  • Less than one per cent of what the world spent every year on weapons was needed to put every child into school by the year 2000 and yet it didn’t happen.
  • 1 billion children live in poverty (1 in 2 children in the world). 640 million live without adequate shelter, 400 million have no access to safe water, 270 million have no access to health services. 10.6 million died in 2003 before they reached the age of 5 (or roughly 29,000 children per day).
  • 121 Million Children are out of the Education System Worldwide
  • About 25,000 people die every day of hunger or hunger-related causes, according to the United Nations. This is one person every three and a half seconds. Unfortunately, it is children who die most often.

Facts About Children and Poverty

Health Care and Nutrition

  • Measles, malaria and diarrhea are three of the biggest killers of children — yet all are preventable or treatable
  • More than 30 million children in the world are not immunized against treatable or preventable diseases
  • 95 percent of all the people who get polio are under the age of 5
  • HIV/AIDS has created more than 14 million orphans — 92 percent of them live in Africa
  • Six million children under five die every year as a result of hunger


  • 134 million children between the ages of 7 to 18 have never been to school.
  • Girls are more likely to go without schooling than boys — in the Middle East and North Africa, girls are three times more likely than boys to be denied education
  • For every year of education, wages increase by a worldwide average of 10 percent
  • Educated mothers tend to send their children to school, helping to break the cycle of poverty


  • In the last decade, more than 2 million children have died as a direct result of armed conflict
  • More than 300,000 child soldiers are exploited in armed conflicts in over 30 countries around the world
  • 2 million children are believed to be exploited through the commercial sex trade
  • Approximately 246 million children work
  • 171 million children work in hazardous conditions


Poverty in Belize

According to an assessment done in 2002, more than a third of Belizeans were living in poverty and the proportion of poor households was almost twice as high in rural areas as in urban areas.  Almost 13 per cent of rural households were extremely poor, compared to 3.3 per cent of urban households.

Smallholders usually have to engage in agricultural wage labour and other off-farm activities to make a living, relying on multiple income-generating activities.

Young people in Belize are more vulnerable to poverty than any other social group. Almost 40 per cent of all children aged 17 and younger live in poverty, and the proportion is even higher among Maya children. The incidence of poverty among young people is higher in rural areas, where it is 44.2 per cent, compared with 25.5 per cent in urban areas. About 80 per cent of the people living in the district are poor.

Average family income in Belize sometimes falls as low as $634(BZ) per year.

Poor families need to have their children around to help the family make money, so they take their children out of school to help support the family. Unfortunately, women are usually the children removed from school because they are not expected to be the ones making money in the future. Taking children out of school promotes a continuing cycle of poverty.

Illiteracy is a problem that has grown from the lack of quality education in Belize. While the government says that literacy rates are often said to be as high as 76 percent. In the Stann Creek and Toledo Districts, literacy is only rated at 32 percent. Some educators believe that the reason for such high illiteracy rates is that not enough class time is dedicated to oral English and reading. People who are illiterate are much more likely to live in poverty, so it is important to improve illiteracy rates.

Who are the country’s poor rural people and where are they?

In general, Belize’s poor rural people include:

  • members of poor households whose main source of income is agriculture and fisheries, although many diversify their activities by working for wages on farms or for industries, and women often manage small and microenterprises
  • members of poor households whose main source of income is wage labour, although they may cultivate small plots of land to supply the family’s food needs
  • extremely poor people who live in highly disadvantaged conditions, often in remote rural villages, including subsistence farmers and landless agricultural workers
  • young people who are unemployed and lack income-generating opportunities
  • rural women who are traditionally economically dependent on men and who are constrained both by traditional gender roles within households and by lack of access to financial resources and capacity-building

Why are they poor?

  • Most rural producers practice subsistence farming, using very low technology. As a result, productivity is low. Although farmers may know some technology, they do not have the resources to procure it. The lack of financial resources hinders the adoption of better way of cropping, results in limited yields and lack of income.
  • In the south, most small-scale farmers produce maize, beans and rice, practicing a shifting, or slash and burn, system called milpa. The milpa system uses a combination of perennial crops, such as cacao and food crops. Most small southern farmers belong to Maya communities.
  • Most small-scale subsistence farmers in Belize have to seek off-farm employment or some other income-generating activity to supplement household income.
  • Because of fiscal constraints, agricultural research and extension services have been reduced over the past two decades. The supply of rural financial services has been quite limited until the present, and it has been particularly difficult for poor rural people to access them.

 Population below poverty line: 43% (2010 est.)

Definition: National estimates of the percentage of the population falling below the poverty line are based on surveys of sub-groups, with the results weighted by the number of people in each group. Definitions of poverty vary considerably among nations. For example, rich nations generally employ more generous standards of poverty than poor nations.


Poverty headcount ratio at $1.25 a day (PPP) (% of population): 12.36%    (1999 est.)

Definition: Population below $1.25 a day is the percentage of the population living on less than $1.25 a day at 2005 international prices. As a result of revisions in PPP exchange rates, poverty rates for individual countries cannot be compared with poverty rates reported in earlier editions.

Random Belize Facts

  • Unemployment, youth ages 15-24
    • total: 19.5%
    • male: 13.8%
    • female: 28.8% (2005)
  • Children under the age of 5 years underweight: 4.9% (2006)
  • Unemployment rate: 13.1% (2009)

The End of Poverty?

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