U.N. report: More than 2.2 billion people ‘poor or near-poor’

More than 2.2 billion people are “poor or near-poor”, with financial crises, natural disasters, soaring food prices and violent conflicts threatening to exacerbate the problem, a United Nations report said Thursday.

While poverty is in decline worldwide, growing inequality and “structural vulnerabilities” remain a serious threat, said the report by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), released in Tokyo…

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This is obviously complex but I cannot but think as long I continue to see stories like this there is zero hope of fixing the problem.

Niger Is Hurt by Runaway Birthrates

DAKAR, Senegal — Nearly every year, the West African desert nation of Niger faces a food crisis, and nearly every year the international aid agencies, including the United Nations, send out urgent appeals for funds to feed the country’s starving millions. This year is no different. Niger, where women pick bitter green berries off scrubby trees to stave off starvation, cannot feed itself.

That unchanging reality is buttressed by another one, equally stubborn and deeply frustrating to demographers. With an average of nearly eight children per woman, Niger, by some measures the poorest country in the world, also has its highest birthrate. At current rates, the population will double in the next 15 years, to 35 million from over 17 million.

Does that make sense for a country that is perennially on the brink of mass hunger — one that is far from having the resources to feed its current population, let alone one twice as big? Obviously not, say the demographers. And yet precious little is being done about it, they say.
[…]
Niger, with its exploding population and its vast unfertile territory, has one of the world’s lowest rates of contraceptive use, Mr. Guengant noted. The country’s women, held back by their husbands and by imams who inveigh against “Western” notions like birth control, don’t demand it…

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