Mitigating Poverty Disaster through Effective Emergency Planning

Mitigating Poverty Disaster through Effective Emergency Planning

Effective emergency planning ensures the society is well equipped to confront disasters once they occur. The planning identifies potential risks and measures needed to mitigate the risks. It also specifies the procedures and resources required to prevent and mitigate disasters .  Poverty is itself a disaster and it is highly related to other disasters. It can be caused by other disasters if proper disaster management practices are not utilized.  Disasters such as earthquakes and floods interfere with the factors of production that compromises people’s ability to engage in economic activities.  In other words, disasters lead to poverty due to the interference with people’s means of livelihood.  On the other hand, poverty can compromise the ability of stakeholders to manage disasters (Tingsanchali 2012,p.25).   The high interrelationship between disaster and emergency planning clearly shows that effective emergency planning can play a crucial role in mitigating the poverty disaster. Effective emergency planning can lead to sustainable economic development that in turn alleviates poverty.

Poverty is defined as a state of lacking wealth to enable individual meet basic needs (Lister 2004, p.2). It is therefore a scarcity that compromises the ability of an individual to live a decent live.  Poor people lack adequate means of meeting their basic needs such as shelter, food, education, and water (Green & Hulme 2005,p.868).  Poverty therefore robes people off their dignity.  The World Bank has developed a mechanism of evaluating the economic wellbeing of people that helps in identifying those living in poverty. The organization   has set a poverty line of $1.25 per day and any person whose daily expenses are below this line is considered to be living in abject poverty (Haushofer & Fehr 2014, p.863). According to the World Bank, 47.5% of people in Sub-Sahara Africa lives below the poverty line.   The second worst affected region is South Asia where 36% of the population lives below the poverty line (Small, Harding & Lamont  2010,p.8). The international community has been focusing on emergency planning in the Sub-Sahara Africa and South Asia with an aim of addressing the poverty disaster.

Characteristics of poverty

Effective emergency management can only support the fight against poverty if specific characteristics of poverty are identified. Identifying the features enables the stakeholders in disaster management to point out the areas of focus.   Ideal emergency plans should reflect on the realities of poverty and identify specific interventions. Some of the distinctive characteristics of poverty include health, education, conflict, hunger, shelter, and utilities.

Poor Health

Poverty is associated with poor health since there are many poverty related health complications.   It is estimated that 50000 people die each day due to poverty related diseases (Wagstaff  2002,p.97-100). These deaths are usually associated with people of color where women and children are the main victims.  The lack of access to quality health care services compromises people’s ability to satisfy their health needs. Absence of   adequate health services leads to high rate of infant mortality and low life expectancy. The World Health Organization identifies hunger as the main cause of child mortality (Barrett & Swallow 2006,p. 12-13) Poor people cannot afford resources to meet the dietary needs of their children that expose them to diet related sicknesses. Maternal death is a pressing health problem in areas characterized by poverty (Izugbara  & Ngilangwa 2010,p.39-41).. 90% of the global maternal deaths occur in Sub-Sahara Africa and South Asia (Mowafi & Khawaja 2005,p.260-263)..  Infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria pose serious health risks in regions experiencing high poverty rates. These diseases are costly to treat that compromises development due to commitment of the available resources in addressing the diseases. Persons living in poverty stricken regions are more likely to suffer from permanent disabilities emanating from illnesses (Braveman  & Gruskin 2003,p.539). Failure to make clinical interventions on a timely basis leads to deterioration of illnesses that in turn cause permanent disabilities.

 Lack of Proper Education

Lack of education is a common feature in regions that are characterized by high poverty level (Bradshaw 2007,p.19-20).  Education is costly and people living in poverty cannot afford to meet the high costs. Governments in poor countries lack sufficient resources to provide adequate education to citizens (Bourguignon & Chakravarty 2003,p.25-27).  The inadequate investment in education by the government makes it necessary for people to partner with the government in providing education services.  In other words, people are required to contribute specific amounts of money to enable them access education services from government institution. Such an environment makes education only accessible to the rich.  Poverty therefore leads to many people failing to realize education goals.  Education has direct impacts on poverty since absence of education compromises the ability of an individual to secure a well paying job. As a result, economic inequalities increase due to the inability of the poor people to access education. One of the most effective ways of addressing the inequality problem is by providing equal education opportunities that increases the ability of an individual to secure well paying jobs and to engage in economic activities.

Presence of Conflict

Violence is a common feature in poor countries and it  is also a main contributing factor to poverty ( Do & Iyer  2010,p.735).  People in conflict prone activities are unproductive since they spend most of their time fighting or running from conflict.  Most areas in Africa that have been facing conflict are also associated with high poverty levels.  Somalia is Africa’s poorest countries due to the conflict that has been facing the country since the 1990s.  A substantial portion of Somali citizens are refugees in the neighbouring country.  In the past   two and a half decades Kenya has been a home for thousands of Somalis who are held in   Daadab and Kakuma refugee camps. These refugees live in abject poverty and the international community has assumed the responsibility of catering for their basic needs for two decades now(Goodhand 2003,p.630). Most conflicts facing the poor countries emanate from resources shortages. In some cases poor citizens feel aggrieved by unequal distribution of resources that results to conflict.  For instance, the oil rich Niger delta has been causing conflict in Nigeria where the local communities protest for not benefited from oil exploration (Goodhand 2003,p.629).  Conflict is also caused by religious and ideological differences.


It estimated that 1.02 billion people sleep hungry per day (Janvry 2011,p.9-10). The cost of living continues to increase making it hard for the poor to afford adequate food.   The poor spend the largest portion of their earnings on food that makes them vulnerable to fluctuating food prices.  According to the World Bank, around 100 million people risk becoming poorer due to the persistent increase of food prices (Gentilini & Webb 2008,p.521-522). Apart from the increasing prices, hunger is caused by interferences in food supply chain.  These interferences are caused by water shortage and draught. Africa is the world’s most food insecure regions. The World Food Organization estimates that Africa will only manage to feed a quarter of its population in the year 2025 if the current inferior farming practices are not abandoned (FAO, 2012,p.28).  The world’s arable land continues to be degraded that is compromising the ability to feed the over six billion people.

Inadequate Shelter

Poor people lack access to adequate shelter that exposes them to a variety of risks.  A third of the world’s urban population lives in deplorable conditions in slums (Wratten 1995,p.14-19). Slums are more common in developing countries than in developed countries.  Governments in the developed countries have implemented slum upgrading programs that have led to the elimination of slums in most cities. On the other hand, governments in developing countries lack resources to upgrade slums that have led to an increasing population of slum dwellers. Stakeholders in the housing sector have a misconception that people in rural areas live in deplorable conditions. As a result, a lot of emphasis has been put to enhancing living conditions in the rural areas leaving out the urban  slum dwellers. Children are the most affected by the shelter problem as there are over 100 million homeless children in the world. Homeless children lack access to education and health services that put their lives at risk. Homeless kinds are exposed to the risk of child trafficking while others are used by drug traffickers   in the transportation of drugs.  The number of orphanages has been on the rise and their effectiveness is questionable. It is argued that children orphanages do more bad than good to the children because of separating them from their families.

Lack of Utilities

It is the responsibility of the government to establish utility infrastructure such as electricity, communication, and water and sanitation (McFarlane,  Desai & Graham 2014,p.999). Poor governments lack the capacity to provide utilities that expose the poor people to lack of crucial utility services.  It is estimated that 2.5 billion people lack access to adequate sanitation services (Narain 2012, p.185).   Research also show that 15% of the global population practices open defecation that exposes people to many health risks (Water And Sanitation Program Wsp 2008, p.32).  Government emphasizes on providing water and sanitary services to the high income earners since they can afford to meet periodic charges.  The poor are left without access to the water and sanitation services. Access to electricity is a major problem for the poor. Electricity is considered a costly source of lighting and heating energy.

 The Role of Effective Emergency Planning In Addressing Poverty Disaster

Effective emergency planning that leads to sustainable growth can help to address the poverty problem. Stakeholders in emergency planning should consider the above characteristics of poverty to come up with ideal mitigation strategies. Specific measures need to be implemented to foster a sustainable economic development.  Specific interventions include enhancing agricultural production,  promotion of good governance,  developing the education sector, promotion of health, women empowerment, controlling population, and promotion of individual’s income.

Enhancing Agricultural Production

One of the most conspicuous features of poverty is hunger. The world’s population continues to increase that is raising the question of   the ability of the available arable land to meet the food demands.  Developed countries have been using sustainable production techniques in agriculture that are supporting production of enough food to feed the respective populations. However, poor countries continue to apply conventional farming practices that are not sustainable. Emphasis need to be put on encouraging poor countries to adopt superior farming practice that guarantee higher outputs. The use of organic supplements should be encourages to prevent soil poisoning that compromises soil productivity in the long run.  Stakeholders should conduct training to small scale farmers in poor countries on how to use modern methods of farming.   Low productivity of the agriculture sector in poor country is partly caused by lack of capital. Farmers should be supported financially to enable them increase production. Such practices would lead to sustainable farming that address the food insecurity problem.

Promotion of Good Governance

Bad governance is one of the major causes of poverty. Most poor countries are characterized by bad governance that leads to political instability and chronic corruption(Tingsanchali 2012,p.27). Emergency planning should involve scrutinizing governance systems to ensure corrupt leaders are exposed.  Interest groups need to be empowered   to enable them raise an alarm whenever public resources are misappropriated.  Stakeholders in emergency planning should also focus on sensitizing the public about governance issues to increase public participation in shaping government operations. Most poor countries are characterized by ignorant citizens who do not comprehend how a government is run. Educating the public on governance issues promotes accountability as enlightened citizens easily raise an alarm when there is a malpractice.  A country that is free of corruption registers sustainable economic development since resources are directed towards projects that stimulate the economy.

Promotion of Education

One of the major causes of poverty is absence of skills.  Skills enable people to engage in economic activities thus helping in addressing poverty. Equipping people with the right skills increases their ability to create wealth.  The world’s most successful economies are knowledge-based that leads to the creation of many entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs establish businesses that create employment to many people. As a result poverty reduces due to the provision of employment opportunities(Bradshaw 2007,p.19-20).  Educated people also stand a higher chance of securing well paying jobs than uneducated people.  Emergency planning should provide a perspective to the creation of a good education system that is relevant to the current problems.  A good education system is one that equips the people with relevant practical skills that enable them engage in productive activities. Creation of a knowledge-based economy leads to sustainable economic development.

Promotion of Health

Health is a key determinant of the economic wellbeing of a country.  A healthy labour force is productive thus increase the overall productivity of an economic system. An effective emergency planning should present a perspective on promoting people’s health.  People need to be enlightened on health matters to increase their ability to take care of their health. Poor countries are characterized by high level of ignorance that makes it hard for the people to observe healthy lifestyles.  Stakeholders in emergency planning should also put emphasis on encourage the government and the private sector to invest in the provision of health services.

Women Empowerment

Most poor countries are characterized by women that lack proper empowerment. Around half of the labour force is comprised of women that make it necessary to empower them to realize economic goals.  The gender education gap in poor countries especially in Sub-Sahara Africa is wide leaving women with inadequate skills( Njoh & Akiwumi  2012,p.10). It is important to encourage the stakeholders in the education sector to give women access to education aimed at enhancing their ability to engage in income generating activities. Women are subjected to domestic violence and regressive cultures that compromise their productivity.  Emergency planning should provide a framework for empowering women that increase their participation in the economy thus leading to sustainable economic growth.

Controlling Population

Fertility rate is high in Sub-Sahara Africa and other poor regions (Cleland  et al.2006,p.1810). Most poor people give birth to many children beyond their ability to bring them up.  Emergency planning should lay emphasis on family planning to support population control. Controlling population is of benefit to the government since it allows proper planning. It also reduces pressure on the household resources that enables people to meet other needs .

Improving Individual’s Economic Welfare

People in poor countries lack economic opportunities making it necessary to focus on creating such opportunities. Lack of opportunities compromises their ability to create wealth.  Emergency planning should focus on promoting employment and investment opportunities. Critical stakeholders in the economy should be encouraged to create employment opportunities to the low income earners. Stakeholders in the financial sector should be encouraged to fund small businesses to increase the ability of the low income earners to create employment. Donors should focus on funding small-scale businesses.

In conclusion, poverty disaster is a pressing issue in the world.  The worst affected regions are Sub-Sahara Africa and South Asia. Effective emergency planning can help to address the poverty disaster through promotion of sustainable economic growth. Stakeholders in emergency management should be conversant with the features of poverty before making interventions. The ideal interventions include enhancing agricultural production,  promotion of good governance,  developing the education sector, promotion of health, women empowerment, controlling population, and promotion of individual’s income. These intervention leads to sustainable economic development.

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