How we make poverty

A note from the editor

Dinyar Godrej

Levelling up

Poverty is a downer, no two ways about it. It refuses to be made history, though, mercy knows, it should have been consigned to it long ago. And it resists jollying up – narratives of the ‘we were poor, but we were happy’ type notwithstanding.

Sure, one can talk about ‘breaks’. How the woman running ragged doing four different jobs on the periphery of an Indonesian city got hers via a small loan and now runs her own successful business doing x.

In reality, such stories of ‘making it’ are not commonplace (we have an example in our report from Brazil). It defies logic that inside every hardworking poor person is an entrepreneur waiting to emerge. Or that the deprived communities in which they operate have the cash to support a streetful of small shopkeepers.

The hillside the marginalized face is steep and it’s a heavy stone they must push up it. Far more useful and effective would be creating a more level surface where efforts and fruits could be better shared. This requires a system change against the undervaluing of everything that poor people do only to expand the fortunes of the already wealthy – a form of thievery that this edition lays bare. This argument for change is not new, but it acquires urgency because today there is no material reason whatsoever why poverty should still exist and why inequality should be spiralling out of control.

Elsewhere, we share stories of people fighting the power: doughty indigenous human-rights defender Virginia Pinares from Peru, Canadian youth taking a stand for the planet, and Sarawak islanders in Malaysia holding out for sustainable renewable power over destructive mega-dams.

Dinyar Godrej for the New Internationalist co-operative.
www.newint.org

The big story

Wary looks: Ntombekhaya Sobuza and little sister Asanele outside their shack constructed from packaging materials from a Volkswagen plant, on the outskirts of Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Photo: James Oatway/Panos

Wary looks: Ntombekhaya Sobuza and little sister Asanele outside their shack constructed from packaging materials from a Volkswagen plant, on the outskirts of Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

Photo: James Oatway/Panos

Shut out

Poverty is not down to chance or bad choices. It’s hard wired into a deeply unequal economic system. But it doesn’t have to be that way, says Dinyar Godrej.

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The Big Story

Action on Poverty

Links for campaigning and more reading on poverty.

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Protesters against Argentina’s hunger crisis gather for a brew, 5 September 2019. They had camped out overnight in front of the Ministry of Social Development in Buenos Aires.Photo: Carol Smiljan/NurPhoto/PA

Argentina’s big squeeze

Why is hunger growing in a country known as an agricultural powerhouse? Amy Booth reports from Buenos Aires.

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President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, a critic of Western influence over his country, meets with US President John F Kennedy. There may have been smiles all around but Nkrumah’s cards were marked.Photo: Abbie Rowe/Wikimedia Commons

A brief history of impoverishment

Poverty between – and within – nations doesn’t just exist. It is created and needs constant maintenance. Warning: extremely violent content. Words: Dinyar Godrej.

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Illustration: Yeyei Gómez

Who’s the thief?

Tax havens in the Global North enable the systematic looting of the Global South. John Christensen explains how their activities impoverish the world.

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Daiana Borges says she gained dignity after she started to sell her products: ‘Before, I could not look people in the eye.’Photo: Vanessa Martina Silva

Can cash hand-outs cure poverty?

Vanessa Martina Silva considers the track record of Brazil’s flagship Bolsa Família, the world’s largest conditional cash transfer scheme.

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Heads down and with not a moment to spare: women workers stitch garments for fast-fashion foreign brands at a factory on the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh.Photo: Mehedi Hasan/NurPhoto/PA

For a few cents more

The globalized garment industry is as ruthless as they come, creaming off huge profits while paying workers a pittance. Trade unionist Anannya Bhattacharjee from the Asia Floor Wage Alliance is pressing the case for a living wage. She explains to Dinyar Godrej that the changes needed are surprisingly small – yet vehemently resisted.

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Photo: David Mercado/Reuters

A living wage for the world?

Dinyar Godrej ponders what a global minimum wage might look like.

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Illustration: Pete Reynolds

We can’t grow our way out of poverty

For more than half a century, economists and policymakers have focused fanatically on growth as the only feasible way to end global poverty and improve people’s lives. But in an era of planet-wide ecological breakdown, that comfortable conventional wisdom is crashing to an end. Jason Hickel lays it on the line.

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People from the various villages in Baram district demonstrate against the proposed dam.Photo: Samban Tugang

Saving rivers, saving lives

An epic struggle has been playing out between islanders defending their land, rivers and livelihoods and the Malaysian government’s vision of ‘development’. Veronique Mistiaen spoke with Peter Kallang, the campaigner in the thick of it.

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Night passage – migrants from many parts of Central America jump on a freight train leaving Irapuato in central Mexico, after waiting for more than 10 hours, en route to the Mexico-US border.

To ride The Beast

Images from the migrant route through Mexico, where desperate people risk a journey fraught with danger to try to make it to the US. Text and photos: Pablo Allison.

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Children protest against climate impacts of fast fashion in Montreal on Black Friday, November 2019.Photo: Lucy EJ Woods

Young climate heroes

Skipping meals to talk to the media, aiming to get arrested – and still making it to your hockey game. These are just some of the tasks found on the to-do lists of campaigners in Canada who are putting everything on the line to fight for a liveable, just future. Lucy EJ Woods went to meet them.

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Opinion

View from Brazil

View from Brazil

A war against indigenous people, writes Leonardo Sakamoto.

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View from India

View from India

Tolerance in the most holy city by Nilanjana Bhowmick.

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View from Africa

View from Africa

Confessions of a frequent flier by Nanjala Nyabola.

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Currents

A member of the security forces in Sacaba, Cochabamba, on 15 November 2019, the day that nine people were massacred at a march in support of ousted president Evo Morales.Photo: Danilo Balderrama/Reuters

Democracy in Peril

Update from Bolivia by Amy Booth.

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Illustration: Emma Peer

Reintroducing... Zoran Milanović

Richard Swift on the former prime minister and social democratic leader of Croatia.

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Bearing witness

Bearing witness

Report from Palestine/Israel by Aaron Drapkin.

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A rescuer searches for injured animals on the charred forest floor of Kangaroo Island in south Australia – famed as the country’s ‘Galapagos’ for its unique and abundant wildlife – after bushfires swept through the island in January.Photo: Peter Parks/AFP/Getty

Unstoppable fire

Report from Australia by Cam Walker.

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A migrant worker draws attention to the plight of seasonal tomato pickers in Puglia, southern Italy, 2018.Photo: Roberto D'agostino/AFP/Getty

Pain-free pomodoro

Report from Italy by Alessio Perrone.

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Brutal blasphemy verdict

Brutal blasphemy verdict

Report from Pakistan by Husna Rizvi.

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Illustration: Emma Peer

Reasons to be cheerful

Arctic is a no-go zone, says Goldman Sachs; SÍ, se puede!; Plastics giant punished.

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Regulars

Letters

Letters

Praise, blame and all points in between? Give us your feedback.

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Illustration: Sarah John

Race and the city

Yewande Omotoso reflects on why no-nonsense Johannesburg is the place that suits her best.

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Borderlines

Borderlines

Chechens denied by Nils Adler.

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Sign of the times

In solidarity with protests in India.

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Illustration: Mahnaz Yazdani

Open Window

Mother Whale by Mahnaz Yazdani (Iran).

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(clockwise from top left): A family outside their flooded house in Karachi, which was hit by super cyclonic storm Kyarr in October 2019; Imran Khan speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2020; Asia’s biggest flower market in Lahore; students in Lahore participating in the Global Climate Strike in September 2019.Photos: All From PA Images: STR/Xinhua; Valeriano Di Domenico/World Economic Forum/DPA; Last two both by Rana Sajid Hussain/Pacific Press/Sipa Usa.

Country profile: Pakistan

The photos, facts and politics of Pakistan.

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Cartoon History: Billionaires

Cartoon History: Billionaires

The global oligarchy problem by Darryl Cunningham.

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Should prisons be abolished?

Should prisons be abolished?

Prisons damage people and have always been used by the powerful to control the most marginalized. But when some criminals undoubtedly pose great danger to others, can society really do away with incarceration altogether? Kelsey Mohamed and Andrew Neilson go head to head.

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Photo: Ebrahim Elmoly

Southern Exposure: Ebrahim Elmoly

Highlighting the work of artists and photographers from the Majority World.

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Photo: Vit Simanek/CTK Photo/Alamy

Hall of Infamy: Luis Almagro

At first glance he seems to have the credentials to even-handedly lead the always-problematic OAS.

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Photo: Vanessa Baird

The Interview: Virginia Pinares

Taking a stand against mining corporations can cost you your freedom – and even your life – in Peru. But that does not deter indigenous human rights defender Virginia Pinares. She tells Vanessa Baird why.

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Only Planet

Only Planet

Wildlife Alliance AGM, by Marc Roberts.

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New Yorkers march against fracking last April.Photo: Erik McGregor/Getty

Temperature check

Climate action in a hostile environment. Words by Danny Chivers.

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Agony Uncle

Agony Uncle

Ethical and political dilemmas abound these days. Seems like we’re all in need of a New Internationalist perspective. Enter stage: Agony Uncle.

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Illustration: Andy Carter

What if…

We got our attention back?

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Film, Book & Music Reviews

Mixed Media: Books

Mixed Media: Books

The Living Days; The Birds They Sang; Low; Becoming Human Again.

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Mixed Media: Film

Mixed Media: Film

Misbehaviour; The Perfect Candidate.

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Mixed Media: Music

Mixed Media: Music

Wild Wild East; The Karen Dalton Archives

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Photo: Ben Cohen

Spotlight: Kyla Simone Bruce

Subi Shah speaks to film-maker Kyla Simone Bruce.

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