Tackling Inequality is Only Way to End Extreme Poverty in a Generation

This post originally appeared on Save the Children’s website here. Reposted with permission.

WESTPORT, Conn. (Sept. 25, 2013) — New research shows it is possible to end extreme poverty by 2030, but only if income inequality is tackled head on.

As world leaders gather at the UN to discuss poverty eradication, Save the Children’s Getting to Zero report shows that in just 17 years it is possible to eradicate critical elements of extreme poverty, saving at least 1.8 million children’s lives every year.

By analyzing country-level data through a new statistical model, Save the Children analysts found that by 2030 it is possible to ensure that no child dies of preventable causes, all children finish primary school, and everyone has access to safe water and sanitation. However, the data also shows that this is not possible under a “business as usual” scenario.

On current trajectories, by 2030, 1.8 million children will still die every year from preventable causes, nearly 400 million people will lack access to safe water, and a massive 1.4 billion will lack adequate sanitation — far short of the goal of getting to zero.

Only by factoring in reductions in income inequality and improvements in governance can we hit the ‘zero targets’ under discussion at the UN.

Save the Children President and CEO Carolyn Miles said: “This is both a remarkable and sobering finding. We can now prove that this can be the generation that ends extreme poverty, but only if the world is willing to tackle income inequality head on.

“This is a key challenge to the current development model and requires a willingness to tackle the thorny subject of inequality, an issue too many politicians shy away from. We now know that even with high rates of growth, developing countries will only hit zero poverty if they reduce income inequality and improve governance at the same time.

“Save the Children urges leaders meeting in New York this week not to fall into the trap of willing the ends of poverty eradication without embracing the necessary means. Commitments to end poverty without accompanying pledges to tackle inequality will increasingly ring hollow.”

Note to Editors

Preventable child deaths is defined as child mortality rates that fall below an upper threshold of 20/1000. Unfortunately, there will always be children who die of congenital health problems, but 20/1000 deaths is the internationally agreed level if children and parents had access to basic health care.