I’m attending a meeting on poverty once again, in a nice, warm, hotel. It is winter in Bhutan.
I’m early. The registration hasn’t started yet. I however register and go into the conference hall. There are only two or three conference organizers and no participants from outside. I take a seat at the second row – the chairs are arranged in a semi-circle as is usually done for a meeting.
As I take my seat, I see a notepad, a file, and a book – the title of the book glares at me, leaving me rather uncomfortable. It reads, “COMBATING HUNGER” and below it is these words, “ABOLISH HUNGER – IT IS POSSIBLE.” The ‘O’ in Abolish is a picture of a pot with something in it. I think it represents cereal/food. As I look at it longer, it sinks in me that there are people around the world who are going hungry, everyday, and dying because of it.
I will not do any kind of analysis of why there is extreme poverty such as not having even enough food for survival. But I’m writing here because it strikes me that, when there are so many people working for alleviation of poverty, so many organizations dedicated solely for helping alleviate poverty, it still goes on. I now feel like I have forever heard about this term and it has rather perpetuated. So as I eat dinner, I ask a person from the UNICEF, if he thinks that poverty has actually gone down in Bhutan. He doesn’t seem so sure. I’m not saying that, the poverty alleviation works haven’t helped. All I’m saying is that, we aren’t sure if it has. Recent Poverty Mapping result shows rather the same result we had before. I’m sure it is disheartening for the government to see this, but if it speaks the truth, we must rather take it at heart that we probably haven’t been working hard enough, or that, we haven’t been working right.
It is not that not enough resources have been put. I know the donors have put their money for this work. Two weeks back, I attended a meeting again on Poverty and there, so many government officials and people from private sectors shared their concern about how much of the budget allocated gets down to the community actually targeted to be helped. How much goes for the travel allowance of the officials working in the project to help the community? They raised their concern. None could answer it concretely. The question hung in the hall. I’m sure many forgot it after they left the conference hall.
I know I wrote in my blog before too about poverty conference being held in a five star hotel. I feel the same again. Why? I don’t understand. So many food being wasted. So many mineral water bottles being emptied. As I write this, I imagine holding a poverty conference in an environmental friendly hall, a decent one, where there are no posh modern facilities. Anyway…
Abolishing hunger is possible. But how? I will leave the question open for now. I will have to ask the question to myself for sometime too, to really see, what is going wrong. The First Gross National Happiness Survey results show that 3% of our people are food insecure. I leave for the readers to think, what we must do.