How to Help the Homeless and Hungry
Can he get a home and food with dignity?
Starvation, Dearth of food or Lack of Money?
Irony is about one-fourth the world is starving at any given point of time. Problem is not food. But then what?
Every country has devised its own ways of addressing this issue. This inhuman issue. Someone has plenty. Someone has nothing to put in his or her mouth.
Africa and Asia, are the two continents where most of the malnourished reside. We often see in our newspapers, kids with stunted growth, emaciated features, thinned out bones and so on. These are heart-wrenching pictures. These pics often question our redundancy. They provoke us to act. Many non-profit non-governmental and governmental organizations are formed to solve the issue, but in vain. Billions of dollars are pumped in but they are only able to provide masking Band-Aid Solutions. The larger issue underneath has remained smoldering.
Country wise, our country has picked up a scheme to eradicate poverty is MGNREGA or Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Gurantee Act. This act is to ensure that a poor man residing in the villages and no other means of livelihood will get guaranteed employment for a certain period along with time-bound payment. It has touched the issue well, but it also is unable to eradicate it. Poor are still starving every now and then.
Similarly, in Saleh, Africa, due to starvation, several food camps were set up there. Even with free food, it was unable to solve the issue. Hunger and starvation was still evident and a burning issue there.
Is there is real shortage of food?
The answer is a clear no. The world produces enough to feed a few more extra billion people. Every year innumerable tons of food gets perished due to several trivial reasons. So if we produce so much calories and still starving, then we need to have some serious thinking about this issue. At least someone should not die of food when tons of it is decaying.
Several leading economists like Amartya Sen have often addressed this issue from a different angle. They clearly say that there is no scarcity of food, but scarcity of money. So, put money in those hands who are starving and see traders will go there and sell them food. There will be no starvation. But putting money in those hands is no easy task. You need to devise a proper methodology to do so or else the plan will fell flat. You need a long-term solution and not a year or two for solution.
Ways to Treat Hunger
There are two methods to put money in the starving hands and both have their own pros and cons. One is labor intensive and the other is capital intensive. One is direct method of putting money and the other is indirect method.
First is the labor-intensive method, countries like India have put their schemes into action, like MGNREGA. Here the government directly put money into the hands of poor people by providing them job for a certain period of time. Thus, they buy food directly with that money. The problem is that the kind of job they made to do are not creating great assets. They are building either temporary structures or structures with no relevance. They are not creating a self-sustenance model. The moment government stops funding, they will spring back to poverty.
In the second capital intensive method, i.e., instead of putting alms in hands of the needy, teach them how to generate it with dignity. In this model, social thinkers, engineers, architect, educationist, doctors, bankers, and all stakeholders are consulted to create a self-sustenance model. Say for 10-15 years, government will keep pouring money in such schemes. After this phase, the structures created will generate enough employment and revenue to support the model. This kind of model is absolute necessity of time, as no form of government can assure lifelong support for a large section of the society. Also, this model boosts self-esteem. People instead of depending on outside funds for livelihood, they themselves know meaningful ways of employment. They can now spread it to other parts by repeating the model.
Those who were once dependent on state are now providers and productive subjects of the state. They have claimed dignity and productivity.