Harvest festival is being celebrated across the country at the moment, giving thanks for the produce that is available for society.
This represents the lifeblood to any community of food, jobs and hope. But, as some people have enough or too much, so many others have very little, even within our own communities. Over one million people resorted to using food banks last year in the UK. Here in Bury St Edmunds, the Gatehouse food bank has reported increasing demand for food parcels.
Each year, over 13 million children under the age of five die from illnesses which could have been avoided or treatedDan Wood
Inequality is even worse across the world as a whole. An estimated one billion people live in extreme poverty. They earn less than £1.25 a day. They have no permanent shelter. They have no access to proper healthcare. You might, therefore, believe that eradicating extreme poverty is too difficult, too idealistic, too unimaginable to be able to achieve. But that’s not so.
We should celebrate how far we have already moved towards eradicating ultimate hardship. Across the world electricity is available in over 83% of homes; 80% of children are vaccinated against measles and over 90% of girls receive a primary school education. Progress is clearly continuing in three main areas of economic growth, healthcare and education. But how can the rest of the world eradicate extreme poverty?
Simple. The answer is healthcare.
Each year, over 13 million children under the age of five die from illnesses which could have been avoided or treated. Access to healthcare has the potential to transform lives. Instead of being consigned to an existence of suffering, people could have a life of hope and real purpose.
Once the basic problems have been resolved the focus can be changed to more complex problems such as increasing education provision. Of course, such a situation will take time but it is the only long-term solution to the problem of desperate poverty around the world.
So what can we do within our own communities here in Suffolk to solve inequality? Clearly there is no easy answer that everyone will agree upon. In the UK we throw away 15 million tonnes of food every year. If some of that was allocated to charities and food banks instead, there might be a time in our country where nobody has to do without sufficient food.
In the long term the solution to inequality in the UK is a lot more complicated. Regardless of their job, all of us should have enough for the essentials to live their daily lives and we need to ensure that everyone is able to fulfil their potential and has an equal opportunity to succeed.
Inequality is, and always will be, difficult to solve. If we start from the basics of reducing food waste and donating a couple of items of food to food banks every week we can build up to ensuring that everyone has a basic standard of living. Inequality is an issue but with just small actions we can reduce it in our town, in our country and across our world.
-- Dan Wood is a student at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds