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The Correlation Between Environmental Instability and Poverty in India Environmental instability in India is a nuanced and multifaceted issue in terms of multiple causes and effects that hinder the search for a solution. India has the second-highest population in the world, second only to China. This makes India particularly susceptible to poverty because there are not enough resources to sufficiently aid each citizen. In fact, roughly 68.8% of India’s population survives on under $2 per day. Notably, women and children are disproportionately affected by this poverty.

Increasing Temperatures Affecting Agriculture

Unfortunately, India also suffers from environmental instability. Poverty and the state of the environment are very closely linked. Although the two issues feel as if they are completely separate, they function in a symbiotic relationship. As the country’s environmental stability decreases, poverty increases, and vice versa. This is because environmental instability hinders local economies and those economies often utilize more affordable forms of energy which then adds to that same environmental instability.

Consequently, the effects of increased temperatures like extreme weather have severely impacted the country’s ability to produce food for itself. Agricultural communities are unable to predict weather patterns, which negatively affects crop yield and commonly puts those people in direct danger. An example being the death of 2,400 people in 2018-2019 due to floods and cyclones.

These unpredictable weather patterns disrupt agriculture and have a long-term impact on the future of farmers in India. Agriculture takes up 16% of India’s GDP and roughly 49% of those employed are within the agriculture industry. This population’s well-being is entirely contingent on environmental stability and they do not have it. Increasing temperature causes difficulty predicting average rainfall, average temperature and average dry day count. These statistics being relatively consistent is paramount to the success rate of agriculture in India. Due to their extreme fluctuation, India’s farmers could lose 15% to 25% of their income, depending on if the area is irrigated or not.

Pollution Affecting India’s Economy

With India’s dependence on the agriculture industry established, it is important to also note the effect that pollution has on this sector of the Indian economy and the poverty that results. Air pollution is something India hasn’t been able to control due to its reliance on fossil fuels and large population. As this pollution has increased, Indian crop yields have been cut in half.

As a result of the country’s reliance on fossil fuels, a buildup of ozone level 3 has occurred. Ozone level 3 is caused by the combustion of nitrogen oxides from vehicle exhaust and various air pollutants. When this ozone level increases, crops are not able to attain the necessary hours of sunlight to ensure their growth. Crops are also sensitive to the pollutants in the soil. These can arise from a variety of unsafe practices, including chemical use, poor irrigation systems and unhealthy waste management. This lack of consistent crop output puts a heavy strain on the farmers and their families, which leads to poverty in more rural areas.

Pollution generally affects impoverished areas much more than it does other areas, with 92% of pollution-related deaths occurring in poverty-ridden countries. This pollution causes illnesses that are often generational, being passed from pregnant mother to child, which in turn creates a physically weaker population that is at a disadvantage in regard to their participation in the local economy.

Additionally, children born in areas with high pollution have limited learning potential. When these children are limited due to pollutants with the capacity to make them ill, they are at an extreme detriment in terms of education and a successful transition into the workforce. As a result, they are trapped in a cycle of poverty created by a lack of education and high paying jobs. The lack of environmental stability in India has a direct impact on the quality of life of the citizens whether it be illness or subsequent poverty.

Solutions to Resolve Environmental Instability in India

While environmental instability continues to be a significant issue in India; fortunately, there are many small efforts that have taken place to relieve this issue. One such example is the compulsory education on the environment within public schooling, which stresses healthier environmental practices within the daily lives of the students. This was passed by a Supreme Court ruling in 2003 and aims to make the public more active participants in the fight for environmental stability. Another solution has been the alteration of transportation to create less harmful emissions.

In 2013, the India-California Air Pollution Mitigation Program was created by the partnership of a Californian Air Resources board and an Indian Energy and Resources Institute. This program has recommended a set of 12 possible mechanisms to reduce air pollution that focuses on the incorporation of the entire system. These mechanisms include replacing kitchen stoves with cleaner alternatives, reevaluating diesel transport to create cleaner options and restricting the burning of fossil fuels. The group predicts that if villagers were given energy-efficient stoves that air pollution would be lessened by a third.

While India’s environmental history has not been the most inspiring, the future is rife with new possibilities and people who are dedicated to fighting for stability within India’s environment.

– Stella Vallon
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in GuyanaWith a population of less than 1 million, Guyana is a country located in the northern region of South America. Guyana’s richness in natural resources including gold, timber and sugar, render its economy highly dependent on its exports, a sector that accounts for more than 60% of its GDP. Guyana’s last official poverty measurement was done in 2006. According to the results, 36.1% of the population in the country were living in poverty, including 18.6% that were living in extreme poverty. According to the Guyana Poverty Reduction Strategy of 2011 to 2016, the country has made some progress in poverty levels since 1992. Despite progress, Guyana is one of the poorest countries in South America, which indicates that the country continues to struggle with poverty.

Five Facts about Poverty in Guyana

  1. The poverty rate is high. According to the Inter-Development Bank (IDB), the poverty rate in Guyana. measured as the percentage of people living on less than $5.50, reached 41.2% in 2017. The IDB has
    also shown that poverty disproportionately affects the country’s rural non-coastal areas where it amounts to more than 50%. The latter statistic denotes significant disparities in poverty concentration along ethnic lines since approximately two-thirds of the Guyanese population living in the rural interior communities are indigenous.
  2. Children and young adults are greatly affected. In terms of age group, Guyanese children are the poorest. Children aged 16 or younger in Guyana are faced with a high poverty rate of 47.5%, while for young adults between the ages of 16 and 25, that figure exceeds 33%. This data is potentially indicative of the country’s troubled economic standing.
  3. The emigration of trained or skilled people is problematic. The brain-drain of skilled workers in Guyana hinders necessary contributions to developments in various economic sectors such as healthcare. Guyana’s unemployment rate stands at 12%, while the percentage of unemployed youth exceeds 20%, according to a 2017 study. This factor makes it difficult to keep trained professionals in the country.
  4. Environmental instability affects economic growth. An additional challenge against economic growth in Guyana is related to fluctuations in climate and weather conditions. In addition to gold, sugar and timber, the export of bauxite, shrimp and rice is also a major source of income to this Latin-American nation. Natural disasters such as floods, to which it is highly susceptible, have been responsible for nearly 94% of the negative impact on Guyana’s economy, according to a 2016 UNICEF study.
  5. Malnutrition seriously affects the indigenous population. Statistics indicate that 25% of indigenous children are stunted, a figure much higher than the national average. It is also estimated that 16% of newborn indigenous children in Guyana are underweight (below 2500g at birth).

Although data shows that the moderate poverty rate (people living on $2 per day) had slightly declined, poverty in Guyana continues to cripple the country in vital areas, leaving much to be done to improve the situation. In spite of the country’s natural resources, Guyana does not meet its economic potential. To alleviate the long-term implications of poverty, it is imperative that poverty in Guyana continues to be a focal point of international aid and developmental endeavours.

Oumaima Jaayfer
Photo: Flickr