Many organizations that work towards ending global poverty focus on the effects that occur due to poverty, such as housing and food insecurity. However, the organization War on Want targets the causes of poverty such as human rights violations, conflict, and worker’s rights.

Defining The War on Want

The War on Want proclaims “We’re different!” and states, “We are a charity, but we aren’t an aid agency and we don’t impose solutions to poverty.” The organization fosters cooperation between its partners, long-term solutions and combatting the root of poverty: “wealthy elites…governments, wealthy corporations and others.”

This organization has three main objectives in making their goal possible:

  • Global partnerships to target the root causes of global poverty
  • Campaigns against causes of poverty
  • Efforts to raise public awareness about the causes and effects of poverty

Healing Political Turmoil

With War on Want’s multiple focus areas, the organization is constantly in the news for various actions relating to their organization. Staff for the organization writes news articles about grassroots campaigns taking place in the U.K., and the latest article written by War on Want’s executive director focused on the grassroots marches around the United Kingdom.

These marches — and the subsequent article — address xenophobia in the country, and how inequality and injustice need to be addressed because xenophobia and other political concerns “threaten us all.”

Such writings relate to War on Want’s mission of addressing the root causes of global poverty by focusing on political turmoil and human rights violations.

Fighting the Patriarchy

The War on Want’s press officer, Marienna Pope-Weidemann writes how “women are the hardest hit by poverty and human rights abuses.” She addresses how empowering women and noticing how women are taking the charge in social justice movements helps resolve poverty around the world.

By empowering women to take agency in their lives, even in very patriarchal societies, the globe can better work together on the root causes of poverty revolving around underrepresented groups of people.

Addressing Conflict

War on Want Militarism and Security Campaigns officer Ryvka Barnard wrote on Israel’s ban list and the organizations work for justice in Palestine. During the transition of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, there was upheaval, protests and violence.

Due to this, Israel created a ban list of organizations that are not allowed to enter the borders that revolve around human rights violations. As Barnard states, “Banning entry to those who stand up for human rights is a way Israel tries to isolate Palestinians and to keep others from supporting them.”

Combatting Poverty

Poverty has erupted in occupied territories as a result of these measures of Palestinian segregation. Conflict and land isolation led to food insecurity and loss of homes. Now, with this ban list, the Palestinians are even more separated and have little ability of support from charities and solidarity groups that support their needs for basic human rights.

Overall, the War on Want addresses the root causes of global poverty by fighting for the basic needs of the individual, and addressing politics, conflict, land issues, women rights and many other tactics to break down why poverty occurs.

– Jenna Walmer
Photo: Flickr

War On Want: Fighting Global Poverty
War On Want: Fighting Global Poverty is an organization based out of London that is working to fight “the root causes of poverty, inequality and injustice.” The organization was founded after a letter was written by Victor Gollancz to the newspaper The Guardian in 1951. In his letter, he wrote about the need to end the war in Korea and asked readers to send him a postcard saying ‘yes’ if they agreed with him.

Ever since the ’50s, War On Want has been fighting against the root causes of many different issues in radical ways. Executive director John Hilary says they work to keep, “strong links with social movements in the global South help keep our politics where they should be, in the tradition of radical resistance.”

This, in turn, is how War on Want is seen as more of an alternative organization in comparison to other British nonprofits, which tend to have ties to business and the state. The organization works to fight the root reasons that poverty exists in the first place, rather than the symptoms of poverty. Much of its work is development-related. War on Want is in alliance with trade unions, overseas grassroots movements and a variety of funders, including networks and coalitions.

Some examples of the many projects that War on Want has worked on and accomplished over the years includes wage increases for Zambian agriculture workers, protecting human rights activists around the world and playing a role in the first anti-drone demonstration.

Perhaps the largest actions the organization is currently working toward are issues in Israel, including ending illegal detention and trade of arms. Nearly three-quarters of every pound donated goes towards its campaigns — the last quarter going towards “building the movement.”

Shannon Elder

Photo: Flickr

How Poverty Exacerbates Illegal Organ Trading
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for extremely poor families around the world to go through extreme measures in order to make money. Some households have resorted to the unusual tactic of organ trading on the black market to afford food and other necessities.

The issue also affects the Western world as a 2014 piece in the Sunday Post highlights the prevalence of black market organ selling in the United Kingdom. Though it is highly illegal, those desperate for both money and organs often turn to social media to plan their transactions.

Jeff Powell from the U.K.-based anti-poverty charity aptly named War on Want says, “It is shocking that people are so poor that they would be willing to sell a kidney for cash. This level of desperation is a direct result of governments… and the interests of the rich over the fight against poverty and inequality.” At the time of publication, 10,000 people in the U.K. were in need of an organ transplant, leaving many opportunities for potential sellers.

Multiple instances of illegal organ trades in Iraq have made the news recently. Since over 22 percent of the Iraqi population lives in poverty, families sometimes take desperate measures to make money. In Iraq, gangs offer up to $10,000 for a kidney on the black market.

In Iraq, it is only legal to donate organs to relatives, but illegal traders find ways (ie forging documents or signatures) around this rule. A surgeon in Baghdad explains that healthcare workers are not held responsible for illegal donations because “… in some cases, we have doubts, but this is not enough to stop the surgery because without it people will die.”

An Iraqi human rights lawyer feels sympathy for those who turn to selling organs saying, “Picture this scenario: an unemployed father who does not have any source of income to cater for his children. He sacrifices himself. I consider him a victim and I have to defend him.”

Illegal organ trading is also prevalent in Bangladesh, where many poor citizens are faced with repaying loans from non-governmental organizations that they cannot afford. Some individuals grow tired of dodging debt collectors and see the organ black market as their only option.

A University of Michigan anthropology professor explains that these exchanges are often done under sub-par conditions. “There is no safeguard as to where the organs are coming from and how safe they are, and on the other hand, the seller’s health deteriorates after the operation. That has a huge impact on their earning capacity because they cannot go back to their old physically demanding jobs.”

Although it is not foolproof, Iran seems to have found a possible solution to illegal organ trading: legalization. Iran has the only government-supported program involving trading organs for monetary compensation, but the terms vary by district. However, some Iranian markets favor the recipient, meaning that sellers may not be compensated as much as they would like. Those who do sell their organs also receive a free year of health insurance from the government and are not required to enlist in the usually mandatory military service.

Sigrid Fry-Revere, an American bioethicist is the president of the American Living Organ Donor Network and believes the US and other countries around the world should be following Iran’s example. Their arrangement allows those in poverty to make money and decreases those waiting for much-needed transplants.

Though Iran’s organ transplant programs are far from perfect, they seem to be one step ahead of many countries around the world. A legalized procedure almost guarantees safe surgery conditions for both recipients and sellers, and works to provide a mutually beneficial trade.

Carrie Robinson

Photo: Flickr