I led a team of four women from the Catholic Women Organization to visit poor families in a slum area of Agege in Lagos State, Nigeria and I wept on seeing families, especially women in such deplorable conditions. These women started off as young girls from very poor families whose living conditions paint a gloomy future. They are poorly educated or receive no form of basic education at all. They are finally married off as adolescent girls or were impregnated by men of same economic standing while their bodies are not yet mature to take in another human form in them, they become baby mothers and/or wives. The baby’s arrival is heralded by shouts of joy, the baby mother is lost in thought and glares bleakly into space because there is no hope or future for the child. Good and adequate nutrition is lacking, basic health is far from reach and the environment is deplorable, there is no clean/portable water and no proper sanitation. You see between 8 to 10 people living in one room of about 8”x 9” less than the World Health Organization’s approved 12”x 12” standard room for four people. How can people survive under this uninhabitable condition where they live like less humans?
On handing them the relief materials (various food items, clothes, haematinic drugs and antimalarial drugs, insecticides) we went with, indeed they were filled with joy. If money is made available, we intend to move four families at a time by renting suitable accommodations for them and encourage the women to start off some trade with micro-credits to improve on their livelihood.
The cycle of poverty is described as a phenomenon where poor families are trapped in poverty for generations. Because they have no or limited access to resources, such as education and finance, subsequent generations are also impoverished. A country's slow economy and consequently a family's low income, not only means a lack of access to food and safe water, but also means limited or no funds for sending their children to school. What does the future hold for such families.
Poverty increases a family’s chance of getting ill because of: Poor nutrition; Overcrowding; Lack of clean water; Harsh realities that may make putting ones health at risk the only way to survive or keep the family safe.
Poor health increases poverty by: Reducing a family’s work productivity; Leading families to sell assets to cover the costs of treatment. This increases poverty and their vulnerability to shocks in the future.
War and internal conflict (caused by ethnic-religious or resource control) is another layer of risk and vulnerability that deepens the cycle where it exists.
The effects of climate change and environmental degradation are already threatening to destroy livelihoods and spread disease. Here is how the cycle of poverty reverberates of replayed and women bear the brunt. Economic Decline Low personal income Grossly inadequate access to food and safe water Hunger and starvation Malnutrition, Disease and death Depleted workforce.