Category Archives: Poverty

A Trip to a Fishing Village

Fishing may be a great pastime to many, but to even more it is a means of obtaining sustenance. It is hard work and often involves great toil. The elements can be intimidating as you ply your trade. And then there is the issue of quantity. In certain parts of the world, certain species are declining in numbers and threatening regional prosperity. Fishing can be constitute an entire local economy and make the difference between health and starvation.

It is serious business, indeed, and must be protected from poachers, toxic waste, and the detrimental changing texture of the land such as sea level. You go on the Internet and all you say are ads for fly-fishing junkets and luxury tours. If you saw the faces of needy children in Africa, you would turn away in disgust at the blatant negligence and disinterest of the affluent western world.

It is not always about water, although that is certainly part of the picture. It is also about other natural resources in a given area and what has been done to preserve them for posterity. It is about cultivating sources of food: grains, domestic animals, seafood, etc. We must teach the third world how to farm fish, for example, and promote an even and ample supply. Ignorance creates a dearth of options when science is not allowed to intervene.

Many cultures still use ancient methods to fish the seas – no sign of the best fish finder or other high tech gear here! In China there are boat communities where the people do not even go on land. Food and living staples are brought to them. They live near cliffs in waters known for the best catch. While you would not want to disrupt tradition, there comes a time when the situation turns grave and subsistence fishing becomes desperate. Some areas of the world can barely feed themselves with no opportunity for real commerce and income.

We don’t have to worry about the big guys and the big boats. They are pros and are part of a chain of command in the industry that is self-sufficient and lucrative. We need to turn our attention to the individual fisherman and his family trying to stay alive at a time when the rest of the world is dining well. The discrepancy is so great as to be astounding.

Modern technology is not always available to people fishing (or farming) at a subsistence level. The term denotes a non-commercial activity with a specific purpose like feeding a family. It is the opposite of sport fishing, is low tech and small in scale. To grow to the point of greater sustenance, and even excess to engender profit, they need to enter a structured system that has previously excluded them. With language and cultural barriers, this is easier said than done. So let’s stop looking at these people as interesting fodder for National Geographic programs and find out how we can draw attention and provide help. There is local regulation in Alaska with the Board of Fisheries. Why not in other regions?

Energy Poverty

There is indeed such a thing as energy poverty. We all know about lack of food and water, insufficient resources, poor hygiene and health facilities. Energy poverty is up there on the list of world scourges. If you live without electricity, you live without the basic necessities of life: a stove, refrigerator, washing machine, heat and cooling, and more. You are no doubt below the poverty line, not a pleasant place to be.

In third world countries, generators can be used where regional utilities do not reach everyone. This is not the best answer, but it is a viable one. At least some degree of power can be supplied—for a price. Most of the poor, of course, cannot afford these devices, as handy and reliable as they are. They can run from hundreds to thousands of dollars and they eat up fuel. It is incumbent upon world charitable organizations to find them from commercial donors and manufacturers, or at least those that provide significant discounts.

We use generators as mains backup in hospitals, office buildings, and residential homes. They are a luxury. We take portable versions camping and in our RVs. How lucky we are that they are not the primary sources of power in our lives. They have limited capacity at the more affordable prices. As such, they have been relegated to bad climate areas that create frequent outages.

We take lighting for granted. Imagine having to use fossil fuels (like wood), kerosene lamps and candles as in the olden days. With poor quality of light, you can barely see at night (needed for children in school), much less read or perform any kind of task. Plus there are adverse health effects of sitting near pollutants in closed in spaces like tents including respiratory infections. Solar panels that convert the sun’s rays to electricity can replace primitive methods for sure. There must be a way to supply these otherwise costly solutions to those in need. Fire prevention, especially in those wood structures common to poverty areas, is a priority. Money is always an issue and it just isn’t there.

True economic development is correlated with modern sources of power—water, wind, steam, solar, or nuclear. Over a billion people do not have access to any of them (including 25% of India’s population). Progress is not reaching everyone worldwide. Superior methods are not available everywhere. Kerosene, invented in the mid-19th century, is still a staple of many country towns and even urban slums. Cooking fuel is even harder to come by. It is called energy poverty and it is no joke.

Breaking the cycle of poverty means supplying cheap and effective electrical resources where they do not yet exist. The generator stop gap is just that—a temporary plan. Educating the poor is a good start and is already taking place with organizations like Pollinate Energy. Fundraising is ever present. We have a long way to go, but the effort put in now will reap great rewards down the road.