Tag Archives: Poverty line

BUFFALO DUNG AWARD


African Buffalo

Image by Lukas Vermeer via Flickr

Some institutions are redefining poverty to increase their middle class.

It is simple, assuming the poor spend US $2 to $4 per day to sustain a life at the border of disaster then an analyst comes and make the wise judgment that with these US $2 to $4 dollars they are no longer poor but middle class.

Not high middle class but the low middle class or “floating class”.  The high middle class makes US $3,900 per year according to the African Development Bank (AfDB) and creators of the floating class.

Well, it is what AfDB says. Do not take the bank too serious considering it was once clogged with fraud, corruption and politic. I don’t think too much has changed.

Without knowing, people leading the same miserable lives have suddenly been catapulted in the enviable position of middle class. Nothing has changed except the label.

This change of label has not made much ruckus in Africa. In India it did when the India Planning Commission set the urban poverty lines at $12.75 per person a month and at $9.93 for rural India. Indian activists, with good reasons, went on a rampage of actions against these changes.

African activists have not budged at AfDB new poverty threshold but they still die in protest in the streets due the high cost of food and fuel.
I don’t understand why they are using the poor to fight the battle of the new middle class.

Income, consumption, calorie index and others are some of the values used to calculate poverty line. Of course, poverty line is not the same in all countries and may even be tabulated on different criteria. However, according to the World Bank the global poverty line is US $1.25 per day. Make anything under and you fall into the National Geographic category.

Imagine a global poverty line of US $3 per day or US $90 per month and devise how to apportion it to buy food, clothing, shelter, water, transport, education and health.
Notice, I do not mention electricity, entertainment or even rest. Yes, poor cannot afford to take time off; they need to make money to survive.

In the USA or Europe it is unthinkable to sustain life with an income of US $90 per month. The Vatican should consider anyone living on such little money a Saint routinely performing miracles. You need faith when you are poor.

The ten poorest countries in the world are in Africa but AfDB with innovative statistic has changed the status of a lot from poor to floating middle class. They are floating on a busted canoe, scooping out the water in order not to sink.  The canoe is the asset.

The Nigerian High commissioner to Kenya has allegedly beaten up his wife to a pulp.  He said that her bloody bruises are ketchup. You see, in Africa it is the way people in power treat bad situation to their benefit,same as AfDB.

I am so impressed with this Nigerian that I have decided to give you his full name and title:
Chief Dr. Chijioke Wilcox Wigwe, Nigeria High Commissioner to Kenya and the Seychelles. Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations Environmental Programme and the UN Habitat in Nairobi.
I want to mention that in 2008 he received, in Kenya, the title of Ambassador for Peace and in 2010 Best Ambassador of the Year 2010 by the Vision Africa Magazine.
I cannot help but Wigwe makes me think of a small version of Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Somehow, I do find a parallel among the actions of the Nigerian High commissioner in Kenya and the AfDB.
Both twist realities to their convenience.

These two deserve the Buffalo Dung Award.

Patrick-Bernard

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