Poverty and Social Cohesion

Nearly 2.5 billion people live on less than USD 2 a day, and more than 820 million suffer from chronic hunger. The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the 41 Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (567 million people) is less than the wealth of the world’s 7 richest people combined.
The poverty in these countries affects education: nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names. The most important victims of poverty are the children: 1 billion children live in poverty (1 in 2 children in the world). 640 million live without adequate shelter, 400 million have no access to safe water, and 270 million have no access to health services. 10.6 million died in 2003 before they reached the age of 5 (or roughly 29,000 children per day).
“Around 78 million Europeans live at risk of poverty, 19 million of whom are children” according to EU Employment Commissioner Vladimír Špidla. “We need to ensure that the benefits of economic progress also reach those at the margins of society and contribute to strengthening social cohesion.” Poverty and exclusion remain significant challenges in the European Union, with 16% of the population at risk of poverty. The EU’s latest Joint Report on Social Protection and Social Inclusion emphasized that social protection reforms and active inclusion policies have contributed to higher growth and more jobs in Europe over the past year. However, more still needs to be done to ensure that the benefits of an improved economic framework reach those at the margins of society and improve social cohesion.

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