Photo: Gizmodo

Friday, May 28, 2010

Will we learn from the lessons of the past

I was listening on the  BBC World Service the other day to a Kenyan journalist talking about the Eurozone crisis. When asked about what the Kenyan people thought about the austerity measures being brought in under pressure from the IMF, he said that it brought an ironic chuckle to many. Kenya, like many of the poorest countries around the world,had re-introduced user charges in the 1980s for education and healthcare under IMF backed structural adjustment programmes. These measures naturally disproportionately affected the poorest people.

Such as Walter, 12, and his younger brother Charles. When they're sick, they wait for it to finish because they can't afford the hospital fees. "Sometimes  there is not enough food so we go to sleep hungry; The other problem is clothes- we don’t have clothes to wear to church.. or shoes. And sometimes we can’t afford the fees for our exams at school."

Already in Europe, it is the poorest people who are seen as the easiest target for budget cuts. In Ireland, there's been talk of cutting the minimum wage. Child benefit was already cut in 2009 to make savings.

To preempt budget cuts disproportiantely affecting people experiencing poverty in the UK, Church Action on Poverty is encouraging people to write to David Cameron to ensure that people in poverty do not pay the price of a defecit they did not cause.

photo: MSF

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