Monday, February 10, 2014

The Unspoken Monster- INEQUALITY in the world.

More often people talk about the GDP per capita of any country or the purchasing power but it is so rare for people to narrow down to the number of people contributing or benefiting from the economy.

Russia is the 8th biggest economy in the world (according to GDP per capita) and the 6th largest in terms of purchasing power. However, Russia is ranked 55th in the Human Development Index, signifying the underlying inequalities in access to social-economic opportunities.

Sochi- the Russian city that is currently hosting the Winter Olympics, the glamor and glitz is only in the central part of the city, even though over 50 billion US dollars has been spent on the games. Like the scenes in most of the developing countries, sewage flows freely on one of the areas on the outskirts of the city. Another village in the outskirts of Sochi city does not have running water and families (majorly women) have to walk and fetch water for their daily use. Electricity is cut for several hours of the day affecting poor families many of whom have little children.

In Kenya, 70% of the country's GDP is generated in Nairobi, the capital city and yet only 10% of the population live in Nairobi. Majority of Kenya's population live in rural areas and depend on subsistence farming for survival- often living from 'hand to mouth'. Subsequent governments have often neglected these vast rural areas, investing marginally in education, healthcare, energy and other socioeconomic opportunities, leaving millions in poverty.  The Northern part of Kenya is neglected, and yet it can be utilized effectively to generate income for the country.

Like in many African cities, the improved infrastructure and the rising consumerism in Nairobi has often led to some people wrongly thinking that Kenya's middle class in rising sharply. On the contrary, majority of Nairobi's so called middle class still live in poor housing conditions without access to stable electricity and running water. The rising Nairobi middle class cannot afford new cars or purchasing houses, and often struggle to meet the very basic needs- they continue to be simply tax payers who fund misplaced priorities by governments.  On the contrary, a very small percentage of Kenya's population owns majority of the corporate companies and multi-billion dollar businesses and contribute majorly to the countries GDP.

It is therefore imperative that we not only look at a country's economic growth, but rather at how the economic growth is being spread out to all regions and the different demographics. Citizens should demand for more equitable distribution of resources to effectively achieve a well balanced economic growth.