Has the issue of poverty been solved?

Rakyat Prihatin for Sinar Harian

Datuk Dr Anis Yusal Yusoff
05 May 2022 10:39am

I was recently invited by an old friend to share about SDGs, known as the Sustainable Development Goals, to group of leaders that who are spearheading the nation’s wealth of knowledge from various parts of the country and how they can help achieve the government’s SDG’s by 2030.

In this column too a few months back, I wrote a lengthly article on the SDGs and had asked if all our efforts were enough to achieve all 17 goals identified?

Yet, when we look at Malaysia’s dashboard status, only one have been achieved and marked green.

The other 16 are still yellow (six), orange (four) and red (six).

Each of those colours is an indicator of our level of achievement and red indicates that we have not managed to show any progress just yet.

At the same time, I’m sure there are those who want to know what exactly that we have achieved. Based on the status report I reviewed, Malaysia has successfully achieved the number one SDG goal which is no more poverty in the country.

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Congratulations to the government on this success but like it or not, many of us are still seeing poverty among the people around us.

One’s poverty and destitute is a subjective matter.

There are people whose household income is low but because they are living in rural areas or the village where the land yield is lucrative, the person and his family is able to live comfortably compared to other families whose household income is similar but living in the city.

While we rejoice the fact that we have at least achieved one goal based on the global indicator, we only have eight more years left to work towards achieving all 17 goals.

However, it is a little worrying to see that SDG number two is zero hunger. If we have succeeded in eradicating poverty, why is the second SDG status still red?

We know and are well aware that there are still many are at the mercy of assistance and in need of help from mobile kitchens to provide free food to them. So to what extent have we really solved the problem of poverty?

I am well aware that SDG number 2 is wore than just ending hunger problems but should also address the issue of food security, improve nutrition in the diet and ensure our agriculture is sustainable.

Buat at the same time I have read the newspaper reports on the issue of chicken supply. The issue of rising chicken prices - although not new, is very worrying and if this problem continues, it can be treated as a national food security and adequacy.

Based on the per household spending in 2019, 88 per cent of households in Malaysia spent on chicken as their second most important food source after rice, which accounted for 96.9 per cent.

This means these two food sources are among the most vital to the people.

The country needs a long-term sustainability strategy for this national staple food supply.

We have been dependent on other food exporting countries for too long. What will happen if these countries also face the same food supply problems?

On the last Friday of Ramadan, in the second sermon, the preacher prayed for agencies that regulate zakat and firth to use their wisdom to ensure that the less fortunate people and those in-need were given helped immediately.

In conjunction with the month of Syawal, let us think of a better way not to only solve the problem of poverty on paper but also solve the people’s grievances.

Datuk Dr Anis Yusal Yusoff is a Principal Fellow at KITA, UKM. He was previously the President of the Malaysian Institute of Integrity, and the Deputy Director General of GIACC, Prime Minister's Department.