Poverty has been a growing concern with close to 11% of the world’s population living on less than a meagre $2 a day. While this is unthinkable for most of us, the truth is this is the reality for a large number of people. Various methods have been tried to reduce this global issue. Many of the greatest minds of our times have banded together to bring poverty to an end. Numerous charity organizations also strive towards this , however poverty seems to be a pervasive issue. Most individuals who born poor often die poor and there is nothing they can do about it, since the system we live in tends to favour those who have been endowed with capital and resources to begin with. This puts the global poor in a very sad and disadvantaged position as they often do not have the means to bring themselves out of poverty and end the cycle of poverty.
However the internet seems to be the light at the end of the tunnel, as it has shown how it can be used in constructive ways to help sustainably bring people out of poverty. Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of facebook, has claimed that by providing internet access and connecting communities, we can successfully alleviate people out of abject poverty.
As of right now, 60% of the world’s population does not have access to the internet according to the World Bank. Furthermore in a study conducted by Price Waterhouse Cooper, it was found that providing internet to those who don’t currently have access to it could lead to potentially remarkable results. It is estimated that if 4.1 billion people who live without the internet were given access to it, then around 500 million of them could be brought out of it. With projects like internet.org and project loons tech companies themselves have been trying to bring the internet to a larger audience, however these attempts must be taken with a grain of salt as they have been accused of violating net neutrality.
The most important aspect of the internet is that it gives access to so much information, those living in poverty could use these to find jobs, educate themselves etc. In a study by Simone Cecchini, Christopher Scott, conducted in rural India, it was found that giving poor people access to Internet reduces the poverty rate as it improves access to education, health, government and financial services, this is particularly useful for small farmers and artisans as it opens up the whole world to them as a potential market. Another study by which has shown that the introduction of the internet not only causes positive economic effects but also brings positive effects into the social and human dimensions.
In most of developing and emerging countries, individuals who could be benefitted by having internet access are the ones who cannot afford it in most of the time. Hence, it would help a great deal if governmental or intergovernmental organizations tackle this issue to reduce the poverty rate. However it has also been seen that mere access to the internet is not enough, it must also be supported by infrastructure and institutions which aid in the economic growth campaigns, relevant technical training. Having the guidance from a knowledgeable entity allows people for getting substantial benefit from Internet.
By providing people with internet, and thereby access to a wealth of information, they have knowledge of governmental and non governmental programs which have been aimed to help them, they can also prevent themselves from being cheated in many cases, it also provides them information which they can use to change their lives. The internet helps the citizens to keep on checking the actions of their representatives and their government, which helps to make better policies for the benefit of low incoming individuals. Given the incredible transformative power of the internet it is a surprise why governments haven’t used it as a policy tool for poverty elimination.
Grameen Foundation’s senior manager of thought leadership and strategic partnerships, Kate McElligott, had stated when talking about the effect and benefits of the internet.Question box is another organization that is trying to connect previously unconnected communities. Using these question boxes the villagers can get their queries regarding anything resolved by connecting with knowledgeable individuals who have internet access. All in all, Importance of the internet in poverty elimination cannot be emphasized enough, and with such technologies we can build better communities and a better future.