Poverty: A hindrance to integral human development in Wadelai Catholic Parish in light of Populorum Progressio
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In our society today, the value of human life and the integral development of the human person in all strata of life are under direct attack from anti-life forces or enemies of life like poverty, injustices, abortion, oppression, exploitation, cloning, embryonic stem cell research, globalization, euthanasia and the use of the death penalty. Yet, this life that is being endangered is something that is desired by everyone. It comes from a living God as the greatest mysterious gift. In African context, life is a supreme good and whatever promotes life is good. The Church teaches that life is sacred and each person has God’s life, law and love deeply imprinted on his/her very nature. Being in the image and likeness of God, the human being possesses the dignity of a person which must be protected (Paul VI, 1967, no. 14). Every person has the right to life, to bodily integrity, and to the means which are suitable for integral development of life (John XXIII, Pacem in Terris, 1963, no. 11). One of the challenges that is a big threat to integral development of people in the World, Africa, Uganda, Wadelai Parish and perhaps elsewhere, is the problem of poverty. Despite the numerous efforts to end poverty, nearly one billion people in the World today still live in a state of anthropological poverty. In Uganda, though significant progress towards poverty elimination has been made in the recent past years, an estimated 25% still live in extreme poverty and significant inequality still exists. Poverty is the one issue that affects many people in different walks of life. It is evil and source of many problems. It has left many people suffering from want and inequality of human development. They are trapped in conditions so limited by illiteracy, malnutrition, disease, distortion of the God-given image, high infant mortality, unequal development and low life expectancy as to be denied the very potential with which they are born (Mulwa, 1994, p. ix; John Paul II, 1987, no. 33). Yet the World or Uganda or Wadelai has enough resources to feed all mankind and the whole of creation is meant for man, rooted in Gen. 1:28: “Fill the earth and subdue it” (Paul VI, Populorum Progressio, 1967, no. 22). The earth belongs to everyone, not to the rich. The right to private property is subordinate to the right to common use and the overall common good (Gaudium et Spes, no. 69; John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, 1991, no. 41). Such poverty makes it impossible to bring about that full humanism, salvation of souls and the transformation of the society which the Church hopes for and pursues so that people may live in conditions that are more human (The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 2005, no. 449). With this background, a study on, “Poverty: a hindrance to Integral Human Development in Wadelai parish in light of Populorum Progressio,” was conceived with a general objective to establish that, poverty is a hindrance to Integral Human Development of people in Wadelai and that people will develop fully when poverty is fought and defeated. Four specific objectives namely: to expose the meaning of poverty and Integral Human Development, to find out the causes of poverty, to examine how poverty hinders Integral Human Development, and to establish solutions to alleviate poverty in Wadelai Parish; were conceived to guide the researcher. Guided by these, literature related to the study was reviewed and analyzed. A research methodology that used both random and non-random sampling was employed. Different tools of data collection were used, namely: oral interviews, questionnaires, participatory observation, non participatory observation, focus group discussion, document analysis, voice recording and Opinionnaire. After getting a letter of introduction from the Dean of Studies National Seminary Ggaba and using the study tools indicated, the researcher carried out the field study in Wadelai Catholic Parish of Nebbi Diocese. Data from the field was presented and analyzed. Qualitative data was analyzed thematically while quantitative data was analyzed using descriptive statistics which involved the use of tables, frequencies, percentages, charts and graphs. The study findings were discussed by the researcher, comparing them to the reviewed literature. The researcher then came to a conclusion that, poverty is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon, involving all areas of life which can be described in many ways; whereas integral human development is holistic development of the human person, covering all vital dimensions of life. The findings further revealed a number of causes of poverty among which are: income inequality, lack of required education, diseases, natural causes, the poor as the cause of their poverty, corruption and selfishness, inherited poverty, population pressure among others. Poverty leads to suffering, misery, diseases, poor health, corruption, hunger, malnutrition, stress and helplessness, less liberty, discrimination and death. Solutions to the challenge of poverty include: Self-reliance, relevant education, work and savings, reducing income disparity, women empowerment, care for environment and family planning. All the above observations and conclusions lead the researcher to recommend that, the responsibility for alleviating poverty and promoting authentic human development falls upon all members of society who should work hard to become self-reliant in spirit of solidarity and concern for the needy. All stake holders especially the Church, government, family, NGOs and the poor themselves have a role to play in the fight against poverty in order to enhance true human development.