Addressing Challenges of Poverty, Hunger, Unemployment & Climate Change

Addressing Challenges of Poverty, Hunger, Unemployment & Climate Change

Development columnist Aditya Goenka has been at the top of the academic honors at the Richmond American University in London, in BA Economics (Hons) in 2021, with an outstanding GPA of 3.82 that got him offers to pursue Master’s at the global leaders Cambridge & LSE.

At Richmond he was conferred the coveted ‘Best Student’ and ‘Dean’s’ Awards, too – a rare feat for a Nepalese student!

He was also conferred with the ‘Best Student award’ in Mathematics. He was a Peer Tutor all through the program in most of the subjects that constituted the curriculum.

Aditya has pledged to transform the socio-economic poise of the lesser-privileged in Nepal, and take his model of development all over the developing world. He leads a platform called Vetiver Nepal ( that is changing landscapes of development in Nepal.

He has picked up on a vegetation called Vetiver as a catalyst for sustainable & inclusive development. His works span areas of Soil & Water Conservation, Disaster Mitigation, Wasteland Reclamation, Groundwater Recharge, Carbon Sequestration, Phytoremediation of marginal lands, Substitution of Fossil Fuel with Green Energy, inter alia. Revolutionary impact is brought out across a broad spectrum of applications of which the aforesaid ones constitute a few.

Just to cite a solitary example of transformation envisioned by Aditya, wasteland reclamation alone can help bring a million hectares of abandoned land pool into the mainstream of agriculture that can produce additional food grains to the tune of at least 50% of what is produced today.

In a similar vein each application of Vetiver is a game changer!

Addressing the challenges of poverty, hunger, unemployment & climate change

Inspired by a number of landmark works in the domain of development and welfare economics, more specifically – the likes of “Poor Economics” by Nobel Laureates Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo; “Development as Freedom” by another Nobel laureate, Dr Amartya Sen; “The Bottom Billion” by Paul Collier; “Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid” by Prof C K Prahlad; “Dead Aid” by Dambisa Moyo and a host more, I am restless to see effective welfare and development measures initiated by less developed nations that need those so critically. I am keen to learn, debate and deliberate on the research works and study that have taken place in the area of alleviating poverty. I am keen to pursue an MPhil in Economics at the hallowed Oxford, which would allow me a broad platform to enrich my comprehension on various theories, applications, research, modules and practices in economics that could help usher-in measures of empowerment and welfare for the underprivileged, and a sustained growth path for the aspiring nations in the developing world. I come from one of the least developed countries, Nepal, which has been hit by a host of handicaps for a long time now: poverty, inequality, illiteracy, political instability, corruption, a spate of natural calamities, an aftermath of a long-drawn state of insurgency, a land-locked geographical poise (sandwiched between two most populous nations), and more. I have seen from very close, how the poor confront adversities in life every moment and am restless to help stop the seizure in Nepal and across the developing world.

I have personally initiated a few poverty alleviation projects in my home country and I may say with a sense of humility that I do have first-hand experience of the impact it beckons. Citing an example which merits replication across the developing world where rivers run havoc, I have put up a pilot for a scalable wasteland transformation project wherein 500,000 hectares of lands devastated by floods, will usher-in a basket of rewards wherein comprehensive security for the country in terms of food, jobs, energy, climate, economic returns, et al, could get fully met. The pilot also includes a landmark work on helping solve a longstanding menace of floods in the terai region with propagation of Vetiver, a grass which serves as a bio-engineering tool; a sustainable agriculture and poverty alleviation measure, for the farmers in the flood-prone river belt. This initiative shall help reduce the curse inundated by floods substantially in 2 years time across the country, in terms of loss of life and devastation of arable land. Besides this initiative I am working on creating jobs for more than 3000 unemployed youth and marginal farmers (who lost their small land holdings to the curse of floods) of the region in the agro based industries we are promoting within the aforesaid wasteland, and this is scalable, too.

I believe that poor nations like ours need such socio-economic initiatives where development is inclusive and sustainable. There needs to be due effort to ensure that no one is left behind in the process of development and in thereby eradicating poverty.

The most potent measure towards containing poverty and emancipating lives in developing countries, needless to mention, is, economic growth. Sustained growth is necessary for rapid progress in attaining ‘Sustainable Development Goals.’ Growth leads to peace, prosperity and development. It helps advance human development which again propels economic growth. Inclusivity in growth, however, is critical. It should be driven by productive participation of the hitherto weaker section of the society. Growth caused by a handful of wealthy people leaving a large number in a miserable state, does not really constitute true growth. This precisely happened in India in the decade 2000-2010 when the net worth of 10 richest businessmen equaled that of 200 million people in the country who constituted the “BPL”! The “BPL” definition in India then was only 120 US Dollars/Capita/Annum. Even today it is only a notch better.

Among quite a few innovative ideas, I am much inspired by the narrative of there being a huge fortune waiting to be economically harnessed at the bottom-of-the-pyramid as articulated by Prof C K Prahlad. I am keen to educate myself on the economics of it. Very rightly narrated, a huge, hitherto untapped market is a potential bonanza for the global industry, a large section of which is unable to achieve break-even and economies of scale for want of markets. The large amounts of funds hitherto lying dormant with banks in absence of demand from industry, find a fruitful application in one stroke. In similar vein, the hitherto ‘out-of-markets’ poor find themselves in the spotlight of global industry.

Yet another revolutionary idea that comes to my mind is that of working on a measure which solves several socio-economic woes in one stroke. However, I am keen to learn the finer economic aspects of this.

As we know, the world today confronts its biggest challenge in combating climate change, poverty, unemployment and hunger, inter alia. Today, the carbon emission across the world sums up to 36 billion tons and is posing a huge challenge to mankind. There are hundreds of billion dollars pledged towards addressing these challenges at the ends of governments and foundations. I feel one of the best possible solutions would be to draw up a plan to plant trees and practice perma-culture (multi-layer organic farming) in as large a stretch of wastelands as possible. The execution enables a poise of win-win wherein the entire unemployed milieu in the world can be gainfully and sustainably engaged (firstly in the process of seed preparation and tree plantation, and thereafter in maintenance of plants and in farming/inter cropping) on one hand, and a food basket for the world can be created along with farming of bio-fuel (for renewable energy), herbs, vegetables, fruits, legumes, et al, coming in as well on a sustained dispensation. In toe, opportune utilization of the entire dormant fleet of approximately 2500 units of C130 Hercules Aircrafts across the world with retrofitting can be done to enable 900,000 seedlings to be bombed by each aircraft every day. These aircrafts are generally lying unused in about 70 countries and hence do not cause a capital outlay, per se.

Conservatively speaking, this will help 650 billion seedlings to be air-bombed across the world in one year covering an area (primarily hitherto wasteland) of more than 32.5 billion hectares (@ 2000 plants per hectare) or 32.5 million square kilometers. Total barren land in the world is 28 million square kilometers which gets fully covered in a year and the spill-over can go to the shrub land.

Additional capacities to expedite the seed-bombing can be created by engaging cost-efficient drones as well.

The challenges in the form of climate change, poverty, unemployment and hunger can all be addressed at fractions of the resources earmarked for these by adopting this measure.