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Oxfam Book Calls for Urgent Action on Poverty

Oxfam on Monday published a book warning that the food and fuel price hikes have signaled the start of a new age of scarcity which could drag millions of people further into poverty. It urges immediate action to tackle the huge inequalities that prevent poor people from having access to resources such as food fuel and water. For VOA, Tendai Maphosa has more from London.

From Power to Poverty
calls for urgent action to address the gap between the world's rich and poor. Duncan Green, the book's author, spoke to VOA.

"The comparison would be with the U.S. in the Depression or with Europe after the Second World War where you had the New Deal, you had the creation of welfare states," he explained. "We need some level of political inspiration like that on a global scale if we are actually going to get through this century without catastrophic damage to the climate, and without continued and deepening instability and violence."

Green said the gap between the wealthy and poor has been growing at a fast pace recently. He said the income of the world's 500 richest billionaires exceeding that of the world's 416 million poverty stricken is a sign that there is a need to redistribute the world's resources.

Green says the countries that have been successful in narrowing the gap have had two things in common.

"They have had effective states which have actually managed the economy, managed security, delivered for the national developments and they have also had active citizens," he said. "So, the book argues for this combination of active citizens and effective states as the key place where development happens."

Green also called for an overhaul of international institutions, such as the IMF and World Bank.

Redistribution, Green said, is also crucial to closing the gap between the haves and have nots. The state, he said, should act as an agent of change through tax and land reforms that give the poor an edge within countries.