Written by Samantha Wolf

What can we do about poverty? According to our BruinMUN novice committee, education and clean water are the answer.

The main goals of the Novice SOCHUM are to address the slums in disenfranchised communities and health and welfare for the elderly. Presently, they are discussing how to improve the quality of slums.

The implications of slums have deep roots, according to the delegate from the United Arab Emirates. They explain that slums are created typically by immigrants, because “they can’t get a job because they’re not citizens, and so they end up just squatting down and creating a slum.” There are lots of problems with this, including sanitation concerns and economic downturn. “The solutions are really to fix [the slums] up, get people health care that they need, and get rid of all the trash because a lot of times people are living in raw sewage and raw feces,” explains the delegate.

Mexico faces these hygiene issues daily. For them, their drinking water is extremely polluted and causes countless health problems. Around 1,000 citizens die every day from the contaminated water. “One of our solutions is graywater,” states Mexico’s delegate. “It’s basically recycled water. We can use that to water plants and wash the clothes.” The idea is that by reusing water for non-health-related actions, Mexico citizens can reserve their limited supply of clean water for drinking.

With any big project, there are going to be expenses. Mexico’s delegate proposes fundraisers around the country or redistributing their budget to accommodate this pressing issue. Hopefully, their initiatives will improve the overall quality of life as well. “There’s a domino effect with how slums affect everything else,” explains the delegate of Mexico. Other means of funding proposed by the committee include pulling from public pensions, establishing new taxes, asking for government benefits, or working with UN sub-groups like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Indonesia specifically has drafted a seven-step plan. Among these steps are measures to build roads between developing countries to transport aid, build underground pipelines for improved water resources, and more. The delegate from Indonesia emphasizes, “those roads would be really amazing for all those developing countries because they don’t always have access towards [aid]...then they can become more of a developed country, they can go to their jobs a lot more easily, and they can do all of these things a lot more efficiently.”

However, their primary concern is with education. Indonesia stresses the importance of education to inform citizens on what slums are, the causes, and how they can improve their conditions. They would like to improve the accessibility of education as well, because “to get one lesson, some people have to walk three hours, or some amount of time to go to one place to get education,” according to Indonesia’s delegate. “It shouldn’t be that hard.” Furthermore, more means of education can mean more jobs: not only are people receiving useful knowledge, but schools can use their unemployed citizens to staff construction workers, teachers and school administration.

Spain has allied with Thailand, Brazil, Ukraine and India to draft a resolution on the topic of education. Specifically, they believe it is important to provide impoverished citizens with a motivation to attend school, since many people believe it to be expensive or unnecessary. The delegate of Spain explains some potential options: “if the government pays for their housing and gives it to them when they receive education, it will give more people reasons to go to school.”

Our Novice SOCHUM committee is really looking to the future to improve education and health conditions for slums. Together, they are acting in the best interest of impoverished communities and undoubtedly going to make real progress.