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   Poverty and Human Rights: UNESCO's Anti-Poverty Projects

Food, Housing and Clothing
"Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control." (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Paris 1948, art. 25)
Food, Housing and ClothingAdequate food
Poverty may lead to undernutrition, and undernutrition is likely to deepen poverty.
The right to adequate food is the right of all individuals, alone or in community with others, to enjoy physical and economic access to adequate food or the means for its procurement. It should be understood primarily as the right to feed oneself, rather than the right to be fed. The right to be free from hunger is the minimum essential level of the right to adequate food.

The right to food implies
(i) the availability of food in sufficient quantity and quality to satisfy the dietary needs of all individuals in a form that is culturally acceptable;
(ii) the accessibility of food in ways that are sustainable and do not interfere with the enjoyment of other human rights.

The “availability of food” refers either to the possibility of feeding oneself directly from productive land or other natural resources, or to the existence of a well functioning distribution, processing and market system that moves food from the site of production to where it is needed in accordance with demand.

The “accessibility of food” encompasses both economic and physical accessibility. “Economic accessibility” implies that personal or household costs associated with the acquisition of food for an adequate diet should be at such a level that the satisfaction of other basic needs is not compromised. “Physical accessibility” implies that adequate food must be accessible to everyone, including the vulnerable such as women, children, the elderly, the sick, persons with physical disabilities, persons who are mentally ill, and victims of natural disasters and armed conflicts. If access to their ancestral lands is threatened, indigenous peoples are particularly vulnerable.

The right to adequate food also encompasses food safety and food security. Food safety implies that food should be free from adverse substances, whether from adulteration, poor environmental hygiene or other causes. Food security implies the absence of vulnerability to hunger, i.e. a low risk of falling victim to hunger through changes in personal or external circumstances. In other words, people are food secure if they can afford and have access to adequate food at all times.

Most poor people are disadvantaged and endangered by the places and physical conditions in which they live. They experience precarious shelter, problems of overcrowding, sewage and pollution, seasonal exposure to the worst conditions, insecurity of person and property, remoteness, non-existent or inadequate infrastructure, including in terms of access to drinking water, and stigma. Poor housing reflects - and deepens - deprivation.

The right to adequate housing should not be understood narrowly as the right to have a roof over one's head. Rather, it should be seen as the right to live somewhere in security, peace and dignity. This right has a number of components, including the following:
(i) Legal security of tenure: everyone should enjoy legal protection from forced eviction, harassment and other threats;
(ii) Habitability: housing must provide inhabitants with adequate space and protection from the elements and other threats to health;
(iii) Location: housing must be in a safe and healthy location which allows access to opportunities to earn an adequate livelihood, as well as access to schools, health care, transport and other services;
(iv) Economic accessibility: personal or household costs associated with housing should be at such a level that the attainment and satisfaction of other basic needs are not compromised;
(v) Physical accessibility: housing must be accessible to everyone, especially vulnerable groups such as the elderly, persons with physical disabilities and the mentally ill;
(vi) Cultural acceptability: housing must be culturally acceptable to the inhabitants, for example reflective of their cultural preferences in relation to design, site organization and other features;
(vii) Availability of services, materials, facilities and infrastructure that are essential for health, security, comfort and nutrition, such as safe drinking water, sanitation and washing facilities.

The right to adequate clothing forms an important part of the general right of everyone to an adequate standard of living. The type of clothing to be made available to those in need, in particular the poor, depends on the respective cultural, climatic and other conditions in the country concerned. As a minimum, poor people are entitled to clothes that enable them to appear in public without shame.

Worldmap - regional implementationRegional Implementation
This right is addressed by our projects in the following regions:
  • Africa - 1 project
  • Arab States - 1 project
  • Asia and the Pacific - 4 projects
  • Latin America and the Caribbean - 2 projects

Field Projects

 Breaking the poverty cycle of women: empowering adolescent girls to become agents of social transformation in South Asia
Empowering marginalized adolescent girls in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan to become agents of social transformation

 Cultural and ecotourism in the mountainous regions of Central and South Asia
Poverty eradication through sustainable tourism development in Central Asia and the Himalayas

 Forging innovative and interdisciplinary approaches to the Aral Sea Basin
Contributing to poverty eradication through innovative approaches in an ecological disaster area

 Handicraft as a socio-economic and cultural development factor
Fighting poverty by developping handicraft in Africa, the Arab States, Asia and Latin America

 Indigenous building technologies in Central Asia and Afghanistan
Developing and promoting indigenous building technologies to promote poverty eradication in Central Asia and Afghanistan

 Strategy for the sustainable development of tourism in the Sahara
Fighting against poverty through sustainable development of tourism in the Sahara

 Youth development and poverty reduction through sustainable community tourism in the Caribbean - YouthPATH -
Involving youth in community tourism, cultural and natural heritage preservation for poverty eradication in the Carribean (YouthPATH)

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Eradication of Poverty,
especially Extreme Poverty

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