Poverty facts you need to know

“Poverty” is defined as an economic condition of lacking both money and basic necessities needed to successfully live, such as food, water, utilities, and housing. There are many working definitions of “poverty,” with considerable debate on how to best define the term.

The World Bank defines poverty in absolute terms. The bank defines extreme poverty as living on less than US$1.90 per day, and moderate poverty as less than $3.10 a day. It has been estimated that in 2008, 1.4 billion people had consumption levels below US$1.25 a day and 2.7 billion lived on less than $2 a day. Almost half the world — over three billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day. At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day. More than 80 percent of the world’s population lives in countries where income differentials are widening.

According to UNICEF,poverty1 22,000 children die each day due to poverty. And they “die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.”

An international monetary threshold under which an individual is considered to be living in poverty. It is calculated by taking the poverty threshold from each country – given the value of the goods needed to sustain one adult – and converting it to dollars. The international poverty line was originally set to roughly $1 a day. When purchasing power parity and all goods consumed are considered in the calculation of the line, it allows organisations to determine which populations are considered to be in absolute poverty.

Absolute poverty is the level of poverty as defined in terms of the minimal requirements necessary to afford minimal standards of food, clothing, health care and shelter. For the measure to be absolute, the line must be the same in different countries, cultures, and technological levels.

poverty2

The above figure shows Countries by percent of population living below $3.10 in 2011. Based on World Bank API data.

Chad (80% below poverty) is the country with most poverty, while Taiwan (1.5%) has least poverty.

There is no silver bullet to ending poverty, and strategies to reach the least well-off must be tailored to each country’s context, Experience shows that in order to sustainably reduce poverty, countries need to:

  • Grow in an inclusive, labour-intensive way.
  • Invest in the human capital of people
  • Insure poor and vulnerable people against weather, pandemics, food price variability, and economic crises
  • Create jobs
  • Raise the minimum wage

Eradicating poverty is the greatest global challenge facing the world today and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development, particularly for developing countries. There should be strategic use of tools such as education, economic development, health and income redistribution to improve the livelihoods of the worlds poorest by governments and internationally approved organisations.

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