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Everything You Need to Know About Poverty

Millions of people today live in extreme poverty. It is one of the worst afflictions in the world today. It causes extreme human suffering, discrimination, and inequality. Additionally, it leads to crime, violence, and economic losses. The world has taken large strides toward poverty reduction. The percentage of people living in poverty today is much lower than three decades ago, but there is still a long way to go to make sure that every single person has decent living conditions. Here’s everything you need to know about poverty.

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What is poverty?

The very simple definition of poverty is the lack or scarcity of material possessions or money. However, the concept is a lot more complex than simply not having things or money. It also means losing a lot of the dignity that a person should be able to possess. Poverty leads to poor nutrition, insecurity, unemployment, and discrimination.

There are two different types of poverty. “Absolute poverty” means that a person possesses absolutely nothing or next to nothing. This condition is pretty much the same everywhere in the world. Usually, people who live in absolute poverty do not have access to food, shelter, or other basic needs.

However, there is also” relative poverty.” This condition depends on the location of the person. For example, someone might possess more material things than someone in absolute poverty, but they cannot fully function within their given society or satisfy some of their basic needs. Learn more about what poverty is here.

Poverty is one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that should be achieved by 2030. The goals are about improving people’s lives around the world, specifically in developing countries.

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How can we measure it?

The United Nations defines extreme poverty as living on less than USD $1 per day. Similarly, the World Bank acknowledges that those who live on less than USD $1.90 per day live in extreme poverty.

According to the latest statistics from 2015, about 10% of the world’s population lives in extreme poverty. That’s around 736,000 million people. Let that sink in.

However, the real number of people living in poverty is even higher. In addition to those living in extreme poverty, there are many people living in relative poverty. Depending on the country, this may mean somewhere between USD $3.20 per day to USD $5.50 per day.

Research shows that a quarter of the world survives on the latter, and many more live on less than USD $5.50 daily. This accounts for about 3.5 billion people globally. This means they do not have access to basic human needs such as shelter, healthcare, education, and food.

Read more about Poverty Measurement and Poverty and Shared Prosperity.

How does poverty impact the world?

Poverty has a number of negative effects. And unlike what many might believe, these effects impact both those living in poverty and those who do not. Poverty leads to poor health, lack of education, compromised safety and security, employment exclusion, and discrimination.

The worlds poor are also the world’s least healthy. They face more overall risks due to their environments. Additionally, they have less access to quality (or any) healthcare services. Poor populations are more vulnerable to diseases such as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDs, and malaria. Lack of access to clean drinking water can also cause higher rates of disease and viruses.

Those born into poverty are less likely to receive a decent education. In fact, poor nutrition and emotional drain at an early age can mean low cognitive development. Poor children, particularly girls, may not have access to educational facilities or are not allowed to attend school. Typically, they are not able to finish their education as they need to support their families financially.

The poor tend to live in unsafe and insecure conditions. They may not possess proper homes, so they are always under threat of being robbed or attacked. Additionally, they are more vulnerable to natural disasters. This is especially true for those who are forced to live in areas affected by cyclical disasters as they are unable to afford better housing.

Finally, the poor fall into cyclical poverty since they cannot access the labor market. Lack of access to education means a low opportunity for growth. Additionally, they face discrimination and poor conditions to set them up for a successful career.

Read more about the Effects of Poverty from the Borgen Project and from Habitat for Humanity. Learn about the Impact of Poverty here.

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Why is it important to fight poverty?

Humans have basic rights to life, food, shelter, education, and more. Poverty takes these away. No one deserves to live in conditions of poverty without access to basic human needs. In fact, every individual, family, and community has the right to a decent life, access to food, education, and security.

Further, there are enough resources in the world to lift everyone out of poverty. However, they are often poorly managed and distributed. By fighting poverty, we can aid in making sure that the available resources reach those who need them.

In addition to plainly alleviating human suffering, there are also other reasons to fight poverty. Crime, insecurity, and violence are all rooted in poverty. Hunger and desperation can drive people to find resources any way they can. If they are incorporated into the labor market, they won’t need to commit these crimes.

What’s more, access to education also strengthens democracy. If the world’s poor were able to access quality educational services, they would be able to participate in the democratic process in a more meaningful way.

Finally, fighting poverty is one of the main sustainable development goals set out by the United Nations. The goal includes poverty eradication and promoting equality for everyone. Learn more about Poverty SDGs here.

Read about changing the world for the better.

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What are poverty reduction strategies?

One of the main strategies to reduce poverty is sustainable economic growth for communities. To lift people out of poverty, it’s essential to enable them to provide for themselves in the long-term. In the past, many humanitarian projects created dependency on aid through poverty reduction efforts. This only has a negative impact on communities.

On the other hand, some successful examples include micro-finance. Many organizations provide micro-credit for small entrepreneurs. In this way, they are able to run their own businesses and lift themselves out of extreme poverty.

Additionally, empowering women is an essential step towards equality and poverty reduction. Women and girls often lack access to education and financial freedom. But when they are able to be financially independent, future generations become more secure. This is key for security and education in the long-term.

Further, it is important to ensure that future generations do not grow up poor. This means lifting children out of poverty through education, community involvement, and nutrition. This can help them to become productive citizens in the future and break the cycle of poverty in their communities.

Learn more about organizations that advocate lifting children out of poverty. Plus, here is some news on churches on a mission to helping people in poverty.

Who works to stop poverty?

Poverty is one of the most complex issues of our time. As such, hundreds of organizations around the world work to eradicate poverty. One of the biggest entities in the field is the United Nations. Most of its organizations have some form of poverty reduction mechanism. In addition, they monitor the progress towards meeting SDGs, including poverty eradication.

Governments also play an important role in poverty reduction. Many have strong international aid programs in order to support lower-income countries. They often collaborate with other organizations for implementation and the exchange of best practices.

Next, there are various non-governmental organizations, not-for-profits, international organizations, and faith-based organizations. They deploy development and humanitarian workers to fight poverty across the world. This includes different types of entities from grassroots organizations to some of the largest development entities.

Many Raptim customers work actively to fight poverty around the world. We are very proud to work with these incredible organizations and support them in reaching their destinations. Last, but not least, individuals can also support poverty reduction through thoughtful actions and advocacy.

Read about 45 organizations that battle poverty. Learn about one of Raptim’s clients – Compassion International – that works tirelessly to help the world’s poor.

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