When you buy your morning coffee, you decide between tea and a latte or if you’d prefer a smoothie instead. However, when those living in poverty have to make choices, they are more difficult than these, such as food and water or education.
Today, I want to discuss poverty as a global issue.
Global poverty is the worst problem faced by humans today. It robs millions of people of the chance to live a long, healthy life. It steals their freedom and dignity, as well as their security.
Billions of people live in extreme poverty; which means they survive on less than $1.90 per day – a sum of money that is nowhere near enough to live a comfortable life.
How did they get here? What can be done to help them? What can we do to bring a change? This article covers all those.
21 Global Poverty Facts
Let me share the top 21 facts you need to know about global poverty.
1. Absolute poverty, extreme poverty, and destitution are the three main absolute poverty lines used by the World Bank to measure absolute poverty globally.
2. The World Bank defines extreme poverty as living on less than $1.90 per day (in Purchasing Power Parity) [source: World Bank].
3. Roughly 2 billion people are living in extreme poverty which makes up 22% of the total population.
4. About 42,000 people die each day of hunger-related issues.
5. Angus Deaton writes about some startling statistics on global poverty: “More than half of global poverty is to be found in countries that are de-industrializing.”
6. People suffering from poverty are majorly found in: India (33%), China (13%), Nigeria (7%), Bangladesh (6%), and the Democratic Republic of Congo (5%)
7. Adding five more countries — Indonesia, Pakistan, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Kenya — would account for almost 80% of the world’s extremely poor population.
8. It is estimated that almost 25% of the Pakistani population lives below the poverty line. This number is more than twice the global percentage of people living in extreme poverty and amounts to more than 50 million people in Pakistan living in poverty.
9. Around 38% of Pakistani citizens are living in poverty while over 13% are near this crisis. However, there has been a decrease in the type of poverty rate from 55% to its current rate of 38%, in the span of 15 years.
10. Poverty levels in Pakistan vary throughout regions. In developed cities, the rates are estimated at 9%, while in underdeveloped areas, the number rises to 55%.
11. Most people living in extreme poverty live in rural areas like thar, and many of them spend hours on agriculture or manual labor or just collecting water for their families to drink and cook with.
12. People living in extreme poverty spend 70% of their income on food. Over 925 million people do not have enough food to lead a healthy and active life.
13. Around 900 million people around the world lack access to safe drinking water – that’s one in every nine people on Earth!
14. More than 2 billion do not have access to improved sanitation facilities.
15. Since 1990, the number of children in poverty has grown by more than 50%. When children grow up poor, their likelihood of staying poor increases drastically.
16. It’s estimated that over 1 million children die each year from preventable causes related to malnutrition or lack of clean water supplies (such as diarrhea). That’s almost 22,000 kids per day (according to UNICEF) or one child every 6 seconds!
17. Women make up 70% of those living in extreme poverty, which means they often don’t have access to education or employment opportunities.
18. In 2016, the number of people living in extreme poverty globally fell to 702 million—the first time this has happened since the World Bank started keeping track in 1990.
19. The world’s richest 1% now own 50% of all global wealth, while the bottom 50% own just 1%. These figures show a drastic increase in income inequality across the globe and are threatening to destabilize communities and even entire societies.
20. The gap between rich and poor is widening at an alarming rate — in 2017 alone, it increased by $762 billion! That’s not even taking into account debts, which make things much worse for people in developing countries.
21. One-third of all food produced for human consumption never reaches our tables—it’s wasted! If we could reduce waste by just 15%, enough food would be saved to feed nearly 2 billion people for a year!
What’s the Solution to Overcome Global Poverty?
Even though there are many problems with poverty around the world, there are also solutions. Here are the top six ways to overcome global poverty:
1. Shunning the stigma and shame surrounding poverty
Poverty is not something to be ashamed of, it’s something that happens to people when they don’t have the means to support themselves. To work its way out of poverty, a community or country must be representative and inclusive — especially when it comes to having a say in the things that determine your place in society.
2. Easy access to Education
Educated people are less likely to live in poverty than uneducated ones. Education increases earning potential which allows families to earn more money from their labor, which allows them to provide better care for their children.
Similarly, educated people are more likely to be aware of the issues that affect their community and are therefore more likely to participate in the political process, resulting in accountable and accessible government.
3. Increasing availability of food and water
Millions of people around the world have no access to safe clean drinking water. Lack of clean water results in poor hygiene, water-borne diseases, low food output, and higher death rates.
People who live in rural communities — often women and girls — spend hours every day walking long distances to the nearest water point which should be easily accessible, in the first place. This time could, otherwise, have been utilized for education and economic activities.
4. Supporting fair trade companies by buying their products
A 2014 study found that today’s poor people actually have a harder time rising out of poverty than they did 40 years ago—the income ladder is getting tougher to climb as we speak.
When you buy fair trade, you are not only helping the people who are making the products, but also supporting companies that are agreeing to fair standards for their workers. This helps people on the poorer side of the spectrum increase their income in a fair, safe environment.
Though money does wonders, it is not the answer to eradicating poverty. It is important to empower the people. Empowering people living in poverty means involving them in the development and implementation of plans and programs which reflect their own priorities. When they are involved, they ensure that programs respect their local customs and wishes.
One way to empower the population is by overcoming social barriers that prevent women from controlling resources or having a say in decisions affecting their lives. Their involvement ensures that programs reflect those things that are important to them.
6. Donating money to non-profit organizations that support people in poverty-stricken areas
Your donation can lend a hand to those in need and bring relief. If it is not possible for you, then volunteer with your time. Choose an organization that supports your values, e.g. supporting education and health care initiatives, promoting child rights and protection, and creating programs that provide clean water and sanitation services.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is global poverty?
Poverty is a state of deprivation, lacking the usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions. It is a multifaceted concept, which includes social, economic, and political elements.
Global poverty means the definition of poverty applied on a global level– all over the world.
Why is global poverty an issue?
Global poverty is an issue because it affects more than a billion people in the world. Affected people lack the resources to buy food and other necessities to survive. They have little or no access to education, healthcare, clean water, or proper sanitation facilities.
As a result, they are more likely to die from preventable diseases and malnutrition than those who live above the poverty line. In addition, children born into families below the poverty line are more likely to die before reaching adulthood and may suffer stunted growth due to malnutrition [source: World Health Organization].
How does global poverty affect the world?
Often people consider poverty to be the result of an individual’s or family’s lack of effort when it is much more complex than that.
Poverty is an important human rights issue as it affects the world in many ways. To make my point I would like to quote a couple of facts again here:
Every day 42,000 people die from hunger-related causes.
More than one-third of the world’s population lack access to safe drinking water.
Over two-thirds lack adequate sanitation facilities, etc.
Our Final Thoughts
The poor are not lazy or stupid; they lack access to the basic needs of an individual., such as education and other resources that can transform their lives for good.
The solution to global poverty is not waiting for the government to take care of it; it is time we take matters into our hands as individuals and communities.
We must see past our own biases, stereotypes, and assumptions about what people need or don’t need so as to be a part of the solution instead of the problem.
Let’s join hands to make this world a better place for the less fortunate.