What is poverty?

Definition of poverty

Poverty is defined as the insufficiency of basic needs and resources such as food, clothing, and shelter of a common man or a community due to low-income levels. Lack of proper employment to earn money for meeting the basic needs of a family or an individual indicates poverty.

The word Poverty can also be used to define a lack of opportunities to learn new things to obtain a new source of income to escape from poverty. More than half of the world population – around three billion people are living with an income of less than $2.5 per day. According to the World Bank’s report about 33% of people under extreme poverty live in South Asia and about 9% in East Asia and the Pacific. More than half of the population under extreme poverty live in the Sub-Saharan Africa region.

Types of poverty

Depending on social, economic, and political factors, poverty can be classified into different types.

1. Extreme poverty (Absolute poverty)

When a household income could not be able to meet the essential needs of an individual or a family. Even though the country develops economically, these group of people won’t get any advantage of the development. A person living with less than $1.90 per day is considered as under extreme poverty.

People under this category cannot afford at least two of the following essentials like food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health care, shelter, education, and access to services. They are exposed to numerous diseases and malnutrition which leads to increased death rates due to poverty.

According to recent estimates in 2015, about 10% of the world population or 734 million people are living under extreme poverty. It is estimated that due to recent pandemic COVID-19, an additional 40 million to 60 million people will fall under extreme poverty.

2. Relative poverty

When the household income is just 50% of average household income, and it is just enough for meeting their basic needs, then the state is called relative poverty. This is not categorized under total poverty but they cannot afford the facilities that other people in the same society. Thus it is a measure of income inequality.

3. Situational poverty

When a natural calamity or job loss or any health issue brings the household income down which leads to a lack of basic needs for a person or a family, then it is referred to as situational poverty.

4. Multidimensional poverty

It is not generally measured by the household income level. The household income may be enough for basic needs like food and shelter but they cannot afford healthcare, education, and other living standards.

There are ten key indicators of multidimensional poverty which include nutrition, child mortality, years of schooling, school attendance, cooking fuel, sanitation, drinking water, electricity, housing, and assets. If a person could not afford any of the three key indicators, they are said to be under multidimensional poverty.

According to a survey in 2018, around 74% of the world population or 1.3 billion people are under multidimensional poverty.

What is poverty

Causes of poverty

The main cause of poverty is not only a low-income level. But it includes various factors.

1. Inequality

The important and leading cause of poverty is inequality in the availability of resources and facilities to certain people. It includes gender inequality, denial of resources to a specific group of people.

More than 70% of the world population lives in countries where income inequality has increased in the last three decades.

It is the responsibility of a Government to provide equal availability of resources to their citizens. But in many countries, this goal is not being achieved. Thus people don’t get proper healthcare, food, and employment.

2. Lack of education

Lack of education for children may lead them to go for low income earning works at their early age to support their families and so they may not be able to secure a job that meets their basic needs in the future. So poverty continues to the next generation also.

3. Unemployment and job loss

As agricultural lands are converted into buildings and occupied for industrial developments, most of the rural population lose their work in lands which is their source of income which may lead to poverty. Due to recession or some natural calamities, people lose their jobs, and thus they cannot afford their needs properly.

4. Population growth

When the population increases there will be a scarcity of resources and jobs which in turn leads to insufficiency in basic needs. Thus it is also a root cause for poverty.

Effects of poverty

1. Hunger, malnutrition, and stunting

Without proper income, people cannot afford nutritious food and thus it leads to malnutrition in women and children. Because of lack of food or essential nutrition in food, many children experience stunted growth which in turn affects their cognitive ability too.

According to a survey, around 805 million people suffer from hunger. Around 22000 children die due to poverty in a day. Another survey in 2011 reveals that 165 million children under the age of 5 were stunted because of malnutrition.

Hunger is the most significant cause for the death of people in the world than death due to diseases like HIV/AIDS, Malaria and tuberculosis, etc.

What is poverty

2. Poor healthcare

When healthcare becomes unreachable service for a group of people due to poverty or lack of availability, easily preventable diseases become fatal especially for the lives of children. Without having proper health care, pregnancy and childbirth might become fatal for both the mother and the child.

Because of the consumption of contaminated water, inadequate water consumption, and lack of hygiene diseases like malaria, diarrhea and many other diseases affect them. It increases their need for spending more money on health care. Thus they may end up in extreme poverty from poverty.

Globally, about 750 million people consume contaminated water or have little access to clean water. It includes both rural as well as urban populations. Approximately, 2300 people die in a single day due to diseases like malaria, diarrhea, and pneumonia which are caused due to unsafe drinking water.

3. No access to education

Because of poverty children may end up going to work to support their family and thus they cannot have an education. People cannot afford education when they don’t have money even for food. In many communities, girls won’t be allowed to get an education. As education paves way for jobs and new incomes in a family, this inequality leads to lower income in the family.

In 2016, around 63 million children aged six to eleven are not attending school because of poverty. Globally, one in five children under the age of 17 doesn’t get a proper education in order to secure a job for their living.

4. Food and water contamination

Open defecation, which means defecating in outside fields and behind bushes due to lack of toilet facilities and hygiene, water and food gets contaminated. This leads to various diseases.

Till now, about 8.9% of the world population is defecating outside because of poverty which causes diseases due to unhygienic lifestyle.

5. Affects family relationships and moral behavior

Parents in a poor family who could not afford good food and shelter tend to have less involvement in parenting and personal health care as they were striving to get food. There will be issues in social connectedness also.

Poverty makes a person steal for his food and thus there will be conflicts among people and communities. People tend to lose their moral behaviors to meet their basic needs.

Poverty Alleviation

The World Bank has set a target to eradicate poverty from the world by 2030. Many Non-profit organizations are involved in providing basic needs for economically disadvantaged people. To eradicate poverty from the world it needs the support of governments, communities, and corporations.

An estimate reveals that it needs $60 billion to eradicate extreme poverty from the globe annually which is 1/4th of the total income of the top 100 billionaires in the world.

Increasing the minimum wages for the worker and creating new job opportunities help in improvement. It needs good support for children’s education by building schools and providing free education for their future employment.

Governments can involve in providing basic medical care to their citizens at affordable prices. It involves building hospitals and clinics in remote areas. Educating modern technologies to farmers will help in increasing their productivity. Providing shelters with basic amenities with a clean water supply can help in raising the standard of living of people under poverty.

There is spiritual poverty among people where they don’t have knowledge about a Savior who died for them and so they die without the salvation of their souls.

“If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:15-17, ESV)

As the above word of God states, we aim to see spiritual development with discipleship and physical development with compassion and needed life skills.

Leave a Reply