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Poverty – Causes & Types

Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings” – Nelson Mandela
The dictionary meaning of the word poverty is “The quality or state of being poor or indigent; want or scarcity of means of subsistence; indigence; need.” The word poverty has come from Old French poverté (Modern French pauvreté), and from Latin paupertās, from pauper ‎(“poor”). So, poverty is a state or condition in which a person or community lacks the financial resources and essentials to enjoy a minimum standard of life and well-being that's considered acceptable in society.

United Nations defined poverty as the inability of getting choices and opportunities, a violation of human dignity. It means lack of basic capacity to participate effectively in society. It means not having enough to feed and clothe a family, not having a school or clinic to go to, not having the land on which to grow one’s food or a job to earn one’s living, not having access to credit. It means insecurity, powerlessness and exclusion of individuals, households and communities. It means susceptibility to violence, and it often implies living in marginal or fragile environments, without access to clean water or sanitation

Types of Poverty

Absolute Poverty - Absolute poverty or destitution refers to a condition where a person does not have the minimum amount of income needed to meet the minimum requirements for one or more basic living needs over an extended period of time. The basic human needs include food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, clothing, shelter, education and health care.

Relative Poverty - Relative poverty is the condition in which people lack the minimum amount of income needed in order to maintain the average standard of living in the society in which they live. Relative poverty is considered the easiest way to measure the level of poverty in an individual country. People are said to be impoverished if they cannot keep up with standard of living as determined by society. Relative poverty is defined relative to the members of a society and, therefore, differs across countries.

Causes of Poverty

1.       Lack of money
2.       Extreme weather – Drought, rainfall and flooding
3.       War and violence
4.       Inequalities of opportunities
5.       Unemployment
6.       Lack of control of local resources
7.       Low rate of economic development
8.       Price rise
9.       High population density

10.   Corruption
11.   Lack of access of education
12.   Mental illness, Lack of proper psychiatric care
13.   Low productivity in agriculture
14.   Social factors – laws of inheritance, caste system, traditions and customs, etc.
15.   National Debt: developing countries are not able to pay back the loans they owe to wealthy countries

Some facts about Global Poverty

Nearly half of the world’s population — more than 3 billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day. More than 1.3 billion live in extreme poverty — less than $1.25 a day.
1 billion children worldwide are living in poverty. According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty.

805 million people worldwide do not have enough food to eat. Food banks are especially important in providing food for people that can’t afford it themselves. Run a food drive outside your local grocery store so people in your community have enough to eat.

More than 750 million people lack adequate access to clean drinking water. Diarrhea caused by inadequate drinking water, sanitation, and hand hygiene kills an estimated 842,000 people every year globally, or approximately 2,300 people per day.

In 2011, 165 million children under the age 5 were stunted (reduced rate of growth and development) due to chronic malnutrition.
Preventable diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia take the lives of 2 million children a year who are too poor to afford proper treatment.

As of 2013, 21.8 million children under 1 year of age worldwide had not received the three recommended doses of vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis.
1/4 of all humans live without electricity — approximately 1.6 billion people.
80% of the world population lives on less than $10 a day.

Oxfam estimates that it would take $60 billion annually to end extreme global poverty--that's less than 1/4 the income of the top 100 richest billionaires.

The World Food Programme says, “The poor are hungry and their hunger traps them in poverty.” Hunger is the number one cause of death in the world, killing more than HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.

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