Poverty Crisis

by: Keith Smith

Who lives in poverty

  1. More than 80 percent of the world’s population lives in countries where income differentials are widening.

  2. The poorest 40 percent of the world’s population accounts for 5 percent of global income. The richest 20 percent accounts for three-quarters of world income.

  3. According to UNICEF, 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.

what does it mean to live in poverty, what does it look like, and what are some statistics

A condition characterized by severe deprivation of basic human needs, including food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health, shelter, education and information.

In India, the poverty is absolute. You see people who literally have not a dime to their name. They literally have no food to eat. It's a little bit more complicated in America because even though the welfare system is not very good, we don't actually have mass starvation. So poverty in America is relative.

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When does poverty occur, When does someone go from being economically stable to poverty

Poverty is explained by individual circumstances and/or characterstics of poor people. Some examples are:

  • amount of education, skill, experience, intelligence.
  • health, handicaps, age.
  • work orientation, time horizon, culture of poverty.
  • discrimination, together with race, sex, etc.

Research shows that when families lack adequate income and assets, they face hardships including hunger, substandard housing and untreated illness. These hardships are especially harmful for children, who are more likely to experience long lasting negative outcomes in the areas of health, social and emotional development, educational attainment and employment.

where does poverty exist, where can people go for help

A working group for the Low Income Project Team of the Nutrition Task Force (1996), suggested that areas without adequate retail provision were becoming more common in the UK and some areas had become food deserts - areas where low-income households (including older people and families) face poor accessibility to good quality retail.

Food pantries


Why do we need to be aware

Poverty is a disgraceful and unjust condition that has always haunted mankind. Most people see the problem as insoluble. They see previous solutions that have failed. Some even think that previous remedies have worsened the condition of the poor

How can we solve it

The people directly affected by the problems or issues of poverty in the community have to be actively and authentically participating in the efforts to fight poverty. This means that the affected people themselves will be the major participants of the intervention to fight poverty. Not only the formal leaders need to be consulted, but also the affected themselves. Their worldview and situation should be taken into consideration and through facilitation they become part of the process of addressing and resolving their problems.

Create an organized group within the community to help many people rather than working with a few individuals. Rather than working with individual persons, it is more effective to facilitate collective and organized actions to help strengthen and empower people in poverty through an organization. This means that it is not enough to provide assistance to individually affected persons alone but through a collective organization each individual is developed and steps are taken to address their problems and other problems in the future.

The people affected need to identify the issues. It is more effective when issues and problems are identified by the people. They then begin to gain self-confidence and acquire capabilities in working together on simple issues and problems. This means that their initial efforts and experience can be used towards addressing more complex problems and issues. It is in identifying and acting on their initial simple issues or problems that the affected people gain their self-confidence and capability to identify other issues or problems which need to be addressed. Though externally, well thought introduced projects can help fight poverty, without the people’s active involvement and linking these projects with their own situation, identified issues and problems, such projects will most likely not be sustained.