Extreme PovertyNot all poverty is created equal. Poverty in a developed country is not the same as poverty in a developing nation. Here are 5 things the U.S. needs to know about extreme poverty.

  1. People who live in extreme poverty are deprived of basic human needs such as access to food, clean water and shelter. To be classified as a person living in extreme poverty, one must be living on or below $1.90 a day.
  2. Extreme poverty in a developing nation is different from poverty in a developed nation. The U.S. is a developed nation. In the U.S., government benefits keep millions of Americans out of poverty. These programs mostly tend to target women, children and the elderly, the nation’s (and the world’s) most vulnerable populations. Due to programs such as Social Security, unemployment benefits and food stamps, these people are shielded from the harsh realities of extreme poverty.
  3. Unfortunately, government benefits tend not to exist in developing countries to aid their poor. In addition, due to fear of corruption, the world’s poorest do not receive as much foreign aid as their better-off peers. Low-income countries remain in poverty due to being too poor to be trusted with funds. An effect of this is that the most defenseless population in the world, children, suffers the consequences. The World Health Organization estimates that about 16,000 children under the age of five die each day from preventable causes associated with extreme poverty. The causes of death are lack of access to clean water, lack of access to healthcare, malaria, newborn infections, poor nutrition and diarrhea. Death from these ails is unfathomable in developed countries.
  4. An estimated 766,010,000 people live in extreme poverty today. This is double the size of the U.S.’s population
  5. The number of people in extreme poverty is declining. In 1990, there were 1.1 billion people living in extreme poverty. Today the number is 766 million. This is an amazing feat that can be attributed to a combination of factors such as trade between developed nations and developing nations, foreign aid that reinvigorated economies, increased education, improved infrastructures and investment in basic health.

As with most things in life, poverty cannot be viewed through a single lens. It is a complex social issue, but gains over the past few decades have shown that it is a solvable issue. With continued foreign aid and trade, the world can get that much closer to realizing the goal of eradicating extreme poverty by 2030.

Jeanine Thomas

Photo: Flickr