Across the world, almost one billion children live in poverty. They live without access to proper nutrition, healthcare and especially, adequate education. Children are the future of the world and need to be nurtured to become successful. When children grow up with skills to join the labor force, they can help pull their countries out of poverty by making changes in the political system and economy. As educated citizens, they will be less likely to engage in unethical behavior and more likely to have fewer children. As a result, both mortality and overpopulation rates decline.

By ignoring children’s education, developing countries are also unaware of talented children.

Talented children are more likely to achieve higher degrees and may go into professions such as being educators, business leaders and scientific researchers. These children have the capacity to make huge contributions to society in various fields that will support economic growth in developing countries.

Therefore, nurturing talent, both physically and psychologically is a crucial to reducing global poverty in the long run.

From a physical perspective, children need to have a good nutritional diet so that they can be healthy both physically and mentally. Lacking necessary nutrition can cause children to develop slower and not be able to absorb education properly.

From a psychological point of view, education systems and societal support are the keys to unlock the full potential for young talents. Good education gives children the chance to prove themselves as well as the basic knowledge to pursue their dreams. At the same time, support from society gives them the motivation to overcome challenges in their daily life and strive to become a better citizen of the world.

Phong Pham

Sources: Spring: Gifted Children, Spring, UNICEF
Photo: Borgen Project

United States President Barack Obama mentioned extreme poverty during the State of the Union address on January 28 while explaining that America’s leadership is in a better position than any other country to help the world.

The president said that the leadership of the U.S. is defined “by the enormous opportunities to do good and promote understanding around the globe – to forge greater cooperation, to expand new markets, [and] to free people from fear and want.”

Obama made these references roughly one hour into the State of the Union address when discussing his administration’s stance on foreign policy. He said that his administration is proud of the diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Iran and that he would not hesitate to use his power to protect America in case anything went wrong.

Although the U.S. is responsible for maintaining order and spreading democracy, according to Obama, the U.S. is also responsible when it comes to helping those in need.

“Across Africa, we’re bringing together business and governments to double access to electricity and help end extreme poverty,” said Obama.

But what exactly does this mean? Obama referred to is a USAID program named “Power Africa.”

USAID describes Power Africa as “a U.S. Government initiative that addresses one of the most pressing challenges to sustainable economic growth and development in sub-Saharan Africa – access to electrical power.” Obama announced this program during a visit to South Africa in 2013.

Under the program, the U.S. seeks to cooperate with African governments, the private sector, and international institutions such as the World Bank in order to “add more than 10,000 megawatts (MW) of clean, efficient electricity generation capacity.”

Obama also mentioned extreme poverty in last year’s State of the Union address. He said the U.S. would work to eliminate it within the next 20 years, according to an article by Think Progress.

Although Obama mentioned extreme poverty two years in a row, the contemporary U.S. Congress remains divided on many issues. Citizens may call their congressmen to help Capitol Hill unify and tackle the issue of poverty as well.

– Juan Campos

Sources: CBS News, Think Progress, USAID
Photo: Politico

Sierra Leone, home to over 6.1 million people, is a West African nation ravaged by a 11-year civil war. The country was prone to military coup de’tats, resulting is an ever-revolving door of presidents, dictators, military juntas and overall political chaos.

The political crises that have befallen the diamond resource rich nation is in stark contrast to its prominent past as a settlement for freed slaves, particularly its capital, Freetown. Sadly, the civil war, which was condemned for human rights violations such as the use of child soldiers, created a situation where poverty became rampant among the populace.

Sierra Leone now has one the lowest life expectancies in the world, with an average person expected to live to only 48. It ranks fairly low in the Human Development Index at 180th out of 187 countries. Particularly distressing is that over “60 percent of the population” lives on about “$1.25 per day.” Consequently, the nation boasts a high illiteracy rate, and deals with a increasingly volatile health crisis, with a majority of the population unable to attain proper medicine and health services.

Despite the problems, the country has made positive strives since the end of the civil war. Since 2002, positive changes have occurred. The central government has become stronger and democracy has flourished quite prominently in the wake of the civil war. The nation has also seen an uptick in economic development.

Unemployment and underemployment of the youth population are major reasons for the civil unrest within the nation. Around 70 percent are out of work or critically underpaid, resulting in strikes that are routinely suppressed by the government. Disillusionment with political elites and inequality of wealth in the country has led to a huge divide among political groups.

Current President Ernest Bai Koroma and his All People’s Party have been criticized for their actions, but at the same time praised for helping the nation “transition from a failed state” to a “fast-growing economy.” The economic growth of the nation is contrasted by the rampant poverty faced by a majority of the nation.

Sierra Leone has had an arduous history in regards to women’s rights. The country is home to many customary practices, such as “female genital mutilation” and forced marriages. Amnesty international reported that the Sexual Offences Act, though pushed through in 2013, was never truly enacted, and discriminatory policies against women were still heavily occurring in the nation.

Human rights violations are particularly evident in post-civil war Sierra Leone. Peaceful demonstrations are still violently suppressed, and opposition media are continually jailed for dispelling information against the ruling regime. An April demonstration against working conditions at a local mine resulted in police officers killing 12 workers. The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone found the police culpable for their actions, and pushed for an investigation into the matter. Sierra Leone has not indicted or prosecuted any of those involved in the killings.

Can Sierra Leone make a change? Unless the government makes a more proper investment in its population and respects human rights, civil unrest is a common possibility. The lack of oversight for respecting human rights and drastic poverty is an increasingly damaging problem for the nation that was once a safe-haven for those escaping slavery.

– Joseph Abay

Sources: Amnesty International, New York Times Blogs, BBC, BBC, UNDP
Photo: UWO

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Famous celebrities and world leaders alike channel their influence to promote the various causes they are passionate about. Below are 5 famous advocates for global poverty:

1. Bono

Lead singer of Dublin-based band U2, Bono is one of the most influential celebrity advocates fighting global poverty. He is the co-founder of the organization ONE, which is a campaign of over 3 million people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. He is also creator of other campaigns including Debt AIDS Trade Africa (RED) and clothing company EDUN. Bono recently performed at the 2013 Global Citizen Festival, calling on audience members to help put a stop to extreme poverty by 2030. He was granted knighthood in 2007 and dubbed a “Man of Peace” for all his philanthropic work. He serves as a role model to all celebrities and is passionate about a greater cause.

2. Angelina Jolie

While filming Tomb Raider in Cambodia, Jolie first became personally aware of worldwide humanitarian crises. Since 2001, she has traveled on field missions around the world and interacted with refugees and other displaced people in more than 20 countries. She founded the Jolie-Pitt Foundation with actor Brad Pitt. The foundation focuses on eradicating extreme rural poverty, conserving wildlife, and protecting natural resources. Among the many philanthropic endeavors she has undergone, some include building an all-girls primary school in Afghanistan, opening a refugee camp and recently, undergoing a double mastectomy, bringing awareness to cancer and women’s health.

3. Elton John 

Famous musician Sir Elton John has seen many of his close friends die from HIV/AIDS in his lifetime. In their honor, he established the Elton John Aids Foundation in 1992 to fight the disease worldwide. The organization has raised over $125 million to support programs in 55 countries through education, health services and elimination of prejudice and discrimination. In 2004 he was the most generous person in music of the year, donating over $43 million to organizations across the globe. In 2008, he donated 120 motorcycles to the African nation of Lesotho to be used by doctors and nurses to visit patients in remote areas.

4. George Clooney

Clooney is one of the most charitable stars in Hollywood, focusing his energy on a mission to stop the human rights atrocities occurring in Darfur. He famously founded the group Not On Our Watch to stop the genocide occurring in Sudan. He has personally visited the area several times and met with victims and world leaders alike.

5. Bill Clinton

Former U.S. President and founder of the William J. Clinton Foundation, Clinton set up his organization to promote aid for a number of humanitarian causes. His organization focuses specifically on climate change, economic development, global health and women’s rights. Though there has been some controversy over the Clinton Foundation in recent years, it remains a well-known global advocacy network for aiding poverty-stricken countries.

– Sonia Aviv

Sources: ONE, TED, Look to the Stars, CQ Researcher, Clinton Foundation
Photo: Charles Cannon

In the vaguest sense of the word, Merriam-Webster will tell you that general poverty is “the state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions.” This is just about as much as anyone with a context clue for the word poverty could define it as. But what is it really? What does it mean to live in poverty? There are different types and levels, in a sense, of poverty. Each country tends to have different cut off points that determine whether they are truly impoverished or not. But it is generally accepted that those living in such a way that it is difficult to make ends meet, are impoverished. So what are the different levels?

There are several million people living at or nearby the poverty line just in the United States, but even our poverty line is higher than that of the world’s poorest countries. A person living alone and unmarried is allotted just over $11,000 or less to meet the poverty requirements set by the government. And while survival in our country would be absolutely difficult on this meager income, many people are living on even less. In fact, there are 2.4 billion people living at the poverty line of $2 a day, this comes to less than $3,000 income in an entire year. That is two dollars every day to feed themselves and their families. All that money to have a place to live and water to drink and clothes to wear. Defining poverty means looking at the fact that people are going without the full education or access to good jobs that they so desperately need to pull themselves out of this way of life. People living this way often have to choose one necessity over another in order to make sure that at least some of the needs are met and taking any government assistance when possible, like food stamps and welfare. And it gets even worse than that.

What about extreme poverty? This is recognized as living on less that $1.25 a day as defined by the World bank in 2008 and there are over 1 billion people living in this state. This level is decided by a lack of clean water, housing, food, health care and education. Some of the countries most beset by this issue include Africa, Afghanistan, and Haiti. Most things that other people take for granted, those living in extreme poverty must go without. People living in extreme poverty suffer much higher rates of infant and maternal mortality. 22,000 children around the world die every day in the poorest countries due to unchecked illness and succumbing to malnourishment. In fact 1 billion out of 2.2 billion children in the world are living in poverty conditions such as these. At this point every aspect of survival becomes a struggle. It is not simply a matter of going without health care to ensure that there is enough food in the house. It is instead going without reasonable amounts of anything at all and living a day by day existence.

What about social poverty, or social exclusion? Poverty is not only defined in a monetary fashion. Income poverty is the most commonly looked at, but there is such a thing as social poverty. This is defined as lacking cultural inclusion due to the inability to conform to society’s ideal norms due to a lack of education, skills, money, health care, child care, and a certain type of living condition. This multidimensional measurement of poverty brings all these into consideration to define itself as the inability to participate in the community socially whether on that national, local, or even familial level. While it is much more difficult to measure than what is called absolute poverty, it is still considered to be an important aspect of poverty by many in the world. It is thought that a quality of life should also be applied to standards of living.

All in all, while poverty is defined much in the same way that any word is, it is a constantly adjusting thing as it is an active part of life itself. It fluctuates regularly and changes to meet the times. Hopefully, with the right amount of work and education, it will also become a part of our past as opposed an all too realistic part of our present.

– Chelsea Evans

Sources: Merriam-Webster, Families USA, Global Issues, UNESCO, One Day’s Wages
Photo: Photo Brazil

On August 5, the ONE Campaign sent out a press release discussing a recent partnership between ONE Africa and Big Brother Africa to raise awareness about poverty. The collaboration is taking place this week to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the African Union (AU).

This is the second year that Big Brother Africa has worked with One Africa to end extreme poverty. The press release stated that, “During this year’s Charity Week, housemates will undertake a series of tasks centered on educating viewers about the most pressing poverty issues facing the continent while highlighting possible solutions.”

In addition, the African Hip Hop star Ice Prince will talk with Big Brother housemates about extreme poverty in Africa and how the AU is working to address it. As part of the events of the week, housemates will choose an issue of poverty that they are passionate about and make a video about it asking the AU to address the issue. Viewers will then be able to vote on their favorite video.

Dr. Sipho S. Moyo, the Africa Director for ONE said, “The Big Brother Africa platform presents an incredible opportunity to highlight the unconscionable plight of extreme poverty, which millions of Africans face on a daily basis. The good news, we know, is that research has shown that extreme poverty can virtually be eradicated by 2030.”

– KC Harris

Sources: The One Campaign

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Poverty. Can you define this seven letter word? Many individuals can define it, and most would say that poverty is the state of being extremely poor. Yet, how many of these individuals would know the facts behind global poverty and would know what it took to prevent or fight against such a global epidemic? Many individuals are so focused on their own personal lives that they do not notice what lies beyond their own every day life. Yet, global poverty effects everyone and reducing this epidemic could benefit everyone as well.

A dollar and twenty five cents. This is the amount of money in which 1.3 billion individuals live off of every day and possibly even less than this amount, states The World Bank. This is a staggering amount of people living off of less than a dollar a day! Yet as The Global Citizen organization has stated “ In the last 30 years, the proportion of the world’s population that live below this line has halved-from 52% in 1980, to 25% today. That’s a decline from 1.9 billion people down to 1.3 billion people”. There is a notable difference seen today with this decline in global poverty, yet if individuals do not keep putting their efforts towards this cause, the percentage could once again rise to staggering levels.

So how can an individual make a difference, one may question. There are three key responsibilities to help fight against global poverty. The first is through charitable donations. A single individual can make a large difference on numerous lives through charitable donations, states Columbia University. By donating funds towards global poverty, The Millennium Promise explains, an individual can help numerous others obtain food, clean water and power, a healthy living environment, technology and the seeds for innovation, education, gender equality, the proper health care for women and their children, and finally can help plant the seeds for businesses and entrepreneurship to create future stability. These may seem easy to obtain, but without help from numerous donors, it would not be nearly impossible to accomplish these goals.

The second key responsibility to help prevent global poverty is to follow through on the government’s promise to help aid millions who are suffering from global poverty. By following through on their existing commitments to help aid these struggling individuals, it proves that there are individuals who care about fighting to eliminate global poverty, states The Borgen Project. There are many ways in which to contact your government leaders such as writing to your political leaders, organizing letter writing campaigns, writing to your local newspapers and magazines, by calling your political representatives stating your wish in that they support the fight against global poverty, and finally by joining existing networks such as The Borgen Project, The Millennium Campaign, or The Global Citizens Organization.

Finally the third key responsibility is education. By educating yourself on the subject of Global Poverty, you can also educate others. Educating the public may seen like a difficult task, yet it has proven to be a highly successful global poverty prevention tactic. By educating the public, you can help spread the word of prevention and can help lead the fight against global poverty. By educating others, you can help lead to numerous donations against the spread of global poverty, and can also help spread the word of prevention even further. When you educate an individual on this topic, another individual can continue to spread the word, and it leads to the creation of a chain reaction. By doing so, you can lead numerous individuals to make donations, contact their leaders, and to continue the chain of educating others on this crucial subject.

Overall, by making donations to global poverty prevention organizations, contacting your political leaders, and by educating others, you are helping to end poverty. By taking on these three key responsibilities, an individual has started their own personal fight against global poverty and has joined in the movement with numerous others to end this global epidemic.

– Grace Beal

Sources: World Bank, Global Citizen, Columbia University, The Borgen Project
Photo: The Guardian

The Millennium Development Goals are a set of eight targets agreed upon by almost all countries around the world. (For a more in-depth description of the MDGs, review this excellent post by Delice Williams: Overseen by the United Nations, these goals are to be reached by 2015. Two years out from this deadline, it’s important to recognize how much progress we have made, and how far we have to go. This is the first in a series of posts that will do just that, focusing on each MDG individually in order to better understand the intricacies of each one.

The first MDG states that we will eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. This goal consists of three facets:

  1. Cut the proportion of people whose income is less than $1.25/day in half between 1990 and 2015.
  2. Ensure the opportunity for full and productive employment and decent work for everyone, including women and young people
  3. Cut the proportion of people who suffer from hunger in half between 1990 and 2015

The first of these goals, to halve the proportion of people living in extreme poverty, was met five years ahead of schedule. This represents 700 million less people facing extreme poverty in 2010 than in 1990. Extreme poverty is falling in every region. It is incredibly encouraging to know that progress is possible everywhere, especially considering that 1.2 billion people around the world are still living in extreme poverty.

In regards to the second goal, 294 million workers have been raised out of extreme poverty as of 2011. However, this still leaves 384 million workers living on less than $1.25 per day. Progress in this area has been made in part through UN partnerships with governments that provide job training for unemployed youth in developing countries. One such program, The Youth Employment Fund, was instated in Serbia, where over 2000 young Serbs were given job training and opportunities for work.

Despite significant progress towards the second goal, a significant gender gap remains. The employment percentage was still almost 25% higher for men than for women in 2012. UN Women, a women’s rights group sponsored by the United Nations, has been working towards this goal by empowering women in the workplace, especially when it comes to food production. Women all over the world are benefiting from their programs, such as those in Timor-Leste and Rwanda. These programs include self-help groups and agricultural training, as well as financial education that gives women more sway when it comes to family financial decisions.

According the UN’s progress report, the goal of halving the proportion of hungry people around the world is within reach by 2015. In fact, 38 countries have already met this target. However, roughly 1 in 8 people worldwide still go to sleep hungry each night, and about 870 million people are still undernourished. While undernutrition is a significant problem, malnutrition affects many more people worldwide, with two billion people suffering from one or more micronutrient deficiencies.

With advancements in each of the three facets of the first MDG, we should celebrate our success. And yet, with billions of people still facing extreme poverty and hunger every day, we must continue to make progress.

This series will continue by considering the significant advancements made and work to be done in regards to the second MDG, the achievement of universal primary education.

– Katie Fullerton

Sources: UN Women, UN NewsCentre, UN MDGs
Photo: Mwebantu,

Extreme Poverty in the United States
Throughout the world, extreme poverty rates have decreased significantly in the past years. According to the United Nations, “the number of extreme poor has dropped by 650 million in the last three decades.” Economic investment and poverty relief work in developing countries have played a significant part in reducing extreme poverty rates across the globe.

Although the majority of the people living in extreme poverty reside in developing nations, extreme poverty has yet to be eradicated from even the wealthiest of countries in the world. A recent study conducted by sociologists from Harvard and the University of Michigan have determined that extreme poverty in the United States still exists. Nearly 1.65 million households in the United States survive on less than $2 a day. This figure “accounted for 4.3% of all non-elderly households with children” in the United States.

The conditions of an American living in extreme poverty are certainly different than those of people who live in the developing world. Fortunately for the American impoverished, the United States has established a number of programs to assist people living under the poverty line. Food stamps, housing subsidies, and refundable tax credits are available to ensure that a person’s basic needs are met. The United States spent $9.6 billion on funding Temporary Assistance for Needy Families in 2011. This program provides temporary financial assistance to the impoverished, allowing them to pay for daily expenses when they are struggling to earn a sufficient income.

Although extreme poverty is concentrated in developing nations, extreme poverty is truly a global issue. Poverty reaches rich and poor countries alike, and the impoverished need aid no matter where they live. The difference between the impoverished living in a wealthy country and a developing one, however, is that wealthy countries have well-established safety nets for those living below the poverty line. In other parts of the world, this is not the case, making foreign assistance to these areas even more critical to ensure that the impoverished have their most basic human needs fulfilled.

Jordan Kline

Sources: CNN, UNDP, Washington Post
Photo: HandsOn Blog

Economist_global_poverty_stats _opt
In 1990, 43% of the world’s population subsisted on less than $1.25 per day. By 2010, that number had shrunk to 21%. This success comes 5 years before the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goal of achieving such a number by 2015.

The conversation has now shifted to the remaining 21%. Optimists hope to achieve similar success by 2030. However, there are several unique obstacles to addressing that 21%, and the economic conditions that allowed such a rapid decline before are unlikely to be replicated in the coming decade.

Much of the success of the last two decades was achieved by slightly elevating the conditions of those living just below the $1.25 per day line. Pulling a person living at $1.15 per day over the $1.25 line is much easier than pulling someone living at $0.25 to over $1.25. In other words, much of the remaining 21% was the bottom half of the original 43 percent. The challenge of the next decades will be to improve the lives of the most impoverished people on Earth.

China’s growth over the past decades was instrumental in lowering the extreme poverty rate. In the twenty years, from 1981 to 2001, China pulled 680 million of its own citizens out of extreme poverty as it rapidly developed. With China’s extreme poverty rate now at low levels, the focus will now shift to new developing countries, primarily India and Africa. The challenge will be to replicate the economic conditions for such an achievement in vastly different governmental and cultural contexts.

Should such a success be achieved by 2030, however, the fight against poverty will hardly be over. The $1.25 a day figure is simply an accepted global standard of extreme poverty, and does not account for those living in poverty in developed countries. In the U.S., the poverty line sits at $30 a day–a marked difference. However, with extreme poverty levels eradicated, the world would be able to focus anew on those living just below the line.

– Andrew Rasner

Sources: The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist
Photo: The Economist,