Extreme poverty exists when people lack the basic requirements for life.
- Lack of income means that the family suffer from malnutrition
- Lack of capital means there is no buffer when disaster strikes
- Lack of medicines to deal with preventable and curable diseases
- Lack of clean drinking water
- Lack of even primary education
- Hopelessness, with no possibility of getting out of the situation.
These problems are not separate problems but are inter-related. Lack of adequate income results In malnutrition which in turn means they are more susceptible to disease. Disease reduces the possibility of earning more.
Extreme poverty is often measured in terms of dollars per day income per person. A billion live on less than $1 a day, two billion more on less than $2 a day. A more accurate assessment would be $1.25 or 80 pence per day.
Progress in the last 30 years
The good news is that in the last 30 years extreme poverty has been significantly reduced.
- 30 years ago 52% of the world lived on less than 80p per day. Today the figure is 26% – a 50% reduction
- We used to say that 40,000 children died every day of preventable diseases. That figure is now more like 20,000 – totally unacceptable but significantly better!
- Smallpox has been eliminated. Polio is almost extinct. Progress is being made on a vaccine for malaria and with the right drugs there is an increase in life expectancy for Aids sufferers.
Challenge for the next generation.
In a generation extreme poverty has been halved. The next generation could see it reduced to zero. Politicians won’t do what is necessary to make it happen unless ordinary people raise their voices and say, ”this is no longer acceptable”!
This is an age in which people have unprecedented power. It is the age of Facebook and Twitter, email and text messages, the Internet and blogs. We have seen evil regimes collapse using these tools.
It is time for the next generation to stand up against injustice with the clear message that extreme poverty cannot be tolerated. I am optimistic enough to believe that they can – and will!
- UN Millennium development Goals report 2012 – Extreme poverty is falling in every region (jobmarketmonitor.com)
- 1.3 billion people live in extreme poverty globally – UN (ghanabusinessnews.com)