World Poverty

Poverty is defined as the state of deficiency of a certain amount of material wealth or money. In common use, it normally refers to a lack of enough food materials, safe and clean water, healthcare and education, and clothing and shelter. World poverty figures have been rising since the second half of the 20th century. Today, 1.7 billion, or nearly 36%, of the world’s population is living in absolute poverty.

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Absolute poverty refers to a universal standard which is defined by the World Bank as persons living on less than $1.25 per day (Kenny, 2005). In contrast, relative poverty is defined by inequalities in the earning of a specific social group.

Today, nearly half of the world population, or 3 billion people, live on less than $2 a day, defined by the World Bank as moderate poverty. Most of the population segment affected are children. Indeed, one billion children (or one in two children) live in absolute poverty today: 640 million lack proper shelter, 400 million have no access to safe water while 270 million have no access to adequate health facilities.

The United Nations reports that nearly 25,000 people die every day as a result of hunger alone; this is similar to death every three seconds. However, the most significant proportion of these deaths consists of children. The UN reports that 2 million children die annually from hunger, or 17,000 child deaths daily (CNN, 2009).

A higher proportion of the world’s population living in poverty is found in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Even though global poverty rates have been falling since the 1990s, the rate of decline is very low, and critics assert that the decline is simply as a result of a rise in world population.

The irony behind the large figures of poverty is that the world has enough resources to feed the current population and lift everyone out of poverty. The impeding factor is that hungry people are trapped in extreme poverty. They lack the financial resources required to exploit the various resources and find enough food and other basic needs.

Inadequate food causes malnourishment and these people become weaker and sick, making them increasingly less able to participate in any work, and this worsens the poverty situation (Poverty Reduction and Equity, 2011). This situation often results in the death of the feeble members of the population.

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There are various ways of fighting world poverty and breaking the cycle of poverty in developing nations. One of the most effective ways is to integrate aid and development programs, for instance, offering ‘food for education’ programs in which children are offered free meals when they attend school. This strategy offers economic empowerment to the future members of the population (, 2011).

It is also vital that developed nations assist developing nations in finding local ways of combating poverty that goes beyond merely depending on aid. These programs include technologies that aid in the cultivation of agricultural produce, building schools, and health institutions, building better infrastructure, fighting corruption, and so on (Global Issues, 2011).

Research has shown that food aid (when not for disaster situations) has a long-term negative on the economy. Free, subsidized, or cheap food materials ultimately weaken local farmers’ ability to compete effectively, and they are driven out of the market, further weakening the economy.

To alleviate world poverty, developed nations must step in with various forms of assistance, not necessarily financial, to help these countries out and make the world a better place for the current and future generations.


CNN. (2009). U.N. chief: Hunger kills 17,000 kids daily. CNN International, November 17. Retrieved July 19, 2011, from

Global Issues. (2011). Causes of Poverty. Retrieved July 19, 2011, from

Kenny, C. (2005). Why Are We Worried About Income? Nearly Everything that Matters is Converging. World Development, Volume 33, Issue 1: 1-19.

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Poverty Reduction and Equity. (2011). Poverty Inequality and Analysis. Retrieved July 19, 2011, from,,contentMDK:22569747~pagePK:148956~piPK:216618~theSitePK:336992,00.html (2011). Hunger and World Poverty. Retrieved July 19, 2011, from

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