Disclaimer: The following information is presented in a format that is similar to parts of the 1.4 Billion Reasons presentation, but I found their break down effective in gaining an understanding of extreme poverty.
What exactly does the term extreme poverty mean?
The World Bank defines extreme poverty as anyone living on less than $1.25 US per day. This amount of money is barely enough to sustain an adequate food supply let alone enough to ensure adequate shelter, health care, and education, and it leaves absolutely no financial cushion if, for example, a working family member becomes ill or, as we’re currently seeing in the Horn of Africa, an area experiences drought or other climate related disasters. Extreme poverty is an incredibly complex issue that is impacted by numerous factors such as trade, aid and its proper distribution, corruption, and climate change. The complexity of this issue can make it difficult to talk about and seemingly impossible to effectively tackle. Even in these early stages of blogging about extreme poverty I’ve found myself stymied by terms I don’t fully understand and am wary of perpetuating stereotypes and generalizations. I’ll do my best, but I also encourage comments, feedback, and thoughts from you to ensure this blog does more good than harm.
Extreme poverty is such a big issue, where do we even begin?
The United Nations developed a plan to end extreme poverty in the form of 8 measurable goals that take into account the complexities surrounding the issue. The 8 Millennium Development Goals aim to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases (such as polio); ensure environmental sustainability; and develop a global partnership for development. The cool part? The UN has committed to achieving these goals by 2015. 2015? As in, just slightly more than 3 years away? That 2015? Yep, that’s the one. With such a short time remaining to realize these goals we have reached a crucial moment. Currently there is enough money in the world to end extreme poverty (via) and enough food to feed the world 1.5 times (via). And, despite the disheartening stories, things are actually improving. For example, Malawi went from a 43% food deficit in 2005 to a 53% food surplus in 2007 through a national input subsidy programme and this is just one of many improvements reported by the UN. But continued progress is only possible if we act, in even the smallest ways, to help eliminate extreme poverty. Over the coming weeks and months I will examine actions we can take and continue to provide general knowledge regarding extreme poverty and the Millennium Development Goals.