The Poverty Problem

refugee kids on dirty ground

Why does the poverty problem even exist. Let’s start with the basics. Poverty is defined as the state of being extremely poor. Poverty exists when people have no resources to satisfy their fundamental needs. What are basic fundamental needs – food, clothing, shelter. These needs can also be defined as “what is necessary for survival”. Any disruption in these 3 anchors can lead to poor health outcomes.

The heart of poverty lies in unemployment and underemployment.  It is a basic truth that income helps to attain food, clothing and shelter. Work is often the only asset that the poor can use to enhance their well-being. Creating productive jobs is therefore essential to reduce poverty and to achieve sustainable economic and social development. Decent jobs are essential for the poor, particularly women, and young people, to secure their income and empower them.

In addition to employment, addressing the essentials such as hunger, malnutrition, adequate housing, education and other services are paths to eradication. However, social discrimination and exclusivity, and lack of or inability to take action in some governments are realities that hold us back. A good amount of the global poor live in volatile regions. In these spaces, individuals and families often experience human driven violence and/or conflict or natural disasters where recovery is almost impossible.

In 2020, global extreme poverty increased for the first time in a generation, according to the World Bank. We can thank the manifestation of COVID-19 for that set back. According to the World Bank, as a result of the pandemic “about 120 million additional people are living in poverty”. Now more of the global poor will be more urban than rural. This only emphasizes the need to focus on employment and a living wage so individuals and families can achieve and maintain the basics. Equity in the distribution of the essentials that people need to live is a step in the right direction to alleviate the disproportionate burden of poverty.

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