What is poverty?

Poverty is about not having enough money to meet basic needs including food, clothing and shelter. However, poverty is more, much more than just not having enough money.

The World Bank Organization describes poverty in this way:

“Poverty is hunger. Poverty is lack of shelter. Poverty is being sick and not being able to see a doctor. Poverty is not having access to school and not knowing how to read. Poverty is not having a job, is fear for the future, living one day at a time.

Poverty has many faces, changing from place to place and across time, and has been described in many ways. Most often, poverty is a situation people want to escape. So poverty is a call to action — for the poor and the wealthy alike — a call to change the world so that many more may have enough to eat, adequate shelter, access to education and health, protection from violence, and a voice in what happens in their communities.”

In addition to a lack of money, poverty is about not being able to participate in recreational activities; not being able to send children on a day trip with their schoolmates or to a birthday party; not being able to pay for medications for an illness. These are all costs of being poor. Those people who are barely able to pay for food and shelter simply can’t consider these other expenses. When people are excluded within a society, when they are not well educated and when they have a higher incidence of illness, there are negative consequences for society. We all pay the price for poverty. The increased cost on the health system, the justice system and other systems that provide supports to those living in poverty has an impact on our economy.

While much progress has been made in measuring and analyzing poverty, the World Bank Organization is doing more work to identify indicators for the other dimensions of poverty. This work includes identifying social indicators to track education, health, access to services, vulnerability, and social exclusion.

There is no one cause of poverty, and the results of it are different in every case. Poverty varies considerably depending on the situation. Feeling poor in Canada is different from living in poverty in Russia or Zimbabwe. The differences between rich and poor within the borders of a country can also be great.

Despite the many definitions, one thing is certain; poverty is a complex societal issue. No matter how poverty is defined, it can be agreed that it is an issue that requires everyone’s attention. It is important that all members of our society work together to provide the opportunities for all our members to reach their full potential. It helps all of us to help one another.

On the basis of social, economical and political aspects, there are different ways to identify the type of Poverty:

  1. Absolute poverty.
  2. Relative Poverty.
  3. Situational Poverty.
  4. Generational Poverty.
  5. Rural Poverty.
  6. Urban Poverty.

Now let us understand them one by one:

1.Absolute poverty: Also known as extreme poverty or abject poverty, it involves the scarcity of basic food, clean water, health, shelter, education and information. Those who belong to absolute poverty tend to struggle to live and experience a lot of child deaths from preventable diseases like malaria, cholera and water-contamination related diseases. Absolute Poverty is usually uncommon in developed countries.

It was first introduced in 1990, the “dollar a day” poverty line measured absolute poverty by the standards of the world’s poorest countries. In October 2015, the World Bank reset it to $1.90 a day. This number is controversial; therefore each nation has its own threshold for absolute poverty line.

“It is a condition so limited by malnutrition, illiteracy, disease, squalid surroundings, high infant mortality, and low life expectancy as to be beneath any reasonable definition of human decency.” Said by Robert McNamara, the former president of the World Bank.

2.Relative Poverty: It is defined from the social perspective that is living standard compared to the economic standards of population living in surroundings. Hence it is a measure of income inequality. For example, a family can be considered poor if it cannot afford vacations, or cannot buy presents for children at Christmas, or cannot send its young to the university.

Usually, relative poverty is measured as the percentage of the population with income less than some fixed proportion of median income.

It is a widely used measure to ascertain poverty rates in wealthy developed nations.

In European Union the “relative poverty measure is the most prominent and most–quoted of the EU social inclusion indicators”

3.Situational Poverty: It is a temporary type of poverty based on occurrence of an adverse event like environmental disaster, job loss and severe health problem.
People can help themselves even with a small assistance, as the poverty comes because of unfortunate event.

4.Generational Poverty: It is handed over to individual and families from one generation to the one. This is more complicated as there is no escape because the people are trapped in its cause and unable to access the tools required to get out of it.

“Occurs in families where at least two generations have been born into poverty. Families living in this type of poverty are not equipped with the tools to move out of their situation” (Jensen, 2009).

5.Rural Poverty: It occurs in rural areas with population below 50,000. It is the area where there are less job opportunities, less access to services, less support for disabilities and quality education opportunities. People are tending to live mostly on the farming and other menial work available to the surroundings.

The rural poverty rate is growing and has exceeded the urban rate every year since data collection began in the 1960s. The difference between the two poverty rates has averaged about 5 percent for the last 30 years, with urban rates near 10–15 percent and rural rates near 15–20 percent (Jolliffe, 2004).

6.Urban Poverty: It occurs in the metropolitan areas with population over 50,000. These are some major challenges faced by the Urban Poor:

• Limited access to health and education.
• Inadequate housing and services.
• Violent and unhealthy environment because of overcrowding.
• Little or no social protection mechanism.

Post a Comment