The Causes and Possible Solutions to Extreme Poverty

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Although there is no one answer to ending poverty, there are steps that can be taken in hopes that extreme poverty in third world countries will one day be eradicated. The dictionary definition of poverty is the state of being extremely poor. But being poor can have completely different meanings depending where you are in the world.

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Every country has its own poverty line, but as of right now the worldwide poverty line for developing and third world countries is set at $1.90 per day. This monetary value of course holds a different value in every country, but the overall idea remains the same; poverty is severe. In 2018 you are considered poor in the United States if you make less than $12,140 a year for a one person household. This really puts poverty into perspective when there are whole families in developing countries making less than $1000 per year.

When studying poverty it’s important to know where poverty is the most prevalent. India currently holds the number one position for world poverty at 21%. This number doesn’t sound too high until you consider the fact that India has the 2nd largest population in the world, meaning that the 21% is almost 300 million people. Other countries in the top 10 include Nigeria, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and China. All of the countries listed are also included in the top 10 most populated countries in the world. Of course it would make sense that countries with a higher population would have a higher number of people in poverty than sparsely populated countries, but not all citizen-packed areas find themselves in this situation. Russia, the United States, and Japan, all of which are in the top 10 most populated countries, all present relatively low poverty rates. But this could be due to the laser focus directed on this subject by the countries’ leaders, often used as a bragging right of sorts. Despite these few outliers, the fact can’t be denied that our world has an issue looming over us. The world poverty clock, a gauge showing world poverty in real time, currently shows that 8% of the world currently lives in extreme poverty- about 631 million people. That seems like a number that shouldn’t be ignored.

There is a diverse range of causes for poverty, and it’s easy to write it off as an effect of poor spending habits or lack of money management on an individual’s part. In reality, hundreds of millions of people find themselves completely helpless against the oppressor that is extreme poverty. Of course there are cases where an individual has lost their own money, whether it be through addiction or spending their income frivolously, but these instances are much more common in highly developed countries like our own. In countries of extreme poverty, a majority of the population lives only on enough money to survive. One common cause of this is a lack of natural resources. Without cash crops to sell, a country can not run even the most traditional economy. In developed countries, the government would be working to channel wealth to its citizens. But in countries where they lack even the most basic forms of technology, the government is either corrupt or completely void of any operation at all. This makes it virtually impossible for individuals to climb the social/financial ladder when the country is entirely absent of any sort of structure, political or otherwise. The process of pulling a country’s people out of extreme and total impoverishment would require a strong approach.

Because our country is a highly developed one, developmental aid is something commonly discussed when studying the war on poverty. This is when richer countries give money or support to poorer countries in the hopes that it will boost their economy and fuel widespread development. Like most solutions, there are good and bad sides to developmental aid. When looked at positively, it seems like a universal truth that those who have an excess should give to those who have a shortage. It is our duty as a wealthy country to give to those who are not as fortunate as we are. As we know, we live in a world where money and resources are required to get you anywhere in life, so it makes sense that we would give that to the countries that need a push to get rolling. Developmental aid provides relief and assistance to countries where the resources are stretched thin. With outside help, third world countries are given the opportunity to receive assistance in areas where they could not help themselves. Whether it be financial, material, or structural aid, anything is appreciated in countries where they have next to nothing.

Despite our efforts to help, there are instances where developmental aid becomes detrimental to a country in the long run. There are times where outside countries get too involved, usually in the form of structural aid. Say a country sends agencies to a small country with the goal to reform the education system and start up new schools. This gesture is of course helpful and provides education for those who otherwise wouldn’t have it, but soon more schools are run by foreign agencies than the country’s government. By solving one issue we have created another- in this case an opportunity for the government to grow has been stamped out. The immediate intentions of the mission were fulfilled, but the country was never pushed to strive for independent growth. A child puts training wheels on their bike while they learn to ride, but if they are never taken off the child will never know if they can ride on their own. This same idea applies to developmental aid in the form of of political and structural support.

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