“Poverty is like punishment for a crime you didn’t commit.”

Poverty is a global issue. All the countries around the world face the problem of poverty, but there are some countries which are poorer than others like the developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. There is no one size fits all definition of the concept of poverty. The poorest people in an industrialized nation maybe well off than the average citizens in a less-developing country. The definition of poverty alternate from regions across the planet. According to the United Nations’ Human Development Report 1996, the average per capita income of the poorest one-fifth of Americans was $5,814 in 1993. That figure is ten times Tanzania’s average per capita income of $580 per year. By Tanzanian standards, Americans in that bottom 20 percent may seem quite well-off. However, by U.S. standards, they are not. They point out that most poor American families own more luxury items and consumer appliances than average Europeans do (UN 1996). Although there are some regions have made considerable progress in reducing poverty, about two thirds of the world’s poor live in Asia and the Pacific, based on a poverty line of one dollar a day. That region’s number of the world’s poor exceeds two thirds if the poverty line becomes two dollars. There are more than one billion people in the region whose income is between one and two dollars a day. There are two types of poverty, extreme poverty or absolute poverty and relative poverty.

Extreme poverty is known as destitution or absolute poverty and it could be injurious to people’s health and life. In the United States, absolute poverty is traditionally defined as having an annual income that is less than half of the official poverty line (an income level determined by the Bureau of the Census). Absolute poverty in developing nations, as defined by international organisations, like the World Bank, means having a household income of less than US $ 1.25 a day in 2005. Relative poverty is the condition of having fewer resources or less income than the others within a society or country, or compared to worldwide averages. Relative poverty is socially defined and dependent on context, it is a measure of income inequality. The reasons for poverty are not clears. Some people believe that poverty results from a lack of adequate resources on global level-resources such as land, food, and building materials-that are necessary for the well-being or survival of the world’s people. (Adapted from Wikipedia 2012). Other defines poverty as being an effect of the uneven distribution of resources around the world. According to this second line of reasoning, it helps to understand the inequality between the two worlds, one where some people have more than they need to live and one where the people do not have enough to survive.

There has been considerable interest in recent years in the ability of non-governmental organisations to work with the poor in order to improve their quality of life and economic status through the provision of credit, skills training, and other inputs for income-generation programmes. The term “non-governmental organisation” can be broadly viewed as being composed of a wide variety of organisations variously known as “private voluntary organisations”, “civil society organisations” and “non-profit organisations” (McGann and Johnstone,2006). In the cases in where NGOs are totally or partially funded by governments, the NGO maintains its non-governmental status by excluding government representatives from membership in the organization. Defining the term NGOs is ambiguous as they are confusing, contradicting, and sometimes overlapping in defining the terms. The NGOs sector is extremely divers as these organisation have very different structures, goals and motivations. NGOs are generally composed of non-profit, voluntary citizens, groups which are organised on a local, national or international level and they have certain interests, causes, or goals.

Causes of Poverty

Poverty is like a vicious circle. Poverty causes poverty. Just as the rich people get richer as they are already rich and the poor get poorer because they live in poverty. Poverty has many causes and some of them are very basic. Some experts suggest that poverty is caused due few employment or lack of food. The basic factors that may lead to poverty are: inadequate education and employment opportunities overpopulation, inability to meet standard of living and cost of living, certain economic and demographic trends, the unequal distribution of resources in the global economy, welfare incentives and environmental degradation.


Overpopulation is the situation where large numbers of people have too few resources and too little space, and this is closely associated with poor people. This overpopulation can result from high population density, which is the number of people to land suface, usually showed as numbers of people per square kilometre or square mile, or there are low amounts of resources, or from both. Very high population densities put stress on resources that are available. Only a certain amount of people can be supported on a given surface of land, and that number depends on how much food and other resources the area can provide. In countries where people live by primary means of basic farming, gardening, herding, hunting, and gathering, even where there are larger land surfaces the production of food is still low given the number of people are small is due to the production means. The production means is not intense enough to produce large amount of food to feed large amount of people.

High Standards of Living and Costs of Living

People in developed countries generally enjoy a higher standard of living because these nations may have more in terms of resource and wealth than those in developing countries. People who may have adequate resources and wealth in a developing country maybe be considered as poor in a developed country. For example people in America, on average, tend to expect to make, about $30,000 per year. They may also expect to rent a house or an apartment with electricity facilities and water supply, to able to buy food to eat and clothes, and get health care provision. In addition, many of these people hope to afford other expenses, such as, the purchases material not need for survival, such as cars, entertainment and high priced food. In comparison, people in most developing countries usually may consider themselves to be well off if they have productive agriculture, some cattle, and a house made out of mud-bricks. In the rural areas, people can be used to not having water facilities, electricity, or adequate health facilities.

Developed countries tend to have a high cost of living, even the most basic lifestyle with few or no luxuries; can be relatively expensive as compared to developing countries. Most people in the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, western European nations, and other developed countries cannot obtain adequate food, clothing, and shelter without ample amounts of money. In some areas, even people with jobs that pay the legal minimum wage may not be able to cover their basic expenses. People who cannot find well-paying jobs often have no spare income for emergency expenses, and many rely on state welfare to survive.

Education and Employment

Illiteracy and lack of education are very frequent in developing countries. Very often the state of developing countries cannot afford to cater for good educational facilities to the people, especially those living in rural areas. Whereas in industrialized countries nearly all children have access to at least the basic education, in sub-Saharan Africa only about 60 per cent children go to elementary school. Without education, most people in the developing countries are unable to find income-generating work. Poor people are also often propelled schooling so as to concentrate on earning a minimal living. In addition, developing countries tend to have fewer employment opportunities as compared to developed countries, especially for women. Resulting in the fact that, schooling is perceived as being crucial to people.

Even in developed nations, unemployment rates may be high. When people do not work, they cannot earn a living; thus, high rate of poverty is a result of high unemployment. The amount of employment that is available also tends to fluctuate; creating high unemployment periods. If the unemployment level in countries with high population increases with only a few points, this leads to millions of people who are able to work and earn a living. Because unemployment figures indicate only the number of people eligible to work who have no job but are seeking employment, such figures are not necessarily an accurate indicator of the number of people living in poverty.

Individual Responsibility and Welfare dependency

There are different schools of thought about individual responsibility for poverty. Some believe that there is a proportion of the society who would stay in poverty no matter what due to the structure of society. While some other thinks that due to some dysfunctions of some social institutions such as the labour force, poverty would be pertaining. According to this school of thought poverty id beyond the control of the people who are in it, but this problem can be remedied if proper policies are implemented. There are other people who think that the poor people tend to stay in poverty intentionally. For example, there are people who choose to take drugs voluntarily leading them to stay in poverty these people can be blame for their situation.

Adding to that there are those who think that many people in developed countries tend to throw the blame on cycles of poverty, people who have the tendency to remain poor, or they depend on the generosity of the welfare institutions. Those who support this view includes some politicians, criticize the government to spend too much on the poverty though welfare programs. They argue that such welfare programs encourage people to stay in poverty in so as to benefit from payments continuously. They also argue that these welfare programs discourage marriage and work. In the American society and several other developed countries, being employed reduces their welfare supports and it is the same if a single parent gets married.

Poverty alleviation is a tremendous task for every country in the world is it developed countries or developing countries, without the efforts showed by NGOs one third of the work accomplished now would not have been done left alone on the state and other institutions.

“Where you live should not determine whether you live, or whether you die.”


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