The Poverty Challenge

Poverty is complex and multidimensional problem and is defined according to situation. A single definition cannot capture all aspects of poverty. It is perceived differently by different people, some limiting the term to mean a lack of material well-being and others arguing that lack of things like freedom, civil rights, spiritual well-being and nutrition must also contribute to the definition of poverty.

The definition of poverty depends on the view of the person giving the definition and the context of the situation. It is also often divided into relative and absolute poverty. Poverty can also be defined as a condition wherein people cannot satisfy their basic needs, namely, food, health, clothing, shelter and education.

People may differ over the definition of poverty but there is complete agreement that poverty is one of the biggest challenges faced by humanity today. Poverty is a challenge for humanity. Today we are not living in a beautiful world rather are living in a world of famine and drought, exploitation and oppression, violence and crime, unjust wars and diseases. Our world is known for the economic exploitation by few individuals and countries, our world is known by the widening income gap between rich and poor. Our world is a world which is ruled by terror, where humans have no value, where 24000 children die daily, where humans fight over a piece of bread, where maintaining price has a bigger value than maintaining humanity, where food worth millions of dollars is dumped into ocean despite the fact that this earth has 925 million hungry people over it.

Our world has almost 1.4 billion people whose faces are painted with poverty. These are mostly women and children. They represent 1.4 billion stories, in fact 1.4 billion definitions of poverty. They represent extremely poor in the poverty club. They are persistently hungry, cannot afford health care, education and lack safe drinking water and sanitation facilities. They are totally in Jaws of poverty that kills and feel the picnh of poverty most. Second category of poor is classified as Moderate poor. Being in Moderate poverty means living on $1 to $2 a day, refers to conditions in which basic needs are met, but just barely. Third Category in this regard is classified as relative poverty. Being in relative poverty, defined by a household income level below a given proportion of the national average, means lacking things that the middle class now takes for granted.

This is a very gloomy picture of world face and requires little action to turn their fate around. Situation was not so bleak a few centuries ago, vast divides in wealth and poverty around the world did not exist. Just about everybody was poor except few landlords and rulers. Industrial Revolution brought with itself rise in agricultural productivity a helped a boom in world economies. However this also brought with itself an increasing divide between rich and poor. Situation became worse late in 20th century when almost 27% of world population were extremely poor in 1981. During 20th century people started raising their voices against poverty. Among them were voices of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther king.

Worsening situation of poverty caught the attention of world leaders which resulted into adoption of Millennium development goals. The Millennium Summit was a meeting among many world held in September 2000 at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. Its purpose was to discuss the role of the United Nations at the turn of the 21st century. At this meeting, world leaders ratified the United Nations Millennium Declaration. This meeting was the largest gathering of world leaders in history as of the year 2000. It was followed by the World Summit five years later, which took place in September 2005. Main theme of the summit was to take poverty as a challenge and to prepare a comprehensive strategy against challenges of poverty. Millennium summit concluded with the adoption of a global action plan known as Millennium Development Goals to fight poverty in light of specific eight anti-poverty goals by their 2015 target date and the announcement of major new commitments for women’s and children’s health and other initiatives against poverty, hunger and disease. There are many challenges of poverty and being the mother of all evils poverty is on top of the list and is pledged to be reduced to half by 2015. Keeping in mind the gravity of situation we can say that this is just beginning of a road to prosperity. It is 1st step towards creation of a Millennium World where there is no room for poverty and related evils.