Contemporary Social Issues
“A condition where people’s basic needs for
food, clothing, and shelter are not being met”
WHAT IS POVERTY?
• 870 million people (one eighth of the
world’s population) are suffering from
chronic undernourishment (World Hunger
Education Service, 2013).
• Poverty is the cause of death for
approximately 22,000 children every day.
• Developing countries are most
affected, particularly in regions such as
Africa, Latin America, and Asia.
• People living in impoverished areas often
have limited access to clean
water, nutritious food, education, and
List of countries with over 50% of population living in poverty:
• Equatorial Guinea
• Democratic Republic of the Congo
• Sierra Leone
• Sao Tome and Principe
• Central African Republic
COUNTRIES MOST AFFECTED
Haiti is often regarded as having one of the highest rates of
poverty in the world, and is also the poorest country in the western
hemisphere (Rural Poverty Portal, n.d.).
• 77% of it’s population is living in
• Rural areas are most
affected, having an average
income about one third that of
• Less than 8% of rural population
have access to drinking water.
• Not enough livestock and crops
are produced to feed the
country, about 60% of food
needs to be imported.
CAUSES OF POVERTY IN HAITI
The reason for why there is so much poverty in
Haiti is due mostly to a lack of access to inputs
such as tools, water, useable land.
Other factors include an insufficient level of
infrastructure and access to credit, as well as
low education levels (Rural Poverty Portal, n.d.).
Power struggles contribute to inequality, which
can be related to conflict theory.
The country is very susceptive to
hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and other
The 2010 Haiti earthquake caused over
250,000 buildings to collapse, and the
cost of damages have been estimated
at $14 billion USD.
GOVERNMENT OF CANADA AID TO HAITI
In 2009 the government of Canada selected
Haiti as a focus country as a part of the new
aid effectiveness strategy.
Since 2006, the Canadian government has
contributed over $1 billion in development
aids and assistance to Haiti (Government
of Canada, 2014).
Since 2006, Canada has:
• Provided schooling to over 35,000
• Cured 60% of Haiti’s tuberculosis
• Provided training and tools to
• Provided emergency food and water
to over 1.3 million Haitians.
Many of the world’s most
impoverished nations are located
• The continent has the second
highest number of hungry people
next to Asia-Pacific.
• Nearly one third of the population
of sub Sahara Africans are
• In 2008 about 47% of Africans
lived on less than $1.25 per day.
• Malaria is the cause of death for
about one million African children
• More than 50% of Africans suffer
from diseases caused by unclean
water (World Hunger, n.d.).
CAUSES OF POVERTY IN AFRICA
Primary causes of poverty in Africa:
• Lack of stable government.
• Poor land utilization, locals are uneducated on
how to make effective use of land and crops.
• Prevalence of diseases, particularly Malaria
Malaria is a mosquito born disease that is
very common in sub-Sahara Africa.
Approximately 660,000 people die each
year from Malaria, and 90% of these
deaths occur in Africa (UNICEF, 2013).
AID TO AFRICA
There are several charitable organizations
and government agencies from around
the world that are involved in bringing aid
to the many impoverished countries of
Africa. These organizations include
groups such as UNICEF, the Red
Cross, World Vision, USAID, and many
USAID is the United States Agency for
International Development and has
contributed greatly in bringing aid and
recovery to Africa through providing health
services, starting businesses and
promoting private investment, as well as
helping alleviate political conflicts
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Poverty does not only affect third
world or developing nations. Even
in the United States, poverty is
evident in many areas despite
being a westernized and
reasonably wealthy country.
The 2012 census revealed
that one in seven people in
the USA were living in
poverty (National Centre for
Law and Economic Justice,
Groups most affected are ethnic
minorities and single-mother
CAUSES OF POVERTY IN THE USA
A major factor in the levels of
poverty in the USA is the increase
in number of single parent
households (usually single
mothers), making it difficult for
them to provide for their children
on their own.
Low wages: One quarter of the
jobs in the United States pay less
than $23,000 per year
There is also an insufficient
supply of welfare and cash
assistance to low income
AID TO THE USA
World Vision runs a US program that is
dedicated to bringing aid to low income
families and those living in poverty in the
In 2013 World Vision brought aid to the
• Providing clothing, food, and personal
hygiene products to 124,240
• Spending $1.25 million in building
equipment such as
roofing, flooring, plumbing etc.
• Providing $7.8 million in relief goods.
Poverty caused by an unequal distribution
of wealth can be explained through conflict
There are various countries in this world
competing for resources, and there is
simply not enough wealth to support
everyone. As some groups become more
rich, other groups of people become more
Conflict Theory Structural Functionalist Theory
Structural functionalist theory explains
that poverty in some ways serves a
purpose in society.
Poor people are more willing to do jobs
that are dangerous, low paying, and
work that other people are less willing
to do. Staying out of poverty is
considered as motivation to do jobs that
are more rewarding.
Wealthier nations are in many
cases more interested in
investing their money in activities
that benefit themselves, rather
than trying to reach out and help
those who are in need.
Poverty is a major global pandemic that
causes millions of people in the world to live
without access to basic needs.
In order to overcome this problem
wealthier, more prosperous nations need to
reach out and provide more aid and
assistance to those who are affected by
poverty. More equal pay grades and wages
need to be established to bring the upper
and lower classes together to ensure that
everyone is able to afford their basic needs.
Organizations and charities dedicated
to helping end poverty:
• Save the children
• CARE International
• Christian Aid
• The British Red Cross
• Plan UK
• World Vision
• Concern Worldwide
Edelman, P. (2012). Poverty in America: Why can’t we end it? The New York Times. Retrieved
Government of Canada. (2014). Haiti. Retrieved from http://www.acdi-cida.gc.ca/haiti-e
National Centre for Law and Economic Justice. (n.d.). Poverty in the United States: A
snapshot. Retrieved from http://www.nclej.org/poverty-in-the-us.php
Poverty. (n.d.). businessdictionary.com. Retrieved from http://
Rural Poverty Portal. (n.d.). Rural poverty in Haiti. Retrieved from http://
UNICEF. (2013). Malaria. Retrieved from http://www.unicef.org/health/index_malaria.html
USAID. (2013). Bureau for Africa. Retrieved from http://www.usaid.gov/who-we-
World Hunger. (n.d.). Africa hunger and poverty facts. Retrieved from http://
World Hunger Education Service. (2013). 2013 World hunger and poverty facts and statistics.
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