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 describes poverty as: “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.”
The Causes of World Poverty 1. Natural disasters
Disease spreads quickly; people die or cannot work
Infrastructure (roads and railways) are damaged making recovery of homes and businesses very difficult
Some developing nations are particularly prone to natural disasters due to the geography of the country, e.g. Bangladesh floods regularly due to low-lying land.
The Causes of World Poverty 2. War and Civil Unrest Government spending is on weapons and army wages. Kills family wage-earners so families suffer. Destroys farms and businesses Workers are killed or disabled by loss of limbs, meaning they cannot work and cannot pay tax Without tax from individuals and businesses, government cannot pay for hospitals, schools and roads
The Causes of World Poverty 3. Unfair trade and Cash crops Many developing nations employ all their land and people in producing just one kind of crop that is sold for cash to the rest of the world. For example, tea, coffee, bananas, cocoa, nuts. These are “cash crops”. When supermarkets in rich countries want to buy these goods they insist on only paying a low price, so that they can make a large profit. The farmers do not make a fair price for their crops. The governments of less economically developed nations producing these crops does not earn enough tax to pay for schools, hospitals and roads.
The Causes of World Poverty 4. National debt Many less economically developed nations have borrowed large sums of money from wealthier governments The loans are granted by wealthy nations because they can charge large amounts of interest The government in poorer countries has to spend all its income from taxes on repaying debt, rather than improving the lives of their citizens. This was the focus of recent ‘drop the debt’ and ‘make poverty history’ campaigns.
The Causes of World Poverty 5. Disease Diseases such as HIV/AIDs and malaria cause great suffering and poverty in many less economically developed nations When an adult man or woman is unwell, not only do they suffer, but their children and their whole community suffers the loss of that person to ill health. The viscous cycle of poverty is very difficult to break
The Need for World Development It is our moral duty to help those who need help. We are one global ‘society’, and should care for all members of our global community Only by fulfilling our responsibilities to others can we claim to have rights for ourselves.