Dr. Michael Omidi discusses recent advances in global efforts to fight poverty.
The world’s neediest areas have seen a decrease in poverty during the past 20 years. In fact, the number of very poor citizens in the world have decreased by almost 50 percent in those two decades, according to new data from the World Bank.
Granted, the U.N. definition of poverty is far below what most Americans would consider a poverty-level income. According to the World Bank (WB), anyone who earns more than $1.25 per day in not in “extreme poverty.” Using a consistent dollar measure that took global inflation into account, the WB said that almost 1 billion people crossed over the line from extreme poverty into the income bracket above it. The period of measurement was from 1990 until 2011.
Coincidentally, according to the same report, there are still about the same number of people, 1 billion, under the $1.25-per-day income level. Citizens of the U.S., Europe and many Asian nations would consider that income level to be excruciatingly low, barely able to support life in any respect.
Indeed, many experts say the World Bank definition of extreme poverty if fatally flawed because it attempts to use a one-size-fits-all measure for different countries and cultures. A non-U.N. estimate of the number who live in extreme poverty is 1.6 billion persons. Even though the experts are engaged in some dueling statistics on key figures, everyone agrees that the situation have improved since 1990.
The educated thinking on the topic is that China and India’s overall economic improvement is behind the bulk of the good news about poverty reduction. In just three years, beginning in 2008, 232 million citizens of those nations came out of poverty.
Will the “extreme poverty” segment ever become a thing of the past? Some experts think so. Even World Bank economists think there will be virtually no one in that income category by the year 2030.
Eradicating economic destitution would be a huge leap forward for the human race, though enormous problems would still remain. When the global war against poverty began in the 1960s, no one envisaged there would be so much progress in a half-century.
While the U.N. report is great news, we all need to be more committed to making certain that every single human being is properly fed, clothed and educated. It is a monumental task, but if the past 50 years have proven anything, they’ve shown that we are up to the challenge.
As this new year begins, let’s redouble our efforts to help those in need, wherever they live, whatever they look like, and whenever they need us.
Yours in service,
Dr. Michael Omidi