Getting deprived of basic human requirements like potable water, housing, education and primary health care services defines poverty. This state is also referred to as absolute poverty, which is different from relative poverty in which people have access to fewer resources, compared to others. Just as poverty can be due many reasons, there are many consequences of poverty.
Food and Housing
The statistics provided by the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization, a UN organization, tells us that almost 1.2 billion people around the world are unable to afford dinner regularly before retiring at night. Nearly the entire population living in absolute poverty, as defined by the World Bank, is affected by shortage of food. Malnutrition is the cause of death of fifteen million children all over the world annually. Of this, five million are less than five years old. It is realized that a considerable number of people dying due inability to access medical aid because of poverty occur are from Asian and African countries. There is a direct relationship between homelessness and poverty. The data further tells us that a considerable part of population below the poverty line is unable to afford an appropriate place of abode leaving them with no option but ‘rough sleeping’. As on date, over one hundred million people have no home to live, though some organizations estimate that figure to be 300 million!
Poverty related diseases cause one third of the sum total of annual deaths worldwide. The number of such deaths comes to about eighteen million per annum. The data clearly underlines the connection between poverty and poor health. A new term called ‘the diseases of poverty’ has been formulated. It refers to wide ranging diseases that are more liable to affect the poor, compared to financially well off population. The population falling below poverty line is more at risk to be affected by diseases like AIDS, malaria, measles, tuberculosis and pneumonia etc. The main reason for most such diseases is absence of primary health care services. Conversely, the diseases which cause poverty to individuals comprise of various mental illnesses that are liable to obstruct their capacity to work.
Children forced to live in absolute poverty are unable to pay for even basic education while the circumstances of those in relative poverty compel them to abandon education midway after elementary to middle schooling. Those circumstances could extend from helplessness of paying the fees to helping the family financially or physically. There exists a vicious cycle between poverty and education. Poor people can’t afford education and lack of education is considered to be among the most significant reasons for poverty. This is proven by the fact that even in the US, the average earning of a school dropout is considerably less than that of a graduate. That poverty affects development of a child is often noticed in classrooms, most frequently by way of low confidence. We know that children from affluent families dress better and have access to other resources. This can bring a feeling of lowliness among poor children. The feeling could ultimately make the child abandon education, prompting him to indulge in rebellious activities. That is what makes poverty a very serious issue of today.
It may surprise you to learn that poverty is not confined to just underdeveloped or developing countries. For example, available data reveals that the number of homeless people in the US is anywhere from 700,000 to 2 million. This shouldn’t surprise you if you are informed that during 2008 -2009 the rate of poverty in the country jumped from 13.2 % to 15% and it won’t be surprising if that percentage increases in the foreseeable future. That shows how urgent is the need to identify and implement programs for eliminating poverty.