Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Poverty Facts

Most people in the world are poor.  There is no part of the world where traces of poverty do not exist. Poverty is a situation where a person lacks basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter as well as access to healthcare and education or where the access to these basic needs is unsustainable. Relative poverty is more of a social definition which tends to measure inequality, social exclusion and dependency.  Poverty is indicated by economic and human development indices such as GDP per capital income, life expectancy, infant mortality, literacy rate, employment, gender inequality as well as level of democracy or political participation. Other indicators of poverty by the World Bank  include precarious Livelihood, physical limitations, lack of security, misuse of power by those in authority by creating dis-empowering policies, institutions and structures as well as weak community self help organizations. The World Bank recent quantification of extreme poverty defines poverty as one living on less than $1.25 (PPP) per day and moderate poverty as one living on less than $2 per day. Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) simply refers to the equivalent of local currency needed to obtain what $1.25 can purchase in the United States. The United Nations regards poverty as a violation of human dignity.

 The greatest negative outcome of poverty is hunger and disease. Hunger results from under nutrition as well as malnutrition which increase the incidence of diseases such as malaria, headaches and a general decrease in body immunity and susceptibility to disease. In both humans and animals, hunger leads to anger, aggression, hatred and even violence. Food insecurity, another expression for hunger as a manifestation of poverty is a situation where persons lack adequate food of the right quality (balanced diet) quantity as well as at the desired time.

In 2008 about 1.345billion people mostly in developing countries lived on less than $1.25 a day and 1 .02 billion people where under nourished.  World Bank reports also show that out of the world population of 6.8 billion, 925 million or 13.6% are hungry most of who live in developing countries especially Asia, the pacific and sub - Saharan Africa. Children are the most unfortunate victims of under nutrition as evidence has shown that children who are under-nourished encounter about f60 days of illness within the 365 days of the year and accounts for six million deaths every year or 17000 deaths per day. Malnutrition affects 33% of children in developing countries. Africa accounts for 26% of the world’s malnourished children which stems from their, mothers during pregnancy. It is estimated that undernourished mothers deliver one out of every six under weight babies with high incidence of neonatal death as well as other health problems leading to disabilities, mental retardation, blindness and poor life time health conditions.

The poverty situation in Nigeria has been described as a paradox — poverty in the midst of plenty. The high poverty level in Nigeria which stood at 74.2% in year 2000 was unjustifiable as the country is endowed with rich natural resources. Poverty level in Nigeria rose from the minimal of 15% in 1960 to 28% in 1980, 66% in 1996 giving 76.6 million poor persons while the United Nations Human Development Poverty Index rated Nigeria among the 25 poorest countries in the comity of nation. In 2004, the poverty rate for Nigeria however declined to 54.4% compared to the figures for Malaysia with 12.3% and Kenya 40% during the same year. Life expectancy is 48 years, infant mortality rate per 1000 is 90.4 and literacy rate 65.3%, though the poverty is said to be estimated at 34.1%, this still gives a poor population of about 55 million persons in absolute figures. In Nigeria, less than 40% have access to good drinking water while less than 30% have access to good toilet facilities.

Over $300 billion oil and gas wealth which is in abundance in Nigeria is controlled by about 0.1% of the population.

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