The number of poor people equals the total population of China.
According to the United Nations, of the 7.4 billion people that live on Earth, 1.3 billion live in poverty. The definition of poverty used by a recent UN study is not limited to not having food, or water or clothes to wear, but a generalized lack of the minimum conditions to remain alive.
The study conducted by the UN also established that at least 10% of the world’s population, some 736 million people, live with just under 2 dollars a day. In other words, they live in what is understood as extreme poverty.
The data collection and processing from 104 countries was done by the United Nations Program for Human Development (PNUD) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI).
With the information obtained from the study, the authors created the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index, published yesterday. which determines that half of 1.3 billion poorest human beings on the planet are children.
The study includes data on malnutrition, schooling, housing, access to fuel for simple activities such as cooking, indicators on health, education and standard of living.
The authors calculated not only the number of multidimensional poor, that is, people who lack at least three of the aformentioned indicators, as well as the degree to which they lack those indicators, the type of indicator, intensity of the deprivations, where they live and how old they are. This data is what allowed authors to conclude that half of the 1.3 billion people are indeed children.
“We explain as much as the data allow,” says Sabina Alkire, creator of Global Multidimensional Poverty Index.
The level of detail allowed the authors to understand the lives of poor people who do not appear in statistics based exclusively on income, and to know who they are and how they experience their situation.
The data show that of the 1.3 billion poor people, 46% are a severe state of poverty. They lack at least half of the dimensions covered by the index.
From the study, it is possible to determine that 83% of people who suffer from extreme poverty conditions are found in Sub-Saharan Africa, with 342 million people living in severe poverty, and South Asia with 200 million people living the similar conditions.
“We also distinguish the level of poverty in urban and rural areas,” explained Alkire. About 1.1 billion people who experience extreme poverty, live in rural areas.
“Half of them are children. It’s a whole generation whose lives are trapped in poverty.”
Extreme poverty, as measured by the study, includes situations such as malnourishment, lack of clean cooking fuel, no drinking water or sanitation. In some cases, these people did enjoy access to electricity. In other cases, even in extreme poverty, children did manage to go to school.
The UN study created a new term and a new definition to measure poverty. It is called multidimensional poverty.
Although data gives little room to be optimistic about generalized and extreme poverty in the world, authors explain that the creation of the new index allowes everyone, for the first time, to fight poverty in an accurate manner.
Multidimensional data allows researchers and organizations to attack extreme poverty in a different way, authors say. Poverty in some Asian countries such as India has been allegedly reduced from 55% to 27.5%, in about a decade.
One of the main goals of the study by the UN and partner organizations was to bring to light those poor people who remained in statistical darkness, which is why the OPHI had been working in the creation of this index in dozens of countries.
This year is the first time that data has been applied at the global level and that information is comparable between territories.
Once the first results are obtained, the intention is to gather data periodically to be able to observe the progress and have a clearer picture of who needs help, what kind and where.
The intention is that politicians committed to ending poverty can make more informed decisions and adequately fund programs designed for this purpose.
The question that will have to be answered is whether the poorest are the ones who improve the most.
The example of India shows that it does, but it is still the country with the most poor people in the world and the most vulnerable are still found in the same groups of society: the lowest castes, Muslims and children.
You can access the complete study at this link.