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The Definition of Poverty

Updated on December 29, 2009

Poverty - the Word with 4.8 Billion Faces

By looks, statistics or point of view, poverty has many faces and, unfortunately, can't be labeled like any other term. More than 4 billion faces, about 80% of the global population to be exact, poverty strikes everywhere. From the streets of Los Angeles to the destitute farms of Europe, poverty is the world's greatest problem.

The Problem

With every 2 decades, the population of the earth is doubling, and with every 100 or so births, about 80 are destined to grow up in an environment unfit for any human to endure. The point is that poverty is a problem, and every year this problem is becoming worse and worse. While some might say that efforts are being made to combat social issues such as disease, drought, famine, homelessness and pollution, our capitalistic and profit-centered societies are to great, and the number of those who care to low.

"So what should we do?"

The first step starts begins with you...

Defining Poverty

The first stage towards improving the situation is by assessing the community.  Many communities are different, and simply slapping a "applies to all" label on the environment to determine the poverty rate will not work.  Therefore you, the activist, must determine your own definition of poverty.

For example, Muhammad Yunus's Grameen Bank, which services have lent out more than 1 billion dollars to the underprivileged, defined those in poverty as people unable to feed themselves, get out of a constant repayment cycle, and produce a consistent dividend large enough to support a family with a home, food and water.

With the growth of his bank, Yunus was able to service thousands, and those thousands turned into millions.  Continuing to maintain the same definition, Muhammad has managed to service a large majority of the poor in Bangladesh.

The same principles apply to any environment though.  In order to judge poverty, one must identify:

  • the average cost of living, including basic utilities
  • the average poverty rate within a designated community
  • the living conditions of those in poverty
From there, stage two is put in place...


Charity, the second stage, is essential to the plight of removing poverty from the world.  The reason for this is because, unlike the Grameen Bank which distributes loans to those looking for ways to improve their businesses, one must account for those who are unable to feed, cloth, bath and house themselves.

At one point, due to the Great Bangladesh flood of 1974, thousands of resulting homeless, lacking money, clothes, food and shelter, began showing up on the doorstep of South Bangladesh.  The famine at the time escalated to such a state, that gruel kitchens were constantly running out of food to feed the hungry.

By donating to charities, organizations which specifically target and analyze the situation of the hungry, cold, thirsty and tired can better do their job.


The final step that can be taken, without personal involvement, is investing in businesses specifically designed to solving social problems.  Defined as social businesses, and growing in size everyday, these businesses strive to end poverty not through the distribution of free products, such as food, water and shelter, but through the sale of subsidized commodities.

Specifically targeting those with small purchasing power, these companies aim to reduce expenses and allow for greater income.  With the help f these, enough expenses can cut to provide greater purchasing power, and eventually, social mobility into the high classes of society.


Not as though you haven't already, actually being there makes the most difference.  Showing those in need that you care, that there is someone else in the world that understands the difficulties of poverty and wants to help makes each day a little less difficult.  So, look up your local soup kitchen, shelter or food distribution sight and get involved.

Seeing is believing, and if believing is helping, then believe.

Comment, Rate, Follow!

Thanks for reading this far!  I hope that this hub has helped to encouraged you to join in the fight against poverty!

Agree or Disagree?  Let me know in the Comments section!


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    • profile image

      Raaaz.Eng 5 years ago

    • nextstopjupiter profile image

      nextstopjupiter 7 years ago from here, there and everywhere

      I agree with you. On the other hand, 10% of the money spent on weapons would be enough to end hunger.