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poverty; meaning of poverty

Updated on July 13, 2010


What is poverty is the question posed to me by a curios child in quest of knowledge. I got dumbfounded for about two minutes before saying a word. I thought I was alone in this situation until I asked a close the same question and notice how confused he became immediately.

He managed to muster the following phrase ‘poverty is a disease that is killing millions of people’. The UN has a way of measuring poverty. Poverty can be measured with per capita income, the amount of dollars spent, the living environment, etc.

No matter how it is measured, poverty is an unpleasant condition where an individual live below the normal standard of living of people. Though, what is ‘normal standard of living’ is relative. The richer countries may have a higher standard of living while poorer countries will have a smaller standard of living.


The signs of poverty from country to country may vary but, the factors listed below are common signs of poverty.

Inadequate water: inadequate water supply in a society is one of the symbols of poverty. Good and safety water supply aids good health of the people of every modern society. It will help improve the living condition of the people of a society and help people save money that would have otherwise been spent on treatment of ailments and purchase of drinkable water. These monies when spent will contribute to the rate of poverty in a country.

Poor infrastructure: the use and availability of poor infrastructure in a society is a sign of poverty in a society. The answer to the question ‘what is poverty’ can be answered by looking at the level of infrastructure in a society.

Poor education: poor education is a major symptom of poverty. Basic education is the right of every child and would be considered abnormal in cases where it is not given to the children of a society. Denying a child the basic education is part of what constitutes child labour.

Lack of job: unemployment is a sign of poverty I a modern society. A society that cannot provide jobs for her citizens is considered poor.

Lack of food: as food crisis make headlines these days, a country that cannot adequately cater for what her citizens eat is considered poor.


Greed: the desire to acquire more and more asset within a short space of time especially by leaders is the pillar of poverty in a community. Resources that would otherwise be used to take care of the need of people rather go to the private pocket of individuals when greed is a noticeable character of leaders in a given society.

Absence of credible election: a country will have no choice than to face the harsh consequences of poverty when credible election is not conducted. Poor election is a major cause of poverty in a society.

Poor management: poor management of resources is an important ingredient to poverty and suffering in a giving society. A country that lack managerial skill is prone to be among the poorest country of the world.

Reliance on single resource: single resource like; petroleum can dry up at any time. So, a country that relies heavily on one resource is liable to have more people that live below poverty line. In fact, it is a crime for a country to rely on a single resource for the running of the operation of government. Sources like taxation should be explored to escape the trap of poverty.


The best solution to the problem of poverty is to tackle the causes of poverty. Authorities should channel resources in the right direction so as to effectively handle poverty.


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