World Poverty Described by Jeffrey Sachs

Economic development moves from agriculture in rural areas to light manufacturing and urbanization, to high-tech services in cities, but poor counties don’t have the basics to get the evolution started, explains economist Jeffery Sachs.[i]

[i] Jeffrey Sachs. The End of Poverty, 2005

1 billion: About one sixth of the world’s people are the extreme poor who live in developing countries and earn pennies a day. Most of the poor live in rural sub-Saharan Africa, and East and South Asia. In Latin America, the extreme poverty rate is stuck at around 10%. Globally, a record 1 billion people went hungry in 2009, with parents cutting back on school and health care to give their children a meal once a day, according to the UN Food Agency. Nearly a billion people continued to face hunger and severe malnutrition threatens the lives of 34 million children: A million of them die each year.[i] A child dies every six seconds of malnutrition, so investment in agriculture needs to be increased. Although improvement is occurring, UNICEF reported that over a quarter of children ages five and younger were stunted in 2011, with Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia having the most malnourished children who also lack access to clean water.[ii] Thirty countries require emergency aid to feed people, including 20 African nations. Some argue that a return to traditional farming practices (“agroecology”) is the only way to avoid a food crisis.[iii]This involves acknowledging women’s role as farmers, the small farmers who produce about 70% of the world’s food, and examining large subsidies to agribusiness companies. Women are more impacted by poverty: A girl who lives in a poor households is four times more likely than a similar boy to not be in school.

1.5 billion are poor who have food but may lack safe drinking water and working latrines, as in Bangladesh. Together with the extreme poor, they make up 40% of humanity.

2.5 billion are middle-income. Most of them live in cities, but wouldn’t be considered middle class by rich countries. They may be able to purchase a scooter and send their children go to school.

1 billion, about one-sixth of the world, is high-income. The richest countries, in terms of average earnings of the population, are Luxembourg, Norway and the United States.

[i] Action Against Hunger


[iii] Nafeez Ahmed, “Small-Scale Traditional Farming is the Only Way to Avoid Food Crisis, UN Researcher Says,” Yes! Magazine, October 10, 2014.


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