World poverty

Poverty affects people around the world. Entire nations are rarely poor but people within nations are. While there are many poor people in the UK, we tend to think of as ‘poor’ countries such as Tanzania, where there will be people who have wealth.

Poverty means different things to different people. In the UK we tend to speak of relative poverty, meaning people being poor in relation to other people. While some households in the UK do live on a low income, we still have a welfare state with benefits for those out of work, as well as free education and health care for all.

Builders on wooden scaffolding
Workmen building a new school in an African village

Across the world, poverty means something different. When we speak of absolute poverty, we refer to those who are struggling to have the very basics required for survival - food, water and shelter.

The United Nations Organisation (UNO) is trying to tackle poverty and has set up Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to measure how successful it has been. Tackling poverty is the number one goal - the aim is to halve, between 1990 and the end of 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than $1 a day.

UN’s Millennium Development Goals - poverty/hunger, primary education, gender equality, child mortality, maternal health, disease, environmental sustainability and global development partnerships.

Great progress is being made thanks to the work done by the agencies of the UNO, aid by individual countries, debt relief by the major powers and economic growth in Africa. Far fewer people are poor today compared to a decade ago and the UNO is on target to meet the MDGs. However, many millions of people continue to live in poverty and die early as a result.