The Causes of Poverty Around the World

Living on less than $2 per day is unthinkable for most of us. However, for roughly 800 million people around the world, this is the truth. Approximately 10% of the world’s population is considered to be in extreme poverty, defined as living on less than $1.90 per day. 

Let’s talk about threats, because poverty is caused by inequality, which is exacerbated by risk. Poverty is exacerbated by conflict, which is at the top of the list of threats. Large-scale, long-term disasters can grind a prosperous economy to a halt, such as Syria’s decade-long civil war. As the conflict in Syria continues, millions of people have fled their homes (often with nothing but the clothes on their backs). The infrastructure of the state has been obliterated. Prior to 2011, only about ten percent of Syrians lived in poverty. More than 80% of Syrians today live in poverty ten years later. 

More than 2 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water at home. This translates to 200 million hours each day spent by people trekking large distances to acquire water. That’s valuable time that could be spent working or studying for a better position later in life. And if you guessed that women and girls carry the majority of these 200 million hours, you’re accurate. Water is both a women’s issue and a source of poverty.

Climate change is a cause of poverty, acting as a link between not only extreme poverty but also many of the other factors listed below, such as hunger, conflict, inequality, and a lack of education. According to a World Bank analysis, the climate catastrophe has the potential to push over 100 million people into poverty over the next ten years. To eat and earn a living, many of the world’s poorest people rely on farming or hunting and gathering. Malawi, for example, has an agrarian population of 80%. They frequently have barely enough food and assets to get them through the next season, with no reserves to fall back on if the harvest is poor. So when climate change or natural disasters leave millions of people without food, it pushes them further into poverty, and can make recovery even more difficult.


Abdulaziz Al Mannai

Qatar Academy Doha

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