Poverty and Environment - Compassion International

Quick Facts About the Environment
Get the facts on the environmental factors which affect children living in poverty.

environment facts graphic

Poverty is a complex issue. It is more than a lack of material possessions ... it's a mindset. Oftentimes, this mindset is affected by the environment in which a child lives.

Environmental factors ranging from insect and water-borne illnesses to extreme weather conditions, such as drought and flooding, to lack of access to adequate sanitation depress the spirits, hope and health of the poor.

The environmental issues are numerous and their affect widespread and far-reaching. But Compassion works to ensure that environmental conditions don't make extreme poverty inescapable.

Our programs are multi-faceted, holistic and proven to be effective. Independent research has concluded that Compassion child sponsorship has large and statistically significant impacts on the educational, employment and leadership outcomes of the children in our programs.

These facts about the environment give a glimpse into living conditions, infrastructure, war and weather, among other issues contributing to child poverty.

  • Between 1901 and 1910 there were 82 recorded disasters, but between 2003 and 2012 there were more than 4,000. 1
  • More than 200 million people a year, most of them in developing countries, are affected by natural disasters. 1
  • Economic losses attributed to weather-related natural disasters total $3.2 trillion since 1980. 2
  • Since 1980, low-income countries have accounted for only 9 percent of disaster events but 48 percent of the fatalities. 3
  • Low-income countries account for more than 70 percent of the world’s disaster “hotspots.” 3
  • An estimated 446 million people live in fragile and conflict-affected states. These states are poorer, with slower economic growth rates and higher population growth rates than other countries. 2
  • In 2015, 68 percent of the world’s population had access to improved sanitation facilities including flush toilets and covered latrines. 4

A Kenyan boy is standing near a dump and sewage drainage ditch.

  • More than one third of the global population – some 2.5 billion people — do not use an improved sanitation facility. 5
  • In 2012, the majority of people without improved sanitation – 7 out of 10 people – lived in rural areas. 5
  • Fourteen percent of the global population, or one billion people, practice open defecation. 5
  • Nine out of 10 people who practice open defecation live in rural areas, but the number in urban areas is gradually increasing. 5
  • At least 10 percent of the world’s population is thought to consume food irrigated by waste water. 4
  • 860 million people worldwide continue to live in slums. 6
  • Globally, 1.2 billion people (22 percent) live on less than $1.25 a day. Increasing the income poverty line to $2.50 a day raises the global income poverty rate to about 50 percent, or 2.7 billion people. 1 Among the poor living on less than $1.25 per day, just under half have electricity. 7
  • Based on the updated poverty line of $1.90 a day, World Bank projections suggest that global poverty may have reached 700 million, or 9.6 percent of global population, in 2015. 6
  • Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress. 8
How do the UN Sustainable Development Goals relate to Compassion?

several children look outside through a window

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) directly parallel what Compassion does. But when it comes to goals and implementation we sometimes take a different approach. This is a quick analysis of the SDGs and how they most closely match our work, along with ways they overlap and differ.