World Poverty is a Disaster

Billions of people around the world live in extreme poverty. Nearly 10 percent of the world's population. That's almost 1 billion people living below the World Bank poverty line of $1.90 per day.

And almost half the world (nearly 4 billion people) lives with a household income below $2.50 a day.

The extremely poor live without support, on the sidelines, watching economic growth and prosperity pass them by. They are shunned by the world economy. They live lives abundant in scarcity.

Even the environment attacks poor people.

When nature strikes, the world's poor suffer the most.

a man carries a mattress on his head while walking in waist deep water

More than 1.35 million people have been killed by earthquakes, hurricane, tsunamis, etc. over the past 20 years. The world's poorest countries bore the brunt of the devastation.

In 2004, the Indian Ocean tsunami killed 230,000 people. All of them were in poor countries — low- and middle-income countries such as: Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and India.

In 2011, a similar magnitude earthquake spawned a tsunami that struck high-income Japan, and its waves were 30 feet taller. The number of people who died?

Nineteen thousand.

Poverty was the difference in the death toll.

The 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti in January 2010 killed 223,000 people. Equally forceful earthquakes hit Chile and New Zealand later that same year. Five hundred people died in Chile. No deaths occurred in New Zealand.

Poverty caused the difference.

are children

1 Million
after the 2010 earthquake

160 Million
are affected by natural disasters every year

Sources:,, World Bank

Global Poverty and the Sustainable Development Goals

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), adopted in 2015 by the United Nations, are the most comprehensive and ambitious poverty reduction plan the world has embarked upon.

They expand the scope of the world community’s previous efforts to eradicate the burden poverty places on the world population.

This burden, the burden of poverty, is literally carried on the heads and on the backs of the poor.

Women carrying bags of tea leaves on their heads and backs
A man carrying a large bundle of sticks on his back

But the burden poverty places on society and individuals isn’t just economic or physical. Poverty causes the poor to suffer emotionally and spiritually as well.

a man carries a bundle of sticks on his back

That's why the Sustainable Development Goals aren't just about ending poverty around the world. They're about protecting the planet and ensuring all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

Building a sustainable future means finding ways to meet the needs of the present without sacrificing the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It requires a unified, collaborative and global approach that isn't bound by cultures, conditions or continents.

Because a life of poverty means the poor carry a shade of poverty in their hearts and wear it etched on their faces. They become shells of unfulfilled potential and possibility.

A solemn looking boy kneels on the ground amidst trash next to a stream of water in a slum
An elderly Maasai man

Efforts to eliminate extreme poverty in the world have gradually lowered poverty rates in many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America. But not everyone has been helped.

In working with kids in poverty all around the world, we see poverty trying to steal joy, destroy dignity and put hope to death. We see poverty trying to enslave children and sustain helplessness for generations. And we see the shells of people it conquers.

are concentrated in just countries

live in Sub-Saharan Africa

live in rural areas

Source: World Bank

But poverty doesn’t always win.

Not even close.

Our pictures of poverty show that joy, hope and dignity still bloom in the hearts of the poor.

Poverty cannot and does not snuff out life — unless we let it. Please don't let it.


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1 Wydick, Bruce. "Cost-Effective Compassion: The 10 Most Popular Strategies for Helping the Poor." Christianity Today. accessed 17 February 2012.

Poverty Around the World - Compassion International