Where Most Needed

Food iconLearn the facts about poverty and how it affects children and families in need.

Poverty is a devastating problem of global proportions. To be effective in fighting poverty, we need to understand the truth about it. These poverty facts shine some light onto the reality of poverty around the world.

Poverty is a ruthless and relentless enemy with an arsenal of weapons: infant mortality, hunger, disease, illiteracy and child labor, among other things. The list of obstacles the poor most overcome seems endless. These poverty facts highlight the devastating effect poverty has on its victims, especially the most vulnerable.

  • 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. 1
  • The working poor, who work and live on less than $1.90 a day, accounted for 10 percent of workers worldwide in 2015. 6
  • Sub-Saharan Africa is home to 43 percent of the global poor. 1

On average, a child in our sponsorship program spends 4,000 hours in safe, nurturing programs, is at least 50 percent more likely to graduate college, is 14 to 18 percent more likely to have salaried employment and is 35 percent more likely to find white-collar employment as an adult.
  • Almost three-fifths of the world’s extreme poor are concentrated in just five countries: Bangladesh, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, India, and Nigeria. 3
  • Eighty percent of the worldwide poor live in rural areas; 64 percent work in agriculture; 44 percent are 14 years old or younger; and 39 percent have no formal education at all. 2
  • Eleven children under age 5 die every minute, and 35 mothers die during childbirth every hour. 6
  • Every year nearly 45 percent of all under 5 child deaths are among newborn infants, babies in their first 28 days of life or the neonatal period. Three quarters of all newborn deaths occur in the first week of life. 4
  • In developing countries nearly half of all mothers and newborns do not receive skilled care during and immediately after birth. 4
  • Up to two thirds of newborn deaths can be prevented if known, effective health measures are provided at birth and during the first week of life. 4
  • Every day, 800 women die from causes related to pregnancy, childbirth, or postpartum. Most maternal deaths occurred in developing countries. 3
  • An estimated 289,000 maternal deaths occurred worldwide in 2013. Some 62 percent of these were in Sub-Saharan Africa. 3
  • Annual per capita consumption growth of four percent in every country around the world, combined with no change in income distribution in each country, would result in a reduction of global poverty to about 3 percent of the world’s population by 2030. 3
  • Across 96 countries, around 1 billion children ages 2 to 17 experienced some form of violence in the past year. 6
  • Ending extreme poverty by 2030 is the first of the World Bank Group’s goals. Ending extreme poverty is defined as reducing the share of the global population living below the international poverty line ($1.90 a day) to below 3 percent ... Achievement of the global poverty target of would leave an estimated 270 million people impoverished. 1
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How Do the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Relate to Compassion?

Students looking through window and smilingThe 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.

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1 World Bank Group. 2016. Global Monitoring Report 2015/2016: Development Goals in an Era of Demographic Change. Overview booklet. World Bank, Washington, DC. License: Creative Commons Attribution CC BY 3.0 IGO

2 World Bank. 2016. Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2016: Taking on Inequality. Washington, DC: World Bank. doi:10.1596/978-1-4648-0958-3. License: Creative Commons Attribution CC BY 3.0 IGO

3 World Bank Group. 2015. Global Monitoring Report 2014/2015: Ending Poverty and Sharing Prosperity. Washington, DC: World Bank. doi: 10.1596/978-1-4648-0336-9. License: Creative Commons Attribution CC BY 3.0 IGO

4 World Health Organization Media Centre Fact sheet N°333. Newborns: Reducing Mortality, January 2016.

5 UNDP. Human Development Report 2016. Human Development for Everyone.

6 >UNESCO, 2016 Global Education Monitoring Report Gender Review: Creating Sustainable Futures for All.