Poverty Definition - Compassion International

What is Poverty?

  |   Posted: May 26, 2015

Poverty Defined

The most widely held and understood definition of extreme poverty, established by the World Bank, defines poverty in strictly economic terms — earning less than $1.90 a day.

Worldwide 600 million children live in extreme poverty. Almost half the world — over 3 billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day.

The poor themselves describe poverty in terms of suffering relationships.

An Indonesian mother and child walk along a muddy street

A survey conducted in Niger in 2002 by the Office of the Prime Minister asked the poor of that country to describe poverty. Their answers provided the following:

  • Dependence, always having to seek out others or to work for somebody else
  • Marginalization, a poor person who is alone, has no support, doesn't feel involved in anything, or is "never consulted"
  • Scarcity, having nothing to eat, lacking the means to meet clothing and financial needs, having nothing to sell
  • Restricted rights and freedoms
  • Incapacity, the incapacity to make decision, to feed or clothe oneself, or to act on one’s own initiative.
Poverty Described

Poverty is a cancerous, thieving parasite plaguing the destitute. But it's not invincible.

Poverty is an overwhelming, frightening and debilitating beast. But it can be defeated. Child sponsorship helps.

Poverty is an opportunity to provide an opportunity. It's an opportunity to kill the worm that eats away at children's hearts, minds and self-esteem.

An Ecuadorian mother holds her two-year old smiling daughter

It's an opportunity to free a child from a life sentenced to dependence, scarcity and marginalization.

Hand a child the key to freedom. Sponsor a child today.

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 and is 35 percent more likely to find white-collar employment as an adult.
Poverty Redefined

What does poverty mean to a child orphaned by cancer or abandoned by his father? It means he has to learn how to dream again.

What does poverty mean to the great aunt taking care of her niece's children? It means fear. Fear that someone may take the children away from her.

What does poverty mean to a mother who lost her two-year old child to pneumonia while waiting at the hospital for treatment? It means the Body of Christ is a refuge.

What does poverty mean to a boy who learns about Jesus Christ on a regular basis? It means self-respect and the ability to love.

A Colombia college student with rests his chin on his grandmother's shoulder

What does poverty mean to a child without a sponsor? It means a sponsor is needed.

Children in our sponsorship program are at least 30 percent more likely than their unsponsored peers to become leaders in their communities and at least 40 percent more likely to grow into church leaders.

Help one of these children dream. Give them courage to fight their fear. Lay the foundation for self-confidence. Provide some hope to a child who may be in the midst of losing hope.

Sponsor a Child Today!

Sponsor a Child