Global Poverty Fact Sheet

U.S. Media Contacts:

Tim Glenn (719) 272-5377 and Allison Meggers (219) 384-8177

For all non-media related inquiries, please call (800) 336-7676, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. MT.

Global Poverty: What is it?

In 2013, the World Bank estimates that approximately 767 million people, or 10.7 percent of the world’s population, were living in extreme poverty, defined as living on less than $1.90 (USD) per day.1

Poverty rates run highest among children under 18, who made up half of the world’s poor in 2013.1

These numbers reflect a more than 50 percent reduction in extreme poverty rates since 1990, when 1.85 billion people lived in extreme poverty.2 The world continues to suffer from substantial inequalities among the poor and particularly in developing countries, with marked disparities in access to education and health care, literacy, nutrition, sanitation and mortality.1

Key Statistics

There has been significant progress in poverty reduction in recent decades, but efforts to end extreme poverty are far from over:

  • 1.1 billion fewer people lived in extreme poverty in 2013 than in 1990.1
  • Sub-Saharan Africa is home to the world’s largest number of poor at 389 million, more than all other regions combined.1
  • Under-nutrition contributes to nearly half (3 million a year) of all deaths in children under 5 and is most prevalent in Africa and Asia.3
  • The global number of child deaths has been reduced by more than one half, from 90 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 43 in 2015. However, progress has fallen short of development goals. In 2015, an estimated 5.9 million children under 5 still died - or the equivalent of 11 child deaths every minute.4
  • It is estimated that, in 2015, 91 percent of the world’s population had access to improved drinking water sources, and 68 percent had access to improved sanitation. Yet, 663 million people still lack access to safe, reliable water sources, while 2.4 billion have no access to improved sanitation facilities.5

Our Strategy

Since its inception in 1952, Compassion International has been working to release children from poverty by addressing each child’s physical, spiritual, social and economic needs.

Through the Child Sponsorship Program, Compassion-registered children begin to see that they are worthy of a life outside of poverty. This kind of positive change has a ripple effect on families and communities.

A young boy reading to his mom

Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Program is a holistic, long-term approach to breaking the generational cycle of poverty. The program allows a sponsor to invest in the life of a child through a $38 monthly commitment that provides that child with physical, social, spiritual and economic care and training.

Through this one-to-one relationship, sponsors are encouraged to write letters to their children, filling the children's minds and spirits with love, support and hope so that they can be further encouraged to defeat poverty and pursue their dreams.

Children in the program receive:

  • Formal primary school education (as defined in their local context)
  • Participation in cognitive learning beyond primary school (e.g. formal secondary school, vocational school, apprenticeship, income generating skill training)
  • Service activities
  • Extracurricular activities, including sports, field trips, the arts and computers
  • The completion of a life-planning document that helps youth age 12 and up think ahead and identify their own developmental path
  • Immunizations and treatment for injuries and illnesses
  • Supplemental nutrition as needed
  • Bible-based learning
  • Love, protection and individualized care from local church staff and volunteers who know each child by name

1 World Bank, Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2016: Taking on Equality Report, 2016
2 World Bank, Poverty Overview, 2016
3 UNICEF, Nutrition: Current Status + Progress, 2017
4 UNICEF, Under Five Mortality: Current Status + Progress, 2016
5 UNICEF, Water Supply and Sanitation: Current Status + Progress, 2017