The Poorest Countries in the World

The world’s poorest countries are home to millions of children in desperate need. Families of many of the children in our programs live in extreme poverty, defined by the World Bank as living on less than $1.90 per day.

Children living in extreme poverty throughout the world’s least developed countries lack access to clean water, healthcare and educational opportunities.

According to UNICEF, an estimated 17,000 children under the age of five die every day, mostly from preventable or treatable causes. Nearly half of all deaths in children under age 5 are attributable to undernutrition. This translates into the unnecessary loss of about 3 million young lives a year. 1

Adequate food, clean water and adequate sanitation are scarce resources in many of the world’s poorest countries. A lack of food and clean water make a disease that would be a nuisance to a child in the developed world deadly to a child in poverty.

  • According to the United Nations Development Programme, poor nutrition causes 45 percent of the deaths among children under age 5. 2
  • And the World Health Organization estimates that at least 10 percent of the world’s population is thought to consume food irrigated by waste water. 3

Poverty is More Than Just a Lack of Resources. It’s a Lack of Hope ... a Lack of Options.

UNESCO reports that one in six children in low and middle income countries will not complete primary school in 2015. 4

Many children in the world’s poorest countries do not attend school because they have to work to earn money for their family. Others cannot afford the uniforms, shoes or supplies. Without an education, these children cannot earn an adequate income to support themselves and, as a result, they remain stuck in the cycle of poverty into which they were born.

Facts About Poverty and the World's Least Developed Countries

Providing Hope for Children in some of the World's Least Developed Countries

We bring hope to children in some of the world’s poorest countries through our holistic, long-term child development model.

The United Nations categorizes 47 countries as the poorest and weakest segment of the international community. These countries, the least developed in the world, are determined by three criteria: per capita gross national income, human assets and economic vulnerability to external shocks.

"Their low level of socio-economic development is characterized by weak human and institutional capacities, low and unequally distributed income and scarcity of domestic financial resources. They often suffer from governance crisis, political instability and, in some cases, internal and external conflicts. Their largely agrarian economies are affected by a vicious cycle of low productivity and low investment. They rely on the export of few primary commodities as major source of export and fiscal earnings, which makes them highly vulnerable to external terms-of-trade shocks." 5

Compassion works in eight of the least developed countries in the world.

Our one-to-one sponsorship program, the only child sponsorship program to be validated through independent, empirical research, addresses the spiritual, economic, social and physical needs of children and provides them opportunities to escape the generational cycle of poverty.

You can help children in the world’s poorest countries. You can offer a child in poverty the basic necessities of life and much more. Give a child hope for the future. Sponsor a child today!


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.

Learn More >


1 unicef.org/statistics

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

3 World Health Organization Media Centre Fact sheet N°392. Sanitation, November 2016.

4 UNESCO, Education for All 2000-2015: Achievement and Challenges 2015.

5 unohrlls.org/about-ldcs/

World's Poorest Countries

Compassion International works with children living in many of the world's poorest countries. These children live a life that is not easy or comfortable. The world's poorest countries have some of the worst conditions and the hardest circumstances to overcome.

When a child is registered in Compassion's child development program, he has the opportunity to break what is often a generational cycle of poverty. The cycle of poverty is an all too common problem in the world's poorest countries and is very difficult to break out of.

As a part of Compassion's program, children get food and clean water, regular medical checkups, vocational training and a chance to hear the Gospel. In the world's poorest countries, opportunities like these are hard to come by. Compassion offers children hope where before there was none.

When you sponsor a child through Compassion's program, you are making an eternal difference in one of the world's poorest countries. Sponsoring a child is a life-changing decision for you as well as the child you sponsor. Why not get started today?