What is poverty?
Finding a modern, realistic definition of poverty is not as easy as it might seem. According to some it can be defined as the lack of a colour TV in the home, or simply not owning a car. However, when we talk about poverty in the global sense it is probably fair to assume that, to most of us, poverty means something more drastic than that.
So, how should we define poverty?
Difficult though it is, attempts have been made to define poverty in a global sense. Extreme poverty (or ‘Absolute poverty’, as it is officially known) is described as the lack of any two of the following eight criteria:
This refers mainly to drinking water, which should not come solely from lakes, rivers or puddles. It should also be easily accessible – if not actually in the home then not more than a quarter of an hour’s walk away.
This means food. It is generally accepted that the Body Mass Index should be above 16.
This means toilets and washing facilities, which should be near the family home, though not necessarily actually in it.
This means medical help. The definition states that people should be able to receive medical treatment for all serious illnesses and pregnancy.
This means housing. Here the emphasis is not only on the quality of housing but the number of people occupying the available space. Four people or more living in each room is considered unacceptable and the floors must not be made of earth or clay.
This means schooling. Here the definition is quite unequivocal: every child must attend school and be taught to read.
This means that people should be able to find out what is going on in their region, country and the world in general. They should have access to newspapers, radios, televisions, phones or computers so that they can keep themselves informed of current events.
This category is less specifically defined but seems to include having access to legal and financial services, social services, etc.
Discuss: People in poor countries should have fewer children
Quick Quiz: Read the clues below and write the solutions on a piece of paper. Then take the first letter of each answer and rearrange them to find the hidden word connected with this Talking Point.
1. Finding a modern, __________ definition of poverty is not as easy as it might seem.
2. Extreme poverty (or "Absolute poverty", as it is __________ known) is described as the lack of any two of the following eight criteria.
3. Four people or more living in each room is considered unacceptable and the floors must not be made of __________ or clay.
4. People should have access to newspapers, radios, televisions, phones or computers so that they can __________ themselves informed of current events.
5. This means schooling. Here the definition is quite unequivocal: every child must attend school and __________ taught to read.