Poverty is a state of lacking the means and support to afford the basic necessities of life, food, shelter and clothing. One in ten people in developing regions are still living with their families on less than the international poverty line of US$1.90 a day, and there are millions more who make little more than this daily amount. About 42% of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa continue to live below the poverty line.
There are many reasons, but in short, because as human beings, our well-being is linked to each other. Growing inequality is detrimental to economic growth and undermines social cohesion, increasing political and social tensions and, in some circumstances, driving instability and conflicts.
Poverty is more than the lack of income and resources to ensure a sustainable livelihood. Its manifestations include hunger and malnutrition, limited access to education and other basic services, social discrimination and exclusion as well as the lack of participation in decision-making.
To combat poverty Economic growth must be inclusive to provide sustainable jobs and promote equality. Social protection systems need to be implemented to help alleviate the suffering of disaster-prone countries and provide support in the face of great economic risks. These systems will help strengthen responses by afflicted populations to unexpected economic losses during disasters and will eventually help to end extreme poverty in the most impoverished areas.
If you are a young person: Your active engagement in policy making can make a difference in addressing poverty. It ensures that your rights are promoted and that your voice is heard, that inter-generational knowledge is shared, and that innovation and critical thinking are encouraged at all ages to support transformational change in people’s lives and communities.
If you are a policymaker: Governments can help create an enabling environment to generate productive employment and job opportunities for the poor and the marginalized. They can formulate strategies and fiscal policies that stimulate pro-poor growth, and reduce poverty.
If you work in the private sector: The private sector, as an engine of economic growth, has a major role to play in determining whether the growth it creates is inclusive and hence contributes to poverty reduction. It can promote economic opportunities for the poor, focusing on segments of the economy where most of the poor are active, namely on micro and small enterprises and those operating in the informal sector.
If you are part of the science and academic community: The academic and education community have a major role in increasing the awareness about the impact of poverty. Science provides the foundation for new and sustainable approaches, solutions and technologies to tackle the challenges of reducing poverty and achieving sustainable development. The contribution of science to end poverty has been significant. For example, it has enabled access to safe drinking water, reduced deaths caused by water-borne diseases, and improved hygiene to reduce health risks related to unsafe drinking water and lack of sanitation.