More than half of the global population are considered poor. According to the World Bank, around 4 billion of us are in one degree of poverty or another. The differences between life in the developed world and the developing world are distinct, and to cater for this, the word poverty can be split into sub-definitions, depending on how a person is affected by being poor in their own society.
Jeffrey Sachs, in his book “The End of Poverty”, breaks the description down into the following three types.
"Extreme poverty" is the category which includes all those who cannot get adequate facilities for any normal kind of civilised life. With no running water, no health care, no education, and little food and supplies, those who are in poor rural developing areas usually come into this category.
"Moderate poverty" is the classification that includes everyone who barely gets by, and who perhaps doesn't have access to some of life's most basic amenities. Education may be limited, and health care unaffordable, a change in circumstance or income is drastically significant, meaning that people in moderate poverty are continually balancing their expenses according to priority, and there is a continual worry about rising costs or changes in income.
"Relative poverty" means that the costs of living a life comparable to those around us are too high, meaning we lose out on basic human rights such as the right to go out to entertainment, to socialise, and to enjoy nicer things from time to time. People in relative poverty may struggle to pay their fuel bills and cannot afford to drive, or go on holiday.
But why does this all matter? Some argue that poverty is the fault of the person in the situation, and with opportunity and hard work, anyone is able to escape it. This notion however, is not true. It's well known that the causes that create poverty are complex, and run deeply within the fabric of all society, on both sides of the breadline. Extreme and moderate poverty in the developing world is causing many to flee their home nation in search of opportunities elsewhere. It's often the same voices who claim that it is up to those in poverty to find a solution who also don't like the idea of immigration in search of a better life.
Poor nations on the whole are more likely to suffer for a longer term in the wake of disaster, and are also more likely to fall into periods of conflict as resources and work become tight. Tensions due to hunger and lack of decent opportunity can spiral into national crime-waves or uprisings that result in more damage to lives and the fragile economy. On the plus side, poor people are tied into the basic amenities and functions of life, and so their spending potential, on business terms is very predictable. We can already know exactly what they want, and we know they will pay the lowest possible price, making it very easy to cater for them, if we adjust our ethics on profit. Surely with transport costs include, in an ideal world, the more local something is, the cheaper it will be.
Where there are poor people who need basic amenities, there is opportunity as long as people are prepared to invest in that sector with money. When people want jobs, running water, urban facilities, adequate buildings and all the rest of what development can bring, the act of developing means jobs and wages. Those wages would then pay for the fruits of development, which will employ once more, creating a cycle of spending and work that can be nurtured.
On an emotional level, the issues surrounding living in poverty are intense, and for a person with very little, or nothing at all, the road to recovery can often be too steep. Taking years to build self up from the ground up can be extremely taxing, and many simply cannot achieve this. IT can become a very desperate and lonely time for people, when they can't even make the most basic of ends meet. Because of this tension and stress, poverty can lead to depression or even crime.
Poor living conditions and under nourishment leads to diseases which ultimately are a burden to us all, as spreading of bacteria and viruses need to be kept to a minimum. No-one is immune to all diseases, and although doctors and scientists work hard to prevent many illnesses, there are some that simply cannot yet be stopped. Those who get ill do not wish to be a burden and those who care for the sick must put aside their own time in the stead of those who cannot help themselves.
The potential growth and contribution to society offered by each individual is great, and when a person is unable to meet their maximum ability to live their life, it is a serious waste. We all are here equally to experience the world in all its many ways, and for some it is too much of a stretch of imagination.
The causes of poverty can be fairly widespread, but lack of investment in people and opportunity are both the main factors. Some believe that by giving charity, it only creates a culture of neediness, and that money is best in the pockets of employers and firms who can train people into working life, then others believe that employers simply do not offer the right answer to all of the issues, and by giving extra help the core problems will begin to solve themselves. In reality, both lines of action are required at the same time to reach everyone.
The mindset of people who live in poverty can be said to be notably different to those who do not. Being brought up in a poverty stricken lifestyle can result in the learned behaviour that perpetuates poverty, and doesn't allow proper growth of an individual into a proper paid role in life. Also with the correct infrastructure and support in place, those who are unable to contribute, or help themselves are able to get by with the much needed help they deserve. The lack of all the right ingredients to end poverty can be a grand opportunity for all involved, if only addressed with a generous and hard working ethic.
To finish, I want to mention those human communities that have a way of life that is traditional, and perhaps relies on ancient methods to survive that by today's standard would be considered poverty. For cultural reasons, it is always a good idea to protect people in these situations from unwanted change. But it is also right to not deny a person the opportunity to progress into modern culture simply because we find what they do something of interest.