Understanding Human Poverty

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Poverty is one of those aspects of human life that many turn away from or do not want to hear about, significantly if it does not directly affect them, their families, and their lives. Yet, the world is daily filled with the issues of human poverty.

Human poverty goes beyond just the standard or restricted views of poverty. Human poverty considers other issues as longevity, access to knowledge, or if populations, communities, or people can make a “reasonable standard of living.” Human poverty digs deeper into what poverty is or what causes poverty.

What Is Human Poverty?

Human poverty is an idea or term that goes beyond just the standard view of poverty. Human poverty looks at more aspects of poverty and how individuals or humans live.

Human poverty looks at all the basic needs of human beings, including food, housing, clean water, clothing, medicine, electricity, etc. Human poverty looks at the needs of individuals to earn a “reasonable standard of living.”

Human poverty looks at not just a few components of poverty but all the things which make up and affect poverty for all human beings. It looks at poverty in a more complex way by considering many factors.

There are three main areas that the study of Human Poverty is focused on:

  • Longevity – This is essentially how long you have a chance to live. Longevity has to do with access to proper medical care, vacinations, healthy foods and a healthy lifestyle. Longevity can also have to do with war and politcal unrest or if you are living in a country where you have a chance to be blown up by a landmine, etc. Obvisouly people who live in a stable country, have great medical care and access to all vacination, healthy foods and a healthly lifestyle have a much higher chance to live longer than those who do not.
  • Knowledge – Knowledge has to do with education and your access to educaiton. It can also include things as your ability to connect with the world via internet and learn via the internet. Knowledge encompasses all kinds of knowledge that people are able to obtain in school or through self learning. Knowledge also has to do with access to proper jobs. Do you live in an area where you can get a job or be trained for a good job?
  • Decent Standard of Living – This area of focus is about what is the decent standard of living for where you live. Obvous in a country like India the dollar amount would not be the same as the US state of Indiana. Indiana would not be the same as San Francisco. Human poverty looks at what is considered a reasonable or decent standard of living per location.

Where You Are Born Contributes to Your Human Poverty

It is a bit like the luck of the draw – where you are born and what family you are born into does contribute to your human poverty.

People born to a country with scarce or challenging resources such as food, safety, education, and job opportunities are usually affected by poverty. It is hard for them to get out of poverty as they never have the resources.

Other things that can also affect poverty are gender, illiteracy, discrimination, and the caste system. In some countries, if you are born the wrong gender or in the wrong caste may ensure you live your life in poverty. All these things can significantly affect your poverty level. In some countries, if you are a girl and your parents or society refuse to educate you, chances are you will spend your life illiterate and suffering from poverty.

I know of a group in India that works with single women to help them learn basic skills as the macrame craft to feed their families. Many of these women had a husband who died or left them alone to raise the children. These women were born in poverty and lacked even the basic skills and education to get a proper job.

Access to proper medical care contributes to poverty. Many years ago, I met a teacher in Tibet whose son was deaf simply because he got an ear infection when he was three years old; there was no doctor in his area of Tibet to prescribe his son antibiotics. A treatable childhood disease in many countries ended up causing his son to suffer from a disability.

The Human Poverty Index

At the core of looking and understanding human poverty is the Human Poverty index or HPI. The United Nations developed the Human Poverty Index as part of their Human Deprivation Report in 1997.

The Human Poverty Index is important because it is considered to reflect poverty in countries better when compared to previous poverty models that were used.

In 2010 the UN Introduced the Multidimensional Poverty Index, which replaces the Human Poverty Index. The Multidimensional Poverty Index looks at quantitative poverty statistics; it looks at poverty figures for a given population and then calculates what is considered poverty for that area or population.

Even though the Multidimensional Poverty Index replaced the Human Poverty Index, what we learned about poverty, defining poverty, and what poverty means has had a long-lasting effect on how the world looks at human poverty.

At A Bus On A Dusty Road, we believe to “Live Life As A Global Citizen,” we need to understand this genuine and personal issue of poverty, especially human poverty. Human poverty is an issue that affects so many worldwide.

At A Bus On A Dusty Road, we talk about all things to do with travel, life, and ex-pat living. We are all about “Living Life As A Global Citizen.” We explore social, cultural, and economic issues and travel.

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Is There A Difference Between Poverty and Living Poor?

Poverty is about a person lacking enough resources or money to provide for their necessities of life, including food, clean water, shelter, and clothing. A person can have all of these necessities but maybe not have other things such as electricity. That is why there is a difference between someone in poverty and someone who may be living poor.

To learn more, you can read our blog on Is There A Difference Between Poverty and Living Poor? by clicking here.

Why Is A Study Of Poverty Important?

The study of poverty is one of those issues that anyone who wants to live their life as a global citizen should fully understand. The reason is that the issues of poverty and homelessness are not always as straightforward or as easy as they may seem.

By clicking here, you can discover more by reading our blog Why Is A Study Of Poverty Important?

Anita L Hummel
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