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The total number of the world's poor fell to 878 million people in 2010 from more than 1 billion in 2005, a new Brookings Institution report shows.

Brookings' Laurence Chandy and Geoffrey Gertz announced the findings in a Washington Post opinion piece today, linking the news to the World Economic Forum, convening this week in Davos, Switzerland.
In their editorial, they say our understanding of global poverty "remains firmly rooted in the year 2005, the last year for which the World Bank produced data on the number of people living on less than $1.25 a day."
"A lot has changed in the past six years. The economies of the developing world have expanded 50 percent in real terms, despite the Great Recession. Moreover, growth has been particularly high in countries with large numbers of poor people. India and China, of course, but also Bangladesh, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Uganda, Mozambique and Uzbekistan - nine countries that were collectively home to nearly two-thirds of the world's poor in 2005 - are all experiencing phenomenal economic advances."
The new Brookings Institution report, available to download here, updates the World Bank's official figures to show how the global poverty landscape has changed. The editorial says "we estimate that between 2005 and 2010, nearly half a billion people escaped extreme hardship. Never before in history have so many people been lifted out of poverty in such a short period."
The editorial concludes "While there is good reason to focus public attention on the need to support those still stuck below the poverty line, there is also reason to celebrate successes and to ensure that policy debates are grounded in reality."
Heifer International's successful model focuses on one family at a time, through livestock, fish, bees and innovative agricultural training.
"I have seen families rise above poverty and hunger for good," says Heifer Tanzania Country Director Peter Mwakabwale. Read more about Heifer's programs at and
Photo of Isaya and Restituta Mlelwa, Heifer Tanzania participants by Dave Anderson. The Mlelwas, who started with just one Heifer dairy cow, have now trained thousands throughout Africa on raising dairy cows and organic farming. Restituta Mlelwa just met her dream to travel to Europe, visiting Italy in December to share her knowledge of zero-grazing dairy farming.


Donna Stokes

Donna Stokes is the managing editor of World Ark magazine. She has worked for Heifer International since September 2008 when she leaped over to the nonprofit world from a two-decade career in newspaper journalism.