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One third of the world’s population lives on less than $1.25a day. It’s an oft-mentioned stat that’s hard to argue with. Poverty ismeasured by the poverty threshold, also known as the poverty line, which is theabsolute minimum level of income considered sufficient for an individual tosurvive on in any given country.

There are varying degrees of poverty. The World Bank, aninternational standard, defines it in absolute terms and extreme poverty isdefined as living on less than $1.25 a day. In the past the poverty line wasdefined as living on less than a $1 a day but was recalibrated to $1.25 a dayin 2008.These calculations are made yearly and are done so by taking into account allthe essential resources the average adult consumes in one year.

The World Bank uses purchasing power parity (PPP) to measureand update the poverty threshold. In a nutshell, PPP is the amount needed ofone country’s currency to buy the same amount of goods and services in thatcountry as one U.S. dollar would buy in the US. So when you hear that oneperson is living on less than $1.25 a day it means that they are living on the equivalent of what a $1.25 would buy youin the US, not what it buys you in their native country.

Working towards a world without poverty takes time and commitment but is not impossible. In 2000, 189 countries pledged to eradicate poverty and hunger in the world by 2015. This pledge is known as the Millenium Development Goals.
Photo courtesy of UNDP
According to the Millenium Development Goals:
  • The number of people living under the international poverty line of $1.25 a day declined from 1.8 billion to 1.4 billion between 1990 and 2005.
  • The proportion of people living in extreme poverty in developing regions dropped from 46 per cent to 27 per cent — on track to meet the target globally.
  • The economic crisis is expected to push an estimated 64 million more people into extreme poverty in 2010.
  • About one in four children under the age of five is underweight in the developing world, down from almost one in three in 1990.

Sadly, it's going to take a few more years to bring the population living in extreme poverty down to zero. Even though the UN's Millennium Development Goals are on track, by 2015, about 920 million people will still be living under the poverty line.


Falguni Vyas

Falguni (sounds like "balcony") Vyas is from Atlanta, Georgia and began working with Heifer International in Little Rock as a copywriter in 2011. She received her master's degree at Istituto Marangoni in Milan, Italy and her bachelor's degree at Franklin College Switzerland in Lugano, Switzerland. She does not like writing about herself in the third person.