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For the first time since 1981, poverty has declined in all six regions of the developing world, according to a new report released by the World Bank on Wednesday. The World Bank defines poverty as living on less than $1.25 a day.

Photo by Russell Powell,
courtesy of Heifer International

The greatest strides were seen in East Asia where 14 percent of the population is currently living in poverty. That's down from more than 77 percent in the early 1980s. Similarly, poverty is at an all-time low in South Asia at 36 percent, and in sub-Saharan Africa less than half the population is now characterized as impoverished.

The World Bank surveyed households in the regions of East Asia and Pacific, China, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa.

This is great news, but it's also confusing. How is it that the number of people living with hunger—a typical outcome of poverty—has held steady at about 1 billion people? That can be attributed to the rise in the world's population.

This reaffirms the necessity to work with smallholder farmers to increase food production in the next few years. Heifer has a proven model that can dramatically enhance agricultural production to benefit all of us, and you can bet we'll be working harder and faster to bring those numbers down even farther.


Annie Bergman

Annie Bergman is a Global Communications Manager and helps plan, assign and develop content for the nonprofit’s website, magazine and blog. Bergman has interviewed survivors of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, beekeepers in Honduras, women’s groups in India and war widows in Kosovo, among many others in her six years at Heifer.