"It is poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish."  – Mother Teresa
October 15 has been designated as the day for bloggers around the world to share their thoughts and ideas about poverty, and to remind all of us just how far reaching is the problem, and how our avoidance of its reality helps to perpetuate it. I’m as guilty as the rest of us in looking the other way, and perhaps more so than some, for I have worked in Third World countries and the inner city, and have been closer to this scourge of our civilization than some of the rest of you. Still, I was shocked when I reviewed some of the current statistics regarding poverty in the world, and I hope those of you who read this will react in the same vein to a sufficient degree to do something about it. The magnitude of the problem is so great that it’s easy to succumb to the temptation of saying, "This thing is so huge, there is nothing I can do that will matter." Yet, if you reach out to just one person, one family to offer aid, be it through your own circle, your church, or some established organization, your action will have measurable effect. Sitting on a thumbtack is more useful than having a good idea, for it makes you get up and do someting about it. Do something, people. In the meantime, here are a few facts for you to ponder:
At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day.
 The poorest 40 percent of the world’s population accounts for 5 percent of global income. The richest 20 percent accounts for three-quarters of world income.
According to UNICEF, 26,500-30,000 children die each day due to poverty. And they “die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.”
Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names.
Number of children in the world

2.2 billion

Number in poverty

1 billion (every second child)

For the 1.9 billion children from the developing world, there are:

  • 640 million without adequate shelter (1 in 3)
  • 400 million with no access to safe water (1 in 5)
  • 270 million with no access to health services (1 in 7)
Children out of education worldwide

121 million


Survival for children


  • 10.6 million died in 2003 before they reached the age of 5 (same as the combined children population of France, Germany, Greece and Italy)
  • 1.4 million die each year from lack of access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation
Health of children


  • 2.2 million children die each year because they are not immunized
  • 15 million children orphaned due to HIV/AIDS (similar to the total children population in Germany or United Kingdom)

Consider the global priorities in spending in 1998

Global Priority

$U.S. Billions

Cosmetics in the United States


Ice cream in Europe


Perfumes in Europe and the United States


Pet foods in Europe and the United States


Business entertainment in Japan


Cigarettes in Europe


Alcoholic drinks in Europe


Narcotics drugs in the world


Military spending in the world


And compare that to what was estimated as additional costs to achieve universal access to basic social services in all developing countries:

Global Priority

$U.S. Billions

Basic education for all


Water and sanitation for all


Reproductive health for all women


Basic health and nutrition


References for the above can be found at: http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats

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17 Responses to Poverty

  1. Beth says:

    Excellent post Jorge.  I grew up in a family of 8 kids in a very poor family and I suppose in todays times that would have been considered poverty of a sort.  We all thought we were rich as we had each other.  I am going now to check your link.

  2. dawn says:

    you have a noble mind, Jorge. but i believe that this poverty of material and/ or even  a livelihood will ease as technology progresses and for now, we can only teach them to fish and not by buying them a fish everyday etc.. you know.most of us today in society is rather dying of a new kinda stuff— i havenonamefor —  slef-blinders, boredom—  a distorted society that we all are trying to conform to. i believe we need re-intervention and subsequent evolution to survive. otherwise the whole of this world is on the course of a mass sucide that stems from mind over matter.knowing ful well that the mind is always cunning but the heart is always simple. i believe a drastic switch or at least an awareness of this is needed to salvage the human race.

  3. PJ says:

    Good Morning Jorge,
    This is indeed disheartening statistics. I will be back to comment in detail. Thank you, as always, for being a kind and caring gentleman, as well as MY friend.
    Until Next Time…Keep Smiling.

  4. Marge says:

    Again I have learned a thing of importance from you, Jorge; thank you.
    I\’m wondering this moment about the statistics for poverty in the US and will do some research for adding my voice to the bloggers\’ poverty event later today.
    I\’ve never gone hungry a day in my life. I have only once in my life fallen asleep in a place where I felt vulnerable and afraid for my survival. I HAVE wasted food. That last thing shames me more than I can say…
    Thank you for the wake-up call.
    As ever,

  5. Fenix says:

    Hello Jorge:
     It\’s a pity, people prefer to look at toward another side… Congratulations, this is a great post

  6. Lisa says:

    Jorge, I always learn something new with you.  I had no idea that today was specifically designated for bloggers to share ideas & perspective about poverty.  Thanks for sharing what you\’ve shared here.  As I was reading through your post, it was so easy for me to put real faces to these statistics – here in the US and in 3rd World Countries.  It\’s interesting what we consider "normal" and our basic "rights" when, in fact, we\’re incredibly fortunate and incredibly blessed …

  7. Joe says:

    Hi J,
    Stats I was painfully aware of anyway.  I do give to the local food closets because I know what their little homeless camps look like.  I don\’t want to wake up in one.  I\’m lucky to be employed, but that is a tenuous handhold in the tech sector.  I\’ve lost one-third of my retirement (in "safe investments") in two weeks.  The effect ripples through the entire economy (globally speaking).  I no longer look forward to retirement.  I think I will die before I get there.  I will just do what I can to keep a sense of humor.
    Best Wishes,

  8. dawn says:

    tickled me good, the short verse:)thank you, dear Jorge!im gonna hafta lookup this bloke—Ogden Nash.

  9. dawn says:

    uh oh! ust looked up Ogden Nash. been through some of his work, im sorry to say that im unsure of the why but idontlike this contemporary writer\’s style 😛 do you?

  10. Gayle says:

    You  always bring a much needed thoughtulness to the world in which we Live.    Thank you.

  11. Kathryn says:

    ah, what sobering stats…. 😦

  12. Evelyn says:

    These stats are absolutely appalling ! I think of how much money Bush spent on the Iraq war. Now what do you suppose we could\’ve done with the money spent on an unwinable war? Save more than a few lives that\’s what ! This makes so me angry. What\’s the answer? 
                                               The Castle Lady

  13. Holy says:

    The most salient message here is not the stats, it\’s the notion of one.  It only takes reaching out to one, starting within that one mile radius of home, as you say.  Deeds not creeds.  InDeed, my friend.  Well said.

  14. sweeti's says:

    as i wrote time ago
    every 5 secods a baby  dies
    its horrible..Im aware of this unfairness.
    i invite u to come and see the  Egypt pics
    i saw poor  ppl  there  Jorge….
    even IN Cairo. a city wth 18.000.000inhabitants
    Bye now

  15. barbara says:

    I often wonder if people who live in poverty know they live in poverty. Most certainly, those that have had and then have not, know. But the human spirit can sometimes make a life out of what others might consider \’destitute\’ conditions. Starvation conditions are the worst of humanity, lack of good water and food… My family history, as immigrants coming through the \’door\’ of New York harbor in the early 20th century, placed them in poverty but they were given the resources to build. That seems to be what needs to given to others, resources.Thanks for your kind words, Jorge.

  16. Bittersweet on-the-hill. says:

    Hello Jorge,
    I read your post and yes, world poverty is very sobering. I\’ve heard or read these statistics somewhere else and yes, how easy it is to say that the problem is so much bigger than what we can contribute so why bother.
    Several years ago I was introduced to the Heifer Society via the Oprah Show. It is a program where you buy an animal and it is given to an impoverished family in the world. You buy a heifer, a goat, some sheep, chickens, rabbits etc.  or even seedlings to help start forrests for wood, fuel etc. The theory goes, you buy a goat; the manure fertilizes the garden, the milk helps feed a family, the access mild is sold to neighbors so that the children can go to school and when the goat has kids, you give that kid to another neighbor so the cycle continues.  Soon there are "more riches" in the village and hope is perpetuated.
    One of my biggest pleasures each holiday season is to determine whether I want to donate a heifer, or four goats or four sheep etc. and then I see what a flock of baby chicks can do and a flock of ducks, or seedlings etc. I have for several years now made a committment to the Heifer Society, to the University that gave me my education and to Habitate for Humanity. It is very easy to say "well next year," or "when I have more money" or "there are many richer than myself" but I have limited my holiday giving and decided that the holidays are about our holiday dinner, the Christmas tree with the heirloom ornament and that little space within that lets me know I can smile knowing someone elses life is a little richer and or easier with the livestock that will make all the difference in the world. 
    I don\’t have an answer about how we solve the problem of poverty in the world,  I do know  that many programs haven\’t work but where recipients such as Heifer and Habitate where you must pass on some of your efforts or contribute hours of work toward the construction o their home.  When the recipients contribute or assume responsibility and in some cases, pass on their "fruits," it is more likely that we will see success.
    While I \’m not a Bill Gates, I feel I can contribute an animal or two.  Peace.    Bittersweet

  17. Jana says:

    I am surprised how many people in America live in poverty. You would think when America is one of the most developed countries that it can\’t be possible. But I was pretty wrong.

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