MADISON, Wisconsin — To many, the idea of finding solutions to poverty is a big and seemingly impossible undertaking, considering that 1.4 billion people in developing countries live on less than $1.25 a day. Another 842 million people, or one in eight people, do not have enough to eat, today. Almost two billion people lack access to clean water and 22,000 children die each day due to conditions of poverty.
These kinds of statistics are discouraging. What hope is there for poverty reduction? Are there solutions to poverty, and if so, what are they?
The good news is that there are solutions to poverty, they can happen, and poverty can be radically reduced, if not completely eradicated. Here are 10 extremely effective solutions to poverty to illustrate that ending poverty is not impossible.
1. Creating Good Jobs
Creating jobs, both in the United States and abroad, is a great way to reduce poverty. When people have jobs, they have income, and when people have income, they can more easily get themselves out of poverty. The U.N. says that “unemployment and underemployment lies at the core of poverty. For the poor, labor is often the only asset they can use to improve their well-being.”
Source: U.N. Poverty
2. Educating Women
The education of girls and women impacts the rest of the societies in which these girls and women live. A woman’s degree of education is linked to the age at which she marries and has children, to her health and diseases, to her economic opportunities, to her social standing, and to her general future wellbeing. Educating girls and women can reduce poverty in developing nations, as well as in the United States.
Photo: Foundation Center
3. Raising Wages
The United States hasn’t raised the federal minimum wage since 2007. Because of this, right now, “A full-time worker with two children earning the minimum wage will still raise his or her family in poverty.” And this is an issue in almost every other country, especially in developing nations. Raising the minimum wages could potentially increase the health and wellbeing of millions.
Source: American Progress
Photo: Online Actions
Microfinance is defined as the “supply of loans, savings, and other basic financial services to the poor.” Right now, only about 10 percent of the global population has access to traditional banking, according to the Gates Foundation. However, using microfinance, people who are unemployed or who have a low income could get small loans to help them become self-sufficient. An organization called Kiva has provided more than $329 million to 786,000 borrowers, with a repayment rate of 98.97%. Microfinance is a promising way to alleviate poverty.
Photo: The Digerati Life
5. Gender Equality
As the U.N. Development Programme says, “when women have equal access to education, and go on to participate fully in business and economic decision-making, they are a key driving force against poverty.” Not only this, but better gender equality raises household incomes and “translates into better prospects and greater well-being of children,” which is a smart way reduce the poverty for future generations as well as our own.
Source: U.N. Development Programme
Photo: Fii Voluntar
6. Transparency in Government Spending
Creating transparency in government spending of money can help reduce corruption in governments. When governments are accountable to their citizens for their action, or inaction, in different areas of the federal budget, the citizens will be able to accurately assess how well their leaders are leading their country. Also, it allows citizens to see if money is being taken away from poverty-reduction plans and into the pockets of their leaders, which could be a cause of a stagnant economy or job market.
Source: Arbitrage Magazine
Photo: AZ Capitol Times
7. Canceling National Debts
As mentioned by Share the World’s Resources, “It is internationally recognized that the debt burden of the world’s poorest, most indebted countries has to be tackled if they are to set themselves on a path of sustainable growth, development, and poverty reduction.” This is why the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have created the Initiative for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPCs). The initiative helps with the debt relief to currently 23 poor countries (mostly in Africa) that are committed to eradicating poverty. There have been successes in a few countries thus far, and this initiative can help governments “get back on their feet” so that they can focus on developing for the future instead of trying to pay back what was spent in the past.
Source: Share the World’s Resources, International Monetary Fund
Photo: Intellectual Takeout
8. Access to Healthcare
The President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, says that he believes “universal health insurance coverage in all countries can help achieve a goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030.” He says that because about 100 million people are pushed into extreme poverty every year by having to spend money on health issues, and that because health issues push about another 150 million into severe financial hardship, universal health insurance could greatly relieve poverty, globally.
9. Access to Clean Water and Sanitation
The World Bank says that access to clean water and sanitation is “one of the most cost-effective development interventions, and is critical for reducing poverty.” The reasons for this are that women can use the time that they would have spent fetching water to work and produce more, agricultural production could increase, and the costs of services and goods could go down. Not only that, but because diseases caused by unsafe drinking water and poor sanitation cause “the most significant child health problems worldwide,” having access to clean water could significantly lower the healthcare burden for many of these many children.
Source: World Bank
Photo: Green Earth Systems
10. Nutrition, Especially in Infants
Adequate nutrition is an incredibly important indicator of a person’s ability to get out of poverty, later in life. Those who are malnourished from the time of conception to 24 months, postpartum “have a higher risk of lifelong physical and mental disability.” Because of this, they are “often trapped in poverty,” and are not able to make the full contribution to the “social and economic development of their households and communities, as adults.”
Sources: The Hunger Project, World Bank
These 10 solutions to poverty illustrate that while there is a difficult road ahead, there is a viable path forward in pursuit of alleviating global poverty and creating a world in which all people can prosper.
– Taylor Prinsen
Feature Image: Celebration of Life