Simple Ways to Reduce Global Poverty Amid COVID-19


SEATTLE, Washington — Reducing global poverty requires global support, both on an individual and governmental scale. Amid the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, the address of systemic racism and an expected economic recession, it is vital that efforts to reduce extreme poverty are not being neglected. According to the World Bank’s June 2020 Global Economic Prospects report, the COVID-19 pandemic could push 171 million people into poverty. This development would be the first upslope of global extreme poverty since 1998 and would disregard the progress made on ending extreme poverty since 2017. In light of this, it is crucial to understand and implement simple ways to reduce global poverty amid COVID-19.

Awareness: What is Poverty?

People worldwide must first comprehend global extreme poverty. How extreme poverty affects disadvantaged populations and how to properly combat it. The World Bank defines extreme poverty as living on less than $1.90 a day. However, they have since adjusted this definition for different countries relative to their appropriate “level of consumption or income.”

As a result, this new definition introduced around two billion people into the extreme poverty category. This targeted focus on extreme poverty is imperative as not all countries with citizens living in extreme poverty need the same resources and aid. For example, the Democratic Republic of the Congo struggles with cholera and tuberculosis outbreaks in tandem with a lack of comprehensive medical care. One of the primary ways to help this country is by improving transportation and building roads for citizens in remote areas to travel to medical clinics.

Acknowledging Nation-Specific Needs

If we do not understand how to help in ways that are nation-specific, we may end up doing more harm than good. A prime example of this mindset is the PlayPump that was invented to help pump water in Africa. It was designed as a playground for children that doubled as a water pump.

However, this PlayPump needed “constant force” to operate, which led to exhausted women pushing it throughout the day as the children would often grow tired of the added weight in the roundabout water pump. It also required frequent maintenance, contributing to the undue and increased financial and physical burdens. Furthermore, the PlayPump was a top-down initiative that didn’t consider its constituents.

For instance, in Zambia, citizens did not even want the PlayPump to begin with and instead hoped for a simple, revamped handpump. Overall, it is essential to learn how we can make the best contributions by examining the needs of each country and, from there, determining the best course of action based also on community interests.

Donation: a Little Goes a Long Way

Secondly, monetary donations do not have to break the bank and be complicated. For example, the Against Malaria Foundation reveals that preventing malaria most effectively comes down to sleeping under a mosquito net. These insecticide-treated mosquito nets only cost around $2 apiece.

Additionally, an easy way to donate is by adding browser extensions to computers. Extensions like Amazon Smile donate a percentage of online purchases to charitable organizations. Therefore, whether you are a student or a minimum-wage worker, there are always simple ways for individuals to reduce global poverty.

Initiative: Talk to Your Representatives and Local Charities

Thirdly, appeal to your state’s Senators and Representatives. They play a major role in allocating funding and passing budgets related to global poverty. For example, the International Affairs Budget and acts such as the End Tuberculosis Now Act are influential to global poverty reduction and disease prevention efforts. These budgets and acts are also currently in front of the House and Senate. Reaching out to representatives and expressing support for these acts can help ensure their existence and enaction in the near future.

Lastly, another simple way for individuals to reduce global poverty is to double-check the charities they contribute to. Websites such as Charity Navigator and GuideStar break down the ethics, leadership, financials and effectiveness of charities worldwide to ensure that donors are giving to the right places for the right reasons. These websites also indicate how organizations distribute donation dollars for administrative fees.

There are many simple ways for individuals to reduce global poverty, even amid COVID-19. While these paths also consist of monetary donations, the most crucial step is to educate oneself on how to properly contribute one’s time, money and resources to these worthy causes.

—Sophia McWilliams
Photo: Flickr


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