Jim Yong Kim, the President of the World Bank, recently urged the international community to join in the effort to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030. In order to do so, the staggering number of global citizens who live on less than $1.25/day and thus are considered to be below the poverty line needs to reduced to one seventh of its current size. Recent estimates show that roughly one fifth of the world’s population is considered to be in extreme poverty, and Mr. Kim’s proposed initiatives would seek to reduce that figure to 3 percent in the next 17 years.
The most impoverished countries in the world are often located in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. According to the most recent Multidimensional Poverty Index conducted by Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative, the 10 poorest countries in the world are all African ones. Many countries on this list, like Somalia and Mali, face significant development roadblocks due to their ongoing violent conflicts. Others suffer from poor governance or a history of destructive civil war. No matter what the reason, the vicious cycle of poverty imposed on an entire nation of people has disastrous effects, both immediately and for generations to come.
One great example of a country taking its poverty problems seriously is Brazil, where a unique cash-transfer program has helped to bring the country “close to eradicating extreme poverty,” according to its leader Dilma Rousseff. This project, known as Bolsa Familia, allows families that sign up to receive small amounts of cash on a regular basis. Since its inception, income inequality has dropped by nearly 20%. However, these transfers are conditional. Families on the Bolsa Familia program must comply with certain specifications; some include that their children must be vaccinated, the mothers must receive proper prenatal care training, and that children must attend school until age 17 with sufficient attendance.
By calling the international community to action, Jim Yong Kim shines the spotlight of one of the world’s largest and most important financial organizations on the plague of extreme global poverty. If these untenable circumstances are not alleviated, humanity as a whole will continue to suffer for the neglect of its least well-off.
— Jake Simon