Poverty and United Nations

Topics: United Nations, Poverty, Development Pages: 9 (3325 words) Published: November 21, 2012
The word ‘poverty’ is used in everyday discourse, and appears to be understood by many people. However, it is difficult to define, and a definition has been argued over by many researchers. This is because there is no single definition of poverty. Dyson (2008) has asserted that the two most commonly used concepts relating to poverty are relative and absolute poverty. Cunningham and Cunningham (2008) have defined absolute poverty as a lack of basic necessities such as food, clothing and shelter. The same authors have also asserted that absolute poverty emphasises physical needs, rather than cultural or social needs. Townsend (1979) has defined relative poverty as when individuals, families and groups in the population lack the resources needed to participate in the activities and have the living conditions, diet and amenities which are customary or at least widely encouraged or approved of, in the societies to which they belong. Haralambos et al (2000), when defining poverty as a lack of material resources, gave the example that in British society, poverty is a shortage of the money required to buy the commodities which are judged to be necessary in order to maintain an acceptable standard of living. The same authors have also argued that multiple forms of deprivation, such as inadequate educational opportunities, unpleasant ant working conditions or powerlessness, can all be regarded as aspects of poverty. Robert chambers referred to the idea of poverty as a multi-dimensional issue ref lecting clusters of disadvantages. His theory covered five dimensions of poverty which could on their own or together make an individual or household poor. These are poverty proper, physical weakness, isolation, vulnerability and powerlessness. The author argued that each of the poverty aspects is itself a cluster of disadvantage which can act as a deprivation trap locking people into poverty. The poor suffer from severe physical weakness. There is a high dependency ratio – few earn income or produce to take care of the others. Several factors all contribute to this situation – high mortality rate, early death, disease, sickness and malnutrition, migration, disability long hours of tedious work and low farm productivity.

Often the poor household is isolated from the outside world, trade and other economic activities, from discussion, communication and information. They cannot access government services/facilities because of ignorance and illiteracy. Their children do not go to school, do not do very well or drop out.

The household has very limited buffers and hence highly vulnerable. Lives from hand to mouth and any disaster such as crop failure, flood or epidemics can be devastating. They borrow from relatives and few friends and often end up in debt spirals.

The poor is particularly disadvantage. He/she is usually ignorant of his rights, lacks legal advice. Consequently, he/she is often exploited by the rich and powerful. He negotiates from point of weakness and often he is owed his wages for long periods

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Over 1.2 billion people - one in every five on Earth - live on less than $1 (U.S) a day. This essay is a brief discussion and examination of poverty, its causes and effects (including hunger), and some of theoretical poverty alleviation approaches. The most logical place to start, therefore, is a discussion of poverty as a global issue. I will begin by defining poverty, both absolute and relative as well as from both the orthodox and alternative points of view. Having defined poverty, I will look into the different causes and effects of poverty and the importance of these causes and effects. I believe it is crucial to understand why we must care about global poverty and therefore I will discuss a couple of arguments against helping the poor before moving on to a critical discussion of development theories. I can not examine every development theory posed however I...
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