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Some Frequently Asked Questions

What is poverty? / How many people are affected? / Why is this such a big problem? / Isn't the cost of living less in developing countries? / Why is removing poverty a good solution? / How will taking part in the challenge help these people? / How will doing the challenge help me? / Why should I do the challenge? / How long will the challenge last? / Why $2 and not £2? / Surely you can't live on so little!?

What is poverty?

  • The World Bank and United Nations both say that people in developing countries can be defined as living in poverty when they have to live on less than US$2 a day on average, spread out over the course of a year. Below this amount of money, most people cannot afford basic essentials such as adequate food and shelter and are therefore truly impoverished.
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How many people are effected?

  • The World Bank estimated in 1998 that 2.8 billion people in the world live on less than $2 a day, mostly in developing countries. Since then studies have shown that there are now less people below the $2 a day line, but this good news is only part of the story; the number of people living on less than $1 a day (the UN level of extreme poverty) has increased. Every year, the situation is getting worse for hundreds of millions of people.
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Why is this such a big problem?

  • With so many images of wars, famine and AIDS tearing across Africa, it is difficult to see why poverty is the biggest problem, wouldn't it be better to fight these other issues first? While poverty may not seem like headline news, it is often the root of these problems, and many more. Most famines in Africa could be prevented if people could afford to buy food from other countries when their crops fail. Donating food grown in Europe and America to starving Africans can actually prolong dependence on aid, because in most cases famine is caused not by lack of food, but by millions of people being unable to afford to buy food being grown right next door. There is enough food grown in the world to feed everyone on the planet, but some people can afford a lot more than others. (In fact Lappé, Collins and Rosset (1998) calculate there is enough food grown in the world to make everyone obese!)

    Conflict can also be partly blamed on poverty, when people are desperate for land and food they will fight for it, and different factions will group together to protect their own interests at the expense of others.

    HIV/AIDS too is rooted in poverty, when desperate to put food on the table many women turn to prostitution, greatly increasing their chances of catching sexually transmitted diseases. And for those who already have HIV, most cannot afford treatment.
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Isn't the cost of living less in developing countries?
  • Yes, this is true - the cost of food and living is less in economically poor countries. However, the poverty line of $2 a day is adjusted for something called "Purchasing Power Parities". This is a way to try and remove the difference in the cost of living between countries by converting currencies, not just on their market value, but also by working out the cost of a 'basket' of goods like bread, clothes and other things in each country. That cost is then compared between different countries and using an average figure, a real cost of living is calcualated. This means that theoretically $2 in PPP money will buy the same amount food in the USA, UK and India. In practice it's a lot more complicated than this, but PPP evens out the difference a little.
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Why is removing poverty a good solution?

  • You've probably heard of the analogy of the fisherman - give a man a fish and he can eat for a day, but give him a fishing rod and he can feed himself for life. Well, it actually goes a bit beyond that. If you teach someone to actually make a fishing rod, he can not only feed himself, but make fishing rods to sell to other people, who can also feed themselves and our fisherman can make money to buy clothes and rice to go with his fish.

    This is how poverty reduction needs to work - not with handouts, but solutions that help the whole economy and society. Importing fishing rods from developed countries doesn't help as much as if all the materials and labor are sourced locally, then all kinds of related jobs are created - and the whole country is richer, and has the means to keep making more money. This means that the nation won't need to keep relying on handouts and loans. Removing poverty in a sustainable and practical way like this will reduce suffering of millions of people as a long term solution, not a quick fix.
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How will taking part in the challenge help these people?

  • The primary aim of the challenge is to spread awareness of the problems of poverty, both to the public and governments and decision makers. If people make a serious commitment to show that they want to see global impoverishment eradicated, governments will take notice and implement polices that will really help people in developing countries. People Pressure has been invaluble in securing debt relief as part of the Jubilee 2000 campaign, and for reducing the cost of AIDS drugs in the developing world. Never let anyone tell you that campaigning doesn't work!

    Plus there is a lot that individuals can do, such as buying fair trade products - and the more people know how this can make a difference, the more people are helped. We also encourage people to get themselves sponsored for the week from friends and family, and pledge the money they would have spent on food to help people in another country through a charity like ActionAid, Oxfam, People and Planet or whoever you like.
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How will doing the challenge help me?

  • Not only will you be helping others and learning about the plight of the world's poor, taking part will teach you how to live on a budget - useful when money gets tight and for stretching those student loans! We'll show you how to cook for yourself really cheaply, and how to turn basic foods to proper delicious fresh meals - no more expensive bland microwave dinners and pasta everyday. The week will also have fun social events, and will be a great opportunity to meet other people, or do it with a group of friends! Help out running the challenge and get some good experience to put on your CV, and what you learn might help out in your economics/geography/development/politics classes. We really want this to be fun, as well as have a serious message, and it doesn't need a huge time commitment.
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Why should I do the challenge?

  • The more people join in, the bigger the voice against poverty, and the more chance we have of getting recognised in national and local media. But most importantly we really want this to be fun as well as having a serious message, people that took part last year really enjoyed it, and said that they felt it was a lot easier to associate with a lot of issues they were hearing about. It also doesn't need a huge time commitment, and has been designed not to get in the way of work or studies. And it's totally flexible, you can do the challenge how ever works best for you, there isn't a set of rules that state exactly how everything must be done.
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How long will the challenge last?
  • One week exactly, from 7pm Friday to 7pm next Friday. Living one or two days wouldn't be much of a challenge, we are not going to be going hungry, but should be eating proper full meals.
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Why $2 and not £2?
  • The global agreed poverty level is $2 a day, which is about £1.30. To simplify the maths and also have a more catchy title than "The Roughly £1.30 A Day Challenge", we decided to make the challenge to live on $2 a day, £9.10 for the whole week.
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Surely you can't live on so little money?

  • Well, we are only talking about food here - we don't including things like rent, fuel bills, taxes and toilet rolls, just what you eat. It is possible, lots of people have done it before! And we will show you how to spend your money so that you don't go hungry  - the aim of the challenge is not for people to suffer, it's an exercise, not a fast. We promise you can eat plenty of filling food really cheaply; just go and look even in a supermarket how much basic foods like rice, pasta, noodles and potatoes are when brought in bulk - it can be done, but you might have to cut down on chocolate and ice cream. And stop calling me Shirley.
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Ok, so how do I do it?