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Where does this figure come from?

$2 a day is the global poverty line below which people are defined as living in poverty. The World Bank produces estimates of the number of people living in poverty, and in 2004 they estimated that in 2001 2.7 billion people were living on less than $2 a day. Of these, 1.1 billion people lived on less than $1 a day, the level of extreme poverty

What's wrong with living in poverty?

For people growing their own food in subsistence economies, not having money may not seem like a pressing problem - as long as they are able to grow enough to eat. However in many countries, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, growing population is leading to increasing levels of malnourishment, as the land is unable to provide for increasing numbers of people. Also poor people are unable to pay to educate their children or pay for basic health care and simple medical treatments. Poor people are usually not those that are too lazy to work, often there just aren't jobs, and getting a good job is difficult when you can't afford to go to school.

It would also be true to say that money goes further in less developed countries, so $2 in the USA (or 1.20 in the UK) doesn't buy as much food as $2 worth of rupees does in India. However these statistics are based on Purchasing Power Parities (PPP's) which is a way of adjusting monetary statistics so that currencies buy the same amount of goods and services from one country to another. While this is not a perfect measure (see links below for discussion) it means that $2 adjusted for PPP's should buy the same amount of food in Sheffield that it does in Nairobi.

Many people live in poverty in the UK too. 15.7% of people in the UK live on less than 7.50 a day (UN HDR 2002) and that's including food, rent, taxes, transport, everything. To put it in perspective, thats roughly how much rent an average student room costs, with 50p left over for food - not much for beer money! All we want you to do is live on 1.30 of food a day for one week.
Poverty in Sheffield means that you can expect to live 10 years longer in Hallam than you can in Burngreave, a region in Sheffield that like 3 other wards is in the top 1% of the most impoverished districts in the country (Church Action on Poverty 2003).

Take a stand against poverty on your own doorstep.

Poverty is bad.
Poverty is racist.
Poverty is sexist.
Poverty leads to sickness.
Poverty leads to illiteracy.
Poverty leads to homelessness.
Poverty leads to malnourishment.
Poverty leads to prostitution.
Poverty leads to AIDS.

Poverty leads to more poverty.

What can I do?

The easiest thing a single person can do is to buy stuff.
You can make a real difference by buying things that come from developing countries, especially if it is fair trade. Fair trade products are goods like coffee, chocolate, and bananas where more of your money goes to the farmers not the profits of big companies and importers.

You can lobby for debt relief.
Guyana spends over 16% of all the money it earns as a country on paying debt interest, yet only 5% on education (UN HDR 2002). In the Jubilee 2000 campaign got governments in developed nations to pledge to cancel $111bn of debt owed by 52 of the poorest countries in the world. If countries are not tied to debt payments, and demands from institutions such as the IMF that they make interest payment a priority over heath care expenditure, they have more money to spend on development and reducing poverty.

Speak out about agricultural subsidies.
Europe spends 60bn a year in subsidizing farmers so they can produce food cheaper than developing countries, hence protecting local farmers. This money comes from your taxes to pay farmers to make food for you at higher costs than if they were imported. Undoubtedly this is good to protect farmers, and we are told to protect our economy too. However the total value of agriculture to the US economy for example is only 1.4% of Gross Domestic Product (US Census Bureau), and consumers pay double taxes for their food: both in their income tax, and VAT at the till. By removing import restrictions and subsidies, and buying more food from poorer countries who can grow it cheaper, food prices and taxes would fall for us, and income would increase for them.
It really is a matter of us and them. Win and win.

Farmers needn't loose out either, they could still get subsidised for 'Growing British' but for the amount they sold at the checkout, not a fixed price at harvest. This would stop the productions of gluts of 'profitable' food stuffs like the EU butter mountain.

When you take part in the $2 a day challenge we want you to write to your MP and MEP's and tell them what you are doing and that you support policies to eradicate poverty, at home and abroad.

These are just 3 ways you can make a positive difference.

This year we want you to do one thing;

Raise the profile of the poor and let others know about
their problems by joining us on the $2 a day challenge.

Read More

World Bank PovertyNet project

United Nations Development Program

The Electronic Development Institute

Jubilee Debt Relief

International Monetary Fund

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