Can You Live on Less than $1.50 a Day?

> Posted by Center Staff

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Globally, about 1.2 billion people live in extreme poverty, surviving on less than $1.25 a day. This is a huge number of people, roughly four times the population of the United States. Yet it is a smaller percentage of the world’s population than ever before – 17 percent of people living in developing countries lived in extreme poverty in 2011, compared to 43 percent in 1990. But we cannot be satisfied until extreme poverty disappears. The World Bank has put forth the goal of reducing the proportion of people living in extreme poverty to 3 percent or less of the world’s population by 2030.

Live Below the Line, which begins one month from today, is an opportunity to support the eradication of extreme poverty and gain some valuable perspective on what it’s like to live with such meager means. The global movement challenges individuals to live on a food budget of $1.50 a day for five days: April 27 – May 1. The set-up is simple. During the time leading up to Live Below the Line week, you pick one of 20 organizations targeting poverty elimination, then spread the word among your circles and gather fundraising support for your chosen organization. During the five days of living below the line, you and your team get a sense for the hardships that so many individuals around the world endure. To make the challenge more practical, the $1.50 budget only includes food and drink – not transport, health, or housing expenses.

Over the past three years, Live Below the Line has attracted over 30,000 participants and raised $8 million. This year, the 20 participating organizations include several microfinance organizations, CARE and Opportunity International, as well as organizations targeting hunger, AIDs, refugee support, clean water, and education.

The Live Below the Line website offers a helpful snapshot of progress made and what remains in the mission to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015:

  • Extreme poverty rates have been cut in half since 1990; still 1 in 8 people globally don’t get enough food to live a healthy and active life.
  • Primary education enrollment in developing countries has expanded to 90 percent of children; however, 57 million children remain out of the system.
  • Gender equality has been achieved in primary school participation; substantial gaps remain in later education, work, and other areas.
  • 17,000 fewer children die each day than in 1990; currently 6 million children die before their fifth birthday each year.
  • Maternal mortality has decreased by 47 percent since 1990; yet still only half of women in developing countries receive recommended health care during pregnancy.
  • HIV medications were received by 9.7 million people in 2012; though available statistics indicate that 7 million people lacked access to antiretroviral therapy for HIV in 2011.
  • Malaria deaths were prevented for 1.1 million individuals over the past 10 years; 80 percent of malaria deaths occur in just 14 countries.
  • Clean drinking water access was gained by 2.1 billion people since 1990; 2.5 billion people still don’t have basic sanitation like toilets and latrines.

To get involved, visit the Live Below the Line website. Be sure to take advantage of the available participant resources including a recipe book, videos from previous participants, and tips for engaging your office, school, faith group, or media outlets.

Have you read?

Two ‘Wars’ – One on Cancer, Another on Poverty

The App Changing the Way We Look at Poverty

Truelift’s Progress and Future in Pursuit of Transparency and Accountability in Poverty Alleviation Efforts