Absolute Poverty - Its Causes And Cures
Objectives : after reading this section you should
To paraphrase Robert McNamara, a former Chairman of the World Bank, one can define absolute poverty as a condition of life so degraded by disease, illiteracy, malnutrition, and squalor as to deny its victims basic human necessities.
Poverty has increased in relative and absolute terms since the 1970's in the
There are more people living in poverty, in the 1990's than there were in the 1970's, and the condition of many of these people has worsened.
|Table 4 provides us with detailed
|The map to your right (copyright World Bank) shows the percentage of the population with access to clean water in 1995.|
Click on the map for greater detail
You are about 60% water. Without food, you could probably live for several weeks; without water you would only live a few days. We all need water, and clean water at that, yet about 90% of all urban sewage is discharged into rivers, lakes, and coastal water ways without any treatment. Water is essential for life, yet in 1995, more than one billion people in low- and middle-income countries, and an additional 50 million people in high-income countries lacked access to safe water for drinking, personal hygiene and domestic use. This represents nearly 25 percent of the worlds 5.7 billion people. In addition, close to 2 billion people did not have access to adequate sanitation facilities.
On average, a person needs about 20 litres of safe water each day to meet his or her metabolic, hygienic, and domestic needs. Without safe water, people cannot lead healthy, productive lives. For example, an estimated 900 million people sufferand approximately 2 million diefrom water-related diarrheal illnesses each year. Most, but not all, of these people live in low- and middle-income countries, and those at greatest risk are children and the elderly. Millions more people worldwide suffer from other water-related diseases, such as bilharzia, cholera, elephantiasis and hookworm.
Improvements in water supply and sanitation tend to lead to improvements in peoples health and the quality of their lives. Throughout history, when people have had an adequate supply of safe water and have been able to practice good hygiene, they have been healthier and have had a better chance of living longer.
Access to safe water is critical to economies and ecosystems, too, and a scarcity of safe water can directly affect long-term prospects for sustainable development. Without an adequate water supply, factories that depend on water may have to close temporarily; crop yields may decline; sick workers may be unproductive; fisheries may be destroyed. The destruction of aquatic life not only cuts into the economy, but also damages the ecosystem. In addition, lack of a reliable system of piped water can prompt people to sink their own wells and deplete the fresh water supply. Air quality can also be affected by shortages of safe water. When people boil household water to kill dangerous bacteria, the fuel they burn can pollute the air. And when they use wood or charcoal as their source of fuel, forests can be destroyed causing additional environmental problems, including erosion and loss of top soil.
Getting water is more difficultand often more expensivefor the poorest people. In rural areas of developing countries, many women and children spend hoursin extreme cases up to six to eight hourseach day hauling water from rivers or wells. In cities, the poor often do not have water piped to their property; instead, they must buy or take water from other sources. In some countries, only about a third of the population has water piped to either their home or yard. People buying water from other sources may have to pay three to ten times what piped water costs in an area.
Moreover, the rapid growth of cities throughout the world can strain the capacity of governments to provide adequate sanitary facilities, leaving inhabitants, especially the poor, to live amid unhealthy open sewage ditches. Untreated sewage also tends to contaminate the water reserves closest to the cities,forcing communities to pipe water from further and further away as cities expand.
Parts of this section have been taken from World Bank sources.
Follow this link for more detailed statistics on access to clean water and adequate sanitation. This statistics provide urban and rural comparisons.
Source : ''Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Monitoring Report 1996''
- Sector status as of 31 December 1994 -
Published by the World Health Organisation
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