I thought it would be really easy to find out what percentage of the world’s population subsists on less than $1USD a day. It’s one of the UN Millenium Development Goals, in fact, to halve that number. Everything I Google, though, wants to divide it out by continent, or by country.
74% of Zimbabwe’s people live on less than $1USD value from 2004. Yes, okay, that’s a lot of people. In one country. The poverty line for folks in the US is $26.10USD. That’s interesting. Not what I need.
Finally, a hard number, from 2001:
As of 2001, 1.1 billion people, or 21% of the 2001 world population, had incomes less than the World Bank’s ‘$1 a day’ line for extreme poverty. 2.7 billion people had incomes less than the World Bank’s ‘$2 a day’ line for poverty.
The numbers seem huge, too huge to do anything about. I’m sucking down a $2USD cup of coffee right now as I write this. Do I salve my conscience with the fact it’s direct trade?
Well, yeah. I’m only human.
I can’t stop there, though. I can’t stop with a warm fuzzy feeling because I spent the extra money and got the slightly-more ethically correct coffee. I’m a Christian. Jesus has this annoying habit of telling people to sell everything and give the money to the poor.
I haven’t quite gotten to that point yet. But I am looking at what I own and what I don’t need. I’m looking at my money and determining exactly how much I need to survive. I’m stretching myself to give as much as I can.
Last year, as much as I could give was only a few dollars. There’s an interesting phenomenon I’ve noticed, though, about practicing giving.
It becomes easier.
The $2 cups of coffee go from once a day to once a week. The cable package becomes smaller. There’s more beans than beefsteak in the fridge.
Looking for something to do now?
Episcopal Relief and Development
United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund