While preparing for a service, I read up on poverty and our use (rater abuse) of the creation. Firstly, the stats were amazing. Here are a few things I’ve picked up…
- At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day
- More than 80 percent of the world’s population lives in countries where income differentials are widening.
- The poorest 40 percent of the world’s population accounts for 5 percent of global income. The richest 20 percent accounts for three-quarters of world income.
- According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty. And they “die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.”
- Around 27-28 percent of all children in developing countries are estimated to be underweight or stunted. The two regions that account for the bulk of the deficit are South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
- Some 1.1 billion people in developing countries have inadequate access to water, and 2.6 billion lack basic sanitation.
- In 2005, the wealthiest 20% of the world accounted for 76.6% of total private consumption. The poorest fifth just 1.5%
- The poorest 10% accounted for just 0.5% and the wealthiest 10% accounted for 59% of all the consumption
- The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the 41 Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (567 million people) is less than the wealth of the world’s 7 richest people combined.
- The total wealth of the top 8.3 million people around the world “rose 8.2 percent to $30.8 trillion in 2004, giving them control of nearly a quarter of the world’s financial assets.” In other words, about 0.13% of the world’s population controlled 25% of the world’s financial assets in 2004.
- A mere 12 percent of the world’s population uses 85 percent of its water, and these 12 percent do not live in the Third World.
- Here are the top 25 most greedy resource consumers per capita as of 2008:
- Almost half the world — over three billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day.
- South Africa ranks second in the greatest gap between rich and poor.
- These are the most equal societies.
In closing, I’m amazed of how privileged we are. Even if we can list a book of all the problems in South Africa, we are still very much privileged. How many of us are classified as “living in poverty”. Yes, all of us wish we could have a bit more, but not many of us live on less than R350 /month. Looking at the stats above, most of us actually fall in the 20% group of world population.
Do we not have an obligation to the poor? Many people in rich countries doesn’t ask “what do we do with the shortage on our budget”, but rather, “what do we do with the excess”. Instead of giving to the poor, we go out and expand our lifestyle. Not that is wrong per se, but as Christians, we do have an obligation to the poor and needy. We are the bearers of Good News, of hope!