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Essay on Poverty

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  • November 2010
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Poverty does not have one clear definition. It is a complicated, multi-faceted concept. For this essay the term 'poverty' will be used to mean a lack of access to basic resources including food, clean water, sanitation, education and capital. The orthodox approach to development sees poverty as 'a situation suffered by people who do not have the money to buy food and satisfy other basic material needs. There are many causes and effects of poverty. The most obvious effect of poverty is hunger; however hunger can also be a cause of poverty. This is because hunger deprives those living in absolute poverty of the skill and strength to carry out productive work. Voicelessness/powerlessness is a cause and effect of poverty because people living in absolute poverty often have no political power and are subjected to exploitation by the state. They lack protection, and report widespread corruption within state education and health care systems. Poor people in many countries speak of being kept waiting endlessly while the rich of the country go to the head of the queue. Situations like these create more problems for those already in absolute poverty, and continue to divide the rich from the poor without providing any help. The problem with a lack of voice and power as a cause of poverty is that it enforces a lack of voice and power as an effect of poverty, creating a continuous cycle that deliberately separates the poor of a country from the rich. The last major cause and effect of poverty that is covered in this essay is vulnerability. Natural disasters, economic crises, and conflict leave the poor very vulnerable, with nobody to help and a lack of resources to use to help themselves. This idea is best expressed through the story of a poor villager from Benin, in the World Development Report 2000/2001: Attacking Poverty. 'Three years ago was a very bad year. The flood washed away all our crops, and there was a lot of hunger around here, to the point that many people...