CIVICS FORM THREE TOPIC 3: POVERTY

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Indicators of Poverty
Meaning of Poverty
Define poverty
Poverty refers to a situation where a person cannot attain the minimum level of well-being. The concept of well-being can be applied to different dimensions like consumption, income, education and other basic needs.
  • Poverty is characterized by severe deprivation of basic human needs, including food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health, shelter, education and information.
  • Poverty is also characterized by lack of income and productive resources to ensure sustainable livelihoods, hunger and malnutrition, ill health, limited or lack of access to education and other basic services. Poverty also includes homelessness and inadequate housing, social discrimination and exclusion.
  • It is also characterized by lack of participation in decision making and civil, social and cultural life.
The main poverty line used in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the European Union is based on “economic distance” - a level of income set at 60% of the median household income. This states as follows:
  1. In 1985, a poverty line set as US $ 14.40 a day per person. This was suggested for industrialized countries like the USA.
  2. By 1987, a poverty line set at US $ 2 a day per person. This was suggested for Middle East and North African countries.
  3. In 1990, a poverty line set as US $ 4 a day per person. This was suggested for Latin America.
  4. In 1990, a poverty line set as US $ 4 a day per person. This was suggested for Eastern Europe and Commonwealth independent countries.
  5. In 2008, a poverty line set at US $ 1.25 a day per person. This was suggested for sub-Saharan African countries.
The International Poverty Line gives us a convenient way of understanding the state of poverty. However, it is a very blunt instrument for measuring a complex phenomenon. This is because:
  1. It does not take into account the cost of living differentials within countries. US $ 1 will buy different amounts of goods in urban and rural areas. For instance, food may cost more in urban areas.
  2. It does show who lives in permanent poverty and who lives in temporary poverty.
  3. It does not consider the distribution of income within the household. Distribution of income is sometimes affected by gender.
  4. It only values goods which are delivered in the market. In many poor countries people grow and rear food and animals respectively for their own consumption.
Different Levels and Types of Poverty
Point out different levels and types of poverty
Levels of poverty
The assessment of levels and trends of poverty is complicated by the lack of consistent information and absence of officially recognized poverty lines. This problem has forced some studies to develop and usetheir own lines. Thus, the lower lines donate basic food needs based on specific assumptions about eating habits, nutritional requirements and cost, while the upper lines cover in addition to such food requirements, and other essential needs such as clothing, housing, water and health. A poverty line of US $ 1 per day in real terms has been used by the World Bank to facilitate comparison with other countries.
The situation and level of poverty varies among community members and can be grouped into three categories depending on the degree of dependency and possession of valuable assets.
  1. The first group consists of those who have no money or possessions and have lost hope. They do not have enough food and in most cases depend on charity for survival. They are unable to sustain themselves. Most of these people are either too old or young and handicapped to work. Within this group also is a small fraction of the less poor who consist of few families - mainly single parents, widows and women married to irresponsible alcoholic husbands. They have inadequate standards of living and are often the most vulnerable in society. For those families, meeting the most basic needs is a daily struggle. These people are the source of cheap labour in communities.
  2. The second group consists of people who can meet their basic needs but do not have sufficient income to have any surplus income. This group comprises of many workers who are being paid low or insufficient salaries - asalary whichenablesthemto meet onlytheirbasic needs.
  3. The third group consists of the rich. At a village level, a rich person has all the material necessities of life such asadequate food to feed their children properly and live in good houses made of bricks and roofed with corrugated iron sheets. They are able to assist others or hire their labour. They have a reliable source of income either from livestock or agriculture. They produce in surplusandpossess valuable assets such as radios, television, bicycles, and motorcycles, and have money to purchase basic essentials like clothes.
The World Bank has set the International Poverty Line at an expenditure level of $ 1 for every person a day. This figure represents the minimal amount on which a person is considered to be living in absolute poverty, if his or her income falls below this line. By this measure, at the present time about 1.2 billion people are living below this line calculated using purchasing power abilities which take into account difference in prices of goods in different countries, and allows us to compare poverty levels internationally. However, if someone is below the poverty line it is probably the person is living in a community without access to clean water, but this is not always the case and some countries have managed to reduce elements of human poverty than income poverty.
A developing country is a nation where the average income is much lower than in industrial nations; where the economy relies on a few export crops, and where farming is conducted throughprimitive methods.
Types of poverty
  1. Absolute and relative poverty. Absolute (extreme) poverty refers to a set standard which is consistent over time and between countries. The World Bank defines extreme (absolute) poverty as living on less than US $1.25 per day, and moderate poverty as less than US $ 2 a day. It estimates that in 2001, 1.1 billion people had consumption levels below US $ 1 a day and 2.7 billion lived on less than US $ 2 a day.
  2. Relative poverty views poverty as socially defined and dependent on social context, hence relative poverty is a measure of income inequality. Usually, relative poverty is measured as the percentage of population with income less than some fixed proportion of median income. Relative poverty measures income inequality rather than material deprivation or hardships. The measurements are usually based on a person‟s yearly income and frequently take no account of total wealth.
Indicators of Poverty
Identify indicators of poverty
The indicators of poverty include high rates of morbidity and mortality, prevalence of malnutrition, illiteracy, high infant and maternal mortality rates, low life expectancy, poor quality housing, inadequate clothing, low per capital income and expenditure, as well aspoor infrastructure. Others include high fertility rates, lack of access to basic services such as safe water, food insecurity and poor technology. These features can be used to identify poor and non-poor individuals, households or communities. An individual, household or community found to be characterized by some or all of these features can be identified as being poor.
Most elements of indicators of poverty are mainly based on economic considerations. Consequently, many of these indicators are quantifiable. Recently, the definition of poverty has been further broadened. The new definitions incorporate problems of self-esteem, vulnerability to internal and external risks, exclusion from the development process and lack of social capital. The new definition of poverty captures the qualitative aspect of socio-economic well-being. A combination of the quantitative and qualitative definitions of poverty are utilized to identify who the poor are and the extent of their poverty, where they live and what they do for a living. These definitions also influence the design of pro-poor policies for economic growth, public expenditure, safety net programmes and tools for assessing the impact of programmes and projects on poverty reduction.
Generally poverty is a result of many and often mutually reinforcing factors including lack of productive resources to generate material wealth, illiteracy, prevalence of diseases, natural calamities such as floods and drought, and man-made calamities such as wars.
At the international level, an unequal economic and political partnership, as reflected in unfavourable terms of trade and other transactions for developing countries, is also a major cause of poverty in these countries. Some causes of poverty are not direct, for example traditions and norms which hinder effective resource utilization and participation in income –generating activities.
Poverty is one of the global problems that have hindered socio-economic and political development of many societies.
Different Indicators of Poverty to the Tanzanian Situation
Relate different indicators of poverty to the Tanzanian situation
The Tanzanian economy is heavily dependent on agriculture, which accounts for about 50 percent of the gross Domestic Product (GDP). Agriculture provides 85 percent of exports, and is by far the largest employer. Lack of technical know-how, agricultural input, capital, unpredictable climate and unreliable markets contribute to low levels of output.
Lack of clean and safe water in a community is one of the major indicators of poverty. Tanzanian statistics show that by 1993, this service was provided to 75 percent of urban dwellers compared to only 46.4 percent of those living in the rural areas. As discussed earlier, more than 70 percent of Tanzanians reside in rural areas; therefore the majority of the population has no access to clean and safe water. Women and children are the most affected citizens. Traditionally, women have the role of fetching water for the family; they have to walk many kilometers looking for water. Currently, community members rely on swamps and other dirty water sources, which are mostly used by cattle and wild animals.
It is estimated that up to 1977, 73 percent of Tanzanians had basic literacy skills. However, this has been declining year after year. For example, in 1993 it had declined to 63 percent, while only 68 percent of all children of school going age were enrolled in primary schools.
The main reason for the decline is the introduction of the cost-sharing system in the 1990s whereby every family was required to pay school fees and other school-related costs, which were previously covered by the government. As a result of the poverty in the country, many rural families found it difficult to meet the costs. Thispartly contributed to the increased number of illiterate cases and school dropouts in the country.
The per capita income of Tanzania is estimated at about $ 250 per year. Through experience the $ 250 would not last for more than three months in a normal Tanzanian family which in most cases includes children and members of the extended family.
The situation of family income, particularly in rural communities, is probably worse today because most families are heavily dependent on agriculture which in turn isaffected by unpredictable rainfall, lack of capital, agricultural inputs and unreliable market. This has led toa higher rate of poverty among rural communities, and distorted the traditional Tanzanian support system.
There is a common belief that traditionally, the extended family in Tanzanian societites provides social and economic support for its family members in times of need. This has shown a high degree of self-reliance in the past in coping with other social disasters including famine, drought and economic hardships. Under this system, majority of the family members spend their resources supporting and caring for a person in need. However, as result of poverty, members of the extended family find it difficult to meet the traditional obligations for all members of their extended family and in some cases, even their children.
Inadequate health services are another sign of poverty in the country. Most illness are associated with poverty. In Tanzania, poor health services have been responsible for the prevalence of infectious diseases such as diarrhea, malaria, and tuberculosis. For example, according to Health Statistical Abstract (1977) there was one hospital bed per one thousand people.
A high mortality rate is another sign of poverty. According to the Health Statistical Abstract (1977), the average life expectancy at birth in Tanzania is 50 years compared to life expectancy of 77 years in developed countries. The infant mortality rate is 96 per 1 000 live births compared to 7 in developed countries.
Women–to-women marriages are another classic example of poverty situations in rural communities. This behavior is common in the northern part of the country, in areas including Tarime and Serengeti districts in particular. Through this, rich women choose young women from poor families and pay their bride price in terms of cash or materials, such as land, cows or crops, to their parents. The rich women later identify any man of their choice to be boyfriends of the chosen young women so that they can reproduce. The offspring then belong to the husband, who in this case are the rich woman. The poor families, including their married daughters, get involved in this system because of the economic hardship they experience. This puts poor women at risk of being infected with HIV and AIDS.
Activity 1
Critically examine the types and levels of poverty in Tanzania.

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