5 surprising facts about poverty you need to know

7 Feb


1) The hungriest people grow food for a living

Global hunger and poverty are largely a rural phenomenon. 70% of the developing world’s extremely poor people are in rural communities and work in agriculture. Developing world farmers rarely have access to electricity or fuel, so they must plant, harvest and process their crops by hand. They barely produce enough food to survive, which is why they’re often referred to as “subsistence farmers.”

2) We’re growing plenty of food

We are currently growing enough food to feed everyone in the world, but roughly 1/3 of the food produced for human consumption gets lost or wasted. By losing so much food, we are missing an opportunity to feed our world’s growing population.

In many African countries, at least 25% of the total cereal crop is lost after harvest, usually due to a lack of storage and efficient post-harvest processing technologies. Our Executive Director, Roger Salway, is in Senegal meeting with farmers that have received our new Grain Processing Suite: a manually-operated stripper, thresher and winnower captures more than 90% of pearl millet grain at a rate 10x faster than traditional processing methods. Check out our blog for more on Roger’s journey.

3)   Dirty water exacerbates poverty

Clean water has a direct tie to a community’s economic wellbeing. Every $1 invested in improved water and sanitation yields an average of $4 – $12 for the local economy.

In rural Nicaragua, we help villages install our Water Chlorinator—an inexpensive device that produces safe water for an entire village for just pennies per day. The project is saving lives, helping kids go back to school and allowing parents to return to work. We are providing safe water for 135,000 in Nicaragua, and we plan to double our impact by the summer of 2014.

4) We already know how to fix it

Investing in agriculture is, hands down, the most effective method of reducing poverty. Growth in agriculture is 2x more effective at reducing poverty than any other type of development effort.

Unfortunately, our investment in agriculture is declining. USAID allocates just 5% of funds to agricultural programs, and globally, less than 6% of official development assistance supports agriculture (down from 17% in 1982).

5)   Poverty is declining, and we can be the generation that eliminates it

Global poverty isn’t inevitable—it’s dropping in every region of the developing world. In 1990, 43% of people in the developing world lived on less than $1.25 per day—today, it’s only 22%—meaning nearly a billion people have been lifted out of extreme poverty in the past 20 years.


We have an opportunity to build on this historic progress.


Visit our website right now, and invest $10 in the fight to erase poverty for good.


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$10 is the amount of money the average American throws away in uneaten food every week. It may not be much money to us, but $10 can go a long way in the developing world. So let’s put that $10 to good use!




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