Poverty is a condition that is characterized by lack of basic human needs due to the inability to afford them. According to World Bank (1993), Poverty is pronounced deprivation in well-being, and comprises many dimensions. It includes low incomes and the inability to acquire the basic goods and services necessary for survival with dignity. Poverty also encompasses low levels of health and education, poor access to clean water and sanitation, inadequate physical security, lack of voice, and insufficient capacity and opportunity to better one's life. The United Nations (1998) also define poverty as a denial of choices and opportunities, a violation of human dignity.
It means lack of basic capacity to participate effectively in society. It means not having enough to feed and clothe a family, not having a school or clinic to go for treatment, not having the land on which to grow one's food or a job to earn one's living, not having access to credit. It means insecurity, powerlessness and exclusion of individuals, households and communities. It means susceptibility to violence, and it often implies living in marginal or fragile environments, without access to clean water or sanitation. Causes, effects and some ways of reducing poverty are discussed in below paragraphs.
The first and most basic cause of poverty is the scarcity of basic needs. The rise in the cost of living makes people unable to afford food items. Two, the poor people have very limited economic choices. They are normally not in a position to receive loans or other financial benefit which makes it hard for them to establish businesses, which will not only increase income but will also break them out of poverty. Poor health is another reason that causes poverty. It leads to a decrease in the amount of work one can do, lowering the income earned and driving them deeper in poverty. The third reason that causes poverty is the lack of education. If the children in the developing countries lack education, they will not get good jobs that will help lift them and their families from poverty. The lack of economic freedom prevents entrepreneurship amongst the poor people. Corruption, inefficient institutions, excessive beaurocratic burdens and a weak rule of law drive away new enterprises and foreign investment.
Poverty affects health, food, housing and education in different ways. Expectant women in the poverty stricken areas do not attend prenatal care since they do not have access to health services. They therefore have premature births which cause developmental and physical delays in the children as they grow. Asthma and obesity is also very common among poor people due to old buildings with poor ventilation and lack of lean proteins and fresh produce because they are very expensive, respectively. Children in absolute poverty cannot afford basic education and those in relative poverty are forced to drop out halfway into their elementary or middle schooling. Other effects of poverty are increase in crimes, child and woman abuse, and homelessness. (Ketkar, 1998)
Due to the adverse effects of poverty, people have come up with ways that can help reduce poverty in the developing countries. According to Rat, 2005, countries that have low income should put in place policies that promote economic growth through support from the international community, financial stability and setting up of policies that help the private sector to flourish. Reforms should be done in the government and law, by: supporting journalism and supporting free flow of information, and broad access to judicial systems.
The status of women should be enhanced through female education and availing methods for personal fertility control. Based on the above discussion on poverty, Governments of the developing countries should use all means and ways in order to reduce poverty among the citizens. It not only reduces the standards of living of its people but also pulls the countries backwards in terms of development.