What causes poverty?

1. Income inequality

Research shows that when a country grows economically, overall poverty reduces. If the national income is not equally distributed among all communities in the country, there is a risk that poorer communities will end up poorer, and individuals will feel it most.

2. Conflicts and Unrests

About 33% of communities in absolute poverty live in places of conflict. In the past, countries like Rwanda and Sri-Lanka have suffered poverty as a result of years of tribal and civil wars. In recent years, Afghanistan, Iraq, and the like are all going through difficult times and poverty is rife in these areas. Unrests result in the massive loss of human lives, diseases, hunger and violence, destruction of property and infrastructure, economic investments, and quality labor. It is also a put-off for foreign investments. Wealth can never be created in such an environment.

3. Location, adverse ecology, and location

Location of countries, as well as communities within the country, can make people poor. Geographic and ecological factors such as mountains, swamps, deserts, and the like have also made living conditions unbearable in many places. This is why some rural areas are poorer than others, even in the same country. For example, poverty in the Andes, Peru is six times higher than communities in the Amazonian region.

In other instances, some communities are cut off from the main economic centers of the country. They find themselves located so far from roads, markets, health services, schools, and economic facilities. This makes it impossible for the locals to access support and assistance, and also makes it discouraging for investors to invest there. In Bangladesh for example, poverty is severe in areas of physical remoteness, as indicated by the fact that seven rural districts are home to half of the country’s severely stunted children.

4. Natural disasters

Droughts, floods, hurricanes, and other unexpected natural events cause deaths, illness, and loss of income. In Ethiopia alone, there were 15 droughts (and famines) between 1978 and 1998 that led to the displacement, injury, or death of more than 1 million people. In better-connected communities, families can come out of poverty and get on with their lives, but other remote and less accessible communities suffer for longer periods.

5. Ill Health and Disability

Poverty can also get worse if communities are affected by diseases such as Malaria and HIV Aids. Diseases cause many deaths and children are left with no parents or caregivers. Household wealth can also drain quickly from family members with disabilities. In many communities, disabled members are looked down upon and not allowed to inherit assets. They are considered a stigma and excluded from public events and exposure. This mentality can adversely affect the well-being of families. For example, the incidence of poverty is 15-44% higher in households with a disabled head or adult.

6. Inheritance of Poverty

Families that have had a lifetime of poverty tend to pass on the situation to their children. They cannot afford education for their children and children grow with no skills. Children work on the same family farms and marry into families with similar conditions as they turn adults. They, in turn, pass on the tradition to their children.

7. Education, Training and skills

People who are educated or had some training or skills are in a better position to apply ideas and knowledge into fixing basic problems and enhancing their livelihoods. They can plan, follow instructions, and get reach out to access information, tools, and support that can improve their livelihoods. In the absence of training, skills, or education, people cannot help themselves. They cannot prevent diseases, and cannot apply new ways of doing things. The result is that their poverty situation is worse and are even more vulnerable than before.

8. Gender discrimination

In many African communities, girls were not allowed to be in school. Families preferred to invest in boy’s education than in girls. Women were also not allowed to do an economic activity and had less ownership of lands and assets. This idea negatively impacts the well-being of women, and the development of their children is also impacted negatively.