Increasing the Global Poverty Line

During the last quarter century, the international poverty line has served as a benchmark for policy and programs working to eradicate poverty worldwide. Recently, the World Bank increased this line from $1.25 to $1.90 to reflect accurate costs of food, clothing, and shelter needs.

The movement of the poverty line increased the number of people living in extreme poverty—on less than $1.90 per day—by 148 million people. The biggest difference was experienced in East Asia, where the ranks of those below the poverty line nearly doubled, from 157 million to 293 million people.

Surviving—let alone thriving—in this world on $1.90 per day is simply not enough. In India, for example, children living below the line face a 60 percent chance of malnourishment, while infants in Niger face a mortality rate three times higher than the global average. Even in the United States, which has a powerful economy, nearly 1.5 million households are living in poverty.

By 2050 the population will surpass 9 billion, resulting in a 60 percent increase in demand for nutritious food choices. Our neighbors can no longer rely on corn-flour based bread and cabbage–as Kenyan children living in poverty do–to nourish their bodies and minds. Together, we can tackle this global challenge and feed our growing population.