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The cycle of poverty

The concept of poverty is often associated with an individual lacking food or living in deprived environment. In as much as this is a contributing factor to the measurement of poverty, poverty is multifaceted and includes accessibility to education, healthcare, clean water, economic opportunities and a good quality of life.

In 2018, 80% of those living under the global poverty line were in rural areas, with 40% living in fragile and conflict-stricken environments. In 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic plunged 120 million people into poverty, with approximately 9.1% of the global population living in extreme poverty (less than $1.90 a day).

According to the World Bank, 50% of those living in poverty are children and 27 of the world's 28 poorest countries are in Africa. The causes of poverty in Africa are both historical and structural, with colonialism, social injustices, poor governance, corruption, and inefficient economic systems contributing to this.

In Kenya, 15.9 million people are living in poverty, with 23.4 million living below the poverty line and lacking access to at least 3 basic needs.

42% of children in Kenya live on less than $2 a day and this creates barriers to living a quality life and makes them vulnerable to infant mortality, malnutrition, lack of education, violence and child marriage. This also increases the probability of their future generations struggling to advance themselves and subsequently living in poverty.

What can be done to break the cycle of poverty?

The cycle of poverty is complex and can only be achieved by tackling structural inequalities and providing sustainable opportunities for development to the most vulnerable. Providing a quality education to children contributes towards breaking the cycle of poverty as they are better equipped to make informed choices about their lives, increase their earnings, pursue economic opportunities, and improve their health and well-being.

A sponsor’s role is key in the development of the lives of vulnerable and marginalised children as they are provided an education, safe homes, access to health and nutrition. This contributed to the empowerment of children with opportunities and tools which can assist them in breaking the cycle of poverty.

Written by Zoe Kamangira


All Africa. 2020. Poverty in Kenya

World Bank. 2020. Covid extreme poverty

World Vision. 2021. What is poverty?

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