What is poverty?
With this kind of high level data, the key question that comes up is what on earth have we been doing in this country all these while.
These kinds of arguments take me back to one basic question. What is poverty?
Of course, there are varying definitions for poverty.
But the one that has been with me is the one which goes something like this – you will see poverty when you see one.
I understand for benchmarking purposes why the dollar is used.
Poverty is in the health. It is in the education. It is in the housing.
It is in the quality of mental health. It is in the spirit. It is in the confidence.
It is in the aspiration, dreams and desires for the future.
Poverty as a term hides a lot of its devastating implications.
Poverty is the absence of clean and potable drinking water. It is the sharing of drinking water with livestocks.
Poverty is standing by a stream and seeing it contaminated by the harmful impact of mining and other human activities and yet deciding to drink the water anyway because that is the only option.
Poverty is when circumstances make a person take a hard look at his or her children and then decides by the toss of a coin which of them is deserving of a basic education.
Poverty is when you are sick and have no option but to turn to a prayer camp or self-treatment simply because you cannot afford to go to a hospital?
Poverty is when you cannot afford to have a place of convenience at home and therefore resort to open defecation in gutters and other unimaginable places.
Poverty is when you cannot afford to have a balanced diet – no matter how hard you try.
Poverty is when you are in a situation where you do not have the basic tools and instruments to take advantage of all the opportunities that life provides.
Poverty is the inability to read. Poverty is the absence of numeracy skills. Poverty is when students have to walk long distances to school only to be turned away simply because they cannot pay their fees.
Poverty is when school children are barred from taking examinations simply because they are owing fees.
Poverty is when more young children who are supposed to be sheltered, protected, trained and guided into a better future are left on the streets to beg their way into the night.
Poverty is when pregnant women have to be carried on some makeshift stretcher to cross a stream because of the absence of a bridge and an ambulance. Poverty is when you have to travel an extra-ordinary distance only to meet an empty health facility.
Poverty is when children can no longer attend school when it is raining simply because there is the constant fear that the school structure may collapse.
Poverty is when female students cannot afford to attend classes because they cannot afford sanitary pads.
Poverty is when gutters are filled with dirt to the point where mosquitoes breed easily and freely without any restrictions and limitation.
Poverty is when children and adults die every year from sanitation related diseases like cholera – which frankly is something that can be prevented easily.
Poverty is when you know there are heavy rains approaching and yet you simply watch on and hope for the best.
Poverty is when people who are working for the state have to fight on a regular and daily basis just to enter a passenger bus because the public transport system is horrible.
Poverty is when a nation cannot afford to keep its libraries opened and well-stocked. Poverty is when our natural impulse is to blame everyone else but ourselves for the rut that we find ourselves in.
Poverty is when there are no beds in hospitals and you have to fall on “some connection” to assist you to get through.
Poverty is when the government cannot afford to get enough ambulances to take care of emergency situations.
Poverty is when your country is plagued with a power crisis and we do nothing innovative to resolve the challenge.
Poverty is when you are desirous of working but there are no opportunities. That is poverty.
For statistical purposes, it may well be that almost 24 per cent of the population are poor.
But our common experience tells us that there are still many more people who are living in dire poverty.