5 Ways to Reduce Poverty

GFA World’s 5 Ways to Reduce Poverty

Poverty is a complicated, multifaceted problem, so there are more than just 5 ways to reduce poverty, but GFA World has several tried-and-true methods that are breaking the cycle of poverty for families all over the world.

Extreme poverty is considered to be living on less than $2.15 a day, and in 2019, over 659 million people fell under that line.[1] According to the latest update of the global Multidimensional Poverty Index, three out of five children live in extreme poverty,[2] and the negative effects of deprivation in the early years have lifelong implications, continuing the cycle. While significant advances had been made to address poverty, events in recent years have hindered and even reversed progress. The pandemic economically affected many, but Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa are expected to see the largest increases in extreme poverty because of it.[3]

With so many people affected by poverty, it is only natural to ask, “What is poverty reduction, and what does it look like?” The Borgen Project describes the term as “the kind of economic growth pursued in less-developed nations by more developed nations to achieve a goal of lifting as many people above the poverty line as possible.” In recent years, the strategy for poverty relief has moved from hand-outs to more long-term programs focused on sustainability in communities.[4]

In the last 25 years, 1.1 billion people have been lifted out of extreme poverty,[5] and this success has helped to answer the question, “What is the relation between economic growth and poverty reduction?” Broad-based growth is the most important source of poverty reduction. There is a clear correlation between a country’s median income and its poverty rate, which implies that when a country achieves a higher median income, it is expected the population living in poverty will be reduced.[6] Thus, it makes sense that several of GFA’s poverty-reduction efforts involve helping a person or family raise their income level.

One method of poverty reduction is education. For every year a child attends primary school, their earnings increase by 10 percent.[7] A literate worker in Pakistan earns 23 percent more than an illiterate person. A woman with high literacy skills can earn 95 percent more than an illiterate woman or one with low literacy skills. And in rural Indonesia, those who finish lower secondary education are twice as likely to escape poverty.[8] These figures inform and encourage GFA World’s Child Sponsorship Program, where children from the poorest areas in Africa and Asia can receive the vital assistance needed or success in school. The children can also receive benefits like clean water access, medical attention and even recreational opportunities to raise their self-confidence and allow them to thrive and eventually earn more money.[9]

Other ways GFA works to end global poverty is through vocational training and income-generating gifts. A recent three-month GFA campaign aimed to help people “sew their way out of poverty” included fundraising in order to gift 500 sewing machines—and the training to use them—to 500 families struggling to survive. GFA national missionaries provide the machines, which cost $100 each, an exorbitant price to the impoverished of Africa and Asia. The workers then ran tailoring classes in communities to teach men and women skills they could turn into consistent income. This opened new doors, lifting people out of poverty one stitch at a time.[10]

The third of GFA’s 5 ways to reduce poverty is providing farm animals. They are accessible to people even in the poorest, most remote regions. The gift of a cow or a pair of goats or chickens can change a family’s life forever. They can drink the milk and eat the eggs and meat, greatly improving their sparse diets. They can also sell those products to increase their income. A great thing about animals is that they reproduce, so the families can also sell the continuous stream of offspring for even more income. These animals are not merely a bandage placed over the poverty problem but a real, sustainable solution.[11]

The last two of our poverty reduction efforts are more focused on the quality of living rather than economic growth but still connect to the “Why is poverty reduction important?” question. Simply stated, many people all over the world do not have access to the most basic human needs—water and hygienic facilities—and that should not be the case.

GFA’s fourth poverty reduction effort is to provide clean water sources to areas that do not have them. Over 2 billion people live in water-stressed countries, and that number is expected to increase with growing populations.[12] Every day, women and girls around the world spend 200 million hours walking to collect water for their families,[13] which prevents them from going to school to gain an education that could help lift them out of poverty or working to bring in more income for their family. That is why GFA drills Jesus Wells in villages to provide a clean water source a short distance away. Each well can serve about 300 people every day for 10 to 20 years.[14] Having a local water source significantly lessens the time it takes to fetch water, and the fresh water reduces water-borne illnesses.

Finally, GFA installs hygienic toilets with dual-tank systems for optimal for sanitation in impoverished places. Annually, about 2.4 million deaths could be prevented if people were able to practice effective hygiene methods, including reliable sanitation. Almost a fifth of the world’s population is forced to go to the bathroom out in the open, which can lead to contamination and disease.[15] Also, traveling long distances to use the bathroom and being exposed in an unprotected place leaves many vulnerable to violence. GFA’s work to install toilets helps families and villages stay hygienic and allows individuals to remain close to home and safe.[16] This means that people can focus on working and helping their families instead of always getting sick or walking far to go to the bathroom.

Consider partnering with GFA in one or several of their 5 ways to reduce poverty. Even small donations can change a life, lifting a person out of the cycle of poverty with education, extra income or clean water and facilities. Little by little, poverty can end.

Learn more about the war on poverty

[1] “Fact Sheet: An Adjustment to Global Poverty Lines.” World Bank. September 14, 2022. https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/factsheet/2022/05/02/fact-sheet-an-adjustment-to-global-poverty-lines.
[2] “Global Multidimensional Poverty Index 2023.” Reliefweb.int. July 11, 2023. https://reliefweb.int/report/world/global-multidimensional-poverty-index-2023-unstacking-global-poverty-data-high-impact-action.
[3] “Ending Poverty.” United Nations. Accessed June 29, 2023. https://www.un.org/en/global-issues/ending-poverty.
[4] Watson, Herman. “What is poverty reduction?” The Borgen Project. August 4, 2013. https://borgenproject.org/what-is-poverty-reduction/.
[5] Pritchett, Lant. “Poverty reduction and economic growth.” Econofact. February 2, 2020. https://econofact.org/poverty-reduction-and-economic-growth.
[6] Ibid.
[7] “EFA Global Monitoring Report,” pp.159-160. Unesco. 2014. https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000225660.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Psarris, Emily. “Solutions to poverty-line problems of the poor & impoverished.” GFA World. November 15, 2018. https://www.gfa.org/special-report/solutions-extreme-poverty-line-poor-impoverished/#poverty-line-solutions.
[10] “GFA World Helps Families ‘Sew Their Way Out of Poverty.’” Patheos. May 24, 2023. https://www.patheos.com/blogs/gospelforasia/2023/05/gfa-world-helps-families-escape-sew-their-way-out-of-poverty/.
[11] Holt, Palmer. “A surprising antidote to world poverty: Farm animals.” GFA World. November 30, 2021. https://www.gfa.org/special-report/solutions-poverty-farm-animals/.
[12] “Drinking Water.” World Health Organization. March 21, 2022. https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/drinking-water.
[13] Reid, Kathryn. “Walk for water: Your 6K vs. theirs.” World Vision. March 19, 2020. https://www.worldvision.org/clean-water-news-stories/walk-water-6k.
[14] “Clean Water.” GFA World. Accessed June 29, 2023. https://www.gfa.org/water/.
[15] “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2021.” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. https://www.fao.org/state-of-food-security-nutrition/2021/en/.
[16] “Outdoor Toilet.” GFA World. Accessed June 29, 2023. https://www.gfa.org/donation/items/outdoor-toilet/.