Solutions to Poverty: One Approach
Poverty is a complicated issue with various causes, and many of them are often inter-related. Worldwide, 736 million people live under the poverty line, earning $1.90 a day or less.1 Struggling just to survive, many of these individuals lack the resources to overcome their poverty, which they often inherit from their parents in a cycle of poverty that can seem unbreakable. To seek solutions to poverty, one should consider the root causes of poverty and how to best address them. Since poverty is a complex issue with a myriad of causes, a multifaceted approach can be highly effective.
GFA World uses such a multifaceted approach in its efforts to serve “the least of these.”
Working in places such as Asia and Africa, GFA missionaries serve as the hands and feet of Christ, ministering to people’s needs, investing in community development and helping families in need. Living in the communities they serve, national missionaries have unique insight into the needs within those communities and seek to meet them, showing Christ’s love in practical ways and empowering people to rise out of poverty. They offer hope to people who often have none.
Many impoverished communities—some 1.1 billion people worldwide—lack access to clean water.2 This is a great detriment to their health and their livelihoods. Contaminated water can lead to a host of waterborne diseases such as typhoid, cholera, diarrhea and dysentery. Sickness inhibits adults’ ability to work and earn income, and it inhibits children’s ability to study and gain an education, both of which can contribute to poverty and the continuation of its cycle. Water scarcity also impacts crop yields in areas that rely on agriculture, which represents 65 percent of poor working adults.3
In these areas, GFA World brings clean water initiatives, including Jesus Wells and BioSand water filters, that offer people an ample supply of clean water.
In Suhana’s village in Asia, one Jesus Well transformed the community, bringing stability and health over decades that enabled them to provide better lives for their children.4
Improper sanitation and hygiene also contribute to disease. Combined with unclean water, poor sanitation is linked to 80 percent of illnesses in developing countries.5 The World Health Organization estimates 829,000 people die every year from diarrhea alone, caused by unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene.6 GFA missionaries install sanitation facilities and conduct various health-related awareness programs to help people in the areas they serve protect their health.
Education is another key factor in the discussion of solutions to the poverty cycle as the two are closely linked.
Education can provide an avenue out of poverty, but often poverty presents formidable barriers to gaining an education. According to an article in Psychological Science, the stresses of poverty have “suppressing effects on individuals’ cognitive development, executive functioning, and attention” that contribute to continuing the cycle of poverty.7 Malnutrition and child labor, which stem from poverty, also hinder a child from gaining a proper education, which limits one’s future job prospects and income potential.
In contrast, “Education improves quality of life and provides needed skills,” says ONE, a global organization campaigning to end extreme poverty. “In fact, if all students in low-income countries had basic reading skills, extreme poverty could decrease by 12 percent.”8
GFA World addresses the education factor of poverty mainly through its child sponsorship program, which alleviates families’ financial burden and provides children with a solid foundation for their future.
The program gives children the tools and skills they need to succeed and become contributing members of society. For Venita, GFA World’s Child Sponsorship Program helped turn a young girl struggling in her studies and seemingly destined to repeat a cycle of poverty into a college graduate investing in the next generation.9
Adult illiteracy can also have a far-reaching impact on individuals’ ability to succeed.
It severely limits economic opportunities, resulting in low income and poverty.10 GFA World also offers adult literacy classes, through which thousands of women in Asia have learned to read and write. With these newfound literacy skills, lives have been changed as women discover new confidence and opportunity.
Another facet of GFA World’s solutions to extreme poverty is the giving of income-generating gifts such as sewing machines, tool kits, cows, goats and chickens.
To see a decline in world poverty, according to the World Bank’s Ana Revenga, “What’s needed is economic growth that improves the income-generating opportunities of the poor.”11 These tools, along with vocational training such as tailoring classes, equip impoverished families to do just that, giving them opportunity for better income generation and better lives. By enabling men and women to provide better for their families, GFA World empowers them to rise above the poverty that has previously entrenched them.
GFA missionaries also offer aid when disaster strikes.
Natural disasters such as hurricanes or earthquakes can have devastating effects on the world’s poor. Already struggling to survive, they often lack the resources to recover from such events.12 GFA missionaries, who are consistently part of the community, offer both immediate and long-term assistance to help families recover from disaster rather than plunge further into poverty.
These are just a few ways GFA missionaries work toward a solution to poverty in the areas they serve. Each community is different and requires a tailored approach to bring about effective transformation. Whatever the specific needs of a community, however, GFA missionaries compassionately serve in the name and love of Christ.
1 “Ending Poverty.” United Nations. https://www.un.org/en/global-issues/ending-poverty. Accessed November 17, 2021.
2 “Water Supply & Sanitation.” World Water Council. https://www.worldwatercouncil.org/en/water-supply-sanitation. Accessed August 11, 2021.
3 “Agriculture and Food.” The World Bank. https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/agriculture/overview#1. Accessed November 15, 2021.
4 “New Bride, New Village, New Well.” GFA World. https://www.gfa.org/news/articles/new-bride-new-village-new-well-wfr20-03/. March 2020.
5 “10 Ways Access to Clean Water Can Improve the World.” Ohio University. https://onlinemasters.ohio.edu/blog/access-to-clean-water/. March 2, 2021.
6 “Drinking-water.” World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/drinking-water. June 14, 2019.
7 Sleek, Scott. “How Poverty Affects the Brain and Behavior.” https://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/how-poverty-affects-the-brain-and-behavior. August 31, 2015.
8 Fatai, Razaq and Sadof Alexander. “Extreme poverty: A problem demanding many solutions.” ONE. https://www.one.org/international/blog/extreme-poverty-solutions/. April 17, 2020.
9 “Finding Her True Destiny.” REJOICE: Gospel for Asia Newsletter. https://gfa-newsletter.org/issue/18/5/finding-her-true-destiny/. August 2021.
10 “6 Benefits of Literacy in the Fight Against Poverty.” Concern Worldwide US. https://www.concernusa.org/story/benefits-of-literacy-against-poverty/. August 27, 2020.
11 Frykholm, Amy. “Ending extreme poverty: Economist Ana Revenga.” The Christian Century. https://www.christiancentury.org/article/2016-05/ending-extreme-poverty?CID=POV_TT_worldbank_EN_EXT. June 2, 2016.
12 Williams, Delice. “What are the Causes of Poverty.” Borgen Project. https://borgenproject.org/what-causes-global-poverty/. June 25, 2016.