A recent post in the Guardian’sPoverty Matters” blog, touched upon an important idea. The idea is that globally, we should focus on poor people, not just poor countries.

When the World Bank carried out its annual reclassification in July, Senegal, Tuvalu, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Yemen all graduated to middle-income status – countries that have reached the $1,000 (£644) or so GDP threshold.

Taken by themselves, not big news perhaps, but add to that 22 other countries which, since 2000, are no longer considered officially poor, then a quite profound global change is under way: in short, most of the world’s poor no longer live in “poor” countries.

Take India for example. Although the country’s GDP has made great strides, more than half the population still lives in poverty. Using the new Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), released by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative last summer, more poor people live in eight Indian states than 26 sub-Saharan African countries combined. According to the MPI country brief, 645 million poor people total live in India.

More and more countries are graduating from low-income countries to middle-income countries. Ghana, where an estimated 6.9 million poor people live, is expected to make the jump in 2011. But, we can’t ignore the fact that three quarters of the world’s poor live in such middle-income countries.

What about the poorest countries? Niger, the poorest by MPI standards, is home to 13.1 million poor people—93% of its population. Another common measure of poverty is how many people live on less than US$1.25 a day. Using that method, Tanzania, where 89% survive on less than US$1.25 a day, is home to about 36.8 million poor people.

While 93% living in poverty is an appalling statistic, the poor living in Niger is a mere 2% of India’s total.

Is it more important to focus on poorest countries or the actual amount of people?

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Meanest Indian.

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  1. sadasivan Said,

    January 12, 2011 @ 2:48 pm

    India’s policies are, at present determined, by the UPA-Globalists like MM Singh,member Club Of Rome,and suspected to be,PLANTED and controlled by Rothschilds.Globalists do not care about “the poor”,per se,but only ushering in One World Totalitarian Government.This explains India’s so-called,”Hugh GDP”, and disturbing,POVERTY.

  2. Sebastian Said,

    January 14, 2011 @ 12:02 pm

    It’s kinda the question of top down vs. bottom up development.
    Do we try to “improve a country” and wait until improvement trickles down to the poor or do we work with them directly. Yet it is not so easy to make that choice. After all a good framework (working government, etc) can have huge effect – or hardly any at all …

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