I worked with an organization which was committed to alleviating poverty through small loans. The target population was developing nations with infrastructure that would support this initiative at its incubation. It was my job to make sure that the loans are directed to the right people. I was lucky to be the system.
I was required to track their well-being and document their progress to make sure that the impact was real and not fiction. My job lasted a year within which I interacted with poor women and men who were struggling day and night to feed not only their families but also extended families.
I was young but I saw these older women sit around me seeking for advice and any information that could me their lives better. Loan applications would come in, I would do call backs and at times visit applicants to listen to their stories. I would go to the remotest areas that I had never been before. It’s part of my life that will never fade in my memory.
There was language barrier but somehow I managed to communicate. One time Nelleke visited. She is Dutch but she would effectively communicate in English. I was good with English and Swahili and the women understood Swahili buy responded in their native Giriama. I documented their stories and it was amazing what these small loans was doing in their lives. Oh, and who invented m-pesa? That was genius
Below are some insights I got from poverty and inequality report 2016 by the World Bank. You should find the report and read it. Although poverty levels have reduced since early 90’s, subsharan Africa recorded the lowest number of people lifting themselves out of poverty.
Some Asian countries which were way poorer than sub Saharan Africa registered the highest number of people living above the poverty line in the same period. But there is a concern. Incone inequality has caught the eye of the world. The gap has been expanding and entrenched corruption pulling efforts to kick poverty out.
Do you know that in 2015, the wealth of 62 individuals equaled the entire bottom half of the world population? Let me rephrase that. If people are ranked from the wealthiest to poorest, the first 62 wealthiest individuals’ wealth would be equal to those of the bottom half. That is mind boggling how unequal the world is. The World Bank in its report says, it’s worse in Africa.
How do you know that you are poor?
You are living below the poverty line. This means that you are living below $1.90 per day. Let’s bring it home. If you are living below 200 shillings a day then you are extremely poor. And don’t tell me you and your family consumes Sh. 600 per day. This measure is sh. 200 per person per day. Do the math and find out where you are headed economically and whether you need to wake up or continue fighting for presidential candidate of choice.
Other characteristics include rural, young uneducated, working in the agricultural sector and live among extended family. Those in urban areas live in informal settlements (slums) with no dependable jobs or businesses.