VIENNA, AUSTRIA – World poverty. It’s bad. We all know that. But how bad is it, really? Is it as pervasive as we imagine? Or is it worse? And how are we doing to achieve the Number 1 Sustainable Development Goal of the United Nations to eradicate world poverty by 2030?
Extreme poverty is defined as those families who must survive on the equivalent of $1.90 in U.S. dollars. As of 3:15 EST, Thursday, February 27, 2020, an estimated 603,376,358 of the 7.7 billion people around the globe live in extreme poverty.
The World Poverty Clock keeps ticking as it counts the total number of people in poverty, the Target Escape Rate, and the Current Escape Rate.
The Target Escape Rate is the number of people who should have escaped from extreme poverty throughout each year from 2015 to 2030.
The Current Escape Rate is the actual rate.
The World Clock also calculates the number of people who slip into extreme poverty each year. The clock is calibrated and continuously running to indicate the progress or lack thereof toward reaching SDG1 by 2030.
During 2019, more than 612 million people were trapped in extreme poverty. The Target Escape Rate was 1.7 people per second. The Current Escape Rate was 0.4 people per second, which resulted in being off-track by 81.6 million people. For every three people who escaped from poverty, one more fell into the economic pit of despair.
Two months into 2020, the clock projects that we will be further off-track by the end of this year, lagging behind the Target Escape Rate by 99.5 million.
The World Clock estimates that 492.3 million will live in extreme poverty in 2030. In and of itself, the reduction from 668.9 million in 2016 to 492.3 in 2030 is impressive.
However, since 2016, the off-track numbers have grown consistently. The shortfall is so significant that by the end of 2030, the UN will have missed its SDG1 target by 469.2 million.
In other words, SDG1 appears to be doomed to fail. That’s what the World Poverty clock is telling us.
While on earth, Jesus Christ told His disciples that the poor would always exist. He wasn’t guessing. He wasn’t estimating. He was sharing a truth they – and we – need to know.
When understood from a biblical perspective, our responsibility is to minister to the poor, the disenfranchised, the disabled, the oppressed, the oppressed, the sick, and the hungry.
That is why faith-based organizations like World Vision, Samaritan’s Purse, and Gospel for Asia exist. They reach out to those who are considered “the least of the least” just as Jesus did when He was here.
By becoming, as it were, the hands and feet of Jesus, by sharing His love and grace, and by pointing the way to a better life on earth and in eternity, these FBOs faithfully minister to those less fortunate than we are. The FBOs provide clean water, food, medicine, healthcare, education, literacy training, and job skills to help the disadvantaged pull themselves out of the cycle of poverty.
We may not be able to end poverty, but we sure can help someone in the name of Jesus.