Eating Below the Poverty Line
By Hannah Laufer-Rottman
The Live Below the Line campaign from the Global Poverty Project begins on April 28 and during five days, we will eat and drink at a cost of no more than $1.50 a day. The movement raises awareness about the 1.2 billion people who live on $1.50/day or less and urges world leaders to increase efforts in improving the living conditions of these people.
My thoughts on poverty
If you ask a poor person to define his/her experience of poverty, the answer will probably not include a dollar figure. Poverty might be the rain leaking into his/her home; having a child who is illiterate; a child who died at birth; no shoes or school uniforms for the children; the distance to school; the lack of medicine to treat the sick children; the drought that killed the crops; the rice that has become too expensive; the children going to bed hungry; the well that has dried up; the water that is dirty, the road that isn’t there…
Poverty is the art of survival. Throughout my career with the UN-WFP and now with Palms for Life Fund, I have been amazed to see people surviving on so little. Children learn to spend hours without any food or water-and don’t complain. The words “I’m hungry” has no meaning when it is the status quo. Men work in agricultural fields early in the morning without breakfast. Women walk miles to fetch water carrying water tanks and babies on their backs.
How I’ll Live Below the Line
I intend to have “a rice and beans only” (1) experience without any acrobatics to miraculously stretch that $1.5/day into tastier foods. I want to get closer to understanding the everyday reality of poor people who do live below the line and for whom there is no miraculous way out. For this opportunity, I am grateful to the Live Below the Line campaign.
(1) About 25 million tons of beans are produced annually worldwide and the world production of rice is 700 million tons. Beans are the most important source of calories, proteins and minerals for 300 million people in the world who rely on beans for keeping malnutrition at bay. For the 1.2 billion people living below the poverty line, rice accounts for as much as half of their daily food expenditures. In 2008, when rice prices tripled, the World Bank estimated that an additional 100 million people were pushed into poverty.