What is poverty?

Updated: Jun 14, 2019

April 2017 -- Seems like an easy question on the surface doesn't it? I'm sure certain images and words come to mind for you, as they do for me. As we walk this road of continuous learning and development at DSI, this is indisputably an essential question to us. And like so many things, the more we dig, the more our eyes are opened.


Often, the way that us Westerners answer this question has to do with the lens through which we view the world, materially. 'The poor' don't have [fill in the blank here]... a house, shoes, food. Yes necessary things, but take a step back and consider poverty a bit deeper...

In the late 90's, the Work Bank carried out a study called 'Voices of the Poor'. They asked 'poor' people from many different countries to share their experiences and collected findings to better answer this question.


Here are a few voices from their collection:

  • "Poverty is pain; it feels like a disease. It attacks a person not only materially but also morally. It eats away one’s dignity and drives one into total despair." —Moldova

  • “{The poor have} a feeling of powerlessness and an inability to make themselves heard.” —Cameroon

  • “When one is poor, she has no say in public, she feels inferior. She has no food; so there is famine i