Senior aims to address poverty in future studies


Arsema Demeke, Contributor

“Could you imagine living under $1.90 a day? This is the reality over a billion people face, mostly concentrated in developing countries,” I said, as I switched the slide and read off the PowerPoint, recalling words I rehearsed prior to presenting to my department. It was my last day, two months after my internship commenced. I was consequently assigned to a department most resonating with me, Poverty & Equity, a topic I haven’t explored since moving to the U.S. Nonetheless, I’ve always had an inclination to pursue a path that helps me grapple with my family’s circumstances back home and decipher my own. Poverty is incredibly more complex and elaborate than just the lack of money. Intriguingly, just as our anatomy has various complex organisms contributing to form our bodies, so too does poverty.

The multidimensional poverty index (MPI), addresses that complexity, providing a 3-D interpretation that extensively examines not only income but also how access to healthcare, education, and the living standards that influence a country’s poverty level, thus designing a well-rounded illustration that can most accurately represent the intensity of it. Using MPI, the five countries with the highest poverty concentration are: India, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, and Bangladesh. In other words, there’s low upward mobility, harshly apparent gender and socio-economic disparities, and inaccessibility to stable, yet nutritional food that offer sustenance. With added disadvantages of corrupt governments causing war conflicts and intensifying impoverishment, COVID has taken a new tool, one nobody anticipated. For the first time since 1990, poverty levels are rising – and fast! One hundred million people are expected to be pushed into poverty and 49 million more into extreme poverty. Many working in service jobs, especially women, who’ve been relied on to keep their families afloat, are now experiencing widespread shutdowns by mitigation policies, leaving them under the poverty line. These overarching issues are ones that infected the world before, but have now spread and multiplied, worsening preexisting conditions.

Ending poverty seems daunting and feels like an infinitely expanding black hole. But luckily, there’s still hope. Institutions, like the World Bank, have spent years devising solutions to these problems. Despite the challenges of solving them, speaking to various departments helped me realize our capability. Being grateful for what I have, I’m more enthusiastic to help others less fortunate, whether it’s through volunteering, donating, starting up a Go-Fund me, like myself, or raising awareness. If everyone in the U.S. donated a dollar, we’d quickly reach our goal. However, it’ll be the systematic changes that’ll last. Us humans differ from other animals because we care; whether we affiliate religiously to one political party, or think apples are better than oranges – which they are – we remain vigilant of things we believe in. Devoting my time to exposing these issues at school, I strive further to pursue a career in it.  

“Thank you for joining me today,” I declare, switching to my last slide. My mentors give me a thumbs up through the zoom call as the others applaud. It’s my last day, but I aim to return again.