Causes of Poverty

There are many causes of poverty, which makes the alleviation of poverty a very complex issue. While the basic definition of extreme poverty is earning less than $1.90 a day,1 we understand that the economic definition is only a portion of the equation. There is also spiritual poverty, educational poverty, generational poverty to name just a few. The World Bank estimates that nearly 10 percent of the world’s population lives in poverty.

What causes poverty? While a list of root causes of poverty would be long, here are four elements we’ve identified:

Lack of Basic Necessities


A lack of basic necessities, such as shelter, clean water, nutritious food and medical care, perpetuates the cycle of poverty. When people lack these basic necessities, poverty is often the result, and it becomes a significant factor in their daily lives.

As an example, let’s consider a family without clean drinking water. They may have to walk miles to access clean water, which takes valuable time away from their job or education. If the family chooses to drink unsafe water instead, they have the potential for disease.

How is GFA World helping? We provide clean water wells, water filters and toilets to help increase the health and well-being of entire communities. Also, more than 70,000 children from impoverished families are being given hope and a brighter future through GFA’s child sponsorship program. Children receive educational opportunities, medical check-ups and other essential benefits.

Lack of Educational Training


Education is a valuable asset to a community and culture. As children and adults are equipped with educational opportunities, they grow in life skills and in income. In various parts of the world, girls aren’t given the same educational opportunities as boys. Literacy and knowledge for all people have the power to impact the world for generations to come.

How is GFA World helping eliminate this issue? GFA World helps make education accessible for children. GFA World’s women’s literacy programs help teach women to read and provide for their families in ways they couldn’t before: tutoring their children and reading to them.

Lack of Income-Producing Skills or Available Employment


If there is no job, there is no income. It sounds obvious, but it’s a fundamental cause of poverty. In many cases if a family has livestock, they can generate income. In other instances, job skills are needed—farming; sewing; or training in a trade such as cutting hair, fixing cars, welding and so on.

How is GFA World helping making a difference? Sewing machines, fishing nets, rickshaws and more allow a person to create their own income by putting those tools to work. Animals help produce income for a family—offspring can be sold, and larger animals can be used to plow a field or pull a cart.

Lack of Disaster Relief


When a natural disaster hits a community, it is devastating. Business structures and homes are destroyed. Crops are leveled. Those already living in poverty are impacted the hardest.

How is GFA World helping eliminate this cause of poverty? Relief teams immediately step in to assist victims of natural disasters by providing emergency relief , such as food, clothing, clean water and shelter. Relief teams provide counseling and pray for families grieving lost loved ones. Workers bring long-term solutions, too, helping to rebuild homes, put children back in school, and provide income-generating tools to get families back on their feet again.

GFA World also serves those often rejected by society, such as widows and leprosy patients. Our Compassion Services teams love the Lord and serve the needy from that same heart.

How do we end poverty? When people live in poverty, their mindset can be one of failure and hopelessness. They know their grandparents were poor, their parents were poor, they are poor, and their children will be poor. This cycle of poverty is difficult to break without the help from the outside. But we know when these four causes of poverty are met and eliminated, families are able to thrive. Over time, mindsets change from despair to hope, and bridges out of poverty get established.

Providing a consistent voice in their lives will help them see their worth and value in the eyes of God. When paired with helpful resources, this cycle of poverty can be broken and the causes and effects of poverty eliminated.

GFA World is a proven and trusted source of help.
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Our mission at GFA World is to be devout followers of Christ and to live lives fully pleasing to Him. God has given us a special love for the people of Asia and Africa, and it is our desire to minister to them and help them through ministries like education programs, health initiatives and practical gifts, or through the spiritual transformation that brings peaceful hearts, restored relationships and mended lives. We do this all in community and in partnership with the global Body of Christ.

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1 Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2018: Piecing Together the Poverty Puzzle. The World Bank. http://www.worldbank.org/en/publication/poverty-and-shared-prosperity