i
Halima sweeps up her shelter in a Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazaar region of Bangladesh in August 2020. Photo: Inmanuel Chayan Biswas/Caritas Bangladesh.

Poverty - how we are tackling this global issue

The cause and effect of global issues.

"It is not hopelessness that causes poverty; it is poverty that causes hopelessness." 

The causes of poverty are complex, and interlinked. Historical circumstances, like conflict and wars can create poverty, but even during adverse world events, certain groups of people are more likely to face challenges than others. 

Historical events alone do not provide a full explanation. Ethnicity, gender, age, economics, social systems and cultural attitudes all play a part. 

On top of these ‘man-made’ differences, geographic location also matters. Where you live in the world, and whether or not that place is prone to extreme weather events – earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons, droughts, even climate change – can have a huge influence on whether or not you experience poverty. 

There is no justice and equality in poverty 

Nobody deserves it. Nobody wants it or asks for it. 

Poverty is more likely to affect people who live in rural areas. They account for roughly 80% of people who are struggling with poverty. Half of these are children, while women represent a majority in several regions and age groups. 

That’s why we continually seek justice, alongside ending poverty. Because this is what those experiencing poverty really need: radical changes to the unjust systems, ideologies and prejudices that keep them locked into disadvantage. 

Angel (8) is part of the indigenous Manide community of Camarines Norte, in the Philippines. She and her family suffer discrimination against their ethnicity and culture, and also live in poverty. They have been part of a Caritas Australia funded project run by local partner SPACFI to help strengthen the capacities of the Manide people to manage livelihoods and advocate for their rights over their ancestral lands, securing cultural conservation and integrity. It also enhances their capacity to access health, education, safe drinking water, housing support and sanitation. Photo credit: Richard Wainwright/Caritas Australia.
i
Angel (8) is part of the indigenous Manide community of Camarines Norte, in the Philippines. She and her family suffer discrimination against their ethnicity and culture, and also live in poverty. They have been part of a Caritas Australia funded project run by local partner SPACFI to help strengthen the capacities of the Manide people to manage livelihoods and advocate for their rights over their ancestral lands, securing cultural conservation and integrity. It also enhances their capacity to access health, education, safe drinking water, housing support and sanitation. Photo credit: Richard Wainwright/Caritas Australia.

Main Causes: Factors that entrench poverty

Most of the time, it is a combination of factors that creates poverty, almost all of which are outside of any one individual’s – or even a community’s – control. The important thing to remember is that poverty is not a choice. 

It would be impossible to list all the causes and factors that keep poverty alive in our world. Below, you can see some of the main ones that we confront every day, in our work with the most marginalised. 

Poor health

caused by lack of clean water and sanitation and compounded by malnutrition and the uncontrolled spread of diseases.

Political forces

that can influence internal conflicts, violence or wars and unchecked injustice against indigenous populations.

Natural disasters

that can destroy lives in an instant or climate change that can over time uproot the livelihoods of entire communities.

Socially motivated factors

such as systemic racism or inequality related to gender/disabilities that make it more difficult for those affected.

Lack of education

and livelihood opportunities that prevents children and youth from escaping poverty and contributing to their own development.

Thandolwayo (9) outside her home holding a 5 litre water container she uses to collect water in Msuna Hills, Zimbabwe. In June 2017, Caritas Hwange, a Caritas Australia partner, installed a solar powered piped water system in Msuna Hills bringing fresh clean drinking water to the population for the first time. Photo credit: Richard Wainwright/Caritas Australia.
i
Thandolwayo (9) outside her home holding a 5 litre water container she uses to collect water in Msuna Hills, Zimbabwe. In June 2017, Caritas Hwange, a Caritas Australia partner, installed a solar powered piped water system in Msuna Hills bringing fresh clean drinking water to the population for the first time. Photo credit: Richard Wainwright/Caritas Australia.

How we are tackling global poverty 

A deep-rooted global issue like poverty requires comprehensive resolutions that can reach the communities that need them the most. Our work empowers marginalised communities in more than 18 countries to tackle poverty by enforcing sustainable solutions that address its root causes. 

Because poverty ties into other issues such as health, climate change and equality, our work in these fields effectively contributes to ending to poverty on a global scale.

We accomplish this by working closely with local communities, identifying the challenges they face and building their strengths and resilience with the support of our program partners. 

For example, we worked closely with a community in Cambodia to support those living in poverty and with a disability. Read more about the relationship between poverty and disability. 

Food Progams

Our food programs provide vulnerable families with the support they need to build their livelihoods.

LEARN MORE

Skills training for people living with a disability

We work to empower people with disabilities through skills training and medical assistance to help them overcome poverty.

Learn more

Women's empowerment 

Our women’s empowerment programs create more opportunities to support women and their families.

learn more

WASH initaitve

Through our WASH initiatives, we create safer environments for communities to build their resilience.

LEARN MORE

Health Programs

Our health programs help communities fight disease and improve their ability to build their livelihoods.

learn more

Education

Through our education programs, we are helping ensure future generations have the skills they need to escape poverty.

learn more

Indigenous Australians

We work with Indigenous Australians who are struggling with poverty build their financial independence.

learn more

Hear the latest news and stories from our work in Australia and abroad

Stay up to date with Global Issues and the positive impact you can make.