Is poverty increasing or diminishing?
It is very difficult to answer this question, because the answer depends on the definition of poverty that is adopted and the quantitative indicators that are used. Some measures can have the result of supporting people and populations living in precariousness and leaving aside those in extreme poverty, making their life even more difficult.
An example for clarification: A country’s “GDP per capita” indicator is used to compare poverty in one country to that in another and also measures poverty from one year to the next in the same country. It is used extensively. It is calculated by dividing a country’s GDP indicator by number of inhabitants. If the wealth of the country’s 10% richest inhabitants increases, the GDP rises, and therefore the indicator will go up, whilst nothing is to say that the situation of the country’s poorest people is improving.
In 2000, the UN launched the Millennium Goals, of which the most well-known is that to reduce by half the number of people living with less than 1 $ per day (in 2009 1.25$). This goal is unfair, because it does not say what aims there are for the other half who remains below this threshold and whose situation may get worse at the same time. For example, it is the poorest people and populations who pay the highest price in food, financial and economic crises.
This is why ATD Fourth World asks that this is not only based on numbers, but also that the views of people living in poverty are taken into account to answer this question seriously. They also ask that if some people’s situation improves in a particular domain, we endeavour to understand why the situation hasn’t improved for others. Because it is likely that policies can be improved so that no-one is left aside.