Descriptions of extreme poverty often highlight how little money the poor have to spend each day. We’re told that more than a billion people live on the equivalent of less than one US dollar per day. One of the Millennium Development Goals is to reduce by half the number of people living on less than $1.25 a day.
But can we really imagine what it’s like to live on such a small amount without trying it for ourselves?
A lot of people around the world are trying it.
They are experiencing, if only briefly, what daily life is like for an estimated 1.2 billion people who live in extreme poverty.
Four university students from the United States, for example, went to rural Guatemala for 56 days to try living on exactly $56 each. Suddenly, the food security issues they’d spent hours discussing in class became real. They made a film documenting the experience – Living on One -- which is currently being screened in universities across the U.S.
Another brave soul, Matt Jones, went to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to live on $1 per day for four weeks. Afterwards, he said he had never felt more compelled to take action against hunger and poverty.
But you don’t need to fly to rural Guatemala or Haiti to give this a go. This is an experiment that you can challenge yourself to right here, right now, in your own home.
Christopher Greenslate and Kerri Leonard,two high school teachers from California, wanted to see what life was like on $1 a day without budging an inch. They found it difficult with high food costs, but in the end, they claimed the most important lesson they’d learned was that they had previously been consuming far more food than they needed.
Another initiative, Live Below the Line, also invites people to experience first hand the struggle to eat on a tiny budget – this time living on the equivalent of US $1.50 a day for five days. Celebrities like Ben Affleck and Sophia Bush are doing it to raise money for food-related charities.
No matter where you are, why not give it a try? See if you can go one day without breaking a budget of $1 for food. Here’s a conversion calculator to get the up-to-date figure in your own currency, and some tips on how to get started: http://bit.ly/ZR9GgP
Don’t just talk about hunger, get hunger. And then tell us about it on our Facebook and Twitter!