What is the War on Poverty?

The term “war on poverty” is usually used to refer to expansive social legislation introduced by President Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1960s to end poverty in the United States. He introduced an “unconditional war on poverty” in his first State of the Union address in January 1964. This rhetoric quickly found its way into laws and the creation of new programs and agencies.[1] The efficacy and impact of this legislation in America are not within the scope of this article. Instead, this will be looking at the wider range of a modern war on poverty around the globe.

To address the issue, the question “why is poverty a problem” needs an answer. There are over 700 million people living on less than $1.90 a day, which is about 10% of the world’s entire population.[2] Poverty has dire consequences with malnutrition, contaminated water and poor sanitation and hygiene causing many preventable deaths, especially for children under five. The 2017 UNICEF Child Mortality report states that in poorer areas, one child in every thirty-six dies in their first month of life, many of them from curable diseases like malaria, diarrhea and pneumonia.[3] Of all these children living in extreme poverty, 75 percent of them live in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia,[4] which is where GFA World has focused its efforts over the last forty years and will continue to do so moving forward.

GFA World addresses food poverty with its efforts by focusing on providing children with proper education and nutrition. The task is vital because as many as one in three children in sub-Saharan Africa experiences stunted growth, not getting the vitamins they need from their food. This stunted growth impacts a child’s cognitive ability, making it even harder for them to learn in school,[5] assuming they can attend school at all. In that region alone, 32 million children—mostly girls—do not go to school.[6] Thus, one of the first initiatives GFA began in Rwanda was a branch of their child sponsorship program, which helps ensure that children get an education, food, necessary medicine and supplements. The medical ministry includes distributing vitamin A—which helps in eyesight development—and deworming tablets—which remove parasites from the body.

Worsening the food shortage is a water crisis in Africa; more than a quarter of the whole continent has no access to safe drinking water.[7] GFA World installs Jesus Wells, bringing clean water to villages and families that never had it before. Two wells have been drilled in Rwanda—with many in place in Asia already—and more are on the way in Africa. These Jesus wells can serve an average of three hundred people daily and can last around twenty years.[8]

Another way that GFA World contributes to poverty alleviation is by gifting income-generating gifts to impoverished families. These include sewing machines that men and women can use to become tailors and earn extra income. GFA also distributes farm animals, such as cows, chickens and pigs which give poor families and villages brighter hope for the future. They can use the meat and milk from the animals to better feed their kids or sell for extra money. Larger creatures can help with plowing and fertilizing crops, which increases yield and profitability. The animals reproduce, and their offspring can then be sold, leading families out of extreme poverty and substantially brightening their circumstances.[9]

Kalman was a poor father of three young children. His land was too small to farm, so he was forced to pick up any manual labor jobs he could find, making only about $3 a day. Although he worked hard, he barely made enough to make ends meet, let alone keep the children in school. Things looked grim, but then Kalman received a piglet through a GFA gift distribution at his church. When the pig grew up, it had a litter of eight piglets. Kalman gave one of them to his church and was able to sell the other seven for about $37 each, over twelve times what he used to make in a day. Later, Kalman’s pig had ten more piglets, further transforming his family’s life. They were even able to give one of those piglets to another family in need, transforming their future as well. These financial breakthroughs are lifting families and communities out of the cycle of poverty.[10]

Between its child sponsorship program and the life-changing animals, GFA is helping with the war on poverty, and making large strides to lessen the impact on impoverished families and communities. It just takes $35 a month to sponsor a child, and just a few dollars can provide a family with a sewing machine or animal. Consider donating to help end these dangerous cycles of poverty and to change lives by showing the love of God.

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[1] Cooley, Aaron. “War on Poverty.” Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/topic/War-on-Poverty. Accessed November 16, 2022.
[2] “Sustainable Goals: Goal 1: End Poverty in All Its Forms Everywhere.” United Nations. https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/poverty/. Accessed February 2, 2022.
[3] “Levels and Trends in Child Mortality Report 2017.” UNICEF. https://www.unicef.org/reports/levels-and-trends-child-mortality-report-2017. October 2017.
[4] “9 World Poverty Statistics that Everyone Should Know.” Lifewater. https://lifewater.org/blog/9-world-poverty-statistics-to-know-today. January 28, 2020.
[5] Ibid.
[6] “GFA World Expands Ministry to Africa.” GFA World. https://www.gfa.org/africa. Accessed November 16, 2022.
[7] “Africa’s Priorities for Sustainable Development.” Africa Renewal. https://www.un.org/africarenewal/magazine/april-2012/africa%E2%80%99s-priorities-sustainable-development. April 2012.
[8] “GFA World Expands Ministry to Africa.” GFA World. https://www.gfa.org/africa. Accessed November 16, 2022.
[9] Holt, Palmer. “A Surprising Antidote to World Poverty: Farm Animals.” GFA World Special Report. https://www.gfa.org/special-report/solutions-poverty-farm-animals. November 30, 2021.
[10] “Generosity Leads to More Generosity.” GFA World. https://www.gfa.org/gift/stories/kalman. October 2017.