In 1960 nearly 70 percent of the people in the world lived at or below the subsistence level. Today less than a third do, and the number enjoying fairly satisfactory conditions (as measured by the United Nations Human Development Index) rose from 25 percent in 1960 to 60 percent in 1992. Over the twenty-five years before 1992 average per capita consumption in developing countries increased 75 percent in real terms. The pace of improvements is also increasing. In developing countries in that period, for example, power generation and the number of telephone lines per capita doubled, while the number of households with access to clean water grew by half. Percentages aside, in 2003 nearly 3 billion people live on less than USD$2 a day and some 1 billion - or about 23 per cent of the developing world's population - struggle along on USD$1 a day or less.
Article 30 of the European Social Charter (Revised) (Strasbourg 1996) provides: With a view to ensuring the effective exercise of the right to protection against poverty and social exclusion, the Parties undertake: a) to take measures within the framework of an overall and co-ordinated approach to promote the effective access of persons who live or risk living in a situation of social exclusion or poverty, as well as their families, to, in particular, employment, housing, training, education, culture and social and medical assistance; b) to review these measures with a view to their adaptation if necessary.
This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities. Agenda 21 recommends developing policies in extension, training, pricing, input distribution, credit and taxation to ensure necessary incentives and equitable access by the poor to production-support services.
Christian Aid works in over 60 countries helping people, regardless of religion or race, to improve their own lives and tackle the causes of poverty and injustice.
The Catholic Fund for Overseas Development (CAFOD) is a partnership organization, working in over 1000 communities worldwide to tackle the causes of poverty regardless of race, religion or politics. CAFOD works hand in hand with local people to help them to respond to their own real needs, helping them to help themselves, and enabling them to work and plan for a better, safer future.
CARE International is a confederation of 10 national members in North America, Europe, Japan and Australia. CARE assists the world's poor in their efforts to achieve social and economic well-being. Their work reaches 24 million people in 62 nations in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. Programmes include emergency relief and rehabilitation; education; health and population: children's health, reproductive health and water and sanitation; and income: small economic activity development, agriculture and community development and environment.
ActionAid focuses on long-term development, tackling the root causes of poverty. ActionAid works directly with communities on projects for 10 years or more to help them improve the quality of their lives. Based on its grassroots work with communities, ActionAid shares its practical experience and knowledge with national and international agencies and governments. By contributing to debates on poverty issues and policy decision-making ActionAid advocates for change in favour of the poor.