Could you imagine living on a dollar a day? A dollar a day for food, water and anything else you desire? Many Americans could not even imagine. Even Americans who are considered to be lower class, make more than a dollar in an hour of work. The fact is that there are millions of people who live on a dollar a day. According to the World Bank, in 2013 more than 700 million people lived on less than $1.90 a day. That statistic is staggering, could you imagine being one of those 700 million people? The World Bank also noted that half of the extreme poor live in Sub-Saharan Africa, with many of the poor living in rural areas being poorly educated and employed in the agricultural sector. Countries that are included in this statistic are Mali, India and Guatemala. All countries who are geographically separate, but economically and culturally endure the same fate.

Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world. According to The World Food Programme, the food and security situation in Mali has become worse and “69% of the population live below the national poverty line.” This statistic makes sense, when you factor in that many of these individuals live on less than one dollar a day. Due to the levels of extreme poverty, “15% of children in Mali suffer from acute malnutrition,” (World food Programme). Mali’s economy is reliant on exporting cotton and gold which make up 80% of the export earnings. Mali’s population is mostly involved in farming and fishing. In regards to farming, weather conditions could determine the profit levels. Mali still depends on foreign aid.


India is also another country with people who survive on less than one dollar a day. India which has a population with over 1 billion people in the world and with a large economy also has sectors of individuals living within extreme poverty. According to The Richest, more than “300 million people are not connected to the national electricity grid .” The Richest also estimates that 44% of India’s population live on less than one dollar a day, which was gathered from the World Banks’s research. The Borgen Project notes that many people in India cannot grow enough crops to feed themselves due to the new farming techniques, lack of water and weather conditions. With the economic hardships that people in India face this factors into why many families sell their daughters into labor for loans, which really means a fate of abuse and rape for girls as young as 12 years old, to brothels in India.


Guatemala, being one of the poorest countries in Latin America with over 16 million people, 59 percent of them live in poverty (World Food Programme). Guatemala also faces a economic and food security crisis due to drought and natural disasters. The World Food Programme has been working in Guatemala since 1974 running assistance programs that provide food to those affected by natural disasters. The fact is though, that families in Guatemala need more than assistance it times of natural disasters, but also in their day to day life.


In the documentary, “Living on One,” four college students actually embark on the journey to live on one dollar a day in Guatemala. This documentary is available on Netflix. It shows the living conditions and obstacles they have to go through during their journey. Could you imagine? The next time you go to the vending machine for a snack or to a fast food restaurant and complain about the $1.29 you pay for a small fries, think about the millions that value $1. To many $1 is not something to be thrown away on something miniscule, but to provide food for not just themselves, but their families for an entire day.