The One Billion Who Live on a Dollar a Day

Monday, September 01, 2014

poverty dollar a day Alvaro Kalancha Quispe, 9, opens the gate to the stone pen that holds the family’s alpacas and llamas each morning so they can graze throughout the hillsides during the day. Bolivia - Alvaro Kalancha Quispe, 9, opens the gate to the stone pen that holds the family’s alpacas and llamas each morning so they can graze throughout the hillsides during the day. (© Renée C. Byer/Courtesy of Renée C. Byer)

We are re-airing this interview which originally aired on July 7, 2014. 

More than one billion people around the world live on a dollar a day. While the reasons for their poverty may be different across geographic regions and political circumstances, the results are much the same. Thomas Nazario looks at the ways extreme poverty severely limits people’s options in life, and that the cycle of poverty is nearly impossible to break without help. His book Living on a Dollar a Day shares the personal stories of some the poorest of the poor.


dollar a day e-waste dump
© Renée C. Byer/Courtesy of Renée C. Byer
In an e-waste dump in that kills nearly everything that it touches, Fati, 8, works with other children searching through hazardous waste in hopes of finding whatever she can to exchange for pennies.

While balancing a bucket on her head with the little metal she has found, tears stream down her face as the result of the pain that comes with the malaria she contracted some years ago. This is work she must do to survive.

dollar a day poverty ghana
© Renée C. Byer
In the back roads of Ghana, the women and girls of Nkwanta are often seen carrying overhead large buckets of cassava (a starchy edible root), which they farm and then bring home to their villages.

 It serves as a staple in their diet. Subsistence farming is the number one livelihood of the extreme poor.

dollar a day poverty ghana Kayayo girls
© Renée C. Byer
Kayayo girls in Ghana live in communal settings that require the least amount of rent, often near or on top of the city dump.

Many Kayayo girls carry heavy loads on their heads and work with babies strapped to their backs. They work six days a week, and on Sunday they tend to daily chores such as laundry, cooking and cleaning. "Everyone is struggling so we can't help each other," said Sharifa Monaro, 23, center.

© Renée C. Byer
In Bolivia, Alvaro Kalancha Quispe, 9, opens the gate to the stone pen that holds the family’s alpacas and llamas each morning so they can graze throughout the hillsides during the day.

He then heads off to school, but must round them up again in the evening in the Akamani mountain range of Bolivia in an area called Caluyo, about an hour from the city of Qutapampa. In this part of the world, the highlands of Bolivia, approximately 13,000 feet above sea level, residents live in homes with no insulation, no electricity, and no beds. Their water comes from streams that run off the snow-covered mountains. Their livelihood lies with their animals, for each animal produces about three pounds of fur each year, and each pound of fur is sold for 18 bolivianos, which amounts to about $2.50 U.S. All in all, this family may earn about $200 of income each year from the herd they watch over.


Thomas Nazario

Comments [1]

Florin from New Jersey

Good Morning Leonard,

I listened the interesting episode that had as guest Mr. Thomas Nazario.
Unfortunately I will not use the time and space to mention what I did learn, like or agree. I am focusing on what I disagree with Mr. Thomas Nazario.
He mentioned Romania as an European country with people living in sewers and having one dollar per day. It is correct, but the way it was presented by Mr. Nazario suggested that there are a lot of people in this situation.
This is wrong - terribly wrong.
There may be few dozens of people living in the sewers of Bucharest and occasionally with one dollar per day (and occasionally more than that). Bucharest is a city with almost 4 million people living in it and in the suburbs. The way of life of one person is not representative if other 50 thousand or 100 thousand live a different life.
I walk every day on the streets of downtown Manhattan - the center of the Universe, the crème of the "capital of the Millenium".
Every 50 feet, 100 feet or 200 feet there is a beggar claiming anything he or she can figure to make the walkers to drop something. I guess most of them are homeless. The people of New York are tough, hard workers and not liking to see young and apparently healthy people asking for help. So they are not too generous with beggars. An unlucky beggar of New York may end with a dollar per day, if they don't know to impress the audience.
And I did not include into the picture the people who open every single trash bin to take the bottles and the cans for 5 cents each - in the very center of the "capital of the world".
Are the beggars and bottle hunters representative for the average New Yorker ? NO.
Are the few dozens of sewer dwellers representative for the 4 million people of Bucharest, Romania ? NO.
Mr. Nazario, your guest, should better learn from better sources about the life of the average Romanian, instead of getting misinformed by the same few stupid stereotypes about Romania or Bucharest.
Leonard, I suggest that in one vacation to visit Romania and walk in the center of Bucharest. You'll be surprised ... I bet it will be a good surprise.
Best regards,

Sep. 03 2014 01:16 AM

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