Wealth & Poverty
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Causes of World Poverty

  • Location – Whether or not an area has natural resources (e.g oil) to sell outside of their country to raise the economy. (Saudi Arabia has a bad climate, but because of a large Oil Reserve being here, they still have a good source of income). Those countries with similar climates but less oil (e.g. Sudan) are poorer because they have less sources of income.
  • Natural Disasters – Location can make it prone to disasters (e.g. Earthquakes, volcanoes, drought, tidal flooding). These hit LEDC’s and MEDC’s, but developed countries are more prepared for them (through more money and resources) and they can deal with the effects better than LEDC’s.
  • Politics and Corruption – Stable government means no civil war. Corruption happens in unstable countries; sometimes with a few rich people in central government keep their money for themselves rather than allowing it to benefit the poor.
  • Climate – Rainfall is needed for crops. Insufficient rainfall means no water for people to drink. Poorer countries don’t have the facilities to keep and collect th water. Global warming also means drier conditions, so starvation may occur unless people can provide them with food.
  • Population Growth – Can’t afford the extra food when a population grows. It tends to be more popular in poorer areas, due to less contraception and more workers needed.
  • Economic Reasons – World Trade – Crop producers sell to countries which are willing to pay the most money in return. Poorer countries can’t afford these prices and have to depend upon themselves. Self-Production is hindered by Cash Crops.

A short history of poverty and wealth

Around 30 million people die of hunger each year - should this make us angry? What should Christians do with their money? Should they be poor like Jesus or take wealth as a gift from God? Guru Nanak was always a generous person, so should Sikhs in today's world follow his example? Should everyone aim to do something to make the world a more equal place? Will there ever be an end to poverty?

Christian Aid

After WW2, church leaders set up an organisation to help other European refugees made homeless by the war. It became known as Christian Aid in 1964, following a wish to widen the help given to the rest of the war.

They provide practical help for those living in poverty. They also publicises the causes of poverty (Focus is on Climate Change and awareness of HIV, conflict, corruption and unfair trade).

They base their work on the teaching “Lover your Neighbour as yourself” which introduces the parable of the good Samaritan, this teaches that people must be helped even if they are from a different race of religion. Money should be used to help others.

Islamic Relief

Dedicated to reducing poverty and suffering of the world’s poorest people, it started in 1984 and operates in thirteen countries. It has been known to lift people out of poverty and allow them to regain control of their own lives. They recognise the importance of education and training, health and nutrition, child welfare and provision of safe drinking water. They respond to situations and rebuilding to make life as normal as possible.

They base their work from the teaching “If anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people”. This inspires Muslims because they feel as though they are fulfilling Allah’s wishes. Wealth is given by Allah for the good of ALL humanity and therefore should be shared. Giving to charity isn’t voluntary and Zakah (2.5% of savings) should be given each year.


  • What is it? – A system of trading that ensures fair prices are given in return for produce from LEDCs. This is to help provide farmers and workers with a better Quality of Life, with opportunities for development. It was first created in 1992 by charities such as Christian Aid and Oxfam.
  • What do they do? – Fairtrade organisations work with producers to determine minimum prices for the goods. The price covers the cost of the sustainable production of the product and the prices are often negotiated around the global price. Producers are also paid a premium on top of the agreed price, which is invested into Social, Economic and Environmental development.

Christians believe in a good Quality of Life, which means conditions should be fair. Therefore they would be supporters of Fairtrade products. They also believe in Agape, where they should care for everyone, this would include the farmers in LEDC’s.

Muslims believe that they should help in preventing the needless suffering that happens in the world, so by buying Fairtrade produce, they would be fulfilling this.

Long Term and Short Term Aid

  • Short Term Aid = Help which is given when a disaster occurs. A quick fix to a problem aided by the government.
  • Long Term Aid = Where help is set up to provide projects which will last and which the people of the country can manage.

Charities can act quickly when disasters happen because they have a history of natural disasters and so they are already stationed in the countries.

Village Volunteers

Aims to improve life in villages, based upon the idea of;

  • Sustainable livelihood. Social equality and justice.
  • Economic Growth
  • Health Care and Community Development
  • Volunteer Programs
  • Women’s Rights

To work in partnership with indigenous people to renew areas affected by poverty and disease, supports cultural heritage and support the achievement of their goals for the good of people and their environment.

Rainforest Alliance

An independent, non-profit organisation, which works around the world to ensure that forestry, farming and tourism protect the environment. Bringing social/economic benefits to workers, their families and communities.

To meet standards for sustainability, which increases efficiency, reduce waste, minimise pesticide use and ensure access to education and health care. It also brings in larger economies in a global trade.

Religious Teachings on Global Poverty



How this is put into action




Emotions of sympathy or pity that we feel when we see or become aware of someone who is suffering. Includes the desire to do something to help.


Television appeals, pictures or news footage of suffering are uncomfortable to look at and create a feeling of guilt because our compassion makes us want to do something about it. We tend to feel fortunate that we are not in the same position.





Considered to be affair to all parties. If it is unfair to one party, it is considered unjust. Often used in terms of criminal trials. But also the fact many in LEDC’s don’t have access to water or food, could be considered unjust.



Sending out supplies to those who need it, in order to balance out the ‘scales’. This means LEDC’s have supplies (first through short term and then through long term aid) sent to them from a richer (MEDC’s) country.




Someone in charge of someone’s comfort and safety (e.g. flight assistance).

Someone in charge of something valuable for someone else.

Traditionally in charge of property and finance.

Looking after Earth for God.


Allowing people access to land to grow food and have good access to the resources they need to survive. Charities are set up to send resources to those who need it.


e.g. Genesis. Humans are in charge of the Earth.

Christians believe that God is completely just and is totally fair in all his dealing with his creations – all are valued equally. Therefore it can be assumed that world poverty goes against God’s sense of Justice.

Christian view on World Poverty

  • 20% of the world’s population use 86% of the world’s resources.
  • Christians believe that this is not fair – and work to bring justice to the world.
  • They might support the work of a Christian Organisation that fights poverty such as Christian Aid.
  • They might campaign in a non-violent way or write to their MPs to ask for policies to change.
  • They would pray about the issue.
  • Christians are not against well-paid jobs as long as the money is earned fairly and honestly – and as long as the person is prepared to use the money for the good of others.

The parable of the Sheep and the Goats in Matthew 25 teaches us that we need to care for those in need as if they were Jesus. If we don’t we might go to hell.

The parable of the Rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16 warns the rich that if they treat the poor badly then they will go to hell. It offers hope to the poor that they can go to heaven.

The parable of the Rich Fool in Luke 12 tells us to make sure we pile up our riches in heaven, not on earth – that we should not be concerned by material things.

The Good Samaritan tells us to love our neighbour – whoever they are. True love puts everyone first.

Hindu attitudes to Wealth and Poverty

Wealth is seen as something which is good and to be enjoyed if it has been lawfully gained by someone following the dharma of their ashrama.

The Artha-shastra is a book written by Kautilya c.300BCE which talks about gaining wealth morally and religiously.

All Mandirs collect charitable donations which are used to help the poor.

Lord Swaminarayan taught that people should

  • Not gamble, steal or receive bribes.
  • Not indulge in extravagance.
  • Pay fair wages and take care of workers.
  • Show kindness and charity to the needy.

The Laws of Manu teach the importance of generosity which brings good karma.


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