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Theories of Poverty

Discuss about the Security Threats of Global Poverty.

The world has advanced itself with new technological innovations and social change. However, the most serious concern in today’s world remains to be the problem of poverty in many countries. The debate of poverty as a threat to the global security have been going on for decades but a solution is yet to be found for it. The fact that comes to question is if poverty is a global security threat, then to whom is it is threat and under what situations can it be called as a threat. Global security threat is referred to as the actions that intend to harm the safety of a nation or cause suffering to its people and could extend outside it perimeter (Kay 2015). Hence, it is important to understand whether poverty does harm the safety of the nation and whether there are possibilities of it possessing a much greater threat to the global security. The essay will clarify on the prospect of poverty being a global security threat. It will also discuss the different theories that deals with poverty. The further paragraphs will describe the various circumstances in which poverty is a security threat and followed by a conclusion.      

It can be said that poverty is a security threat because where there is no satisfaction there is no happiness and where there is no happiness there is no peace and rest.  Poverty is root of conflicts in a country and is often described as the condition of certain individuals who do not have access to sources of income and are deprived of the necessary human requirements such as food, shelter and water. Poverty is of two types, absolute or relative poverty (Hagenaars 2014). Absolute poverty is the kind of poverty where the individual has absolutely no access to any monetary income and is obstructed from any basic necessity (Saito et al. 2014). On the other hand, relative poverty is derived by comparing individuals to other members of the society (Hagenaars 2014). If an individual is present below the set basic living standard, then they are said to be living in poverty (Ravallion 2017). Poverty has many implications which are health-related as well as possess a threat to the security of the nation (Snarr and Snarr 2016).

Poverty also takes into account certain theories of international relations like liberalism, realism and constructivism to explain its existence in the nation. Liberalism states that it is possible to eradicate conflict and threat with the assistance of the government (Baylis, Smith and Owens 2017). Realism states that the structure of industrialisation and reality has to change to remove poverty from nations (Guzzini 2013). Whereas, constructivism says that if individuals and government shift their ideologies towards poverty, rather than depend on tangible sources, then they can work towards the betterment of the poor people (Adler 2013).

Circumstances Where Poverty Poses Security Threats

Taking into account the above-mentioned theories it can be said that, liberalism explains the problems of poverty as a global security threat. Liberalism states that the government will take the responsibility of protecting the people from getting harmed by others, but it can also be realised that the government in itself can be a threat for the liberty of the people (Weiler 2016). The theory says it is the job of the government to remove those obstacles that can stop the people from living a complete and fulfilling life. Liberals believe in the fact that collaboration with the governing bodies of different nations can help in the reduction of security threats for different nations. Liberals view poverty as an ever-growing aspect due to being ignored by the government (Best 2013). They are often treated as outcasts and ignored, as they cannot contribute to the economy of a nation (Hickey and Du Toit 2013). Therefore, liberals emphasise that the government should look after the people in poverty to reduce the global security threat that it possesses (Dean 2013). Monetary help could be taken from other nations, and collectively the government can help the poor by initiating different programs that can help them to elevate the poor in the society.

Poverty can lead to threat for the security of the nation in different circumstances such as spreading of infectious diseases, degrading of the environment, criminal activities national and internationally, drug rings, distribution chains of arms and weapons for the destruction of mass, human trafficking and even terrorism. The first and foremost thing that is affected by poverty is the emergence of diseases which may be fatal to the human health (Ngonghala et al. 2014). When huge volume of people is absence from better sanitation and infrastructure in many crowding areas create its danger intern of any major outbreak that may or has transpire. For example, the outbreak of Ebola in 2014 begin in the poor communities in West Africa.  This disease outbreak was one of the fastest and the hardest to control among all other contagious diseases creating dismay among constituents of those nations of getting infected from this disease. Due to lack of proper medical and public health system the disease was harder to contain and they started spreading like wildfire and even penetrated the elite community people due to its contagious nature (Chan 2014). Ebola can be cured gradually with good supportive care, but this becomes impossible for the people of the poor communities and hence leads to death of many infected individuals (Fowler et al. 2014). Although the Ebola crisis was in the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, but fear arose around the world when the first case of Ebola was discovered in Nigeria at the airport. Therefore, it became a global security threat as people worry that travellers from that part of the world entering in big cities could potentially spread the diseases globally and could cause many death (Chan 2014). On the other hand, if this Ebola epidemic took place in the Western World for example, it could have been contained in short period of time and fewer death, but due to the high level of poverty present in those countries thing when out of control.  

Implications of Poverty on Health and Environment

Poverty is one of the most common reason for global conflict and security problems. Poverty acts as a substance to the emergence of civil wars and various conflicts in every nation (Cederman, Gleditsch and Buhaug 2013). Poverty can create conflicts in nations and can lead to wars especially poor one usually due to the lack of opportunity within a country. Thus, wars usually occur in those poor countries which in the end put extreme pressure on neighbouring countries and the rest of the world to rescue its citizens (Nelson-Pallmeyer 2017). Some of these refugees could be terrorists or criminals but no ways for nations taking refugees to distinguish such people from the others and also put burdens on those countries economy (Holmes 2015). Thus, the entry of such refugees could cause serious threat to the security of the country. Poverty weakens the government and obstructs its power and authority thereby making it hard to control the conflicts occurring in the country ("Poverty and conflict - GSDRC" 2018). Poverty is caused due to unemployment in the poor countries hence providing no source of possible income and even stops them from getting education and proper knowledge which makes them unable to elevate themselves in the society. Underdeveloped nations are unable to provide proper facilities to their citizens and perhaps due to poor economy system and weak institution (Lewis 2017). The poor class always exists under continuous threat and unrest as they have no future to consider and are not paid attention by the other sections of the society and even the government (Gupta 2015). Moreover, political parties often ignore the demands and development needs of the poor as they do not contribute much to the benefit of the party and are hence excluded from any progress of the state or nation (Mulvey 2016). Due to the negligence and the lack of opportunities among the poor, they tend to build up hatred for political parties and aim to disrupt the peace and harmony of the nation and engage in violent activities (Addison, Bach and Braunholtz-Speight 2013). Additionally, the absence of legal ways to earn money leads some of them to do illegal activities in the hope of earning more money. However, other factors also come into existence such as, lack of concrete plan and hope for some poor people about the future also enables them to engage in conflicts and terrorism as they fail to contribute in any other section of the society (Akhmat et al 2014). Since the poor are venerable in society makes them an easy target for the radical and terrorist groups to use or act on them according to their wishes (Blattman and Ralston 2015).

Poverty and Crime

Poverty also initiates drug abuse and drug trafficking among the people. People of the poor class are under constant mental pressure and resort to drug abuse to occupy their deficiency in life. It is a prevalent scenario among the poor people where drug use is a normal phenomenon (Chakravarthy, Shah and Lotfipour 2013). Drug dealers target the people of these social group as they tend to be illiterate and emotionally unstable due to their problems. People living in poverty are often a social outcast and are treated with negligence and have a bad situation in the society which pushes them to get attached to bad habits. These people also become a target for children trafficking and women trafficking in many states (Sen 2014). Crime syndicates raise a tremendous amount of money from these activities at the expense of the poor people as they realise that the government does not always take these cases to be significant. These activities hence possess a grave threat to the security of the nation as it makes the country vulnerable to illegal crimes and open to social abuse from other countries and crime organisations.

Lastly, poverty is a significant cause of environmental degradation. Not just the society, the environment is also greatly affected by poverty. First and foremost, deforestation is caused due to the sudden increase in population among the poor class ( 2018). The increase in population in these social groups is due to the need for more members who can bring decent income into the family. Due to this increase, more space is needed to provide space for living. Poor people are also very dependent on the natural resources as compared to other people. They depend on these resources for their food and also for fuel (Birhanu 2014). Trees are cut down for wood which they require for cooking their food as they have no proper fuel system like gas in their houses. They also use wood and other resources to build their living space because they usually lack the money or the means to get a real and established housing. Over-exploitation of natural resources leads to many natural hazards and global warming which is a global issue in recent times (Zhen et al. 2014). People in poverty also suffers from many hygienic and cleanliness issues which can cause various problems to the environment and also triggers the spread of various infectious diseases as discussed earlier.


As discussed in the earlier paragraphs there are many results of poverty on the security of a country. However, no concrete evidence has been found which could connect that poverty and security threats are interrelated.


It can be concluded from the above essay that poverty does prove as being a threat to the security of nations. Hence, it is essential for the government to provide any financial aid to those people so that they could work towards their development. The security of a nation should be the priority of the government and the betterment of the poor people their agenda. However, due to the absence of proper evidence, the cause of threats in global security cannot always be pinned on the poor people. The poor people cannot always possess a danger globally as they are in turn affected by the violence and problems that are caused in nations due to the situation that the people in poverty live in. Therefore, it can be deduced that global security threat can occur due to various reasons and not only because of the existence of poverty.   


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