Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Tue Feb 19 07:55:53 MST 2002

Less Than $1 Means Family of 6 Can Eat

By Jon Jeter
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, February 19, 2002; Page A01

MARAMBA, Zambia -- She is sitting on a warped stool in a roofless market
with the ferocious midday sun bearing down on her. A sinewy woman with
deep-set eyes and sharp features that jut sphinxlike from under her black
head scarf, Rose Shanzi awoke with a start this morning, and the primordial
question that jarred her from sleep is stalking her again:

Will she and her children eat today?

It is always a compound question. With five children to feed, often there
is not enough food to go around; tough choices have to be made. Still, all
the answers Rose is searching for today lie in the neat rows of tomatoes
arranged by size, ripeness and price on the wooden table standing at eye
level before her.

"If I sell my tomatoes, we will eat today," she is saying simply. "If I
don't, we don't eat."

To buy enough food to get her family through another day, Rose will need to
earn roughly 75 cents.

Day in and day out, survival for one-fifth of the world's population turns
on what others consider loose change. Much as one woman in a remote town in
southern Africa tries to keep hunger at bay for just a little longer, so
too are 1.3 billion others throughout the developing world who earn, on
average, less than $1 a day.

The percentage of the world's population living on less than $1 a day is
smaller than it was 10 years ago. But in absolute terms it has hardly
budged in more than two decades, actually inching up slightly from its 1990
level, according to World Bank statistics, based on household surveys
around the globe.


Louis Proyect
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