Thursday, February 4, 2016

$3.10 Poverty Challenge: Agnes’s Story

I’m telling Agnes’s story because our mind and heart wants to find SOME way possible to feel good in doing nothing about the 2/3 of the word population living at the daily poverty level. Agnes’s lifestyle is probably the only way to make it possible…probably. We begin with the reasonable assumption that Agnes and her family live at the $1.90 per day rather than the $3.10 per day poverty line because she lives deep in the village.

Agnes is married to Pr Patrick and they have five children. They live on family land in the village, which means they don’t pay rent or taxes on their land or homes. They farm cassava to provide food and sell some in the local market. Let’s say they have $1.90 or 6,600 shillings per person leftover after selling some food from their farm. This is how Agnes meets the poverty line for her seven-person family, which means she has 46,200 UGX each day. I know for a fact that Agnes actually has less than 10,000 UGX each day, remember only she and Pr Patrick actually earn money while the kids are in school; but let’s just see what happens.

Let’s presume Agnus prepares tea for her family as Carol did. With all the details, she will spend 8,800 UGX. For lunch Agnus will provide cassava from her farm and beans rather than rice and beans so she’ll spend 10,400 UGX. And for dinner rather than matoke Ages provides cassava from her farm and a chicken from her coop (she does not enough to eat one every day). Obviously two means of cassava every day will not provide for the nutritional needs of the family, but we press on. Agnes will spend 17,900 UGX for dinner for her family of seven. Remember that one chicken scarcely feeds four people.

In all, Agnes estimated that she would spend 37,100 to feed her family of seven in one day. To live at the poverty line, Agnes ought to have 46,200 UGX each day and spends 37,100 on food which leaves 9,100 remaining. She earns six days each week and rests on Sunday, which means she has 54,600 – 37,100 for Sunday meals = 17,500 UGX remains per week.

Agnes needs to keep her family of seven clean and spends about 10,000 on charcoal to heat water for drinking and soap for bathing as well as washing clothing and blankets (2,000 per week). Agnes and Pr Patrick need not pay rent for their home given that they own the land, but certainly those four mud huts (sleeping, kitchen, sleeping, and storage) need regular maintenance most of which can be done using materials and labor right from the land; however the grass roofs require purchased materials (5,000 per week). They sleep on mats that Agnes makes from local fibers and need blankets to stay warm at night, but we’ll just save those seldom replaced items for later.

Before covering the educational needs of their five school aged children, Agnes has 500 shillings per week left over. Agnes still needs to tithe, pay school fees for five children including uniforms and requirements, provide medical care, buy airtime, buy clothing and shoes, and provide all the other little necessities of life. Once again it’s easy to see that 500 UGX is not enough to cover even one dose of malaria medication (11,000) let alone these standard needs.