Poverty can be explained to be a situation, whereby a person is unable to meet his/her basic needs. Most people in society view poverty as a state, where an individual lacks the socially acceptable amount of wealth or money. This amount of socially acceptable wealth or resources varies from one society to another. However, the standard definition of poverty, that has been generally accepted, is the condition, whereby people earn an income of less than one dollar per day (Lusted, 2010).
There are certain kinds of lifestyles that have been identified to be synonymous with people, experiencing poverty in rural areas. These kinds of lifestyles include farmers who survive on rain fed agriculture, pastoralists and fishermen. Persons in rural areas who live according to their traditional lifestyles have also experienced a life of poverty. People in rural areas, earning a living from casual labor, and those, who are landless, have also been found to experience a life of poverty. A life of poverty is also likely to be experienced by the women who lead households in rural areas (Milbourne, 2004).
People, living the kind of lifestyles, named above, experience poverty as a result of some certain underlying factors. One of these factors is the trend of people, living in the rural remote areas and having many children. Most rural dwellers often obtain their income from low paying jobs around them. They are, therefore, unable to develop financially as most of their income is spent in meeting the basic needs of their huge families.
A common characteristic that has been observed among people, living in poverty in rural areas, is that they are highly indigenous in following their cultures and customs. This factor, therefore, greatly limits their drive to engage in high income earning occupations. Therefore, it is inevitable that they will have to experience a life of poverty.
Most small-scale farmers, living in rural areas, dwell in regions that are less fertile. They also depend on unreliable rainfall. These small scale farmers depend on the small amount of products they harvest to earn some little income. They cannot, therefore, progress in terms of wealth creation.
Landless people in rural areas experience a life of poverty because they can only earn a living by offering their services as casual laborers. Income from this occupation is very little to support a lifestyle of wealth that is considered socially acceptable.
Women, living in rural areas, experience poverty as a result of various barriers, hindering them from accessing income generating opportunities. In some communities, these women are denied the right to make decisions and active community participation. They also face difficulties in accessing credit facilities and education. Some communities also hinder women from owning land. These factors cause women in rural areas to live in poverty.
Existence of rural poverty has affected the society in several ways. One of the major effects of rural poverty is the increased levels of rural to urban migration. Rural area dwellers have, over the years, moved to urban centers and cities in large numbers, thereby, causing congestion. This is evidenced by the increased levels of traffic jams. The increased traffic jams have resulted to enlarged levels of air pollution in urban areas. The high pollution levels have culminated in increased cases of chest problems among people in the urban society. Urban congestion has also emerged in the development of a housing problem. This condition has resulted in the development of slums and informal settlements within urban centers. People in these informal settlements live under very poor conditions. Such conditions include the lack of proper sanitation and drainage facilities. It also becomes very difficult for the relevant authorities to supply water and electricity.
Another way, in which the society has changed, is that the levels of crime have increased. People, living in poverty within the rural areas, are forced to engage in illegal and criminal activities in order to earn an income. Deterioration of security is, therefore, an example of how the society has negatively changed.
Poverty in rural areas has also contributed to the occurrence of food shortages. People in rural areas lack capital to buy seedlings and fertilizers. They cannot also afford the latest machinery and technology to employ in the producing food crops. Massive rural to urban migration by the young generation is a result of lacking income generating opportunities that has left rural areas with little or no people to farm. The above explanations offer an illustration of how rural poverty has caused food shortage, which is experienced in the society.
However, there are some efforts being implemented to alleviate poverty in rural areas. Governments and other non governmental agencies have put in lots of efforts to uplift the lives of people, living in rural areas. More resources are being directed towards putting up infrastructure and resources that will generate income for those people, living in the rural areas. A lot of money has been allocated to develop industries in rural areas. These industries will offer employment and income generating opportunities to rural dwellers. Access to education is also being improved, and people, living in rural areas, are being encouraged to increase their academic qualifications. Polytechnics are also being developed to equip rural area dwellers with adequate skills to enhance their chances of gaining well paying jobs. People acquiring these skills will also establish their own businesses and offer services. These efforts will greatly reduce the levels of poverty in rural areas (Lister, 2004).