Poverty: The main obstacle to development


While IRT and countless other charities focus on access to education, clean water and improved sanitation practices, one major issue remains. Poverty. Poverty is the original source of suffering that is preventing millions of people to improve their livelihoods. At IRT, we want to support the communities we work with to lift themselves out of poverty, so it is important we do not forget that it remains the largest obstacle. While poverty rates remain high around the world, the reasons are vastly different among the countries it deeply affects. This means that development organisations must understand that they need different approaches to alleviating poverty depending on the country.

We’ve highlighted the main causes of poverty in Jordan, South Sudan and Uganda, and outlined why it is difficult for governments to tackle these major issues.


While Jordan is considered an upper middle income country, and counts 14.4% of the population living in poverty, we’ve included this country because of its unique situation regarding refugees. Of the nearly 6 million people residing in Jordan, 10% are Syrian refugees, and this number only accounts for those registered with the UNHCR. Of the 656,400 registered, 141,556 live in camps. The largest camp is Za’atari. It is home to over 80,000 refugees. Every person who lives in Za’atari relies on International aid organisations for help with everything from health services to food rations.
While life in a refugee camp is not ideal, many don’t even make it past the border. After attacks on a Syrian/Jordanian border post in July 2016, Jordan closed its borders to Syrian refugees. This has led to the influx of refugees at a makeshift camp in an area called the ‘Berm’, located near the Syrian, Jordanian and Iraqi border. There are no toilets, electricity or running water at the Berm. Families pitch homemade tents and wait. Many children and elderly refugees have died at the Berm as a result of malnutrition and lack of medical care.

South Sudan

The ongoing conflict in South Sudan has deeply affected millions of people. The country is one of the 31 low income countries in the world. Nearly 80% of the population lives in poverty. More than one third of the population lacks secure access to food.
The country is rich in natural resources. It has the potential to improve based on the oil, silver, iron ore and copper resources, but conflict continues to inhibit any progress.
Conflict has blocked the path towards inclusive and sustainable development. The people of South Sudan deserve as human beings: justice, rule of law accountability, reconciliation, and healing and these have yet to be implemented.


Uganda has vastly improved since the 1990s, but the country is still one of the poorest in the world. It is currently the 20th poorest in the world and on the World Bank’s list of low-income countries. 19.7% of the population lives in poverty. The poverty rates vary by region in Uganda. Northern Uganda was the hardest hit region during the LRA insurgency, so the rate of poverty consistently falls between 40% and 60%. The fact that much of the north is rural also attributes to the high rates of poverty. Much of the rural population are subsistence farmers (like the people in our StepUp programmes). They cultivate crops and raise livestock for their families to eat and they often struggle to earn an income due to the lack of resources in such remote locations.


War and conflict have been major obstacles to development in all three countries, and even though Uganda is considered ‘peaceful’, the people and the economy are still reeling from the effects of war and terrorist rebel groups. While international aid is a temporary relief, human beings cannot thrive by simply being given the minimal amount that aid organisations can provide for them.


The millions of people living in poverty worldwide need the resources to lift themselves out of poverty. By giving them a system of support and the boost they need, through microloans, scholarships for education and training programmes, people will learn new ways to generate income and to feed their families. Our StepUp programme is a great example of this. Families are given opportunities to learn how to improve all aspects of their life. A multidimensional approach to eradicating poverty is the best way to create sustainable change.

Support IRT today.