Poverty for centuries has been a very severe issue that has troubled many nations while impeding economic developments and progress. Poverty stricken countries are majorly concentrated in the continents of Africa and Asia. Continents like the Americas and Europe have globally been recognized as being wealthier yet still many parts of these ostensible countries face massive cases of poverty. According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, poverty is the state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions (Merriam Webster Dictionary, 2019). The official poverty line is based on what the federal government considers to be the minimum amount of money required for living at a subsistence level (Kendall, 2014). Moving forward with that, absolute poverty is when people do not have the means to secure the most basic necessities of life (Kendall, 2014). Relative poverty is when people may be able to afford basic necessities but are still unable to maintain an average standard of living (Kendall, 2014).
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As of 2018, there are currently 2,987 million people living in Mississippi. Of those 2,987 million people, 571,219 (21.5%) are living in poverty (Center for American Progress, 2019). Of those 571, 219 people, 19.8% contributed to the amount of people who had incomes below the poverty line (Center for American Progress, 2019). Children who are under the age of 18 in related families who had incomes below the poverty line is at a staggering 26.7% (Center for American Progress, 2019). The percentage of working- age women who had incomes below the poverty line is 21.1% (Center for American Progress, 2019). The percentage of working- age men who had incomes below the poverty line is 15.5% (Center for American Progress, 2019). In regards to race and ethnicity, 36.1% are Native American, 31.3% are African American, 21.6% are Latino, 17.2% are Asian American and 12.1% are White, all suffering from poverty (Center for American Progress, 2019). It has been seen that African Americans face tremendous amounts of poverty in Mississippi. Wage gaps are greater for African Americans, particularly women, as opposed to Whites (Hill, 2008). They earned only 69% of what African-American women earned nationally, and only 52% of what white men in the state earned (Hill, 2008). Attaining education for African Americans is a struggle. Twenty-three percent of black women hold managerial and professional jobs, but only 11% of black men (Hill, 2008). Income distribution and home ownership is slowly sinking for African Americans. Nationally, the net worth of the median black household was only about $10,700 or 10% of the median for whites (Hill, 2008). African Americans face the most challenges in Mississippi which increases their chances for absolute poverty.
As of 2018, there are currently over 41 million people living in Sudan, Africa (Frett, 2018). Of those 41 million, almost half of them are living in poverty, approximately 46.5% (Frett, 2018). According to the Human Development Report, Sudan ranked as the 169th poorest country among 177. It also places it 61st among the 77 least developed nations in the world (Frett, 2018). According to the United States Agency for International Development, about 7.1 million people in Sudan are currently in need of humanitarian assistance, while 5.5 million experience food insecurity and are in danger of starvation (Frett, 2018). As well as, around 32 percent of Sudanese children are chronically malnourished (Frett, 2018). According to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, 3.2 million people were internally displaced, including almost 1.9 million children in 2016 (Fret, 2018). Furthermore, in 2015, maternal mortality rate involved 311 deaths per 100,000 live births while the mortality rate for children was 65.1 deaths per 1,000 live births (Frett, 2018). Men, women, and children are affected by these increasingly high statistics. Soil erosion, recurrent droughts, desertification, fuel shortages, currency depreciation, lack of natural resources, food shortages and high inflation levels all contribute to the issue of poverty. The limited size of landholdings, low productivity rates and inability to increase incomes prevent farmers from food production. More than half of the Sudanese people live on less than $1 a day (Frett, 2018). Lack of domestic water supplies are other hindrances for crop cultivation. To avoid these conditions, people have fled from Sudan to the Nile River (Frett, 2018). Source of income, gender, education, head of household, food insecurity, and unemployment all play a vital role in the issue of poverty. The National Baseline Household survey revealed that the most important sources of income for Sudan households are agriculture (40 percent), wage and salaries (31 percent), self-employment (16 percent), and other sources (14 percent) (International Monetary Fund, 2013). Among the small number of households headed by women (17.3 percent) the incidence of poverty is marginally lower (44.2 percent) compared to households headed by men, with an incidence rate of 47.15 percent (International Monetary Fund, 2013). Forty-five percent of the heads of households have had no formal education. The risk of being poor correlates highly with the level of education of the main provider. Households in which the main provider does not have an education make up 60 percent of all poor households compared to only 9 percent where the main provider has a higher education (International Monetary Fund, 2013). Food deprivation is higher in female-headed households (37 percent) than in male-headed households (31 percent) due to better education and higher income in male-headed households (International Monetary Fund, 2013). Unemployment has increased from 11.1 percent in 1993 to 16.8 percent in 2008 (International Monetary Fund, 2013). Unemployment rates are also higher for females than males, at 24.7 percent compared to 13.9 percent. Labor participation rates are very low, which might indicate that many unemployed people are discouraged from looking for jobs because of the reality of high unemployment (International Monetary Fund, 2013).
Consideration of the validity of the comparison
I chose Mississippi and Sudan because they are relatively the poorest places in the entire world. I did my research and Mississippi and Sudan kept coming up. I have only ever heard of Sudan a few time in my life, so I thought it would be interesting to discuss. Mississippi is one of those “loner” states. You do not ever hear much about it, so shedding some light on it could be beneficial.
Mississippi is located in the Northern Hemisphere with a temperate climate zone at 30 degrees and 34 degrees north latitude. Mississippi is also located in the western hemisphere with a longitude ranging from 88 to 91 degrees west (Hutson, 2017). The combination of latitude and longitude coordinates gives the state its absolute location. Mississippi is bordered on the east by Alabama, by Tennessee on the north, by Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and by the Mississippi River on the west (Hutson, 2017). It ranks number 32 in size among the states of the United States and lies in the geographic center of the Gulf South (Hutson, 2017). Physical characteristics of the state include a humid subtropical climate with an average annual temperature of 62 degrees Fahrenheit (the ninth warmest state in the union) and an average annual precipitation of around 52 inches (Hutson, 2017). Another telling physical statistic is that Mississippi averages more than 220 frost-free days a year (Hutson, 2017). The state often experiences natural hazards such as thunderstorms, tornadoes, floods, and hurricanes (Hutson, 2017).
Mississippi’s economy should maintain its relatively slow but steady growth in 2018. A stronger U.S. economy has lifted Mississippi economy to some degree (Miller, 2018). Mississippi has a low threshold and is ranked 45/50 states for labor market freedom (Mississippi Department of Employment Security, 2016). Mississippi has the lowest per capita income but has the lowest cost of living (Mississippi Department of Employment Security, 2016). The unemployment rate is at 5%, the inflation rate is at 3%, and the GDP is at $33,558 (Mississippi Department of Employment Security, 2016). Throughout the 20th century, the economy was primarily focused on the development of the state’s agricultural areas (Evans, 2017). These include cotton, corn, and soybeans (Evans, 2017). Also, Mississippi is the world’s largest producer of pond-raised catfish (Evans, 2017).
Mississippians residences consist of one to three houses, occupied by members of a single or extended family (Illinois State Museum, 2018). Hamlets are larger, consisting of ten or so buildings housing 40 to 50 people. A hamlet may be home to more than one family group (Illinois State Museum, 2018). The Mississippian diet consisted of a mix of cultivated and wild food. White tailed deer is an important source of food (Illinois State Museum, 2018). They eat small animals such as rabbit, beaver, and muskrat (Illinois State Museum, 2018). An important source of protein for Mississippians is fish (Illinois State Museum, 2018). They eat fruits such as plums, and blackberries (Illinois State Museum, 2018). Mississippians eat certain types of nuts like acorns and walnuts (Illinois State Museum, 2018). They eat goosefoot and sunflower plants. Mississippians are known as skilled hunters (Illinois State Museum, 2018). Some of the Mississippians art work is bauxite figurines, incised shell gorgets, capes of carved shell beads, and masks with copper overlay (Illinois State Museum, 2018).
The history of Mississippi is complex. In 1718, the first shipment of slaves arrived (Ferguson, 2019). In 1724, the Black Code was initiated (Ferguson, 2019). In 1798, the first territorial governor was now American territory (Ferguson, 2019). In 1801, the second state of territorial government was put into place (Ferguson, 2019). In 1812, the War began (Ferguson, 2019). In 1817, Mississippi becomes the 20th state in the United States (Ferguson, 2019). In 1821, the first public school opens (Ferguson, 2019). In 1848, the school for the blind was established (Ferguson, 2019). Mississippi was the first state who supported the institution for the handicapped (Ferguson, 2019). In 1863, slavery was finally abolished (Ferguson, 2019). In 1870, public education was established (Ferguson, 2019). In 1929, the Depression began (Ferguson, 2019). In 1964, the Civil Rights Act was established to end segregation in public places (Ferguson, 2019). In 1969, the unitary system of public education was mandated by the federal courts which ended segregation in public schools (Ferguson, 2019). In 1979, procedures were initiated to provide equal education for handicapped children in public schools (Ferguson, 2019). In 2006, sex offender names and faced were placed on roadside billboards for everyone to see (Ferguson, 2019). In 2012, Governor Haley Barbour issued full pardons to 208 inmates (Ferguson, 2019). Of those 208 inmates, 14 of them were convicted murders (Ferguson, 2019). Throughout history and up to present day, Mississippi has endured a handful of tornadoes and hurricanes (Ferguson, 2019).
Mississippi operates as a presidential republic system (Clark, 2017). Mississippi has a governor, lieutenant governor, a secretary of state, an attorney general, a state auditor, a state treasurer, a commissioner of agriculture, and a commissioner of insurance (Clark, 2017).
Sudan is Africa’s largest country (Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan, 2019). It consists of a huge plain bordered on three sides by mountains (Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan, 2019). The Nile River is the most common body water in Sudan (Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan, 2019). Sudan is divided by three regions (Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan, 2019). January through March is typically their dry season, little to no rainfall occurs (Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan, 2019). April is when heavy rain and thunderstorms occur (Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan, 2019). May and June are the warmest months in Sudan (Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan, 2019).
Sudan is the 166th freest economy in the world (Michigan State University, 2019). That is low on the list considering there are about 200 altogether (Michigan State University, 2019). They are 41st out of 47 in regards to labor market freedom (Michigan State University, 2019). That score is below regional and world averages (Michigan State University, 2019). Their unemployment rate is at 12%, inflation is at 32%, and their GDP is at $187 billion (Michigan State University, 2019). The economy is not growing as of now. The main agriculture sources for Sudan are cotton and oil (Michigan State University, 2019).
Traditionally, the focus for Sudanese people has been the local village or nomadic community (Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan, 2019). These relatively small communities are made up of extended families (Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan, 2019). Whether in rural or urban society, the woman’s world has been largely domestic and the man’s world public (Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan, 2019). Usually a family leader is a respected elder (Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan, 2019). Sudan is the region with the most colorful and diversified food (Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan, 2019). The primary food that is known throughout Sudan is a type of bread known as Kissra (Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan, 2019). Kissra is made of durra or corn (Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan, 2019). Sudan’s stews are made up of dried meat, dried onions, spices and peanut butter (Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan, 2019). Two well-known stews are dried ocra and Ni’aimiya (Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan, 2019). Sudanese people eat a specific type of porridge known as Asseeda (Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan, 2019). Asseeda is made with wheat, flour, or corn (Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan, 2019). Meals are eaten around a large, communal tray (Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan, 2019). Their beverages are basically made from fruit (Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan, 2019). Some of the popular beverages are Tabaldi, Aradaib, Karkadai and Guddaim (Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan, 2019).
Sudan has an eventful timeline of events. In 1956, Sudan gained independence (Larson, 2019). In 1998, the United States launches a missile attack one of Sudan’s chemical plants (Larson, 2019). Also in 1998, a new constitution was enacted (Larson, 2019). In 2001, hunger and famine in Sudan affects 3 million people (Larson, 2019). Also in 2001, the Nile River floods leavings thousands of people homeless (Larson, 2019). In 2002, the government attacks SPLA (Larson, 2019). In 2004, the United Nation officer report that systematic killings on villagers is taking place (Larson, 2019). In 2007, violence and killings continues in Sudan. The conflict is in reality a genocide and is still considered the worst humanitarian disaster in the world (Larson, 2019). In 2010, Sudan holds its first national elections in over 20 years (Larson, 2019).
Sudan has a prime minister and chief of state (Michigan State University, 2019). The chief of state is known as the president. Sudan’s government is a federal republic (Michigan State University, 2019).
Mississippi and Sudan are vastly different. The one issue they have in common is poverty. Both are suffering tremendously. Also, their climates are different, but vital to the issue of poverty because during the dry season, farmers are unable to grow crops. Furthermore, when people are living so close together, it is much more difficult to fight off infectious diseases.
Current Social Policy Responses
Bill H.R. 2055 was introduced into the House of Representatives by Representative James Clyburn to provide an increased allocation of funding under certain programs for assistance in persistent poverty counties, and for other purposes (H.R. 2055, 2019).
Through the Investment Encouragement Act, the government offered generous incentives to domestic and foreign investors to invest in agriculture, manufacturing and services, with a view to increasing growth and employment (Ahmed, 2015). The Act aims to encourage investment in projects that achieve the national strategy, development plans and investment initiatives of Sudanese and non- Sudanese private sector, as well as cooperative, mixed and public sector, rehabilitation and expansion in investment projects (Ahmed, 2015).
ChildFund is working in Mississippi to fight child poverty and ensure that children in need have the opportunity to live healthy and happy lives (Spence, 2013). ChildFund is an organization working to help deprived, excluded, and vulnerable children rise up out of poverty (Spence, 2013). Last year, we helped equip the North Delta Youth Development Center in Lambert, Mississippi, with new books, educational tools and Internet access, giving local children a safe place to learn and play (Spence, 2013). We also helped the center create a local Parent Education and Mentoring Project (Spence, 2013). By providing Mississippi residents with this type of support, Mississippians are able to see light being shed on the issue of poverty (Spence, 2013).
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Housed at the University of Mississippi, The North Mississippi VISTA Project focuses on fighting poverty through education (Claverie, 2018). The missions range from adult literacy to arts enrichment (Claverie, 2018). The Edwards Fellowship Center has a food pantry that provides food to the 23 percent of Mississippi residents who are food insecure because they do not have the money or access to good quality food (Claverie, 2018). In addition to the food pantry, the Edwards Fellowship Center also provides health care to those who do not have insurance (Claverie, 2018).This health care includes filling prescriptions, medical tests and doctor appointments (Claverie, 2018).
The Community Development Fund (CDF) funded by the donor community has supported projects identified and implemented by poor communities in 4 states of Northern Sudan. Notable progress has been made with these projects (Ahmed, 2015).
The Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper is working towards reducing poverty in Sudan (International Monetary Fund, 2013). The 3-Year Salvation Economic Program (SEP) is an emergency plan to deal with the adjustment to new political and economic realities following the decision of the South to secede (International Monetary Fund, 2013). The IPRSP will help to fine tune the preparation and implementation of the SEP and a new 5-year Plan, and provide a foundation for the full PRSP (International Monetary Fund, 2013). The strategy has the potential to pull on Sudan’s natural resources, the neighborhoods of wealthy countries to the north, Foreign Direct Investments and to build partnerships (International Monetary Fund, 2013).
- An Act Targeting Resources to Communities in Need. H.R. 2055. 116th Cong. 2019.
- Ahmed, N. (2015). Fighting Poverty in Sudan. Retrieved from http://www.iariw.org/egypt2015/nuha-ahmed.pdf
- Center for American Progress. (2018). Mississippi Report – 2018. Retrieved from https://talkpoverty.org/state-year-report/mississippi-2018-report/
- Clark, E. (2017). The Government of Mississippi: How it Functions. Retrieved from http://mshistorynow.mdah.state.ms.us/articles/276/government-of-mississippi-how-it-functions
- Claverie, C. (2018). Poverty in Mississippi: What’s being done about it? The Student Printz. http://www.studentprintz.com/poverty-in-mississippi-whats-being-done-about-it/
- Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan. (2019). About Sudan, History of the Sudan, The Sudanese Family Life, Sudanese Food. Retrieved from http://www.sudanembassy.org/index.php/about-sudan-sp-942178989
- Evans, L. (2017). Why is Mississippi’s economy still lagging? Retrieved from https://www.clarionledger.com/story/opinion/columnists/2017/09/30/why-mississippis-economy-still-lagging/714702001
- Ferguson, J. (2019). Mississippi History Timeline. Retrieved from http://www.ereferencedesk.com/resources/state-history-timeline/mississippi.html
- Frett, C. (2018). Top 10 Facts about Poverty in Sudan. Retrieved from https://borgenproject.org/top-10-facts-about-poverty-in-sudan/
- Government. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.ms.gov/State
- Hill, M. (2008). Solving the Poverty Problem in Mississippi. Retrieved from http://www.mississippi.edu/urc/downloads/solvingpoverty_problem.pdf
- Hutson, M. (2017). The Geography of Mississippi. Retrieved from http://mshistorynow.mdah.state.ms.us/index.php?id=295
- Illinois State Museum. (2000). All about Mississippi. Retrieved from http://www.museum.state.il.us/muslink/nat_amer/pre/htmls/m_food.html
- Index of Economic Freedom. (2019). Sudan. Retrieved from https://www.heritage.org/index/country/sudan
- International Monetary Fund. (2013). Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper. Retrieved from https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/scr/2013/cr13318.pdf
- Kendall, D. E. (2014). Sociology in our times: The essentials (Vol. 9th). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
- Larson, G. (2019). Brief History of South Sudan. Retrieved from https://www.waterforsouthsudan.org/brief-history-of-south-sudan
- Michigan State University. (2019). Sudan: Government. Retrieved from https://globaledge.msu.edu/countries/sudan/government
- Miller, C. (2018). Overview and Outlook for Mississippi’s Economy. Retrieved from http://www.mississippi.edu/urc/downloads/presentations/econ_oview_10-18.pdf
- Mississippi Department of Employment Security. (2016). An In-Depth Look at Mississippi’s Economy. Retrieved from https://mdes.ms.gov/media/100392/reflections2016.pdf
- Poverty. 2019. In Merriam-Webster.com. Retrieved July 15th, 2019, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/poverty.
- Spence, C. (2013). Fighting Poverty in Mississippi. Retrieved from https://www.childfund.org/Content/NewsDetail/2147489344/
- The World Bank Group. (2016). Sudan – Community Development Fund. Retrieved from http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/103601474940821044/Sudan-Community-Development-Fund
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