Meaning of Poverty

Poverty is a condition of individuals in which their income is so low that they are unable to feed or provide shelter themselves and their families. Poverty is also an inability to earn sufficient income to arrange two square meals a day for him/herself and his/her family members. A person who have less than $1.90 daily income is called poor and his/her condition is poverty. More than twenty three percent of population live below the poverty line. Poverty should also be measured in terms of deprivation. Poverty can be measurement in terms of longevity, knowledge and descent standard of living. According to World Bank, “Poverty is more than inadequate income or human development- it is also vulnerability and a lack of voice, power, and representation.”

Types of Poverty

1. Absolute poverty: - Absolute poverty is a condition in which individuals face the severe poverty. They are deprived from the fulfillment of basic needs such food, shelter, safe drinking water, general health, education etc.

According to Todaro and Smith,Absolute poverty is meant to represent a specific minimum level of income needed to satisfy the basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter to maintain minimum level of living.”

2. Relative poverty: - Relative poverty is a condition of people in which people fulfill their basic needs but they cannot fulfill all their desires and they feel inferior or poor in comparison with others.

According to Mahabub Haq, “The relative poor are those whose average income is less than one third of the national average.”

Causes of poverty

The causes of poverty arises due to the following reasons: 

Social causes: Customs, caste division, customs, dowry, rituals, traditions death rituals.

Economic causes: Unemployment, low wages, low agricultural productivity, Unequal land distribution, loan etc.

Political causes: Governmental policies, decision, Unequal development which helped to migration etc.

Natural causes: Flood, drought, earthquake, epidemic etc.

Physical causes: Disease, illness, physically handicapped, accident, death of earning member, alcoholism and drug abduction.

Illiteracy: Ignorance, Lack of consciousness, do not find employment, unskilled manpower etc.

Status of poverty in Nepal

Poverty alleviation is also one of the major liabilities of the government. Periodic plans based poverty alleviation related activities that are in operation have been founded on policies and strategies targeted at reduction of human poverty and exclusionary conditions by ensuring good governance. According to economic survey of 2077/78 BS, population living below absolute poverty line is 16.67. Karnali province has highest multidimensional poverty and Province no 3 has lowest multidimensional poverty.

Status of Multidimensional Poverty in Nepal



National Level


Province No 1


Province No 2


Province No 3


Province No 4


Province No 5


Karnali Province


Province No 7


Recently poor household identification survey has been conducted in 26 districts. 12, 24,417 household were analyzed in that survey. Out of them 3, 91,831 household were identified as the poor household. Out of them 1, 88,235 households were identified as a highly poor, 1, and 19,748 were Medium poor and 83,848 household were under the General poverty.