Rethink Poverty.The Hard Facts
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Rethink Poverty

Main PageAudio StoriesThe hard factsGet the oxfam rice care packagedonate

Poverty isn’t just hunger or not having enough money.
Let’s look at the data and let the stats show us what poverty looks like around the world.

 

 Impacts of Extreme Heat on Street Cleaners

Extreme weather exacerbated by climate change has had a major impact on street cleaners. In July and August of this year, Oxfam Hong Kong (OHK) commissioned a research team to visit 200 frontline outdoor cleaners across several districts in Hong Kong. Ninety per cent said they had to work in the sun most of the time, while nearly 70 per cent needed to work in the heat all day long. Despite this, employers have yet to provide them with cooling equipment and have failed to comply with the Labour Department’s guidelines on working in hot weather.

Extreme weather affects us all, but makes life more difficult for those who live in poverty. In very hot weather, street cleaners face additional risks at work. In addition to being exposed to the extreme heat, they also lack time for rest as well as tools to help them cool down; their health is also more likely to be negatively impacted.  Learn more - ‘Impacts of extreme heat on street cleaners’ report (Chi only)

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Oxfam Hong Kong recorded an average of 34.3 degrees in areas where street cleaners work; temperatures in some places even soared to a sweltering 37 degrees! The red place markers on the map point at areas that street cleaners feel are the hottest; these are mainly places that are directly exposed to sunlight.

Life of a street cleaner in the intense heat (Photo credit: Cho Man Wai/Oxfam Hong Kong)

娣姐(化名)今年64歲,任職食環署外判清潔工。為免「手停口停」,娣姐寧願天天上班工作,每月只放假一天。

Di, 64, is one of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department’s outsourced street cleaners. Since she relies heavily on the income she makes each day, she only takes one day off a month. 

酷熱天氣下工作,笑問娣姐有什麼「裝備」?她笑笑指著衣服:沒有,我就用袖子抹汗!工作服既不索汗亦不透氣,她一直流汗至衣服濕透。

We asked what Di uses to fight off the extreme heat. She smiled and pointed at her clothes: ‘Nothing special, I just use my sleeve to wipe the sweat off my face!’ Her work clothes are neither sweatproof nor breathable; they are usually drenched in sweat.
 

汗流浹背是娣姐的工作日常。

Constantly sweating while working is part of Di’s everyday life.

娣姐所戴的防曬帽,是她自己親手構思和製作,外層的遮雨布來自破爛了的雨傘,是她遮風擋雨的妙法;內層則是挺身的竹帽。

Di holding the sun hat that she designed and upcycled. The outer layer – made from waterproof fabric from an old umbrella – helps protect her from the elements, while the inside is a bamboo hat.

娣姐還想到在竹帽頭圍加上繩圈加高,讓竹帽更透氣。

Di also weaved a net inside the hat to make it sit slightly off of her head so that it would be more breathable.

娣姐每天工作只帶兩樽熱水,她說:「我帶熱出來,因為冷水太容易飲晒,熱水反而可令自己慢慢飲。」

Di only brings two bottles of hot water to work every day. She explained: ‘I bring hot water because cold water is too easy to drink. By bringing hot water, I won’t want to drink as much.’

 What’s the inequality virus?

Oxfam's report ‘The Inequality Virus’ published in January 2021 revealed that the 1,000 richest people on the planet recouped their COVID-19 losses within just nine months, but it could take more than a decade for the world’s poorest to recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic.

Inequality is also a spiralling crisis in Hong Kong. The ‘Hong Kong Poverty Situation Report 2019’ published by the government shows that the number of people living in poverty in 2019 (before policy intervention) was as high as 1.49 million. And with the pandemic, the unemployment rate soared and even reached a 17-year high at one point. At the peak of unemployment between December last year and February this year, more than 260,000 people were unemployed. And although the unemployment rate dropped as cases started stabilising in Hong Kong, it still remains higher than pre-pandemic levels.  Learn more about the Inequality Virus.


 Poor family = poor diet. Fact or fiction?

The pandemic has had a huge impact on Hong Kong’s economy, and families experiencing poverty have been hardest hit. In the face of under- and unemployment, poor households have had no choice but to cut back on the basics like food and clothing to ease their financial burdens. When buying food, they often opt for whatever’s most inexpensive, but this can lead to a poor diet for their children. What makes matters worse is the lack of space in subdivided households; this limits the cooking methods they can use and the dishes they can make, so oftentimes their children become less interested in eating. Sometimes parents pander to their children’s tastes too often too and don’t consider the nutritional value of what they’re eating.  Learn more about Give a Meal.

 

廚廁合一的環境

Cooking is quite a challenge for those in subdivided flats as bathrooms are often makeshift kitchens.

狹窄的煮食環境

Subdivided flats often offer little space for cooking.

 How bad will climate change get? 

Global warming has become one of the most serious causes of famine, poverty, injustice and migration.

With just 1°C of global heating in recent years, deadly natural disasters have followed one after the other around the world. Cyclones have torn through Asia and Central America, leaving many homeless. And in Africa, huge locust swarms across the continent have severely damaged crops and ravaged farmers’ livelihoods. Over the last 30 years, the number of climate-related disasters has tripled.

Over the past 10 years, disasters caused by extreme weather have left people displaced. And between 2008 and 2018, over 20 million people a year – one person every two seconds – were internally displaced by extreme weather disasters.

People who live in poverty are often hit first and worst by climate change, but are least responsible for the crisis. The richest one per cent of people in the world, approximately 63 million people, are responsible for more than twice as much carbon pollution as the 3.1 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity.  Learn more about how we’re fighting climate change.

 

氣候變化加劇了厄爾尼諾現象,令埃塞俄比亞的索馬里地區連續多年出現嚴重旱情,牧民缺水缺糧,賴以為生的牲畜,不是瀕死就是已經死亡。樂施會自2011年起在當地協助農戶及牧民解決水荒、發展生計、加強防災意識及自救能力。(照片︰潘蔚能 / 樂施會義務攝影師)

El Niños are getting stronger due to climate change. With one of the strongest El Niño ever recorded in 2016, irregular weather patterns in Ethiopia’s Somali region have made rainy season more erratic and unpredictable. Some villages have even seen no rainfall in over a year. Oxfam has been working with communities since 2011 to provide emergency water in the worst affected areas, to introduce disaster risk reduction measures and work with affected populations to develop their livelihoods and ensure food security. (Photo: Poon Wai-nang / Oxfam)

氣候變化加劇厄爾尼諾現象,令東非多國連續多年出現嚴重旱情,超過2,800萬人長期受糧食短缺問題困擾。2019年10月開始,當地更出現異常降雨,導致沙漠蝗蟲孵化量暴增,數十億隻蝗蟲肆虐,吃掉成千上萬英畝的農地,對當地糧食供應和經濟造成巨大威脅。

With climate change exacerbating El Niño events, many countries in East Africa have been devastated by severe droughts for years, resulting in long periods of food shortages for over 28 million people. Abnormally heavy rains since October 2019 have also contributed to a devastating locust outbreak. Thousands of acres of farmland have been destroyed by billions of locusts, threatening the food supply and economies of these countries. (Photo: FAO / Sven Torfinn)

氣候變化帶來了更多突發性的極端氣候災害事件,令貧困農村社區和小農失去農作物(糧食和收入)、居所、財產或生命。樂施會與民間組織「農民種子網絡」,向廣西壯族自治區的農民提供培訓,協助他們發掘和保存優質的種子,透過生產適合當地氣候、有別於大型種植場的蔬果品種,提高競爭力和收入。

Climate change has brought about more sudden and extreme weather disasters, causing poor rural communities and small farmers to lose their crops (affecting both their food and income), shelter, property or even their lives. Oxfam and local community organisation Farmers' Seed Network provide farmers with training in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region to help them discover and preserve high-quality seeds. By producing fruit and vegetable varieties suitable for the local climate that differ from large-scale plantations, they can improve their competitiveness and incomes. (Photo: Wang Wenyan / Oxfam)