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Saturday, June 8, 2013

Feature: Live Below the Line Campaign

Poverty exists everywhere in the world, including in Canada. Extreme poverty, however, is a very specific type referring to the most vulnerable, impoverished people in the world.

In 2005, the World Bank defined the international extreme poverty line as living on less than $1.25 US per day (adjusted for purchasing power parity) -- for everything, from health care and transport to shelter and food. Adjusting for inflation since and the Canadian dollar, the extreme poverty line would be the equivalent of living on $1.75 CAD a day.

Today, 1.4 billion people around the world live in extreme poverty.

What is Live Below the Line?
Source: Live Below the Line

Live Below the Line is an initiative of the Global Poverty Project, an education and campaigning organization that aims to increase the number and effectiveness of people taking action against extreme poverty.

This year, Live Below the Line is running simultaneously in Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, and the US, with more than 20,000 people signing up to help fundraise and spending five consecutive days living below the line.

During the campaign, which runs until June 30, participants can spend no more than $1.75 on food and drink (excluding tap water). This works out to $8.75 with which to buy all the ingredients for five days of meals -- no donated food from friends or family, or food that you've gardened at home (unless you account for the price of production).

The campaign, however, is not about pretending to be extremely impoverished, the Canadian campaign manager Erin Deviney pointed out. It is about raising awareness about the difficult choices that over a billion people around the world must make in order to survive.

For more detailed information on the campaign and challenge, click here.

Source: Live Below the Line

How do I get involved?

The original Canadian challenge ran from April 29, 2013 to May 3, 2013, but people can still sign up to participate in the challenge and supporting one of five Canadian partners through fundraising.

You can also head over to the Live Below the Line website to donate either to a participant or directly to one of the partners.

Want to find out more about Live Below the Line? Check out their website here.

Interested in what others are saying or want to join the conversation?

Metro News: Live Below the Line: Can you survive off $1.75 a day?
In a Nutshell: Could You Live Below the Line?
Huffington Post Canada: Is the Global Poverty Project's 'Live Below the Line' Campaign an Effective Way to Help the Poor?
Blood, Sweat and Berries: Takeaways From the Living Below the Line Challenge
A Life Unexamined: Why I Won't Live Below the Line
On Line Opinion (Australia): Measuring the world's poor who 'live below the poverty line'
Good Magazine: Let's Stop Doing These "Pretend to Be Poor" Experiments
Global Poverty Project: It's Not "Playing Poor," It's Symbolic Action! (Response to Good Magazine)


  1. Here in Vancouver, we are two professional Canadian Citizens looking for job. It is almost nine months that we live in extreme poverty. Each month, we can spend only $150 for food. We do not buy meat or ice cream and not even cheese or tomato. What we buy and what we eat is like a fiction story but it is the reality, reality of being out of job and out of every resource. While suffering, surviving and trying to get out of this condition is our goal. We think about poverty all days, every day. We live in poverty every hour and every minute. Still, we are thinking of others as well. We volunteer with some organizations. We do not want to lose our human nature. When it comes to involvement in a campaign against extreme poverty, we say no one will understand what means poverty by pretending to think about poor. It is just a joke. You may think it is about awareness. We say it is insult.

  2. Thank you for your comment. What you are describing -- the lack of understanding that many people have about the reality of living with a very low income -- is exactly what this campaign is trying to highlight. Many people learn best when they experience something personally, even if only for a short time. This campaign provides participants with that education opportunity.

    However, I would encourage you to submit your comments directly to the Campaign organizers (https://www.livebelowtheline.com/ca). We reposted the information, but are not the group that organizes the event, and so cannot respond directly to your concerns. Thank you.