From top-left to bottom-right or top to bottom (mobile):a homeless man in Toronto, Canada; a disabled man begging in the streets of Beijing, China; a mother with her malnourished child in a clinic near Dadaab, Kenya; waste pickers, dated 30 April 2008, Lucknow, India[1]

Poverty is the state of not having enough material possessions or income for a person's basic needs.[2] Poverty may include social, economic, and political elements.[3] Absolute poverty is the complete lack of the means necessary to meet basic personal needs, such as food, clothing, and shelter.[4] The floor at which absolute poverty is defined is always about the same, independent of the person's permanent location or era. On the other hand, relative poverty occurs when a person cannot meet a minimum level of living standards, compared to others in the same time and place. Therefore, the floor at which relative poverty is defined varies from one country to another, or from one society to another.[5]

Many governments and non-governmental organizations try to reduce poverty by providing basic needs to people who are unable to earn a sufficient income. These efforts can be hampered by constraints on government's ability to deliver services, such as corruption, tax avoidance, debt and loan conditionalities and by the brain drain of health care and educational professionals. Strategies of increasing income to make basic needs more affordable typically include welfare, economic freedoms and providing financial services.[6] Meanwhile, the poorest citizens of middle-income countries have largely failed to receive an adequate share of their countries’ increased wealth.[7]