Live Below the Line, Day 1. Would You be Able to do This?

World map showing percent of population living...

World map showing percent of population living below their national poverty line. Grey means no information. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the challenges I’ve decided to take on is the Live Below the Line challenge this week. Live Below the Line is basically subsisting on $1.50 of food per day or less, for five days. According to their website,, the amount of $1.50 was chosen because this is the globally accepted figure for extreme poverty.

The International Extreme Poverty Line was last defined by the World Bank in 2005 as $1.25 per day. They arrived at that figure, according to Live Below the Line, “by finding the purchasing power adjusted average national poverty line of the world’s 10 – 20 poorest countries.” In other words, instead of finding the average national poverty line of every country in the world, they looked only at the countries where poverty is at its worst, to see what it means to live in truly extreme poverty. Those numbers were averaged together, and that’s how they came up with the International Extreme Poverty Line.

For more information, go here:

There are some major differences in what I’m doing vs. what those who actually live in extreme poverty must do. You see, for those living in extreme poverty, that $1.50 per day has to cover everything: Food, housing, transportation, basic healthcare, everything. For me, the $1.50 only covers food. I get to stay in my climate-controlled house, I get to wear clean clothing, I get to take a good shower every day, I get to sleep in a clean bed each night. I have my computer and Internet, my movies, running water, and all the various modern conveniences we in the developed world take for granted.

Another difference is that I can be picky with my food if I so choose. My breakfast and lunch today had fruit in them. Not much, but it was there. For those that live in extreme poverty, unless they’re able to grow it themselves or otherwise obtain it for free or in barter, fruit can be a luxury. So can meat and fish. I chose to add plain, canned tuna to my diet this week because here in the U.S., I can get a ton of canned tuna for very little money. In a lot of developing countries, there’s very little access to meat and fish, if any at all, and oftentimes, access to it depends on hunting. People who live in extreme poverty eat what they can get, and what they can get isn’t much.

The third difference is that if I get sick this week from lack of calories or certain nutrients I can “cheat,” and eat what my body needs to recover. I’m not diabetic, but I am prone to hypoglycemia, and I often eat something high in sugar, such as candy or cookies, followed by a good serving of fruit, to stabilize my blood sugar when it decides to crash. If you live in extreme poverty, oftentimes you’re malnourished all the time and prone to all the symptoms and health issues that come with that, and the choice of changing your diet to feel better, or see a doctor for treatment, is all but nonexistent.

So, then, why bother to do it if I won’t actually force myself to experience as much as possible about living in extreme poverty? Because limiting myself to $1.50 per day is supposed to be a taste of what it’s like. To feel the hunger grow, even if I try to keep my meals balanced enough to keep from experiencing certain problems later this week. So far today, on Day 1, between breakfast and lunch, I’ve eaten 2 oz of plain canned tuna, 2 oz of boiled rice, and 3/8ths of a pear. I’m already feeling slightly shaky, and I’ve got tonight and 4 more days to go.

I intend to see the challenge through all the way to the end. And then I’ll have to be careful about how much I start eating again. But I have that choice. At the end of this week, I can go back to eating full meals, and feeling satisfied, and getting all the calories I need each day. The impoverished don’t have that, this, and worse, so much worse, is what they spend their lives living.

For more information, go to


6 Responses to “Live Below the Line, Day 1. Would You be Able to do This?”

  1. 1 chrisjevann

    Wish you all the best with this challenge, am sure you will succeed! Thnx for the Pingback to my blog.

  2. Eu quero agradecer a você por esta excelente leitura!

    Eu definitivamente amei cada pedacinho dela. Eu tenho você bookmarked seu site para verificar o novo material que você postar.

  3. Good info. Lucky me I found your blog by accident (stumbleupon).
    I have saved it for later!

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