Published on Voices

#EndPoverty images tell a powerful story

Image of Radha, a rag-picker in Jaipur, India © Tierney Farrell

​In the photo, a beautiful woman named Radha holds her young child in a bleak landscape strewn with refuse. The photo caption reveals she is a rag-picker in Jaipur, India, one of millions making a living from collecting and selling the things other people throw away. We learn that shortly after the photo was taken, her husband died. 

Radha’s image and story, captured by photographer and artist Tierney Farrell (@tierneyfarrell) in June 2014, was one of 10 photographs selected by National Geographic Your Shot as winners of the  #endpoverty hashtag challenge this summer.

In a note to the photographer, National Geographic’s Erika Larsen explained why the photo was chosen: “This is a beautiful image but more importantly you have given us a story. You have followed her life for an amount of time and made us care about her situation.”

Making people care is one powerful way to fight poverty.  Thirty years ago, images of mass starvation in Ethiopia prompted a global response to address the problem. Today, a projected 700 million people live in extreme poverty, on $1.90 a day or less, trying to feed and clothe their children in very adverse conditions. Millions more live just above this poverty line but still face daily struggles to meet their families’ basic needs and to avoid falling even further into poverty. These numbers are too big to imagine, but a photo can offer a glimpse of another person’s reality and raise awareness.

The #endpoverty hashtag challenge, a partnership between National Geographic Your Shot and the World Bank Group, asked photographers to show what #endpoverty meant to them.  How are people helping other people live better lives? How are people helping themselves? What does resilience look like?

Men fishing in Matina River © Henry Doctolero, Jr.

To Henry Doctolero, Jr. from Davao in the Philippines, #endpoverty was embodied in three young men fishing from the local river to earn enough to survive another day.  “Matina River is not clean as other rivers in Davao City. They don't mind if they got sick because of the water. They care about their families. I salute you guys,” said Doctolero. To Larsen, the image said “a lot about our deep desire to help each other and survive.”

The Your Shot images also bring attention to seemingly intractable problems. Austin Beahm of California focused his lens on a “charcoal transporter” in Vietnam, carrying his burden over mountainous terrain. The man is a member of the Hmong ethnic minority in Northern Vietnam and among the poorest of the poor, said Beahm. “Charcoal transporters are paid as little as five dollars a day to produce and haul large loads to nearby cities. It is grueling work, and contributes to #deforestation, and yet there are few options.”
Charcoal transporter, Vietnam © Austin Beahm

What are the solutions to poverty and lack of opportunity? Radford Davis offered some in the caption of his photograph of a mother and her four children living on one meal a day in Sierra Leone. “Even though she's part of a farming family, they don't have enough to eat,” he said. “Ways to improve farming, increase yields, and lower the work load, especially for women, need to be found.”
Mother and children, Sierra Leone © Radford Davis

More than a billion people have escaped extreme poverty in the past 25 years. The World Bank Group and most of the world’s countries formally back the goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030.  Seeing, listening, understanding, and finding solutions, can make it happen.

View the Your Shot winning photos on the World Bank Instagram to learn more about what we’re doing. Tell us what you think about the power of images to end poverty.
Hakeem in His Room, Detroit 2012 © Dave Jordano



A woman sleeping among all the goods she is selling in the local market of Sucre, #Bolivia. | Photograph by @timothycohen | For most of the people in Bolivia, the sales of #local products and handicraft are the only incomes they have. Buying products directly from local suppliers instead of a chain or supermarket is one of the ways to help them to survive. This photo was chosen by @natgeo photographer @erika_larsen for publication through the @natgeoyourshot #endpoverty challenge. What the World Bank is doing: 6 out of 10 people in rural Bolivia live under the poverty line. They face limited economic opportunities, particularly indigenous groups and women. To spark change, we are supporting community grants to fund basic infrastructure and promote sustainable agriculture in the poorest rural areas. #LatinAmerica #LAC #YourShot #localmarket #buylocal #endpoverty

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Corruption leads to Poverty | Photo by Philipp Engelhorn | In the Photo is Mr. Shajahan (40 years) and his family who live in one of the last houses on top of the #Kabul mountains. Up there in winter it is like living on a glacier, no heat, no running water ..-40 C... He is an ex mujahedeen who lost everything after the fight for Kabul (1990). "I fought for my country like everybody else, the old Warlords are driving big SUV's and are rich now , I cannot feed my family. #Afghanistan is doomed, the corruption will eat us all up." This photo was chosen by @natgeo photographer @erika_larsen for publication through the @natgeoyourshot #endpoverty challenge. She described the photo as raw and real, a beautiful moment of a man and his family. What the World Bank Group is doing: Corruption remains a challenge in Afghanistan. We focus on improving the lives of people. For example, grants through our fund for the poorest countries (IDA) are helping to build or rebuild roads connecting isolated villages to health centers and markets in the mountainous central region. #corruption #endpoverty #family#afgahnistan #children #portrait #photography

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Coir and Shy lady | Photo by Jillian Edelstein | In the photo, is Anjalai. Anjalai stands in front of the Coir (coconut husk extract) made by the Coir Unit, which is one of the units in the FXB Suraksha Social #Entrepreneurship Complex in #India. The coconut fibre is used to make matting, as well as several by-products such as bedding for #chickens and compost. The compost is added to the #fruit and #vegetable gardens, which in turn encourages healthy nutritional practices for the FXBVillage families. This photo was chosen by @natgeo photographer @erika_larsen for publication through the @natgeoyourshot #endpoverty challenge. She described the photo as one that was an emotionally environmental portrait both beautiful and bringing important attention to #women’s #entrepreneurship and #health. What the World Bank is doing: Social inclusion and women’s empowerment are key goals of our assistance for India. Among other efforts, we support Tripti, a project in rural Odisha helping thousands of poor women and members of disadvantaged groups start their own businesses. Tripti has reached more than 929,000 households. #coconut #endpoverty #coconuthusk #tamilnadu #worker #nutrition #india

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​This blog was originally posted on Medium.


Donna Barne

Corporate Writer, World Bank

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