Living #BelowtheLine Again

05/01/2015 01:48 pm ET | Updated May 01, 2016
Claudia Dewald via Getty Images

People have asked me why I'm taking the Live Below the Line challenge again. Yes, it was a struggle to plan, shop, cook and eat on $1.50 per day for five days last year. I'm thankful I don't have to do that every day, and it's humbling to think of the hundreds of millions of people who do.

Photos from my Live Below the Line experience in 2014.

But, in addition to raising funds for Heifer International, I want to raise awareness on two points this year.

First, when we talk about people living on $1.50 per person, per day, that includes more than just the cost of food and beverage. That sum covers nutrition, clothing, housing, transportation, health care and so on. Consider how much more difficult this challenge would be if we truly attempted to live on $1.50 a day. Most of us would probably have to leave our climate-controlled homes (on foot) to accomplish that.

Second, we have to start thinking beyond the extreme poverty line. At Heifer, we are analyzing what it takes for smallholder farmers in each of our country programs to earn a true livable income -- the money it costs to live a dignified life. In many places, it's well above the extreme poverty line.

In fact, I was in China last month with many of our Asia area program staff, and a livable per-person, per-day income ranges from $1.50 in Bangladesh to as high as $3.81 in the Philippines.

So when we get excited as we get close to the end of "extreme poverty," we cannot let ourselves off the hook. Our jobs will be far from done if we want to sustainably end hunger and poverty. Families need a secure income that allows them to educate their children (including the girls); feed themselves adequately across every month of the year; and have proper housing, water, hygiene, etc.

We have the power to do it; we must make the commitment to do so.