If you’re still thinking about it, the answer is not very.
Starting this Wednesday my wife and I will be taking part in the Live Below the Line Challenge and feed ourselves on only £1 a day each for five days.
It’s a much quoted statistic that 1.4 billion people in the world are currently living in extreme poverty, struggling to meet their basic needs of food, clean water, shelter, sanitation and education – on less than $1.25 a day.
You might think that perhaps it’s possible to live more cheaply in countries in the developing world, where perhaps $1.25 goes a lot further. If so you might be surprised to learn that the figure relates to local purchasing power, ie: the total equivalent goods and services obtainable for $1.25 in the USA.
The Live Below the Line Challenge is an awareness and fundraising campaign that aims to allow those in the developed world to better understand the daily challenges faced by those trapped in extreme poverty.
Those taking part agree to spend only £1 a day on food and drink – the 1.4 billion people in the world really living in that situation also have to find drinking water, shelter, fuel, medicine, clothes, transport and school fees from that £1. Of course it’s impossible, and the more I think about this, the more difficult I find it to imagine the very very hard choices that living on such a small amount of money would demand.
As well as feeling hungry, I expect I’ll find the process of planning, measuring and preparing all my meals pretty time consuming. Like everybody else I’m used to having a range of food available all the time, and not being able to simply go into the nearest shop to buy something when I want is bound to make me feel a little uncomfortable. I also expect it’ll be quite dull – lots of rice, potatoes, beans and soup, but not much sweet stuff, fruit, tea and coffee. There will also be no meet, fish, beer or wine (I know!).
Just to make it extra challenging the kids will be eating normally, and we’ll be preparing all their food . . .
I’m not after any sponsorship, but will be donating whatever we save on food to Christian Aid, one of the participating charities. I’m sure they’d welcome any of your spare cash if you wish, but the main aim is awareness raising.
Most of us could perhaps do with eating a little less, and if you feel inspired to give it a go there’s still time. In fact the campaign suggests that people pick any 5 day period during May that suits them, so you can work around parties and big nights out etc.
There’s something else interesting about Live Below the Line – it’s less than one year old.
It was thought-up by two Australian aid workers returning from Bangladesh in 2008, with the first official campaign in August 2010. Less than ten months later it’s one of the fastest growing anti-poverty campaigns across the world, with backing from several large international charities. It is supported by Hugh Jackman and several other celebrities, and seems to be catching the interest of an unusually wide cross section of people, including several Members of the House of Lords.
I’ll post progress reports and photos of my food on Next Starfish’s Facebook page.
I also imagine I’ll be spending a lot of time next week thinking how lucky I am . . .
Photo attribution http://www.flickr.com/photos/dan4th/2215166779/