The Challenge: some background

14 Apr

(heavily adapted from

What are you doing again?

Spending a maximum of £1/day on all food and drink for 5 days.

And what is this Line you will be Living Below? (or, why £1?)

In 2005 the World Bank defined the International Extreme Poverty Line as USD $1.25/day. If someone lives below this amount they are defined as living in extreme poverty. The UK equivalent has been worked out to be £1/day.

£1/day? That’s not so bad – that’s RM4.67 (Malaysian ringgit). That could buy you 3 packets of nasi lemak, leave you with enough for an Ipoh White Coffee, AND there would be change at the end of it. 

(For the uninitiated, I am Malaysian born and bred. And from Ipoh of course. Michelle Yeoh’s hometown! Yeah)

But no. That’s not how it works.

The USD $1.25 figure was calculated using Purchasing Power Parity – which works out how much you would have to live on each day if you were living in extreme poverty in the United States. So countries with lower costs of living would have their own local currency figures that translated into equivalent purchasing power.

And for people who live in extreme poverty, that £1/USD $1.25/local currency equivalent has to cover far more than food and drink. We’re talking everything – health, housing, transport, food, education.


This challenge does not aim to be a realistic facsimile of true living below the poverty line.

However I promise you I – and the other 20,000 people around the world Living Below The Line this year – will be hungry for much of the 5 days. And I believe that will provide some real food for thought.

Cool. Where are the proceeds going?

Action Against Hunger UK. Sure, it’s apt, given the nature of the challenge. AAH also does excellent work in over 40 countries to combat childhood malnutrition and create long-term solutions to chronic food insecurity.

Read more here:


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