ManySingaporeans cannot imagine that urban poverty could possibly exist in an affluent city-state like ours. Others may believe that relative poverty cannot be compared to the absolute poverty experienced by those in third-world nations.
Compared to extreme images of starving children or throngs of destitute families living in slums that we frequently see in the media, the effects of poverty in Singapore may seem mild, which may lead people to trivialise the situation and leave those with fewer resources to continue struggling in urban poverty conditions.
The truth is, in our shiny metropolis of high-rise buildings and glittering malls, urban poverty is still a largely invisible social problem. But ‘invisible’ does not mean ‘non-existent’.
Have you ever struggled to put meals on the table, gone to bed hungry, worried about having a continuous supply of water and electricity, or taken up multiple odd jobs just to scrape by each month?
These are the common realities faced by those living in urban poverty – a type of poverty experienced by individuals and families in industrialised societies. People living in urban poverty often lack access to basic resources such as money, space, opportunities, and time to meet their basic needs – the same very resources many of us take for granted. Living in poverty while in the city is more difficult as the pollution and other environmental hazards are being added to the effects of poverty.