This year, UNICEF has joined the Live Below the Line campaign, a global event created to highlight child poverty. It challenges people to live on £1 of food a day, for five days.
Why £5 for the week? It’s simple: the World Bank defines poverty as living on less than £1 a day. A staggering 1.4 billion people live in extreme poverty around the world. The Live Below the Line campaign aims to help these people and also give a very small glimpse into the hardships they face.
With this in mind I decided to undertake my week early, forgo any free handouts, and live entirely on £1 a day for five days.
Through Live Below the Line's website and Twitter account you can find loads of great recipe tips. Unfortunately I did not heed these, and decided to go headfirst into an impromptu supermarket shop.
Here was my eventual shopping list for the week:
5 cans of soup £1.55
1 loaf of bread 35p
4 packets of rice £1.79
12 potatoes 69p
This gave me a grand total of £4.84. I had gone for a consistent, although some would say boring, diet plan of soup every day for lunch and a combination of rice, peas and potatoes for dinner. As the week went on the soup went from good (vegetable) to average (tomato) to terrible (mushroom – clearly it was at a discount for a reason!). The dinner also got slightly repetitive.
My incredibly appetising dinner. Every day. All week...
I had approached the week not really having thought about the cost of food, or even the amount of food we consume on a daily basis. I even made an unconscious mistake early in the week when I put butter on toast without accounting for the price. It was a reminder of how little I equate food with cost, and a reminder one of my work colleague’s didn’t let me forget as I added 10p onto my total.
The week was surprisingly hard, more so than I had prepared for, as my energy began to wane and I felt constantly tired. Poverty hits children the hardest as it fuels a situation that is detrimental to a child’s development – imagine trying to concentrate in school when you haven’t eaten all day.
The idea that so many people, many of them children, live on LESS than £1 a day is unfathomable. Live below the Line is an original idea which offers an insightful experience to the person who chooses to take part. Ultimately this challenge only lasts a week – people who are living in extreme poverty have to do this every single day.
To take part in the Live Below the Line challenge sign up here and raise valuable money for UNICEF: https://www.livebelowtheline.com/uk-unicef
The challenge takes place around the world from 7 – 11 May.
Michael Charouneau is from UNICEF UK's Media team