You’re living in Sub-Saharan Africa during a drought entering its second year. The diminished harvests have left you without enough food, and your family is trying to figure out how to get by. You’ve settled on selling some of your livestock and securing a small loan to help cover the cost of food, confident that you’ll be able to recover quickly and repay your debt.
Some of your friends, however, have less wealth than you. If they sell their last two cattle, it could be a long time before they could afford to replace them. And given that their annual income is highly variable, they can’t risk taking out a loan they may not be able to pay back. So rather than dig themselves into a potentially inescapable hole, they eat less and go hungry. Some of those families have growing children, but they see no other way.
In situations like these, those in poverty can be significantly more vulnerable than their wealthier counterparts. When you have little, your flexibility to deal with unpredictable crises is limited.