Lomus try life of the truly poor

SAM BOYER
Last updated 05:00 15/08/2012
  	 Jonah Lomu

SHORT RATIONS: Jonah Lomu is back in the game, but this time – with his children Dhyreille, left, and Brayley – as Unicef team coach for Live Below the Line. Lomu’s challenge to fellow Kiwis is to spend only $2.25 a day on food and drink for five days – the extreme poverty line.

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One of the biggest athletes to muscle his way on to the rugby field is preparing to tackle international poverty by downsizing his diet.

All Blacks legend Jonah Lomu, 1.96 metres tall and at one time weighing in at 125 kilograms, was believed to be worth in excess of $15 million at his peak.

But for five days in September, to raise awareness for Global Poverty Project's Live Below the Line challenge, the big man and his family will live on just $2.25 a day each.

That figure - less than the price of a McDonald's cheeseburger - is the New Zealand equivalent of the extreme poverty line.

"Five days of living on $2.25 a day is going to be tough, but that's what life is like every day for 1.4 billion people around the world," Lomu said.

“Even in our Pacific backyard, up to 40 per cent of children haven't grown at the right rate because of malnutrition. I want to help . . . lower these numbers."

For Unicef, one of eight participating charities, Lomu has been tasked with coaching those who sign up to the challenge, but he said that would not be enough.

Instead, he will put aside his personal battle with a degenerative kidney disorder and join in.

"My family and I need to experience this. So, having checked in with my doctor that it's OK to do the challenge, I'm now busy planning how my family can get the most from our budget."

Nadene Lomu said her husband's illness would not stop his involvement.

"Although Jonah's health is not 100 per cent, he's doing well and it's about being sensible with choice.

"Jonah and I decided it's important for us to show our support fully and as a family to experience for the short time of just how tough the struggles are for the children in [poverty]."

Unicef New Zealand executive director Dennis McKinlay, who recently returned from the Solomon Islands, said Pacific poverty was a big problem.

“Good nutrition for children is as critical as clean water, but one in four households in the Pacific Islands don't have enough money for food . . . [and] 30 per cent of children in the Solomon Islands are suffering from stunted growth because they are malnourished."

Last year's Live Below the Line campaign raised $120,000 in New Zealand.

POVERTY CLOSE TO HOME

Percentage of population living below the National Basic Needs Poverty Line*:

Kiribati - 51 per cent

Vanuatu - 40 per cent

Papua New Guinea - 38 per cent

Fiji - 25 per cent

Samoa - 20 per cent

Cook Islands - 12 per cent

Percentage of population living under the Extreme Poverty Line**:

East Timor - 37.4 per cent

Federated States of Micronesia - 31.2 per cent

Indonesia - 24.6 per cent

* National Basic Needs Poverty Line is a measure of the minimum income needed to buy sufficient food and meet basic requirements such as housing, clothing, transport, school fees etc.

** Extreme Poverty Line is a measure of people living on less than US$1.25 a day, with equivalent spending power. In New Zealand that is $2.25.

Statistics from Oxfam and Unicef

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