Senegal, the westernmost country in Africa, has a population of about 15 million people. Nearly half of the Senegalese population – 46.7 percent, to be exact – are living in poverty. The following 10 facts should help explain and give context to the Senegal poverty rate.

  1. The Senegal poverty rate is determined in terms of consumption. Estimates of consumption per household are divided by the number of adults in the household; this number excludes children, who are assumed to consume less than adults. From here, a minimum acceptable standard of consumption is calculated and individuals below this level of consumption are considered poor or living under the poverty line.
  2. Geographic disparities in poverty exist between rural areas and Dakar, the capital city and largest city in Senegal. In rural areas, 66 percent of residents are considered poor compared to 23 percent of residents in Dakar. Additionally, the general poverty line in Dakar is almost two times higher than it is in rural areas.
  3. As of 2011, about 38 percent of Senegal’s population was living on $1.90 or less a day.
  4. Senegal’s gross national income as of 2016 was $950.
  5. Senegal’s economy relies on industries such as mining, construction, agriculture, fishing and tourism, but also heavily relies on foreign aid and remittances. Nearly 75 percent of the population works in the agricultural sector, which is regularly threatened by inclement weather such as drought and other climate changes.
  6. Senegal has a poor economy and, as a result, many Senegalese people emigrate to other countries. An economic crisis in 1970 ignited migration, which accelerated even more by 1990. Many migrants left for Libya and Mauritania, searching for opportunities in their thriving oil industries. Others left for more developed countries such as France, Italy and Spain for other economic opportunities.
  7. Senegal’s GDP rose at an average rate of 4.5 percent from 1995 to 2005. After 2005, however, while the rest of Africa enjoyed economic growth, Senegal’s economy started to decline. From 2005 to 2011, Senegal’s economy rose at an average rate of 3.3 percent. Decline in economic growth, especially during 2005 to 2011, can be attributed to drought, floods, rising fuel prices and the global financial crisis.
  8. The World Bank reported that Senegal’s GDP growth is too low for significant poverty reduction.
  9. The fertility rate in Senegal is almost 4.5 children per woman. Young people comprise a large portion – 60 percent – of the Senegalese population. Additionally, Senegal has an illiteracy rate of 40 percent and a high unemployment rate of 12.7 percent, both of which provide dim outlooks for Senegalese youth. According to the Hunger Project, 22 percent of children ages five to 14 are working and not attending school.
  10. Unlike many countries facing extreme poverty, Senegal has one of the most stable governments in Africa and is considered a model for democracy in Africa. Since its independence from France in 1960, Senegal has elected four presidents and has witnessed three peaceful political transitions.

Despite the fact that the Senegal poverty rate is high, many projects have been implemented to reduce the poverty rate. President Macky Sall unveiled the Emerging Senegal Plan (ESP), which strives to prioritize economic reforms and growth. The International Monetary Fund has been providing assistance for the ESP from 2015 to 2017.

In an attempt to take a fresh look at poverty, Senegal’s national statistics office distributed the second Senegal Poverty Monitoring Survey. The World Bank, the Canadian government and the World Food Programme provided financial support. The survey, however, has room for error because it is heavily dependent on the time of year that residents fill it out, as consumption levels vary based on the harvest.

Microfinance has become a key role in reducing poverty in very poor countries, such as Senegal. This program has allowed poor individuals who are excluded from traditional banking to obtain micro loans. The Hunger Project introduced the Microfinance Program (MFP) in Senegal, which strives to incorporate female farmers and entrepreneurs in order to give them a larger voice in the community. Three of the MFPs in Senegal have been approved by the government to operate as Rural Banks. MFPs provide credit and savings programs and have allowed many farmers to move beyond exclusively subsistence farming.

Economic growth will be the key component in reducing poverty in Senegal. These projects involving the Senegalese government and other various organizations will spark this economic growth, which should in turn help to reduce the Senegal poverty rate.

Christiana Lano

Photo: Flickr

Ukraine Poverty Rate
In recent years, Ukraine has been a focal point in the news for its contentious relationship with Russia. The Ukraine poverty rate has seen spikes, especially since the breakup of the Soviet Union.

According to an article from the World Bank, in 2016, Ukraine’s economy grew by approximately 2.3 percent. This growth was viewed as minimal, especially in comparison to the past two years where Ukraine collectively saw a 16 percent increase. However, areas including fixed investment and agriculture harvest exhibited strong growth.

Satu Kahkonen, country director for Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine at the World Bank stated in the article that economic recovery for Ukraine is feasible.

“The economy is recovering modestly, but accelerating reforms can help to boost growth in the medium term, address macroeconomic vulnerabilities, and improve the wellbeing of the population,” Kahkonen said in the article. “Reforming the pension system, land markets and health care are now critical given the growing headwinds from the conflict in the east of Ukraine.”

For 2017, officials predict that Ukraine’s economy will experience a mere two percent growth. The World Bank has sought to help this country through investment. They have collectively contributed over $10 billion towards 70 different projects and programs.

In addition, the people of Ukraine have historically faced fairly severe poverty. Between 1992 and 1994, hyperinflation caused approximately 80 percent of Ukrainians to find themselves living in poverty. Additionally, about 25 percent of Ukrainians faced unemployment. The Ukraine poverty rate has only worsened in the years following.

According to the World Bank, the poverty headcount ratio at national poverty (the percentage of the country’s population living below the national poverty line) was approximately 6.4 as of 2015.

The Ukraine poverty rate is projected to improve in the coming years, regardless of recent declines in the country’s economy.

Leah Potter

Photo: Flickr

Climate Change and Water Scarcity
It seems nearly impossible to understate the global importance of water. In the age of climate change, water scarcity is rising at levels predicted to impede sustainable development and slow progress against poverty for years ahead. However, better preparing for climate change and water scarcity can redirect water to a source of development.

As a result of interconnected issues pertaining to climate change, the world is expected to experience a 66 percent decrease in water availability by 2050. Ultimately, climate change negatively impacts every facet of the water cycle as it creates drought, uncertain weather patterns, increased natural disasters and other phenomena. Climate change is predicted to send new areas into drought and exacerbate already vulnerable areas. The greatest losses in water availability are likely for the Middle East, East Asia and much of Africa.

Climate change’s impact on water availability impedes food production, as seventy percent of global water use is devoted to agriculture. Without enough water to meet the rising demand for food, expected to be 60 percent higher than today by 2030, this spikes food prices and worsens food scarcity. For Sub Saharan Africa, food prices are expected to rise by 77 percent by 2080 as a result of climate change, compared to a worldwide average increase of 17 percent.

Water scarcity caused by climate change also wreaks havoc on economies, especially ones that are still developing. This is largely due to the fact that water is vital to sustaining development for health, incomes, properties and agriculture. These factors have the potential to generate economic downturn. Many regions that were already water-insecure face a six percent decline in GDP by 2050 as a result of climate change and water scarcity.

Ultimately, these interconnected issues can bring about conflict between nations over resources and water allocation. Water scarcity also spurs increased waves of migration to water-abundant locations. Most conflicts are expected in places with large social inequities, especially in the developing world.

Despite the fact that all people require water security, climate change and water scarcity especially impact low-income populations. Not only are developing nations most at risk of climate change, but insufficient resources make it difficult to cope with climate stressors. Poor water availability also exacerbates improper sanitation and safety in drinking water. This disproportionately threatens health and equality for marginalized populations.

But what can be done to impede the impact of climate change on water availability? The World Bank explains that ensuring water is used most efficiently is crucial to fighting water shortages, especially in dominant sectors such as agriculture. Meaningful changes are possible by drastically investing in climate-smart equipment and infrastructure around the world. These changes work to sustainably end pollution cycles while conserving resources.

Maybe most impactfully, changes in governmental policies are crucial; these can act as insurance plans against worsening climate stressors. World Bank President Jim Yong Kim explains that “countries can enact policies now that will help them manage water sustainably for the years ahead.”

Ultimately, making use of the world of available tools redirects water back to a potential for prosperity.  Richard Damania, an economist for the World Bank, explains that “by allocating even 25 percent of water to more highly-valued uses, losses decline dramatically and for some regions may even vanish.” Instead of seeing negative growth from lessened water, some economies can predict a six percent increase in GDP if they sustainably develop water usage.

Water is a tool for lifting people out poverty and lessening the global impacts of climate change if the world makes sufficient use of proper tools. And although the drastic progress against water scarcity still needed today may be costly, the World Bank epitomizes that when it comes to water, “the costs of inaction are far higher.”

Cleo Krejci

Photo: Flickr

Malawi Digital Foundations Project
In June 2017, the World Bank approved a $72.4 million credit to go toward the Digital Malawi Program Phase I: Malawi Digital Foundations Project, a program that aims to improve internet accessibility in Malawi.

In 2014, the rate of internet penetration in Malawi was less than six percent, one of the lowest figures for a country worldwide. This statistic is largely a financial issue: Cell phone service costs the average Malawian 56 percent of their income compared to the five percent it would cost someone in Kenya.

Internet services are taxed almost 20 percent, and an additional ten percent excise tax is added to text messages and data transfers in the country, as of May 2015. Low literacy and electrification rates and a gender divide make it even harder for Malawians to access information communication technology (ICT).

Despite its status as a “least developed country,” Malawi has seen significant economic growth in the last few years (almost six percent in 2014), and the ICT sector has contributed notably to the country’s GDP. If Malawi only had a local internet exchange point, the country would not have to pay to run data through service providers in Africa or Europe and could make service more affordable, in this way building the country’s ICT market.

The Digital Foundations Project will address this issue from four different angles. One program, entitled Digital Ecosystem, will aim to make Malawi a “more attractive and competitive place for digital investment and innovation” while working to expand ICT accessibility at the same time. The Digital Ecosystem will consist of ICT regulation, policy development and implementation and digital skills development.

Another goal of the Digital Foundations Project is to improve internet speed and affordability. Malawi does not just need wider ICT access; the country needs to also expand its reliable services. This fact is especially true in rural areas where only one percent of households have access to electricity, as well as in institutions of higher learning where high-speed internet connections are essential to learning and communicating with the world.

Importantly, the internet access the Malawi Digital Foundations Project aims to provide would serve as a source of empowerment for those Malawians living in poverty or rural areas, as it would provide Malawians with autonomy and control over their communication, education, and especially banking.

Already, more Malawians use mobile money than open formal bank accounts, and better internet would facilitate Malawians’ interactions with mobile money programs which currently run slowly due to their popularity.

Caroline Meyers

Photo: Google

Military ViolenceMilitary action can seem to be the logical fix to solving many of the issues of poverty-stricken areas. Because these areas are so susceptible to violence, it might seem like the authority of a powerful military could be the solution. However, military involvement might actually be having the opposite effect and contributing to global poverty.

It continues to remain an unanswered question: are countries poor because they are violent or violent because they are poor? According to World Bank’s World Development Report, although there are several contributing factors to poverty, violence is becoming the primary one.

While on the surface it appears that these countries have fallen vulnerable to a poverty trap, the World Development Report suggests that there is something deeper than the poverty trap. Beneath the poverty trap is a violence trap that puts a constraint on the development of countries living in poverty. While peaceful countries are able to escape poverty, countries affected by military violence remain impoverished and sometimes even worsen.

One form of military violence that has severely hurt 39 impoverished countries is civil war. All 39 of the countries that were involved in a civil war since 2000 have also had one in the last three decades, according to The Economist.

Although not many countries suffer from civil war, it causes enough of an impact on global poverty to create lasting damage. Following many civil wars is extreme gang violence. Today, more people are murdered in Guatemala per year by gang violence than from military violence during the country’s civil war in the 1980s.

The countries involved in civil wars — as well as interstate wars and coups — experience more poverty issues than they did in the past. Today, fewer countries experience this type of military violence, but the ones that do are suffering repeatedly.

According to The Economist, citizens in these countries are more than twice as likely to be malnourished, three times as likely to miss primary school and almost twice as likely to die in infancy as people in other developing countries.

Increasing military involvement is leading to increased poverty in these already poor countries because they do not have the financial stability or unity to develop after these wars. People’s homes and communities are destroyed as well as the little food that was once available to them. As a result of this military violence, poverty increases to incredibly dangerous levels.

While countries are spending more money on militaries than they ever have in the past, funding for necessities such as food, education and healthcare is being put on hold. Military involvement has an impact on global poverty for the violence it entails, but it also contributes to the brutality of poverty.

As stated in Bainbridge Island Review, “every dollar spent on weapons and war is a dollar not spent on food, education, health care and the environment.” Thus, peaceful countries are more capable of reducing poverty because they are putting funding toward helping people rather than fighting.

Although military involvement can seem like a plausible solution to finding peace in countries living in poverty, the violence it ensues contributes to the issues of poverty that caused the military involvement in the first place.

To put an end to this vicious cycle, less military involvement and more participation in funding for food, education and other necessities in countries living in poverty can reverse the damage that has been done by repeated military violence. As stated in The Economist, “Violence, it seems, is always with us, like poverty.”

Kassidy Tarala

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in the Dominican Republic
According to the World Bank, the Dominican Republic has experienced one of the most remarkable growth seasons in the Caribbean in the last 25 years. Official estimates say that the number of Dominicans living in poverty dropped by almost six percent from 2014 to 2016. Although the country has made strides in the business front, they still have much to accomplish to stay competitive with other nations in the region.

A country is not just poor randomly, meaning factors contribute to the poverty rates in the country. Below are some of the causes of poverty in the Dominican Republic.

Increasing Population
The population of the country has been steadily increasing for decades.  It has risen by two million people since 2000 and is currently over 10.6 million inhabitants. A rising population also raises living standards, can make jobs harder to find and, in some cases, can keep young women from finishing their education.

Improper Documentation
Dominicans of Haitian descent are the poorest in the country and usually live close to the Haiti-Dominican Republic border. Low incomes and poor living conditions keep them in a cycle of poverty, and social exclusion does not help the most vulnerable families. Dominicans of Haitian descent are usually undocumented or migrant sugar cane plantation workers, which means they do not receive aid from social assistance programs.

Ignored Agricultural Sector
In the past decade, the Dominican Republic government has focused on building the tourism and service industries, virtually ignoring the agriculture sector of the economy. Without government investment in the small farms so that they can provide for their families, many farmers have to look for jobs elsewhere. Farming technologies have begun to make their way to rural communities, which will potentially increase productivity.

Natural Disasters
Recent research has found that natural disasters (such as drought, extreme rainfall and flooding) are and will be the biggest factors in keeping people in poverty.

Because most developing governments invest money in responding to disasters as opposed to protecting citizens from the inevitable, the poorest citizens lose more when that disaster hits. Having policies that highlight disaster prevention can potentially save the country millions of dollars and give the poor more of a chance to survive.

These are just some of the causes of poverty in the Dominican Republic. Understanding the poverty of a country is an ongoing process, so staying updated is a way to ensure you know how to help a country when it needs it. The causes of poverty in the Dominican Republic can change with the economy, and hopefully, this beautiful country will continue moving toward stability.

Emily Arnold

Photo: Flickr

Guyana Education Sector Improvement Project
On April 28, 2017, the World Bank approved a $13.3 million credit toward the Guyana Education Sector Improvement Project. The project aims to improve various aspects of school operations at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels in Guyana.

While school enrollment is rapidly expanding at all levels, many Guyanese students still fail to meet baseline standards in math or English. In the 1970s, Guyana faced major economic decline and public schools received little funding. Many teachers left the country in order to pursue higher-paying positions, leaving schools with untrained and inexperienced teachers.

The economy began to improve in the 1980s as Guyana diversified its exports. Several education-focused aid programs began implementation. Approved by the World Bank in 1989 and completed three years later, the Primary Education Improvement Program of Guyana aimed to train more teachers and provide better physical facilities at the primary level. From 1987-1992, UNESCO sponsored the Equal Opportunity for Girls in Technical and Vocational Education, which involved the training of teachers and female students in the industrial arts at the secondary level.

These and similar programs that ran at the same time had mixed successes. Girls studying the industrial arts program scored better than their peers on standardized tests, and a significant number went on to take courses in the industrial arts at the Guyana Industrial Training center. However, despite the amount of work that has been done to sufficiently train teachers in different disciplines, the Cyril Potter College of Education, Guyana’s main teacher-training facility, simply cannot meet primary and secondary schools’ demand for teachers.

Taking this into account, the Guyana Education Sector Improvement Project will mainly work toward developing new curriculums at the primary and secondary levels and training 6,500 teachers in these curriculums. As a lack of facilities continues to pose a problem, the project will also build a new facility to house the University of Guyana’s Faculty of Health Sciences.

Tahseen Sayed, the World Bank Country Director of the Caribbean, notes that “[q]uality education is one of the strongest instruments for reducing poverty.” As Guyana’s GDP has continued to rise dramatically every year since 2005, the Guyana Education Sector Improvement project will hopefully reinforce this economic growth–and vice versa.

Caroline Meyers
Photo: Flickr

At the Leader’s Summit on Refugees on September 20, 2016, then-President Barack Obama announced the creation of the World Bank Global Concessional Finance Facility in response to the additional costs middle-income countries have incurred because of the refugee crisis.

As of June 2017, the Global Concessional Finance Facility has approved $900 million of concessional financing — financing at a reduced rate compared to market value — for development projects in target nations.

Initially, the concessional finance facility provided funds solely to Jordan and Lebanon, two middle-income nations which together have accepted two million Syrian refugees, the largest amount in the world relative to population.

The new objective is to raise $1 billion for Jordan and Lebanon and an additional $500 million for other potential middle-income countries which could face an influx of refugees in the next five years.

While refugee host nations generally receive humanitarian assistance, long-term development is often ignored, hurting native populations. Jordan, for example, has had to spend an additional $550 million annually to assist the refugees.

The goals of the World Bank’s Global Concessional Finance Facility are to bridge humanitarian into long-term assistance, increase international coordination to address the refugee crisis, provide aid to both the native and local populations of target nations and implement sustainable policy reforms.

Japan is the top contributor to the fund allocating $100 million. The U.S. has contributed $50 million. Overall, there are 10 supporting countries.

Every dollar in grant contribution equals $4 in concessional financing. If the World Bank’s goal is reached, the international organization will be able to provide $6 billion in financing to middle-income countries for development projects.

Two recent projects funded by the Global Concessional Finance Facility that benefited both native and refugee populations were a $250 million grant for improving water and electricity delivery and $200 million apportioned for updating the road system in Lebanon.

The very first project funded by the facility was a $300 million investment called the Economic Opportunities for Jordanians and Syrian Refugee Program, which bolstered Jordan’s labor market. This was especially useful in Jordan, where 84 percent of refugees live in urban and rural areas as opposed to refugee camps.

The issues facing countries who accept Syrian refugees is daunting. In relative terms, Lebanon has accepted the equivalent of the population of France moving to the U.S. Nevertheless, the global community has taken a step to alleviate the burden of a few countries to not only avert disaster but to recognize public good and promote international cooperation.

Sean Newhouse

Photo: Flickr

Stunting in Pakistan
On May 26, 2017, the World Bank approved a fund of $61.6 million to reduce stunting in Pakistan over the next 25 years through the Sindh Enhancing Response to Reduce Stunting Project.

Stunting refers to children under the age of two who are deprived of nutrients and thus are of low height. It is often associated with delayed physical and cognitive development. For a few decades, stunting in Pakistan has been widespread and currently affects almost 45 percent of children in the country.

Half of Pakistani children have anemia, a condition that also affects mothers, and both may suffer from wasting and iron deficiency. This is especially problematic for mothers, as all of these conditions can restrict fetal growth and make babies more prone to stunting. Unsurprisingly, the poor and food-insecure are at the highest risk of stunting.

The stunting problem is an education issue as well as a health issue. Early marriages, a low literacy rate for women and a lack of knowledge of maternal care procedures all contribute to malnutrition. Women may feed their children tea and animal milk in place of breast milk simply because they don’t know of any other option.

In the long-term, stunted children may have a hard time getting an education due to arrested mental development. According to Illango Patchamuthu, the World Bank Country Director for Pakistan, stunting “puts them at a permanent disadvantage in the age of the knowledge economy.”

The World Bank recognizes the different consequences of stunting, and according to the Sindh Enhancing Response to Reduce Stunting Project, its strategy to reduce stunting will be two-fold. The project will first address stunting directly by expanding a “package of services” that focus on nutrition practices.

It is important that the World Bank establish frameworks for nutrition programs, as these will hopefully contribute to stunting reduction beyond the program and also help educate mothers and families on the myriad of issues relating to nutrition that affect stunting in Pakistan.

The second part of the project will attempt to establish a cash transfer program. Cash transfers are a form of direct monetary aid that can allow poor families affected by stunting easier access to nutritious food. However, cash transfers aren’t always the most helpful form of aid as their effectiveness depends on the stability of local economies, which is likely why this cash transfer program is being established on a “conditional” basis.

Through these efforts, the World Bank aims to reduce stunting in Pakistan by one percent each year for the next five years.

Caroline Meyers

Photo: Flickr

Reduce Funding for the World Bank
President Donald Trump has proposed to reduce funding for the World Bank and other multilateral development banks (MDBs) by around $650 million over three years. The White House has stated that, in doing so, “the U.S. would retain its current status as a top donor while saving taxpayer dollars.”

The World Bank is one of two global MDBs. MDBs are supranational in nature, which means they do not face transnational limits, but shareholding foreign states do organize them. These organizations exist to support economic and social development in developing nations, largely in the form of grants and loans. They also exercise more direct involvements such as policy advice and conference participation.

As a global MDB, the World Bank’s programs are wide-reaching. One example of this is a proposal for additional funding for the Sustainable and Rural Water and Sanitation Project in Ghana. Approved on June 28, 2017, with a budget of $47.5 million dollars, the program aims to bring reliable access to water and sanitation services to rural towns across the country. New programs for over 100 countries are approved almost every day and are visible on the World Bank’s website.

The rationale for the funding reduction proposal places more value on preserving the U.S.’s status as a top donor than the work done on the ground as part of the World Bank’s programs. The Sustainable and Rural Water and Sanitation Project is not a donation, but an attempt to create sustainable sanitation services that can serve the people of Ghana for years to come. A smaller World Bank budget won’t just mean less money—it will result in a lack of human support that is necessary for the development of sustainable infrastructure in developing countries. At the moment, the U.S. is not even considered a top donor, ranking 20th on a list of donating governments in 2015.

Fortunately, there are several new and influential MDBs backed by non-Western nations that will likely continue to flourish even if the U.S. reduces funding for the World Bank. One of these is the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which began in January 2016. The China-backed bank began nine large-scale development projects in 2016 throughout South and Southeast Asia and exceeded its lending goal. Contrary to what some expected, the bank’s programs have not been used to advance Chinese interests, as some Chinese investments in African countries have in the past. The early success of AIIB follows the upward trajectory of non-Western nations such as China, India and South Africa in the field of international aid.

Caroline Meyers

Photo: Flickr