Nigeria has recently overtaken India as the poverty capital of the world. Ranking lists like the Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index (CRI) and the Human Capital Index (HCI) place Nigeria at the bottom or very close to the bottom. The country has the highest number of people in extreme poverty in the world, at 86.9 million people.
However, this is not stopping Nigeria’s population from growing. According to the most recent estimates, Nigeria is predicted to become the third largest populated country in the world by 2050. The poverty rate is expected to increase exponentially if something does not change soon. Fortunately enough, the causes of Nigeria’s high poverty rate have been identified. If changed, the improvement in the following categories can bring hope for reducing poverty in Nigeria.
Data from October 2018, Nigeria has the greatest number of children that are out of school. The number increased from 10.5 million to 13.2 million. There was an attempt by the government to increase school attendance, but the children were forced to return to the streets because they could not survive while in school.
The high number of children out of school is accompanied by the high fertility rate in the country. In 2016, the birth rate was estimated to be around six children for each mother and usually, these mothers first started having children around the age of 18. Having so many children, it is hard to put them all in school because of the education costs. It is no surprise that many children go without education and many families prefer that they do things that can bring money to the family, or help gather food. To make things even worse, the children who go out in the streets to make a living are often exposed to sex trafficking, drug trafficking and other violent activities.
The Nigerian government is reluctant to start more education funding in the hope for reducing poverty in Nigeria. The big problem is that there is a lack of data that shows them what to do and how to fix the system. Punch Newspapers, a Nigerian newsletter, urges the wealthy in the country, and elsewhere, to help fund the program that will be focused on collecting data, program that will be jointly funded by different organizations and the government.
Cash Transfers’ Role in Reducing Poverty in Nigeria
The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) released a report in 2016 that showed that cash transfers, direct transfer payments of money to eligible people, can show direct growth in the economy, school attendance, health care and dietary diversity. The ODI determined that cash transfers, when invested correctly, can lead to an increased amount of income in the future. For example, if families invest money they receive from the government into agriculture, education, or beginning a new business, they would have the confidence to continue their prospects once the cash transfers end.
However, once the cash transfers end, the progress typically stops too. As Quartz Africa states, the cash transfers are great for temporary benefits and giving citizens hope, but with the loss of transfers from the government, some families revert to the way they were before. Therefore, this should be a good example for the government to see how important it is for their intervention.
Development of Agriculture
Nigeria faced an economic decline due to the decline in oil and natural gas prices, country’s main export products. However, due to the big dependence on oil and gas, agriculture growth in the country is out of great importance. The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) is conducting research on how to renew agricultural success. In their report on growing the agricultural sector, CSIS claims that this is a very important sector to grow because of its potential to feed the country as well as provide jobs and stability to the extremely impoverished.
The agriculture sector already employs 70 percent of the country’s population, but by expanding it, the country can provide even more specialized jobs that will allow people to move through the job ladders. One of the main reasons this has not flourished as expected is because the farmers have a hard time accessing loans to get the right machines required to run a successful farm. The other issue stems from a lukewarm commitment from the government that also leads to a lack of research into the potential for agriculture. CSIS plans to put the work and money into Nigeria to help this sector growth.
Cash transfers feed into the ability to pursue education, which will further the growth of economy and society. Not only that, but the bigger step in cash transfers can be long-term loans to farmers so that the agricultural sector can further develop.
There are also other steps and means that can help bring Nigeria out of extreme poverty, but the development of agriculture and education with the help of the government seem to be three pillars of success. As long as people recognize the steps that need to be taken to improve the situation, hope for reducing poverty in Nigeria remains.
– Miranda Garbaciak