The causes of poverty in Africa cannot be narrowed down to one single source. As a developing country, Africa has a lengthy history of external, internal and man-made forces at work to bring about the circumstances this continent suffers from today.

In sub-Saharan Africa, almost 220 million people, half the population, live in poverty. Worsened by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, cultural conflict and ethnic cleansing, Africa faces many challenges that directly correlate with its impoverished status.

Poor Governance

Poor governance, one of the major causes of poverty in Africa, involves various malpractices by the state and its workers. This malpractice has led many African leaders to push away the needs of the people. Having created the “personal rule paradigm,” where they treat their offices as a form of property and personal gain, these leaders openly appoint underqualified personnel in key positions at state-owned institutions and government departments. This type of governance affects the poorest people and leaves them vulnerable, as they are denied basic necessities such as healthcare, food and shelter.


Corruption has been and still is a major issue in the development of and fight against poverty in Africa, specifically sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). SSA is considered to be among the most corrupt places in the world. According to a survey conducted by World Anti-Corruption, corruption in Africa is “due to the fact that many people in Africa believe that family relations are more important than country identity. Therefore, those in power use bias and bribery for the gain of their relatives at the expense of their country.”

Corruption costs SSA roughly $150 billion a year in lost revenue. While some countries in Africa, such as Ghana, Tanzania and Rwanda, have made some progress in the fight against corruption, there are still many lagging very far behind. A lack of effort to solve this issue only worsens the causes of poverty in Africa today.

Poor Education

Lack of education is also a serious issue that contributes to the causes of poverty in Africa. This absence is especially felt in sub-Saharan Africa, which has the highest rates of educational exclusion. Over one-fifth of children between the ages of about six and 11 are out of school, followed by one-third of youth between the ages of about 12 and 14. Almost 60 percent of youth between the ages of about 15 and 17 are not in school.

Education for girls has become a major focus of support groups like UNICEF, UNESCO and the UIS. With poor access to school, lack of sanitary facilities and social norms like female genital mutilation and child marriage, the right to women’s education is even less of a priority in impoverished communities.

However, education, especially girls’ education, has been proven to be one of the most cost-effective strategies for promoting economic growth. According to UNICEF, “studies have shown that educated mothers tend to have healthier, better-nourished babies and that their own children are more likely to attend school; thus helping break the vicious cycle of poverty.”


Poor healthcare is a major cause of poverty in Africa because the poor cannot afford to purchase what is needed for good health, including sufficient quantities of quality food and healthcare itself. With a lack of education on preventing infectious diseases like malaria and HIV/AIDS, as well as the costs of consultations, tests and medicine, people living in poverty are at a severe disadvantage that only perpetuates the poverty cycle.

With a strong fight against many forces still ahead of this nation, Africa must weed out the corruption and poor government, and promote strong education and efficient healthcare for all, in order to take a big leap forward in its development as a continent.

– Kailey Brennan

Photo: Flickr

donated bicyclesBicycles are essential to communities in developing countries. A bicycle provides an advanced mobility that allows for heavier loads, faster trips, less wear and tear on the body and, happily, the chance for recreation. A person’s day will include more accomplishments in less time.

Bicycles mean productivity. And donated bicycles mean opportunity.

Getting the Donated Bicycles

Entrepreneurs and nonprofit organizations alike have become forces in mobilizing citizens with donated bicycles. Mike’s Bikes, a California-based bike shop, partners with other area businesses and organizes bike drives to fill shipping containers full of used bicycles and spare parts. Like Mike’s Bikes, Bicycles for Humanity ships bikes and parts in containers, and both organizations outfit the containers so they can become bike shops for the village in which they land. Bicycles for Humanity even refers to their containers as Bicycle Empowerment Centers.

World Bicycle Relief produces new bicycles, known as Buffalo Bikes, through monetary donations. They are built specifically for the rugged conditions of the particular region, with puncture-proof tires and a heftier frame for carrying more cargo. Bicycles Change Lives also produces new bicycles, naming its program Qhubeka, a Nguni word that means, “to progress,” or, “to move forward.”

Creating Jobs

Bikes for the World also ships donated bicycles and parts in large containers. The organization focuses on Africa, Central America and the South Pacific, and works with partners like the Village Bicycle Project in Ghana and Sierra Leone and the Madagascar Community-Based Integrated Health Project (MAHEFA) in Madagascar.

In El Salvador, the Salvadoran Center for Appropriate Technology (CESTA) has built up an impressive bike shop, and an equally impressive program for training at-risk youth to work in it through the reconditioning, repair and maintenance of bikes. CESTA runs EcoBici, the training program aimed at helping young people build skills and stay out of gangs.

Donated bicycles are so vital that, as the youths learn to eventually manage their own shops, they find themselves at the center of their community with positive engagement and interaction. For people of all ages, the village bike shop has become an integral component in developing countries as a productive hub for societal and industrial activity.

Healthcare Workers and Their Patients

Remarkably, bicycle transportation improves health in rural areas, and not just for the rider. Amid the health crises in regions of Africa, trained healthcare workers and volunteers do all they can to visit patients in their homes and in hospitals, but are often traveling on foot.

In Zambia, one community volunteer, Royce, works to help citizens of her village by testing their HIV/AIDS status and educating them on prevention and treatment. Before she received her bike, she would walk seven kilometers each day to visit three patients. Now, thanks to World Bicycle Relief, she travels on two wheels and visits 18 patients, including vulnerable children, in a single day. “I’m always happy when I ride my bike,” says Royce. “People in my community recognize me.  They say, ‘There goes our caregiver on her bike.’”

Elsewhere in Zambia, three healthcare volunteers, Gertrude, Robert and Francis, who work to prevent and treat malaria in their region, enjoy a similar experience when they are recognized on their bright orange Buffalo bikes, painted so for the 1500 health workers in the area.  “When they see the bikes,” says Robert, “they know we have come to fight malaria.”

Statistics at World Bicycle Relief show that the over 138,000 Buffalo Bike-mobilized healthcare workers can reach 45 percent more patients and travel four times further than was possible on foot.

Education and Empowering Girls

The greatest challenge for most children wanting to attend school in developing countries is simply getting there. World Bicycle Relief statistics point out that the attendance of a student with a bicycle increases up to 28 percent, while their academic performance increases up to a dramatic 59 percent. And for girls, completing their education means they are six times less likely to become child brides.

For one 15-year-old girl, Ethel, a two-hour trek to school across rough terrain is now a 45-minute bike ride. Being on time helped her become a confident and exemplary student. Ethel even began using her bicycle to transport fellow classmates to school.

Education is key for the progressing dimensions of developing nations, including breaking the cycle of poverty. From 2009 to 2016, over 126,000 students have received Buffalo Bikes through World Bicycle Relief.

The advantage of mobilization by donated bicycles for workers, healthcare volunteers and students is tremendous. It also reaches farmers and small business operators who can travel greater distances with more wares to sell. It reaches citizens like businessman Ernest in Ghana, who gets his work done earlier in the day and can now coach a local youth soccer team in the time he’s saved. It reaches 14-year-old Koketso, who says there is now a cycling club at her school and that she’d like to take cycling up as a sport.

“With my bicycle,” Koketso says, “I can visit a lot of places that I have never seen before.”

– Jaymie Greenway

Photo: Flickr


Donate to Fight Poverty


The widespread poverty, hunger and disease in Central Africa has consistently resulted in the lowest life expectancy in the world. While the global average of life expectancy has risen by roughly five years in the past two decades, central African countries continue to dwell at the statistical bottom. At a typical life expectancy of 50 years, the global community must increase funding and accountability to ensure that poverty and disease cease their decimation of central African populations.

The central African country of Chad was estimated to have the lowest life expectancy in the world for 2017. Chad is a country of 12 million people, 40 percent of which live below the poverty line. While the country began oil production in the early 2000s, Chad’s poverty rate is expected to continue its rise. In part, this is due to the country’s high mortality rate and low life expectancy. To gauge the ability of the U.S. and other developed nations to help increase Chadians’ average lifespan of only 50.60 years, it is first necessary to examine the causes of death.

Early Deaths

Children in Chad die from all sorts of illnesses, from malaria and respiratory infections to prematurity and diarrhea. Because so few Chadians have access to birth control, as only approximately five percent use contraception, the birth rate in Chad is growing. 43 percent of the population is aged 14 or younger, and that figure is rising. The risk of dying by this young age is 44 percent for boys and 39 for girls, as of 2012.

Furthermore, Chad has the third highest maternal mortality rate in the world. Extreme poverty, poor to no maternal health care and adolescent pregnancy has contributed greatly to the high maternal death rates. In a country with the lowest life expectancy in the world, the extreme poverty rates must decrease and better access to maternal healthcare is essential if the country is to improve.


Chad, like many African nations, is no stranger to disease. Lower respiratory diseases, malaria, HIV/AIDS and diarrhoeal infections are dangerously common. Lower respiratory infections alone killed 24,700 people in 2012. The risk factors for falling prey to these diseases are lack of adequate healthcare, a rarity of potable water and the hot and arid climate. As the largest of Africa’s landlocked countries, Chadians are forced to walk long distances for water.

As only 28 percent of the population lives in urban areas, the vast majority of Chadians do not have quick access to necessities such as water and healthcare. As the country with the world’s lowest life expectancy, it is vital that Chad provide better access to these basic human needs to the entirety of its landscape.

The U.S. is in a unique position to provide monetary and medicinal assistance. Maintaining accountability with the Chadian government regarding these resources would be the most effective way to ensure that taxpayer dollars are going to good use and can be reflected by a rising life expectancy for the people of Chad, and all over Central Africa.

– Eric Paulsen

Photo: Flickr

The United States declared it carried out a series of airstrikes on the Libyan city of Sirte, an ISIS stronghold, at the request of the Libyan government in August 2016.

The strikes came after nearly two years of concentrated efforts by the U.S. and Libyan governments to remove ISIS from Sirte; a strategically important city located directly between two of Libya’s largest cities, Benghazi and Tripoli.

The erasure of ISIS’s presence from Sirte means the city’s residents will be able to enjoy a higher standard of living, increased access to food and fuel and control of their incomes. Reclaiming the city from ISIS also means that healthcare in Libya will be one step closer to returning to pre-2011 standards.

Regaining control of Sirte will allow the Libyan government and certain NGOs, such as Doctors Without Borders, to begin safely providing much-needed healthcare services to the city’s residents.

Healthcare providers in Libya will be able to distribute resources across the country more evenly as they are needed, especially between Benghazi and Tripoli.

On a more significant level, overcoming the ISIS presence in Libya will remove one of the larger issues that the country has had to contend with during its rebuilding process, which has been ongoing since the country experienced a wave of revolutionary action during the Arab Spring in 2011.

Currently, the country lacks a central government as numerous opposing factions emerged after the fall of the Gaddafi regime.

A U.N.-backed entity known as the Government of National Accord recently made the most significant strides in uniting the country. They will undoubtedly find the task easier with ISIS’s removal.

A successfully unified government would likely see the return of a functioning and well-equipped healthcare system; something that the country has been sorely lacking since 2011.

According to Doctors Without Borders, many hospitals have been forced to close in recent years due to lack of funds, lack of staff members and concerns about security.

A fully functioning government would be able to solve the coordination problems currently preventing the distribution of funds and supplies.

They would be also able to effectively provide secure environments for hospitals and healthcare providers to safely operate.

More funds, supplies and increased security would allow for the return of foreign-born healthcare workers, many of whom left in the wake of 2011 upheaval.

Will Clifft

Photo: Flickr

Cormack FamilyDave Cormack, president and chief executive officer of the healthcare software provider Brightree, along with his family, are funding a new Children International Cormack Family Community Center. The Cormack family is helping to benefit nearly 12,000 children in Cartagena, Colombia.

In Colombia, 11% of the country is unemployed and 37% of the country lives below the poverty line.

Children International has been working with Colombia for over 25 years to help children break the cycle of poverty. It has 10 community centers in Colombia serving more than 40,000 children.

“After having the opportunity to visit other Children International community centers, my family and I recognized the importance of these safe spaces,” said Dave Cormack. “We knew we wanted to help fund a center so that more kids have the opportunity to utilize Children International’s services.”

The new community center will include the Brightree Youth Computer Center, where children can do research, homework and learn valuable skills such as English as a second language. It will also have medical and dental clinics, a library, pharmacy and other meeting spaces.

The new youth center will have an outdoor multi-sport court, an art studio and other multi-use spaces. The centers give families a place to escape the negative influences of their poor communities.

Children in the program have access to a team of doctors, dentists, tutors and sponsors. The Children International Cormack Family Community Center is a safe place in the community and a path out of poverty.

The organization provides health benefits, including annual medical exams and health care during illness, providing nutritional support, counseling for children and families, dental care, clothing, school supplies and fees and items for the home.

The programs are focused on health, education, empowerment and employment. Through early intervention, Children International addresses children’s critical needs through daily interaction in community centers. The centers are unique facilities that enable Children International to reach its goal of eliminating poverty from children’s lives.

Jacqueline Venuti

Photo: Children International

Poverty in Malawi
Poverty in Malawi has been at critical levels for decades. Of the 15.9 million Malawians, about 12 million are living below the international poverty line ($1.25 a day) and approximately 14.3 million are living on less than $2.00 a day, according to the Rural Poverty Portal.

Many Malawians work in agriculture, and it is hard for them to produce enough crops to maintain an income above the international poverty line. With parental death, disease and crop failure, the obstacles that many Malawians face are abounding. Discussed below are the leading facts that thoroughly explain and illuminate the pressing issue of poverty in Malawi.

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Malawi


  1. Over 90,000 Malawi individuals live with HIV/AIDS, which accounts for every one in ten adults.
  2. Only 65.8 percent of Malawi’s population can read and write by the age of 15, according to the CIA.
  3. Due to poverty, poor access to health care, disease and food shortage, the average life expectancy for a Malawian is 63 years, which is 25 years more than it was in 1960, according to The World Bank.
  4. There is only one doctor for every 50,000 individuals, according to the World Health Organization.
  5. Malawi’s economy is mainly agricultural, constituting 80% of the population living in rural areas.
  6. The median age for Malawians is 16.4 years old.
  7. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is working in harmony with Malawi’s government to promote agricultural growth in rural areas. This is an effort to reduce poverty throughout Malawi.
  8. About 30% of children in Malawi do not start primary school (which is free in Malawi). Secondary and higher education is mostly attended by those of households above the international poverty line, predominantly due to the enrollment fees.
  9. Malawi is one of the world’s most impoverished countries, ranking 173rd out of 182 countries on the Human Development Index.
  10. More than 1 million Malawi children are orphaned due to HIV/AIDS.

The people of Malawi face great hardships; however, with the help of NGOs like IFAD, there is hope for an increased economy and better school systems. This in turn will lead to a decrease in disease, orphaned children and overall poverty in Malawi.

Bella Chaffey

Photo: Flickr

Children born in poverty

Five Facts About Children Born in Poverty

  1. UNICEF estimates that 39 percent of children in low and middle-income countries are living in extreme poverty. These children born in poverty must survive on less than $1.25 a day. From education to food security, severe poverty impacts nearly every aspect of a child’s life. According to UNICEF, “Nearly half of all deaths in children under five are attributable to undernutrition.” It is estimated that over three million children die every year from hunger.
  2. In countries like Madagascar, the only meal many children receive in a day is school lunch. Malnutrition also causes children to be more susceptible to illnesses like malaria, pneumonia and measles. Several organizations like UNICEF, USAID and Save the Children have programs to provide adequate nutrition to children in developing countries.
  3. A 2015 report published by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank Group estimated 400 million people were without access to basic healthcare throughout the world. Approximately nine million children under the age of five die yearly. The WHO estimates 70 percent of these deaths are preventable with better access to medical care.
  4. The U.N. reports that children comprise half of the world’s refugee population. These children come from conflict-ridden countries like Syria, Sudan and Iraq and many are internally displaced. Access to adequate healthcare, education and shelter are all challenges refugee children must face. Many of these children lost their entire family to violence within their home countries.
  5. Children born in poverty are also more likely to be affected by mental health problems. Even in developed countries like the U.S., long-term financial stress is linked to poor mental health. Rates of anxiety and depression are higher among low-income individuals. The loss of close family members can also increase the likelihood of adverse mental health for children born in poverty.

Poverty is a cyclical condition and education is crucial to ending chronic poverty. Children born to low-income families are statistically likely to remain impoverished due to a lack of education and opportunities.

The U.N. reports that between the years of 1994 and 2009, “Rural households where the household head had completed primary education were 16 percent less likely to be chronically poor.”

These promising statistics are the driving force behind government-led programs and NGOs to increase access to education.

Saroja Koneru

Photo: Pixabay

The First Lady of Namibia, Monica Geingos, established the One Economy Foundation in May of this year. The organization’s slogan, “one Namibia, one Economy,” describes its plans to bridge the gap between formal and informal entrepreneurship in the African nation.

Namibia’s economy has been improving recently, with Bloomberg calling it the top emerging economy in Africa in 2012. However, informal entrepreneurship (unregulated, untaxed commerce operating without contracts or laws) continues to inhibit the country’s growth potential.

According to the Namibian Statistics Agency, the country’s unemployment rate stood at 27.4 percent in 2012. Many of the unemployed opt to work informally, due to significant barriers to entry in Namibia’s formal economy. However, informal work offers little in terms of long-term growth at the individual and national level. This is the problem the One Economy foundation wishes to address.

The One Economy Foundation will focus on entrepreneurship, early childhood development and health. The most crucial components are professional economic coaching and collateral-free lending. These strategies will help young Namibians—particularly those without preexisting connections to the nation’s high-powered financial sector—get a foot in the door.

According to Geingos, “One Economy is about providing fair opportunity. It’s about providing people with talent with opportunity.” She went on to explain that the need for the One Economy Foundation exists at both ends of Namibian commerce, as many enterprising Namibian bankers need the means to tap into the population of informal workers.

Prior to her involvement in the state, Geingos was one of the key figures in Namibia’s growing economy, possessing major holdings in Namibian mining, banking and media corporations. Her most recent endeavors, as a member of the Economic Advisory Council and First Lady, have been part of a larger effort in Namibia’s war on poverty.

The First Lady’s husband, President Hage Giengob, has also made poverty his focus in recent years. Despite a report in the Journal of Economic Structures stating that Namibia has “one of the most unequal income distributions on the African continent,” the President and First Lady remain hopeful that the nation’s wealth can be redistributed to address the nation’s poor.

Late last year, the president declared an “all-out war on poverty,” after receiving an impressive 87 percent of votes in the Namibian general election.

One Economy has already raised over N$4.5 million for implementation later this year.

John English

Photo: Flickr

Micro Insurance Agency IndiaMicro Insurance Academy, a nonprofit that operates in countries such as Nepal, India and Bangladesh, has spent many years working to improve health conditions by implementing health insurance programs in underdeveloped communities.

Established in 2007 as a charitable trust in New Delhi, India to aid the development of micro-insurance, their programs assist families when disaster strikes, such as when a crop fails or a family member passes away. In 2011, to accommodate their growing business, they opened an office in Bonn, Germany and expanded their reach to multiple parts of the world, including communities in India and Africa.

Their main goal is to reduce the impact of unexpected illnesses, accidents, crop failure, livestock loss, natural disasters and death. Health insurance helps to provide certainty by offering a backup plan in case the worst happens.

Since their creation, Micro Insurance Academy has helped up to 45,000 people per year. In 2014, their most recent report, they assisted nearly 15,000 households, had approximately 12,000 people receive their claims and in total, since the beginning, had 20,927,590 people repay their claims.

Micro Insurance Academy is comprised of 40 employees who are research, training and development experts, making them the largest micro-insurance resource center in the world.

To implement their projects, Micro Insurance Academy partners with local organizations to lay down a steady foundation in the community they are working in. While working with these partners, they train them in safe and efficient micro-insurance practices.

A large part of their program consists of research. Their research finds answers to questions such as what techniques will benefit a specific community more and what challenges are being faced by people in subsistent marketplaces.

In addition to these programs, Micro Insurance Academy also offers educational services. These services provide information on insurance, social protection, financial inclusion and risk management to help their clients get the best out of their micro-insurance programs.

Throughout the communities they assist, the organization has implemented resource centers that help their clients develop strong relationships with one another, utilize tools and resources needed to develop strong business skills and provide assistance with business techniques such as operations and marketing management.

In total, Micro Insurance Academy has assisted people in more than 12 countries to rise out of poverty through smart micro-insurance and business techniques. In the future, they plan to expand their practices and assist a greater number of people throughout the world.

Julia Hettiger

Sources: Micro Insurance Academy, Poverty-Action, Idealist
Photo: Telegraph

The Kellogg Foundation, founded in 1930 by Kellogg Company CEO Will Keith Kellogg, focuses on issues relating to child development, primarily in Haiti, Mexico, the U.S., Brazil and southern Africa. Within the U.S., the foundation concentrates on Michigan, New Orleans, New Mexico and Mississippi.

“Concentrating our resources on early childhood (prenatal to age 8), within the context of families and communities, offers the best opportunity to dramatically reduce the vulnerability caused by poverty and racial inequity over time,” states the foundation’s website.

To achieve this, the Kellogg Foundation focuses on the following three strategic goals:

Educated Kids: Increasing the number of children who are proficient in reading and math by third grade.

Healthy Kids: Increasing the number of children born at healthy birth weight and who receive the care and healthy food they need for optimal development.

Secure Families: Increasing the number of children and families living at least 200 percent above the poverty level.

Embedded in these goals are a commitment to civic and community engagement and racial equity. The foundation considers these elements to be essential if communities are to create conditions under which all children can thrive.

Under the rubric of Educated Kids, the Kellogg Foundation seeks to increase the support and training that educators receive in a bid to enhance their leadership skills and professional development and ultimately improve the quality of both teaching and learning.

In the category of Healthy Kids, the foundation focuses its grants on efforts to improve the health of mothers and families, increase breastfeeding rates, provide community-based oral health care and transform food systems.

And to ensure Secure Families, the Kellogg Foundation assists families with their financial and employment prospects, helping them to increase their economic and social mobility. “We help make connections to financial resources and job skills training, so that families can be debt-free, pay their bills and feel empowered to help their children succeed,” says the foundation’s website.

The foundation also stands for racial equity and social justice, seeking to stamp out structural racism: “Far too many children of color live in racially isolated neighborhoods in metropolitan areas, and in segregated rural and tribal communities across the United States,” the foundation says.

NonProfit Quarterly notes that efforts to change structural racism can be difficult for foundations to achieve: “It is easier to find and fund the mentoring and leadership development programs which, in many cases, are hardly new, than to pinpoint how to effectuate changes in institutional and public policies that sustain these structural inequities.”

In spite of these challenges, the Kellogg Foundation continues to work on improving the health and development of children around the world and in the U.S. as well as enhancing communities and striving for racial equity.

Mayra Vega

Sources: WKKF, Nonprofit Quarterly
Photo: Flickr