Poverty in Africa Facts Statistics Suffering Poverty Line
How bad is poverty in Africa? The situation is improving, but Africa remains the poorest continent on Earth. But what many people may not know are the effects of poverty in Africa—including hunger, disease and a lack of basic necessities.


Leading Facts About Poverty in Africa


  1. Seventy-five percent of the world’s poorest countries are located in Africa, including Zimbabwe, Liberia and Ethiopia. The Central African Republic ranked the poorest in the world with a GDP per capita of $656 in 2016.
  1. According to Gallup World, in 2013, the 10 countries with the highest proportion of residents living in extreme poverty were all in sub-Saharan Africa. Extreme poverty is defined as living on $1.25 or less a day. In 2010, 414 million people were living in extreme poverty across sub-Saharan Africa. According to the World Bank, those living on $1.25 a day accounted for 48.5 percent of the population in that region in 2010.
  1. Approximately one in three people living in sub-Saharan Africa are undernourished. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations estimated that 239 million people (around 30 percent of the population) in sub-Saharan Africa were hungry in 2010. This is the highest percentage of any region in the world. In addition, the U.N. Millennium Project reported that over 40 percent of all Africans are unable to regularly obtain sufficient food.
  1. In sub-Saharan Africa, 589 million people live without electricity. As a result, a staggering 80 percent of the population relies on biomass products such as wood, charcoal and dung in order to cook.
  1. Of the 738 million people globally who lack access to clean water, 37 percent are living in sub-Saharan Africa. Poverty in Africa results in more than 500 million people suffering from waterborne diseases. According to the U.N. Millennium Project, more than 50 percent of Africans have a water-related illness like cholera.
  1. Every year, sub-Saharan Africa misses out on about $30 billion as productivity is compromised by water and sanitation problems. This amount accounts for approximately five percent of the region’s gross domestic product (GDP), exceeding the total amount of foreign aid sent to sub-Saharan Africa in 2003.
  1. Due to continuing violence, conflict and widespread human rights abuses, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that 18 million people are of concern to the agency, including stateless people and returnees.
  1. Fewer than 20 percent of African women have access to education. Uneducated African women are twice as likely to contract AIDS and 50 percent less likely to immunize their children. Meanwhile, the children of African women with at least five years of schooling have a 40 percent higher chance of survival.
  1. Women in sub-Saharan Africa are more than 230 times more likely to die during childbirth or pregnancy than women in North America. Approximately one in 16 women living in sub-Saharan African will die during childbirth or pregnancy; only one in 4,000 women in North America will.
  1. More than one million people, mostly children under the age of five, die every year from malaria. Malaria deaths in Africa alone account for 90 percent of all malaria deaths worldwide. Eighty percent of these victims are African children. The U.N. Millennium Project has calculated that a child in Africa dies from malaria every 30 seconds, or about 3,000 each day.

– Jordanna Packtor

Sources: Global Issues, World Hunger, World Bank, World Population Review, The Richest, Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute, UNHCR, The Water Project, Gallup, Global Finance


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A new report from the European Union illuminates the staggering cost of untreated illness among Europe’s most poor. The report estimates that trillions of dollars a year are lost due to what it calls “health inequalities.”

As reported by The Guardian, the study shows that many avoidable costs are incurred as a result of sick individuals leaving the workforce due to illness or death. The loss of productivity alone may cause trillion dollar losses throughout the E.U.

Granted that these costs and conditions (along with other economic factors) vary widely from nation to nation in the E.U., the report signals a need for shared responsibility in dealing with public health.

From west to east, Europe has an obvious incline in disease and mortality. Many eastern European states report annual mortality rate that are nearly double that of the lowest western states. The fault line between the two halves of Europe appears to be primarily economic—a divide between rich and poor.

The report points to poverty as the central association to these varied health outcomes. The report claims to have “found many examples of associations between risk factors for health, including tobacco use and obesity, and socio-economic circumstances.”

A lack of education, employment, and social safety nets also help to account for a fairly substantial disparity between member states. The report, therefore, calls for broad, systemic changes for many nations. The solution has to be delivered on several fronts if the less fortunate states are to see positive change. Additionally, they are not likely to be able to accomplish these goals in the short term without significant aid from wealthier member states.

In the end, the report looks to put this issue in the public interest by appealing to economic consequences of allowing such inequality to exist. Further, it argues that these inequalities are mostly avoidable. In other words, something can be done on the part of member states to ensure the well being of the most poor.

Chase Colton

Sources: The Guardian, EU
Photo: Shared Justice