5 Things to Know About Poverty in Algeria
Poverty in Algeria is distributed unequally among groups. This is mainly due to the country’s economy heavily relying on a few market sectors. This creates disparities in unemployment and poverty rates based on region, age and sex as the economy is reliant upon a few job types and resources.

5 Facts About Poverty in Algeria

  1. The Algerian economy relies heavily on global oil and gas prices. One can attribute poverty in Algeria to many factors. However, Algeria’s resource richness has led to heavy reliance on global prices for natural gas and oil. This means the country’s economy is dependent on high prices. As a result, when prices drop or stay stagnant, its economy and its people feel the effects. Moreover, hydrocarbon is one of Algeria’s main exports. It has suffered from lower rates of export in the past few years. Heightened domestic demands for natural gas and slowed production contributed to the dip in hydrocarbon exports.
  2. Unemployment and poverty rates differ greatly between groups. Unemployment in Algeria stood at 12.8% in 2020. However, youth, college graduates and women see much higher rates of unemployment which likely contributes to poverty in Algeria. The youth unemployment rate was at a staggering 29% in 2016, followed by 16.6% for women. Diversification of the economy could help improve the unemployment rate among these groups, subsequently helping eliminate poverty.
  3. Reports disagree about the number of Algerians below the poverty line. The Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LADDH) found that 14 million Algerians were living below the poverty line in 2015. This population group earns less than $1.45 a day. The LADDH conducted a study with large sample sizes to find this result, pinning the poverty rate at 35% of Algerians. However, governmental organizations contested these numbers using the Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Ministry of Solidarity’s numbers. The organizations have counted between 660,000 and 700,000 poor families in Algeria.
  4. Disparities in poverty rates exist between different regions. The poverty rates are twice as high among Algerians living in the Sahara region. Algerians living on the Steppe have three times as high which is suffering the effects of resource scarcity and desertification. Despite these regional disparities in rates of poverty, almost 75% of Algerians in poverty live in urban areas and suffer from high unemployment rates. Diversification of the economy in urban areas and sustainable agricultural practices in rural areas can help address both of these issues.
  5. Desertification is affecting agriculture. Agricultural lands in rural areas eroded because of the overuse of the land through practices such as overgrazing. This then leads to less water retention in the soil. Moreover, the rains carried the eroded soil and waste like fertilizers and oils. As a result, it contributes to water pollution, limiting available clean water. To alleviate the strain the agricultural practices are placing on the environment and lessen their effects on the surrounding populations, land conservation and sustainable development practices require attention

Looking Ahead

Diversifying the economy and generating jobs in other sectors can decrease poverty in Algeria and address disparities in unemployment. In addition, implementing sustainable agricultural practices will slow desertification and protect rural populations. The International Development Research Center’s ‘Sustainable Development of the Algerian Steppe’ projects have started working to achieve this and increased foreign aid could continue this important work.

Ellie Williams
Photo: Flickr

Facts About Poverty in Algeria
Despite its rich oil resources, Algeria faces long-term challenges from a lack of diversity in the economy, a relatively high unemployment rate — especially among youth and women — and regional inequalities. These 10 facts about poverty in Algeria will recount the recent ups and downs of the upper middle income country.

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Algeria

  1. According to a World Bank estimation published this year, unemployment rate in Algeria has been on the rise  from 10.5 percent in September 2016 to 11.7 percent in September 2017. Unemployment among women and youth is disproportionately high: the first half of 2016 saw a 16.6 percent female unemployment rate and a 29.9 percent for young people.
  2. Even though official data given in 2011 reported a 5.5 percent poverty rate with a 0.5 percent extreme poverty rate, about one tenth of the population are thought to be susceptible to re-entering poverty. Other sources, however, report much higher rates in more recent years. Al Jazeera, the state-funded broadcaster in Doha, Qatar, wrote in April 2014 that the country has a 23 percent poverty rate.
  3. Regional differences in poverty are significant in Algeria. The World Bank points out that poverty level is the national average doubled for people residing in Sahara, and tripled for people of the Steppe.
  4. Algeria has high economic inequality; the consumption rates of the rich and poor are separated by as much as 27.7 percent.
  5. According to the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights, the country has 400,000 children drop out of schools annually. Rural areas bear most of these dropouts due to poverty and poor maintenance of local schools.
  6. The Algerian currency has been devalued throughout the past five decades, from 4.94 dinars per U.S. dollar in 1970, to 116 dinars per U.S. dollar in May of this year. This discrepancy exists predominantly due to the government’s efforts to artificially lower its budget deficit and keep up oil taxes. At the same time, the government is heavily subsidising imports to make them more affordable, which ultimately increases the country’s dependency on imports as the country should be striving to construct a productive economy to provide employment opportunities.
  7. Algeria is extremely dependent on its oil resources for economic growth. The hydrocarbonic sector makes up 95 percent of Algeria’s exports, occupying 60 percent of the governmental budget. This area of production doubled the state’s fiscal deficit in 2015, as oil prices plummeted and affected the already unprivileged.
  8. Medical care is limited due to low population density and poverty in rural areas. Thus, some regions in Nigeria still face high maternal and under-five mortality rates.
  9. The government of Algeria has been criticized for corruption, especially in areas of infrastructure construction and oil. A national commission was enacted to battle such corruption in 2006, but not until four years later did seven members get appointed. In 2012, 2,000 cases of corruption were under investigation, but rarely resulted in convictions.
  10. Algeria faces potential instability if oil prices remain low. People, especially the youth in Algeria, are discontent with the government, believing that the government has no concern for its citizens. Some are also concerned that another “Black Decade,” referring to the country’s civil war in the 1990s, lies ahead.

A New Direction

Algeria is in need of economic transformations, and has to figure out how to address its low domestic productivity effectively. An economic blueprint that is more community-based and under public supervision should be adopted in place of the currently stagnating attempts at adjustment.

– Feng Ye

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in AlgeriaWith a population of approximately 40 million, Algeria is geographically North Africa’s largest country. It is also the world’s fourth largest gas exporter and the tenth largest exporter of oil. Algeria is a rich nation and the third most important economy in the Middle East and North Africa, but its people are poor. Reports show that the national rate of poverty in Algeria is as high as 23 percent.

What are the causes of poverty in Algeria? Why are up to half of young men from a country tempted to flee to Europe as illegal immigrants to escape misery at home?

Poverty and Unemployment

A high rate of unemployment among youth is one the causes of poverty in Algeria. Although the official figure is 12.48 percent, in reality it is much greater than that. One report from 2008 shows that unemployment among people under 30 was 70 percent. Such high unemployment rates and difficult quality of life have forced the country’s youth to take on desperate measures, such as illegal immigration to find work in Europe.

Political Conflict

Many Algerians blame the unresponsive and ineffective political leadership for the fall of the country’s economic position. One analyst claims that the “doctrinaire socialism” of the National Liberation Front (FLN), a political party which led the struggle for independence against France, rendered the country bankrupt. The Algerian Civil War between the Algerian government and various Islamic rebel groups from 1991 to 2002 and post-war political tensions further weakened the country’s political and economic stability.

Lack of Democracy

Lack of democratic institutions is another cause of poverty in Algeria. The struggle for power between the progressive FLN and conservative Islamic Front prompted military intervention on a number of occasions. The country’s current 80-year old President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has been in office since 1999 by “winning” four successive elections. Although he is respected as an elderly statesman for taking the country out of the civil war and eliminating radical and militant jihadi groups, the government under his rule has grown increasingly intolerant of press and political opposition.

Cuts in Government Spending

Another cause of people’s discontent and poverty in Algeria is the recent decline in oil price. Because Algeria relies heavily on oil and hydrocarbons for a strong economy, the sharp decline in oil price has prompted the government to implement spending cuts and tax hikes. Such measures without “improved safety nets, a cash transfer system reaching the needy, a solid media campaign to ensure better public understanding during its implementation and a stronger statistical system that allows monitoring of households’ living conditions more frequently” will pose a risk for Algeria.

Nevertheless, the pleasant news is that poverty in Algeria has decreased by 20 percent in the past two decades. While this number is promising, it is still not enough development. There is a need for a shift toward a more diversified economy that will move the country to sustainable growth and more employment opportunities.

Aslam Kakar

Photo: Flickr

Algeria, a French-speaking country in the north of America, enjoyed relative prosperity until around the 1980s. After independence, the economy was buoyed by booming oil prices. However, a blow to the oil market and inept management saw conditions in the country decline after the 1980s, and Algeria’s poverty has continued to rise since.

Today, nearly a quarter of Algerians are living close to or below the poverty line. The majority live in rural areas, though the urban centres are also suffering from unemployment rates, the most affected being unskilled youth.

Algeria suffers from major inequality in the distribution of wealth. A select minority control a large amount of the resources and live in relative affluence, able to enjoy modern conveniences, private school educations, and trips abroad. Yet the majority of the population lives in squalor and struggles for access to healthcare, clean water, education, and food.

The poorest in Algeria are the landless farmers who live in the mountainous regions to the north or near the south Saharan region. Working on the production of crops, and unable to procure their own land, they have been particularly affected by soil erosion and degradation, droughts, poor irrigation, and drainage.

Algeria’s problems are not unsolvable and could be improved by improvements in agricultural practices or providing support services or education. Yet internal conflicts have worsened the problem in recent years, and a lack of political stability has prevented governments from implementing the necessary long term structural reforms that are needed to provide resources to lift the nation out of poverty.

– Farahnaz Mohammed

Source: World Bank, Nation’s Encyclopedia, Rural Poverty Portal
Photo: Brookings