Cash Transfers in sub-Saharan AfricaCash transfer programs have expanded dramatically in the last decade in the sub-Saharan Africa region. It has become the key to social protection strategies and economic empowerment in developing countries. These programs can be either conditional or unconditional, with the majority of the programs’ objectives to improve health, educational status and food security in the most impoverished populations, particularly for children.

Skepticism of Cash Transfers

Even though the social objectives of these programs are respectable, many feel skeptical about their effectiveness. The common concern about giving cash to the poor revolves around the recipient living off and becoming dependent on the cash assistance without actually addressing the root of the problem.

Cash transfers in sub-Saharan Africa target extremely poor and labor-constrained households. The purpose of these cash transfers is to stimulate positive changes in behavior and increase demands for services. The transfers are also distinctive from programs in other regions due to their “soft” conditions. This means no penalties for nonfulfillment and low monitoring due to the associated cost of enforcement.

Benefits in the Long-term

A study looking at six countries, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho and Malawi, found positive livelihood impacts from cash transfers in sub-Saharan Africa. They found that a small amount of cash allows the beneficiaries to make better choices, which leads to better livelihood outcomes in the long-term.

In particular, cash transfers reduced negative risk-coping strategies. This included begging or taking children out of school, in Malawi, Ethiopia and Lesotho. Beneficiaries of cash transfers are also able to support other households or receive better social protection systems and manage risks.

Much of the research seems to confirm the general positive impacts that the cash transfers have in sub-Saharan Africa. Cash transfers not only alleviate poverty by redistributing resources to the poor but also foster an individual’s economic autonomy and self-sufficiency. Additionally, research also finds an increase in school attendance for the beneficiaries; however, the quality of education does not necessarily increase.

Working Less?

Further, there is limited evidence suggesting that cash transfers would contribute to adults working less. On the contrary, cash transfer programs can lead to more productive labor activities. The cash transfer program in Zambia led to a 34 percent increase in the use of agricultural inputs. This, in turn, led to a 50 percent growth in the value of overall production. Similarly, cash transfer programs in Lesotho, Ghana and Malawi also brought about an increase in investment in livestock ownership and other agricultural activities.

Nonprofit Efforts

A nonprofit organization, GiveDirectly, has been distributing cash to the poor in sub-Saharan African countries for a decade. Recently, researchers partnered with the organization and conducted an experiment to study the impact of cash transfers in sub-Saharan Africa by giving $1,000 to more than 10,500 households in a Kenyan village over the course of eight months. Findings indicated that every $1 of cash delivered generated $2.60 in additional spending or income in the area. Consequently, cash transfers benefited not only the individual recipients but the overall economy in each locality.

The research on the impacts of cash transfers in sub-Saharan Africa supports the positive effects of these programs. Further, these benefits extend to both beneficiaries and their non-recipient neighbors. There is little to no evidence suggesting that cash transfers can reduce labor supply or work efforts of the recipient households. Cash transfers not only provide monetary means to alleviate basic immediate needs, but also allow recipients to make better life choices and invest in productive economic activities.

Minh-Ha La
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Sub-Saharan AfricaIn accordance with the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Australia will spend $121 million in 2018-2019 in Official Development Assistance (ODA) to poverty-stricken areas including sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The amount of assistance includes investment priorities in areas such as health, building resilience, education, infrastructure and trade. Australia sees economic benefits in investing in SSA, such as future potential trade with Africa. Through the help of many nongovernment organizations, Australia seeks to eradicate poverty in sub-Saharan Africa.

Agricultural Productivity

Two major areas of investment in SSA include agricultural productivity and food security. There is a spillover effect from achieving these two goals; as health improves from improving farming productivity, income increases as well. Due to a higher income, those in extreme poverty would be able to afford education, better food, clean drinking water and sanitation.

The livelihood of Africans would increase and that is one reason Australia has its focus on agribusiness. From 2009, Australia has awarded at least $31 million to small- and medium-sized agribusiness companies, the technology and renewable energy sector and the financial service sector. The $31 million is part of the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund, which is promoting resilient rural communities, helping eradicate poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa and creating jobs through the private sector.

Humanitarian Assistance

Australia’s humanitarian program in Africa focuses on economic downfalls, natural disasters and conflict, all of which contribute to food scarcity and poverty. Australia’s goal is to alleviate suffering from these shocks, save lives and bring stability and dignity to those affected. In the last few years, Australia focused on the crises in South Sudan and Somalia. In line with the Foreign Policy White Paper, its focus is on working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in supporting refugees.

Australia Awards

Australia’s method of improving Sub-Saharan Africa’s livelihood is through the Australia Awards Scholarship Program. Wealth generation and job creation are two areas that have developed from recipients of this award. Courses teaching hydroponic farming, macroeconomic development and professional development give awardees the knowledge and skills needed to drive economic growth and sustainable development. Awardees also learn leadership, negotiation, project management, public speaking and other soft skills.

One such awardee, Edmore Masendeke from Zimbabwe, works as an economist at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. In 2018, Masendeke began an accessible housing project for people with disabilities. He helped the bank start a loan facility for Zimbabweans with disabilities. He is only one awardee that has accomplished positive change in underrepresented individuals.


  • Over 12 million Africans have better healthcare, improved access to food security and better water and sanitation thanks to the collective work of 27 nongovernmental organizations funded by the Australian NGO Cooperation Program in 2017-18.
  • Through its humanitarian effort, Australia helped over 1 million vulnerable women, men and children in 12 countries by giving life-saving assistance.
  • Australia increased crop production by improving agricultural productivity that resulted in advanced farming techniques and better food security.
  • There were 479 Australia Awards Scholarship awardees in 2018.


The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade stated that its strategic direction aligns with the Foreign Policy White Paper. Its main focus areas in the future include the following: agricultural productivity, humanitarian assistance, leadership and human capacity development and gender equality and women’s empowerment. Australia will continue to support the initiative to eradicate poverty in sub-Saharan Africa and collaborate with nongovernment organizations, the United Nations and its subsidiaries to improve agriculture, food security, water and sanitation and hygiene programs in order to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

– Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr

reducing poverty eliminates poaching
Poaching rates have climbed at an alarmingly fast rate. In fact, with continued growth, it is predicted that most of Africa’s vulnerable wildlife will be extinct by the end of the average person’s lifetime. The statistics indicate that there has been a 5,000 percent increase in rhino poaching alone throughout Africa between 2007 and 2011.

Several studies have attempted to determine the main cause of poaching, or illegal hunting, throughout Africa; the main source was found to be poverty. These same studies have shown how reducing poverty eliminates poaching, and stress the necessity to address this serious problem.

Current Efforts to Reduce Poaching

Poaching is a form of income for poor households throughout Africa, and it is especially effective for those who live in rural locations near wildlife preservations. Those who are arrested for poaching activities in national parks were significantly poorer than the rest of their communities, and more likely to live closer to the parks and therefore further from local trading centers.

There have been many strategies put in place to attempt to protect wildlife throughout Africa. Strategically placed rangers on the plains, wildlife preservation parks and punishments for violators are some of the measures that have been taken. However, these have proven ineffective; an average of two rangers are killed each week protecting wildlife, and prison sentences for poachers tend to be less than one month due to costs of food and housing for the inmates. The solution, therefore, resides in stopping poaching at its root: poverty.

Studies Demonstrate That Reducing Poverty Eliminates Poaching

A study by Eli Knapp found that poachers who described themselves as living in absolute poverty admitted killing these animals as a food source. These same people also asserted they would quit poaching permanently if they could earn income through other means. Poorer members of a community tend to poach more fiercely and for a longer period of time than those who merely poach for sport. It is important for these people to not feel so poor in relation to their peers in their community. Merely narrowing the income gap between residents will, in turn, decrease the rate of poaching.

Another study analyzes why people in poverty tend to poach and illuminates how reducing poverty eliminates poaching. Rosaleen Duffy argues that poverty results in a person feeling a lack of power, prestige and voice in their life, and poaching may be a means of seeking status in a community. While poaching is still seen as an illegal activity, in most communities it has become a local custom and brings higher prestige to people.

Poaching not only provides these poor communities with material needs of food and money, but also provides a way to meet non-material goals. Cutting poverty at its source will allow these people to increase their status while also preserving wildlife.

Although there have been many studies showing how reducing poverty eliminates poaching, there are still many other factors at play in this illegal activity. Reducing poverty will not completely eliminate all poaching, but it can drastically decrease the deaths of endangered species and other precious wildlife throughout Africa.

– Adrienne Tauscheck

Photo: Pixabay

facts about poverty in Africa

Many people are aware that Africa suffers from widespread poverty, but many do not know what that poverty consists of or why it exists. Understanding the facts and seeing the statistics can result in change. Here are 15 facts about poverty in Africa.

Facts and Stats about Africa Poverty

  1. Africa is by far the poorest continent on the planet. 28 of the world’s poorest countries are African.
  2. Sub-Saharan Africa is home to the second largest population of hungry people. The largest is in Asia.
  3. Half of the African population lives in poverty. These people do not have access to basic human needs, such as nutrition, clean water, shelter and more. 47 percent of the African population is living on $1.90 or less a day.
  4. Two in five African adults are illiterate. While the continent’s number of schools are increasing, the quality of learning and general attendance is still down due to local violence and gender oppression.
  5. It is projected that the global poor will become more concentrated in Africa. With the population rising at such a high rate on the continent, and having such a large number of poverty-stricken countries, it becomes very difficult to prevent increasing poverty.
  6. One in four people in the sub-Saharan region are malnourished. This is the highest amount of hungry people in the world.
  7. The causes for African hunger are poverty, conflict, the environment and overpopulation. These causes create issues such as disease, floods, genocide and many other resulting crises that result in a lack of food and health within many communities.
  8. Corruption on the continent makes it very difficult to conquer the poverty numbers. With governments confiscating donations from abroad, local militias slaughtering villagers and cultural leaders denying women the right and safety to attend school, poverty perpetuates.
  9. While worldwide poverty is declining — it has been divided in half in the last 30 years — in Africa the progress has been much slower. This is largely due to the rising population and the young age of its government systems, stemming from a history of colonization.
  10. Most of the perpetuation of poverty involves social issues. It is less a matter of wealth, as it is with how the wealth is distributed and shared.
  11. The African governments have not existed for very long. Even in 1950, only four of the 55 African countries had independent governments. Studies state that a government requires several decades at least to stabilize.
  12. The economic gap is huge and still growing. The class system contains huge gaps between the rich and poor, with little mobility due to gender inequality and corruption.
  13. Those living in regions affected by violence are 50 percent more likely to become impoverished. This makes them twice as likely to be affected by hunger. Much of Africa is war-torn and experiencing conflict.
  14. The average woman living in sub-Saharan Africa will give birth to 5.2 kids in her lifetime. While Africa is globally the poorest continent, it is also home to the highest birth rate. With a growing population, this is causing unemployment, disease and hunger.
  15. While the decline of the number of poor in Africa is slower than the global rate, it has recently decreased. It fell from 56 percent in 1990 to 43 percent in 2012.

Knowing the facts about poverty in Africa can illustrate not only the work that needs to be done but also the progress that has been implemented. Africa is a struggling continent, and these facts about poverty in Africa point to a complex problem of young governments, few resources and a growing population. There is plenty of work still to be done.

– Emily Degn

Photo: Flickr

The World's Poorest Countries and Why They SufferAccording to Business Insider, the top ten of the world’s poorest countries are the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Liberia, Niger, Malawi, Mozambique, Guinea, Eritrea and Madagascar. Poverty is directly correlated to a nation’s institutional quality, corruption levels, geography and economic prospects. These sub-Saharan African countries suffer from several factors that keep their citizens well below the poverty line. Why do these nations struggle with poverty?



The world’s poorest countries struggle to overcome poverty due to a lack of institutions. While many organizations are working to address this issue, there is still a substantial lack of quality institutions in education, agriculture and medicine. When institutions such as schools are created for impoverished people, it reduces the overwhelmingly low literacy rates, which increases opportunities for those facing extreme poverty. Funding the creation of more institutions for developing countries creates opportunities and advantages for impoverished people, which encourages a nation’s industrialization and economic success.



Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo also made Business Insider’s list of the world’s most corrupt countries. Political instability and corruption create an environment that hinders growth. In the world’s poorest countries, political corruption is common and often discussed with severity, but rarely fought against. A strong governing body is less susceptible to corruption, but many of these nations have weak governance. This corruption, paired with conflict such as terrorism, can prevent an impoverished nation’s upward mobility. A stronger, more powerful government could be the solution for conflict and corruption in developing nations.



The world’s poorest countries are often at the mercy of their geography. Landlocking, poor soil and natural disasters can keep a nation at a disadvantage. When a nation is landlocked, the success of its economy is often correlated to the success of surrounding nations. For example, a landlocked country in Europe, where fewer countries are impoverished, has a better chance at success than a country in sub-Saharan Africa, where many nations are underdeveloped. This is based on the concept and reality of economic growth crossing borders. As well as landlocking, many of these nations experience disasters such as droughts which discourage agricultural success.



Economic growth for the world’s poorest countries is based on myriad factors, some of which are beyond a nation’s control. Many developing countries face the lack of a free market, landlocking and high trade barriers, all of which slow the upward mobility of a nation. Free markets encourage a blossoming economy; therefore, a lack of international trade affects a nation’s GDP substantially.

Trade barriers prevent developing countries from expanding their economic gains because they experience high tariffs on their products, which are commonly textiles and agricultural goods. Trade barriers are costlier for developing countries, even though it is more common for developing nations to export goods to other developing nations rather than industrialized nations. In this common situation, both developing nations suffer. Impoverished nations like Burundi, the third poorest nation in the world, rely on foreign aid from wealthy countries for survival because they struggle with trade.


How to Move Forward

Developed nations, which are industrialized, have implemented foreign aid laws and programs which encourage and fund the development of impoverished nations. To remain active and diligent in the support of progress for the world’s poorest nations, encouraging Congress to vote for laws that protect and create foreign aid funds is essential to the progress of these developing nations. Long-term development for economic and social progress starts with developed nations lending a humble hand to those less fortunate.

– Courtney Hambrecht

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Sub-Saharan AfricaThe woes of sub-Saharan Africa likely need no real introduction to most in the developed world, with daily survival a challenge for many across the region. Traditionally, the method of attempting to resolve these issues has been via foreign aid. However, in recent years, a new school of thought has emerged. The new thinking is that through entrepreneurship education for the next generation of workers in Africa, an alternative solution to poverty in sub-Saharan Africa may be found.

Current trends in Africa indicate that by the year 2030, enrollment in secondary education will have doubled across sub-Saharan Africa. Yet despite better access to education, youth unemployment rates are increasing. Of all surveyed entrepreneurs in the region, 40 percent said that finding employees with the right skills was their primary challenge when looking to hire new employees. It is perhaps with this type of issue in mind that advocates of educational reform are seeking to make schooling more explicitly linked to the needs of the region.

Reform of this type is obviously a difficult undertaking, especially when considering the multitude of countries and different education systems in the region. With entrepreneurship becoming an increasingly important part of the solution to poverty in sub-Saharan Africa, enabling youths to have skills such as critical thinking and autonomy in their work, traits sought after by hiring managers, seems to be an important step to helping them into the working environment.

A sizable number of countries have already begun taking steps towards reforming their curriculums, with an increased emphasis to be placed on employability skills and entrepreneurship. One of these is Rwanda, a nation in which under-25s, who comprise 67 percent of the population, account for 70 percent of the unemployed labor force. As such, steps towards focusing education on these key aspects could be a massive difference maker in the country’s battle with poverty.

One organization focused on assisting education reform across sub-Saharan Africa is Educate!, whose goal is the transformation of schooling in the region with the ultimate aim of teaching youths to solve poverty in their community themselves. By 2024, Educate! aims to directly impact 1 million students, while reaching 4 million more, with skills training in leadership, entrepreneurship and employability skills. Through this, the organization hopes to transform youths into the next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs across the region.

While it is perhaps naive to believe that entrepreneurship education can be the single solution to poverty in sub-Saharan Africa, it is not naive to believe that it will have an impact. It is with this impact in mind that support for these educational reforms should be given. The problem in the region is unique; the solutions to it can be too.

Gavin Callander

Photo: Flickr