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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

Poverty Rate in NigerNiger made American and world news recently for the ambush that killed four U.S. Army Green Berets operating alongside Nigerien troops in October. The World Bank puts the poverty rate in Niger at 48.9, and in 2015 it ranked dead last out of 188 countries in the United Nations Development Index. 76 percent of Nigeriens live on less than $2 a day.

The region of Africa that Niger occupies is home to several armed groups loyal to al-Qaeda or the Islamic State. A group affiliated with the latter is the primary suspect behind the October 4 attacks that killed the U.S. servicemen. Violence, both within and without, has always been a factor contributing to the poverty rate in Niger. In 2015, Niger approved the deployment of 750 troops to neighboring Nigeria to combat the Islamist group Boko Haram. In retaliation, Boko Haram has increased its operations in Niger.

The conflict has also created a refugee situation. About 115,000 people from neighboring Nigeria have relocated to Niger, primarily to the Niger’s Diffa region, which is already known for having a strained food supply.

Another tragic factor contributing to the poverty rate in Niger is teenage pregnancy and child brides. Half of the girls in Niger are married before age 15. Many of these unions are forced marriages. Polygamy is also common in Niger. The extremely young age at which many Nigerien girls give birth and the high numbers of children many mothers have are creating a population boom that could increase the poverty rate in Niger if not handled carefully.

These facts may present a grim picture of Niger, but there are efforts being made to reduce the poverty rate in Niger. Mobile fertility clinics have given Nigerien women education and access to birth control that they would otherwise not have. Many communities also have “husband schools” to educate men on birth spacing and population control, so that they are knowledgeable about these issues and can come to an agreement with their wives to have fewer children.

The agriculture sector also has shown improvements in recent years and has driven Niger’s economy. Less than a third of Niger’s usable land is currently being farmed. Combined with better farming techniques, this could lead to much higher food production. These steps may seem small on their own, but with combined efforts they can make a major difference in the lives of Nigeriens.

Andrew Revord

Photo: Flickr

Challenges and Solutions in Reducing the Poverty Rate in St. Kitts and NevisSt. Kitts and Nevis is not one of the poorest countries in the Caribbean. No exact statistics on the exact poverty rate in St. Kitts and Nevis exist, but it is clear that the country both has ongoing struggles and that solutions to many of its problems do exist.

One of the biggest contributing factors to the poverty rate in St. Kitts and Nevis is youth unemployment and underemployment. Some of the costs of this are hard to quantify, such as the feeling of self-esteem one gains from being employed.

Childhood education is free in St. Kitts and Nevis, but the additional costs associated with it can be prohibitive. Teachers in St. Kitts and Nevis have been known to hold antagonistic attitudes towards the poor. In many cases, impoverished parents of children have to work two or three jobs to provide for their families.

Health problems related to unhealthy lifestyles are widespread in St. Kitts and Nevis, such as obesity, hypertension and depression. This in turn puts a strain on the country’s healthcare system and economy.

It is not unheard of for citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis to procure healthcare and education abroad. In fact, many low-income families in the country are supported by migrants living abroad and sending money home.

Another contributor to the poverty rate in St. Kitts and Nevis is one that threatens all Caribbean nations: natural disasters, particularly hurricanes. The collapse of the sugar industry has led to soil erosion, a result of diverting runoff rainwater to sugar fields through pipes.

Alarmingly, violent crime, which can be both symptomatic of and contribute to poverty, has risen in the very recent past. There were 103 reported homicides in 2006-2010, compared to 42 from 2001-2005, a 160 percent increase.

Despite the obvious challenges that lay ahead, there are several steps being taken to reduce the poverty rate in St. Kitts and Nevis. The country is in the process of reforming the various antiquated departments that would be concerned with a rise in violent crime. Effective mobilization of resources to inform the public about bad health choices could make a huge difference. Currently, the government is investing in more training for medical professionals.

St. Kitts and Nevis faces a number of very real challenges in alleviating poverty. But most of these challenges have been identified and none are insurmountable. In the coming years, with proper action, the poverty rate in St. Kitts and Nevis can be reduced.

Andrew Revord

Photo: Flickr

Uzbekistan Poverty Rate
Since gaining independence in 1991 after the fall of the USSR, Uzbekistan’s prosperity has grown by leaps and bounds. Located in Central Asia, just south of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan has become the fifth-largest cotton exporter in the world and is quickly growing its gold and natural gas industries. Its forecasted GDP growth for 2017 is seven percent, which is well above the 3.2 percent average of other Central Asian countries. In fact, Uzbekistan’s GDP has more than tripled since 2007. Despite these exciting changes, there is still much room for improvement, particularly concerning the poverty rate in Uzbekistan.

Lack of employment is a major issue for Uzbekistan, with 12.8 percent of its population living below the poverty line. Since becoming a sovereign nation, a time when Uzbekistan’s economy was in flux, the country has become dependent on its exportation of its gold and cotton products; however, these commodities are tightly controlled by the regime, with much of the profits lining the pockets of the wealthy leaders, leaving many average citizens high and dry. Job stagnation also hurts the poverty rate in Uzbekistan as the number of Uzbek citizens of eligible employment age has increased and industries with little room for growth dominate the country.

Because there is little money to be made in Uzbekistan, many people migrate or work abroad, usually in Russia or Kazakhstan. The citizens often face harsh repercussions including harassment from Uzbek security services and government interference with remittances. These poor economic conditions, along with restrictions on human rights and religious freedoms nearly thrust Uzbekistan into a civil war during the Andijan massacre in 2005, when hundreds of protesters were shot dead for demanding their president’s resignation.

In 2016, a new Uzbek president was elected to office for the first time in 25 years: Shavkat Mirziyoyev. Since taking office, Mirziyoyev has partnered with The World Bank in a five-year strategy to use a $100 million loan for the creation of 500,000 new jobs. The goal of the plan is to decrease the poverty rate in Uzbekistan and to help the country reach upper-middle-income status by 2030.

Although there is still more progress needed to improve the livelihoods of average Uzbek citizens, it is important not to understate the growth and development that has been at work in the country for decades. Since 2001, the poverty rate has been cut by more than half. These numbers, along with new leadership and the implementation of the stimulus package being proposed, give hope to the prospect of a wealthy and economically secure Uzbekistan.

Micaela Fischer

Photo: Flickr

Poverty Rate in Tunisia
Tunisia proved the authority of its democracy when 2010 uprisings overthrew a decade-long dictatorship. That same year, the World Bank found that the poverty rate in Tunisia had been cut in half since the start of the century. Tunisia’s GDP has doubled as it approaches 10 years since that revolution, but rural areas are still stuck in a rut of poverty.

Most economic growth is localized to coastal, urban communities. The agricultural sector only contributes 10 percent to the overall GDP, but 35 percent of the country’s population competes for that small percentage. The result is that two-thirds of the country’s poor population lives in rural, agrarian areas.

Still, Tunisia is considered a success story and role model for other countries fighting poverty. The government implemented programs to improve the national status of education, healthcare and infrastructure after the new democracy took hold in 2011, and the aggregate influence was tangible. But the disparity remains, and the poverty rate in Tunisia is as much as 30 percent higher in some rural regions.

 

The Devastating Effects of the Poverty Rate in Tunisia

 

In hard to access areas, potable water and electricity are only available to 65 percent of people. This leaves nearly half of the poor population without water or electricity. The number of women receiving prenatal care is 35 percent lower in rural areas, and infant mortality rates are significantly higher. The Tunisian government has made basic healthcare accessible to all people, regardless of income, so the adverse statistics seem to represent a different problem.

Literacy rates (a strong indicator of poverty) are just above 98 percent for males between 15-24, and near 96 percent for females of the same age across Tunisia. These are promising figures, just like the overall improvement in poverty rate in Tunisia, but again there is a disparity in rural areas. Dropout rates for primary education remain at about 50 percent for the whole country, disproportionately attributed to children in poverty, and especially to girls in rural areas. The statistical stagnancy represents a social emphasis on patriarchy rather than education, and it is more and more clear that one father’s agrarian income can no longer support a family.

Tunisia’s battle against poverty shows that change begins with people. The poverty rate in Tunisia will continue to improve as the people continue to seek self-sufficiency. The civilian uprising that created their new democracy was an inspiration to similar countries, and hope remains that societal examples within that new democracy will make education and health a greater priority in rural areas.

Brooke Clayton

Photo: Google

Poverty Rate in the Solomon IslandsIn 1568, Spanish explorer Álvaro de Mendaña became the first European to visit the 992-island archipelago known today as the Solomon Islands. He named the islands after the wealthy and wise biblical king of Israel, inspired, as legend goes, by a belief that their cerulean seas and white-sand shores guarded untold riches. That assumption was largely mistaken, as seen in the poverty rate in the Solomon Islands today.

 

Exploring the Poverty Rate in the Solomon Islands

 

Although modern tourism has added to the Islands’ economic portfolio, these profits are still few and far between and unevenly distributed. The vast majority of wealth is concentrated in the capital city, Honiara, in which 85 percent of the population is in the Islands’ highest wealth quintile.

According to the Asian Development Bank, in 2013, 12.7 percent of Solomon Islanders lived below the national poverty line. Nutrition-wise, they fared better: only 4.4 percent lived below the food poverty line. However, a mere 35.1 percent had access to electricity.

Technological developments and investment continue to play a vital role in reducing poverty in the Solomon Islands. In April 2017, the World Bank reported that the Green Climate Fund has approved $86 million toward the Tina River Hydropower Project, an effort to reduce reliance on imported fuel for electricity generation. This investment accompanies the $15 million provided by the International Renewable Energy Agency/Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (IRENA/ADFD).

The Solomon Islands’ electricity retail tariffs are currently among the highest in the world, at $0.65 per kilowatt-hour. Given that the Islands generate 97 percent of their electricity from diesel fuel and only 12 percent of homes are currently connected to grid power, this project stands to reduce the burden on working families and illuminate the islands like never before.

And, with electricity, the Islands should see an economic boost. The Asian Development Bank notes that tourism is a largely untapped market with great potential for development. Cheaper and more abundant energy is good for more than just powering residential areas: it can also lay groundwork for the sort of 24-hour “City of Light” that modern tourism creates and feeds on. With a stronger, cheaper energy grid in place, private investment will follow.

New technology and investments like these, guided by sound and prescient public policy, will be crucial to reducing the poverty rate in the Solomon Islands and materializing those mythical riches dreamed of since the days of de Mendaña.

Chuck Hasenauer

Photo: Flickr

Czechia Poverty RateThe Czechia poverty rate continues to rank among the lowest in the EU. At 5.9 percent, the eastern European nation, which shed its English moniker of “Czech Republic” early in 2017, beat out such neighbors as Poland, Portugal, Hungary, Italy and Spain, all of whom have rates exceeding 10 percent.

In the OECD, Czechia ranks behind only Denmark in terms of poverty rate, which measures the amount of families living below a country’s poverty line. In Czechia, that number is 10,220 crowns (about $431 USD) per individual and 21,461 crowns (about $906 USD) for families with children.

Based on population-weighted estimates drawn from household surveys, the poverty rate is not necessarily a perfect benchmark for comparison between nations. Indicators are specific to each country’s economic and social circumstances, and a variety of factors influence perception of poverty.

However, other metrics tell the same story of a robust quality of life within Czechia. Not only is the Czechia poverty rate one of the lowest, the nation’s wealth inequality outperforms other high-performing countries. Only 22 percent of Czech income is held by the wealthiest 10 percent, lower than the U.S., China, Indonesia and Chile, who have rates of 30.2, 31.4, 31.9 and 41.5 percent respectively. The Gini coefficient, which measures income inequality, is a relatively low .26 for Czechia, and unemployment lingers at an impressive 3 percent as of 2017.

Explanations for the country’s favorable economic indicators are many. Czechia has an excellent education track record, with enrollment standing at 99.75 percent. Government funds have been redirected to education over the past decade, while decreasing in other sectors such as infrastructure. Public reform following the 2008 global economic crisis saw a VAT hike and reduction of social welfare benefits, but included significant tax discounts in other sectors of the economy and pensions that nearly doubled.

Though these factors have aided in suppressing the Czechia poverty rate, conditions for the majority of employees are not necessarily as complimentary. As average Czech wages increase, they still remain substantially lower than the EU median. An average wage across industry of $23,003 USD reflects Czechia’s tough minimum wage, which remains one of the lowest among OECD nations. The country’s main source of income comes from engineering and machine-building industries, which accounts for 37.5 percent of the economy. With a popular tourist destination for a capital, services bring in around 60 percent of Czechia’s wealth.

Forecasts predict a sustained pace of economic growth but slowing rates of employment. Inflation, which jumped from 2016 to 2017, is expected to decline as debt continues to diminish post-recession. It remains to be seen whether or not the trend in Czechia’s low poverty rate will continue.

Mikaela Krim

Photo: Google

Senegal Poverty Rate
Senegal, the westernmost country in Africa, has a population of about 13 million people. Nearly half of the Senegalese population—46.7 percent, to be exact—are living in poverty. The following 10 facts explain and give context for the poverty rate in Senegal:

  1. The poverty rate in Senegal is determined in terms of consumption. Estimates of consumption per household are divided by the number of adults in the household. This number excludes children, who are assumed to consume less than adults. From here, a minimum acceptable standard of consumption is calculated and individuals below this level of consumption are considered poor.
  2. Geographic disparities exist between rural areas and Dakar, the capital city and the largest city in Senegal. In rural areas, 66 percent of residents are considered poor, compared to 25 percent of residents in Dakar. Additionally, the general poverty line in Dakar is almost two times higher than it is in rural areas.
  3. As of 2011, 38 percent of Senegal’s population was living on $1.90 or less per day.
  4. As of 2016, Senegal’s GNI per capita was $950.
  5. Senegal’s economy relies on industries such as mining, construction, agriculture, fishing and tourism, but it also heavily relies on foreign aid and remittances. Nearly 75 percent of the population works in the agriculture sector, which is regularly threatened by inclement weather such as drought and climate change.
  6. Senegal has a poor economy and, as a result, many Senegalese people emigrate to other countries. An economic crisis in 1970 ignited migration, which had accelerated by 1990. Many migrants left for Libya and Mauritania for opportunities in their thriving oil industries. Others left for more developed countries such as France, Italy and Spain for other economic opportunities.
  7. Senegal’s GDP rose at an average of 4.5 percent each year from 1995 to 2005. After 2005, however, while the rest of Africa enjoyed economic growth, Senegal’s economy started to decline. From 2005 to 2011, Senegal’s economy rose at an average rate of 3.3 percent. Decline in economic growth, especially during this period, can be attributed to drought, floods, rising fuel prices and the global financial crisis.
  8. The World Bank reported that GDP growth is too low for significant poverty reduction in Senegal.
  9. The fertility rate in Senegal is almost 4.5 children per woman. Young people comprise a large portion of the population at 60 percent of the Senegalese population. Additionally, Senegal has an illiteracy rate of 40 percent and a high unemployment rate of 12.7 percent, both of which provide dim outlooks for Senegalese youth. According to the Hunger Project, 22 percent of children ages five to 14 are working and not attending school.
  10. Unlike many countries facing extreme poverty, Senegal has one of the most stable governments in Africa and is considered a model for democracy in Africa. Since its independence from France in 1960, Senegal has elected four presidents and has witnessed three peaceful political transitions.

Despite the fact that the poverty rate in Senegal is high, many projects have been implemented to reduce the poverty rate. President Macky Sall unveiled the Emerging Senegal Plan (ESP), which strives to prioritize economic reforms and growth. The International Monetary Fund is providing assistance for the ESP from 2015 to 2017.

In an attempt to take a fresh look at poverty, Senegal’s national statistics office distributed the second Senegal Poverty Monitoring Survey. The World Bank, the Canadian government and the World Food Programme provided financial support. The survey, however, has room for error, because it is heavily dependent on the time of year that residents fill it out, as consumption levels vary based on the harvest.

Furthermore, microfinance has begun to play a key role in reducing poverty in very poor countries, such as Senegal. This program has allowed very poor individuals who are excluded from traditional banking to obtain microloans. The Hunger Project introduced the Microfinance Program (MFP) in Senegal, which strives to incorporate female farmers and entrepreneurs to give them a larger voice in the community. Three of the MFPs in Senegal have been approved by the government to operate as rural banks. MFPs provide credit and savings programs and have allowed many farmers to move beyond exclusively subsistence farming.

Economic growth will be the key component in reducing poverty in Senegal. These projects from the Senegalese government and various organizations hope to spark economic growth and help reduce the poverty rate in Senegal.

Christiana Lano

Photo: Google

Central African Republic Poverty Rate
The Central African Republic is among the poorest countries in the world. In 2017, the country had the lowest reported GDP per capita, at $656, and the average person lives on less than $1.80 per day. The Central African Republic’s poverty rate is among the highest in the world, with 62 percent of citizens living on less than $1.90 per day when the data was last taken.

The incredible poverty rate is due to a variety of factors, perhaps none more important than the Central African Republic’s history as part of the French Empire. As a country rich in natural resources that have been in demand throughout history, the Central African Republic has been exploited by western nations from the beginning of the Age of Imperialism to the modern day.

Internal conflict has worsened the problems originally begun by western imperialism. Since the Central African Republic gained independence in 1960, the major Christian and Muslim factions in the country have rarely ceased in-fighting. Alongside religious rivalries, multiple ethnic groups and political ideologies have contributed to widespread violence and instability throughout the country.

Longstanding political instability has led to a severe lack of development, one of the greatest reasons behind the abysmal Central African Republic’s poverty rate. Widespread poverty has allowed the country to wallow in incredibly low rates of development for years, ranking 179th out of 187 countries.

In a population of just over four million people, nearly 370,000 children will grow up without one or both of their parents, and more than 50 percent of the population can neither read nor write. Almost five percent of the population carries HIV/AIDS, one of the highest rates in the world.

Numerous groups worldwide are providing necessary aid to the Central African Republic, but many focus on providing emergency relief. While any and all aid is needed throughout the country, short-term solutions do little to assuage the Central African Republic’s poverty rate. In order to provide a long-term solution to poverty, the International Rescue Committee is, alongside emergency aid and health services, creating programs that help both men and women receive education and set up businesses. This program will allow Central Africans take the first steps out of poverty themselves.

Connor S. Keowen

Photo: Flickr

Grenada Poverty Rate
Grenada prime minister Keith Mitchell said that the greatest challenge he faced was bringing down the Grenada poverty rate. This is with good reason. Although the government has implemented many developmental programs, Grenada remains poor. However, with the right determination and effort, Grenada may have hope.

Currently, the Grenada poverty rate stands at 32 percent. The country also has the highest extreme poverty rate in the eastern Caribbean, with a rate of 13 percent. It has one of the highest unemployment rates in the Caribbean as well. About 15 percent of people are out of work in Grenada.

The economic situation in Grenada is fragile. Agriculture and tourism are very important economically. Approximately 90 percent of the farms in Grenada are less than 2 hectares. This has caused the Grenada economy to fluctuate over the past couple of years. For example, in 2008 the economy grew by 2 percent, only to shrink by 8 percent in 2009.

In response to lower agricultural production, the Grenada government has implemented the Cocoa Revitalization Program. The goal of this program is to commercialize over 1,000 acres of land. The government is also planning on launching the Climate-Smart Agriculture and Rural Enterprise Programme in 2018. The goal of the program is to increase agricultural productivity through better information about climate change. The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) also implemented the Grenada Rural Enterprise Project to combat Grenada’s rural problems.

The government also has several economic development programs underway. The government received $10.8 million from the IMF under the Emergency Assistance Program, which they invested into the Bridges and Roads Investment Project.

If the Grenada government continues to be dedicated to ending poverty, the Grenada poverty rate will go down. As Prime Minister Mitchell said, “The future is promising but challenging. However, together with the CDB and our non-borrowing members, we are assured that we can achieve the future we want for the people.”

Bruce Edwin Ayres Truax

Photo: Flickr