Comoros Poverty RateLocated between the eastern coast of Africa and Madagascar with a population of over 800,000 people is the Comoros. The country is comprised of three islands, Ngazidja, Mwali and Ndzouani. According to The World Bank, about 45 percent of the total population falls below the poverty line. Inadequate healthcare, poor education and a rising population are the main contributing factors to the Comoros poverty rate.

The results of a 2014 World Health Organization report show that over half of all deaths in the Comoros are due to maternal, perinatal and nutritional conditions. The country severely lacks access to quality communal healthcare. With less than 5 percent of the budget dedicated to healthcare, operational facilities remain scarce. Fortunately, the country has seen progress in reducing the incidence of malaria. Spraying campaigns and the distribution of insecticide-treated nets across the three islands have greatly aided in its decline. The country has also seen noteworthy advancement in the under-five mortality rate and maternal mortality ratio.

High repetition, increased dropout rates and poor learning outcomes remain problematic factors for the Comoros. High levels of illiteracy and dependency on foreign aid hinder economic development. However, according to The Global Partnership for Education, the Comoros has stepped up their access to quality education. The UNICEF Annual Report for 2016 shows the number of schools providing preschool education reaching almost 50 percent. Children are gradually starting to benefit from valuable education through the expansion of social, cognitive, motor and emotional skills.

At a glance, the Comoros appears to be a very lightly populated country. But when compared to other regions, the Comoros ranks 25th in population density in the world. This ranking is predicted to increase, leading to more population pressure. The rising population has already led to widespread poverty in the form of limited land, lack of resources and unemployment. As a result, at least 150,000 people live abroad. Citizens are moving to countries like France in search of more space and essentially, a better life.

The Comoros poverty rate has started to improve thanks to a reformed poverty reduction strategy. In 2014, the country created a new growth policy that aims to strengthen the economy. Government, quality of life and resilience are all a major focus. The World Bank has also partnered with the Comoros in hopes of endorsing shared growth and increasing employment. Statistics verify that development for the region is slow, but eliminating poverty is a main priority.

Emilee Wessel

Photo: Flickr

Poverty Rate in Benin
Benin, a country of 9.4 million people and 113,000 square miles, is known to  be one of the most stable and inclusive democracies in Africa. The country has seen consistent GDP growth over the past two decades, between 4 and 5 percent annually, with even higher rates in 2013 (7.7 percent) and 2014 (6.4 percent). However, political stability and economic growth have not lessened the poverty rate in Benin. Instead, the country’s poverty rate has been rising.

Despite the GDP, Poverty Rates are Climbing

In 2006, the poverty rate in Benin stood at 37.5 percent, dropping slightly to 35.2 percent in 2009. It then began to rise again, reaching 36.2 percent in 2011 and 40.1 percent in 2015.

How is it that GDP growth has gone hand-in-hand with rising poverty rates?

Economic Vulnerabilities

Twenty-five percent of Benin’s GDP is based on agricultural production. Environmental factors, like drought and severe weather conditions, affect the economy’s predictability and stability. Additionally, production tools are outdated, infrastructure is inadequate, and financing is absent.

Benin’s economy is largely dependent  on informal re-export and transit trade with Nigeria, which makes up about 20 percent of the country’s GDP. Informal labor employs over 90 percent of the country’s labor force and makes up roughly 65 percent of the overall GDP. According to the World Bank, “events in Nigeria can have considerable impact on Benin and create uncertainty in its fiscal space.” African Economic Outlook has reported that the recent economic slowdown in Benin is in part due to lower growth in Nigeria.

Recent Attempts at Reducing Poverty

Benin has been formally trying to fight poverty since 1999. In 2000, the country implemented the Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy (I-PRS). It  then enacted the Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS 1) for 2003-2005, the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS 2) for 2007-2009, and most recently the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS 3) for 2011-2015.

These strategies aimed to bolster the rural economy, control demographic growth, reduce gender inequality, strengthen basic infrastructure, and enrich a microcredit policy–especially for women. Some progress has been measured, with Benin’s Doing Business ranking moving from 158th in 2015 to 155th in 2016.

Building a Diverse Economy from Within

With reliance on Nigeria and agriculture, Benin has the opportunity to improve its business environment from within, becoming more attractive to domestic and foreign investors. Increasing access to credit and infrastructure, such as electricity, will also be key in generating and sustaining business development.

Continuing its efforts to ensure the equal geographical distribution of resources, including access to health and education, and increasing economic opportunities for women will be instrumental for Benin to overcome the steady level of poverty its people have been facing.


Joseph Dover

Photo: Flickr