Statistics on Poverty In Sub-Saharan AfricaNearly half the population in Sub-Saharan Africa lives below the international poverty line. Discussed below are five shocking statistics regarding poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Leading Facts on Poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa

  1. The average life expectancy at birth for someone born in sub-Saharan Africa is 46. This sobering number is due to the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the region. According to UNDP, “a person can hope to live on average only 46 years, or 32 years less than the average life expectancy in countries of advanced human development, with 20 years slashed off of life expectancy due to HIV/AIDS.” Thankfully, HIV death rates are decreasing across sub-Saharan Africa. In Rwanda, AIDS-related mortality rates dropped from 7% to 5% from 2011-2012. Similarly, in Uganda the life expectancy was raised by ten years between 2000 and 2013, from age 46 to age 55. Foreign aid and the distribution of HIV/AIDS medication has played a large role in this reversal.
  2. 48.5% of the population is living on less than $1.25 per day, and 69.9% on less than $2.00 per day. With a little over 910 million people living in the region, this places around 637 million Africans below the poverty line. The good news is that poverty rates are steadily declining in almost all of the countries in the region. In 2011, the head of the Africa World Economic Forum Katherine Tweedie stated that “10 fastest-growing economies will come from sub-Saharan Africa in the next five years.” In 1981, the poor in this region accounted for 50% of the world’s poor population. Today, they account for one third of the world’s poor population. Although one third is still a significant number, it is considerably less daunting than the numbers from a few decades ago.
  3. HIV/AIDS is the #1 killer in sub-Saharan Africa. UNAIDS estimates that 2 million Africans perish each year from the disease. 70% of these African HIV/AIDS deaths were in sub-Saharan Africa. The region also lays claim to 90% of new HIV infections in children. In Namibia alone, 15,000 people die every year from the disease.
  4. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is the poorest country in Africa and the second poorest country in the world, with almost 88% of the population living on less than $1.25 a day. With a population of 65.7 million people, 88% is an unnerving statistic. Children are severely malnourished (rates have reached 30% in certain areas) and many die due to these adverse conditions. In fact, children account for almost 50% of deaths in the country. If any country in Africa deserves aid from the United States, it is the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  5. The majority of poor people in the region live in rural areas. Due to a decline in agricultural assistance, the rural sectors of sub-Saharan African nations are hotbeds of extreme poverty. Much of the land is very dry, making it difficult for farmers to grow food for sustenance. Luckily, efforts are being made by the UNDP to foster the development of sustainable agriculture in these areas. In Lesotho, reform actually came from the government when King Letsie III introduced sustainable farming to his people.

– Josh Forgét

Sources: The World Bank, The New Times, Farmers Weekly, The National, Rural Poverty Portal, World Concern
Photo: City Data


Amidst the joy over the DOW reaching an all-time high, as well as the numerous other positive signals that the American economy is in recovery mode, it can be easy to miss the nuanceshidden in the statistics. While Americans on the whole are getting rich again, these gains are not being seen by everyone. When the data is parsed carefully, it is evident that the poorest in our society have failed to see many benefits from the so-called economic recovery. As a result, the wealth gap in the United States continues to grow.

Impoverished people rarely, if ever, have any forms of investment. So when huge gains are seen in financial markets, these benefits do not actually bring any kind of respite from the day-to-day hardships of poverty. The recent gains in American wealth have been largely concentrated among the richest members of society, raising “the bar for success while leaving fewer haves and more have-nots.”

The economy as a whole has managed to get back to its pre-recession figures without bringing back the same levels of employment, home ownership, home value, or income inequality. Companies have been unwilling to hire for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is uncertainty about which way Washington’s budget struggles will play out. Without knowing what tax rates will be, it can be hard for a business to make any kind of large expenditure determinations. At a time when calls have been renewed to raise the minimum wage to be in line with inflation, these new figures from the Federal Reserve should work to galvanize support for policies which work to reduce poverty using the powerful engine of capitalism—an approach which is as American as baseball and apple pie.

–  Jake Simon

Source: US News

Bono Advocates Factivism in the Fight Against Global Poverty
During the 2013 TED Conference in Long Beach, CA, U2 lead singer and anti-poverty activist Bono spoke about successes in the fight against global poverty and made predictions for the future.

Bono, the founder of the anti-poverty organization One and long-time ally of the world’s poor, stated that he will temporarily retire from being a rock star to become a “factivist” – one who uses facts and evidence to support activist causes. The facts are, in this case, statistics on declining global poverty rates. Bono advocates factivism as just one way that we can all work to help end global poverty.

A few of the most encouraging statistics:

– 7,256 fewer children under the age of five are dying each day.

-The number of people living in extreme poverty (on less than $1.25 per day) has fallen from 43 percent in 1990 to 21 percent in 2010.

If poverty continues to decline at the same rate, extreme poverty will be eliminated by the year 2030. However, the smaller the number gets, the more difficult it will be to reach the target of zero people living in extreme poverty.

Bono’s factivism could not come at a better time, as the efforts of those who support anti-poverty organizations, legislation, and foreign aid are clearly paying off. Significant progress has been made in the fight against extreme poverty around the world.

However, as Bono stated, there is still work to do. The decline in global poverty rates does not mean that anti-poverty activism is, or should be, coming to an end. Rather, the successes that have been achieved over the last decade are a strong motivation to work even harder to end poverty for every person.

Bono listed three ways that we can work to make poverty rates continue to decline over the next decade. The first is to actively fight government efforts to cut funding to anti-poverty organizations. Second, we should continue to support technological advances that improve the quality of life for the poorest people. And lastly, Bono urges us to fight corruption using social media networking and demand transparency in action from those in power.

To learn more poverty statistics, check out Good News in the War on Poverty. To become a factivist for the world’s poor, find out How to Get Involved in the Cause. Bono advocates factivism, and so does the Borgen Project!

Kat Henrichs
Sources: Guardian, LA Times
Photo: Twitter