Poverty in Africa Facts Statistics Suffering Poverty Line
How bad is poverty in Africa? The situation is improving, but Africa remains the poorest continent on Earth. But what many people may not know are the effects of poverty in Africa—including hunger, disease and a lack of basic necessities.


Leading Facts About Poverty in Africa


  1. Seventy-five percent of the world’s poorest countries are located in Africa, including Zimbabwe, Liberia and Ethiopia. The Central African Republic ranked the poorest in the world with a GDP per capita of $656 in 2016.
  1. According to Gallup World, in 2013, the 10 countries with the highest proportion of residents living in extreme poverty were all in sub-Saharan Africa. Extreme poverty is defined as living on $1.25 or less a day. In 2010, 414 million people were living in extreme poverty across sub-Saharan Africa. According to the World Bank, those living on $1.25 a day accounted for 48.5 percent of the population in that region in 2010.
  1. Approximately one in three people living in sub-Saharan Africa are undernourished. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations estimated that 239 million people (around 30 percent of the population) in sub-Saharan Africa were hungry in 2010. This is the highest percentage of any region in the world. In addition, the U.N. Millennium Project reported that over 40 percent of all Africans are unable to regularly obtain sufficient food.
  1. In sub-Saharan Africa, 589 million people live without electricity. As a result, a staggering 80 percent of the population relies on biomass products such as wood, charcoal and dung in order to cook.
  1. Of the 738 million people globally who lack access to clean water, 37 percent are living in sub-Saharan Africa. Poverty in Africa results in more than 500 million people suffering from waterborne diseases. According to the U.N. Millennium Project, more than 50 percent of Africans have a water-related illness like cholera.
  1. Every year, sub-Saharan Africa misses out on about $30 billion as productivity is compromised by water and sanitation problems. This amount accounts for approximately five percent of the region’s gross domestic product (GDP), exceeding the total amount of foreign aid sent to sub-Saharan Africa in 2003.
  1. Due to continuing violence, conflict and widespread human rights abuses, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that 18 million people are of concern to the agency, including stateless people and returnees.
  1. Fewer than 20 percent of African women have access to education. Uneducated African women are twice as likely to contract AIDS and 50 percent less likely to immunize their children. Meanwhile, the children of African women with at least five years of schooling have a 40 percent higher chance of survival.
  1. Women in sub-Saharan Africa are more than 230 times more likely to die during childbirth or pregnancy than women in North America. Approximately one in 16 women living in sub-Saharan African will die during childbirth or pregnancy; only one in 4,000 women in North America will.
  1. More than one million people, mostly children under the age of five, die every year from malaria. Malaria deaths in Africa alone account for 90 percent of all malaria deaths worldwide. Eighty percent of these victims are African children. The U.N. Millennium Project has calculated that a child in Africa dies from malaria every 30 seconds, or about 3,000 each day.

– Jordanna Packtor

Sources: Global Issues, World Hunger, World Bank, World Population Review, The Richest, Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute, UNHCR, The Water Project, Gallup, Global Finance


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To be considered part of the middle class in the United States in 2017, a family of three must earn at least $41,641 per year. That said, the yearly salary for individuals working minimum wage jobs at a 40-hour work week is a mere $15,080. Despite a great deal of rhetoric saying otherwise, jobs and poverty exist together.

If a three-person household included one child and two adults working for minimum wage, the total income would be $30,160 per year. This amount is far below the yearly income required to be considered a middle-class household of three. It isn’t hard to see how many Americans can work 40 hours per week or more to provide for their families while falling near or below the poverty line.

Jobs and poverty exist together. Being employed does not necessarily mean being “financially secure.” According to a 2002 Urban Institute study, 45 percent of homeless people had worked within the past 30 days. To change these statistics, it is not enough to focus on poverty within our borders; the focus must be on alleviating poverty on a global scale.

When the U.S. works to end global poverty, American businesses benefit thanks to an expanded customer base, seeing as those who were once living in poverty are now able to purchase products exported from the U.S. An expanded customer base abroad creates more job opportunities at home, helping to alleviate poverty both globally and locally.

Minimum wage workers are living proof that jobs and poverty exist together. For these workers, staying above the poverty line is particularly challenging depending on the size of the family. A single parent of two would have to work more than 50 hours each week to keep from falling into poverty.

Creating more jobs and jobs that come with better benefits will help reduce poverty, but the U.S. needs a greater focus on using foreign aid to generate these jobs. By lifting others out of poverty, we create consumers with the annual income needed to purchase more American products.

Fighting global poverty is one good way to strengthen the economy, produce more jobs and give a better life to all who are living in or near the poverty line.

Trisha Noel McDavid

Photo: Flickr

Defined as a modern-day version of slavery, human trafficking is a global human rights crisis. Throughout the world, traffickers manipulate victims through tactics such as violence and threats into exploitative forced sex and/or labor. Since many never experience liberation, comprehensive data does not exist on the matter. This being said, below are the top 10 human trafficking statistics:

  1. Approximately 20.9 million individuals have fallen victim to human trafficking. Of those, 11.7 million are from the Asian-Pacific region; 3.7 million are from Africa; 1.8 million are from Latin America; 1.6 million are from Central and Southeast Europe; 1.5 million are from regions with developed economies, such as the United States, Canada and Australia and 600,000 are from the Middle East.
  2. The populations most vulnerable to human trafficking are runaway and homeless youth, foreign nationals and individuals who have experienced violence and trauma, such as domestic violence, sexual assault, war and conflict or social discrimination.
  3. Women are more vulnerable than men. According to the International Labor Organization, approximately 55 percent of human trafficking victims are women and girls.
  4. Forced labor benefits the private economy, generating annual profits of $150 billion.
  5. As of September 2016, the United States Department of Labor identified 139 goods from 75 countries supposedly produced by child or forced labor.
  6. The most common form of forced labor is sexual exploitation. An estimated 1.3-1.4 million women and children are enslaved in commercial sex trafficking.
  7. The National Human Trafficking Hotline provides victims and survivors with 24/7 access to safety and support services. Since 2007, 31,659 cases have been reported through the hotline.
  8. Prosecutors have had notable success in human trafficking cases. In 2009, 4,166 trials resulted in guilty verdicts. This marked a 40 percent increase from 2008.
  9. In the United States, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 is aimed at combatting trafficking both domestically and globally. Since its passing, more than eight other bills have passed that monitor and work to eliminate human trafficking.
  10. Anti-Human Trafficking Task Forces have trained more than 85,000 law enforcement officers and others to identify the signs of human trafficking and its victims.

As evidenced by these top 10 human trafficking statistics, it remains incumbent upon lawmakers and citizens alike to challenge the escalation of human trafficking globally. Recent successes of both legislation and outreach programs indicate that intervention tactics can help.

Emily Chazen

Photo: Flickr

Accessing education is not easy in many poor areas of the world. Widening access to education is a key method in reducing global poverty. Here are 15 poverty and education statistics to better understand the relationship of how these two issues interplay.

  1. There are more than 124 million primary or secondary school-aged children who are not in school around the world.
  2. The reasons children do not attend school vary. Some children belong to families who cannot afford it, while others are too sick or too hungry to attend. All of these reasons trace back to poverty.
  3. The cost of providing 13 years of education for a child living in a developing country is around $1.18 a day.
  4. One of the first steps in overcoming poverty is receiving an education.
  5. With each year of schooling, an individual’s income potential increases by around 10 percent.
  6. With more education, one has more opportunities.
  7. Girls have a harder time accessing education than boys. Ten million boys and 15 million girls will never receive a primary education.
  8. Gender inequality in education is predominantly seen among the poor.
  9. If every girl had access to an education, the number of child marriages could decrease by 14 percent.
  10. If a mother has the ability to read, her children have a 50 percent greater chance of surviving past the age of five.
  11. Nearly 800 million people do not have the basic ability to read or write.
  12. Conflict, one of the many causes of poverty, is also a leading cause of disruption in education. About 35 percent of kids who are not in school are not receiving an education due to conflicts such as war.
  13. Poverty decreases as more people have access to education. Investing in education leads to further development.
  14. Rural areas yield more poverty and less access to education. A child from a rural area is twice as likely to not attend school as a child from an urban area.
  15. According to WE Charity, $26 billion more each year would give every person a basic education, which is “less than five percent of what the U.S. military spent in 2015.”

According to Children International, “education is one of the most powerful ways to reduce poverty and improve health, gender equality, peace and stability.” These 15 poverty and education statistics show that access to education is key to overcoming poverty.

Shannon Elder

Photo: Flickr

refugee statistics
The refugee statistics are appalling. The last few years have seen the highest levels of refugees on record. The topic is everywhere — on television, online and on the minds of both those displaced and those trying to help. To grasp how big the world refugee crisis truly is, below are 15 statistics on refugees worth knowing.

Top Refugee Statistics

  1. Nearly one in 100 people worldwide have been pushed out of their homes due to war or political instability.
  2. Including 5.2 million Palestinian refugees, the total number of refugees in the world today is 21.3 million. This does not include internally displaced persons (IDPs) who have not left their country’s borders but were forcibly moved from their community. More than 65 million people are affected by war and power struggles, including IDPs.
  3. Fifty-three percent of refugees come from Somalia, Afghanistan and Syria. Respectively, 1.1 million, 2.7 million, and 4.8 million refugees are from these countries.
  4. The Middle East and North Africa host 39 percent of refugees. Africa hosts 29 percent, Europe and the Americas host 18 percent, while Asia and the Pacific host 14 percent. Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, Ethiopia, and Jordan rank as the top hosting countries.
  5. The number of people seeking asylum in Europe has also reached a record high of 1.3 million. Most of these refugees are from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.
  6. Germany, Hungary and Sweden have become the top destination countries in Europe for refugees.
  7. In the history of statistics on refugees, the last five years have seen the greatest rate of increase on record. The greatest rate of decrease occurred between the years 1994 to 1999. The lowest recorded number of refugees was in 1963.
  8. Nine out of 10 refugees head for neighboring countries. Most do not seek asylum in industrialized countries. About 86 percent are hosted in developing countries.
  9. Pakistan and Iran house nearly 95 percent of Afghan refugees.
  10. Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt house nearly 95 percent of Syrian refugees.
  11. The U.N. Refugee Agency was underfunded by $10.3 billion dollars in 2015. It is estimated that the annual cost of U.S. airstrikes against ISIS in Syria will be $10 billion.
  12. Several countries are doing their statistical “fair share” to assist in the latest refugee crisis. Canada is at the top of this list, receiving almost 250 percent of its estimated fair share of refugees. Norway is second, accepting 144 percent of its fair share, and Germany is not far behind, welcoming 118 percent.
  13. The countries that accept the least of their fair share include the U.S., Spain and France, all standing at 10 percent. Japan, Russia and South Korea rank last, having accepted zero percent of what would be considered fair.
  14. The largest refugee camps in the world include Kakuma Camp in Kenya, Zaatari in Jordan and Yida in South Sudan. Each of these camps hold more than 70,000 people, which is more than the population of Boston.
  15. Many case studies illustrate the need for clean water. In Kakuma camp, households that had access to 110 liters of water per day saw 11 cases of cholera; those who had access to 37 liters of water per day noted 163 cases.

These statistics on refugees show the extent to which this unprecedented crisis has affected the world. Certain regions are more affected than others, but affected most are the displaced persons themselves.

Michael Ros

Photo: Flickr

How Many Refugees Are in the World
On Feb. 17, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) published its highly anticipated 2016 mid-year trends report. The document provides fresh insight into the global humanitarian crisis and yields a tentative answer to the question: how many refugees are there in the world? The agency has a tall order to fill — roughly 65.3 million people worldwide have been forcibly displaced from their homes. In 2015, 24 people were displaced from their homes every minute.

According to the UNHCR, a refugee is “someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence.” They are recognized under the 1951 U.N. Refugee Convention, the Convention’s 1967 Protocol and the 1969 OAU Convention. The question remains: how many refugees are there in the world?

Though it is difficult to accurately state how many refugees there are in the world at a given time, the UNHCR statistic reported last month was 15,874,208. It is important to realize that this excludes 640,982 individuals currently in a refugee-like situation. The UNHCR defines this particular sub-category as “groups of persons who are outside their country or territory of origin and who face protection risks similar to those of refugees, but for whom refugee status has, for practical or other reasons, not been ascertained.”

One trend in the report is clear: the numbers have grown. In 2015, the UNHCR mandate stood at 16.1 million refugees with an additional 5.2 million registered with the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). By June 2016, there were 16.5 million refugees and people in refugee-like situations worldwide. Approximately 12.4 million have been assisted by the UNHCR.

The largest concentrations of refugees presented in the report are in the Middle East and North Africa (5,816,454) as well as the rest of Africa (5,275,845). As additional information becomes available, these figures may be adjusted.

The scope of UNHCR’s mandate is global in nature, while the UNRWA’s mandate is specific to refugees living in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and Jordan. The UNRWA for Palestine Refugees in the Near East was established in 1949 and continues to provide relief for people in those regions.

Understanding How Many Refugees Exist

To correctly interpret the findings outlined above, several qualifications are warranted. First, the dataset contains the latest available estimates — which are subject to change. The nature of statistics is that data is provisional. Second, the number of refugees is different when those in refugee-like situations are considered in a total summation. Third, the published values in the trend report are based on different government definitions and data collection methodologies within each respective nation. These various interpretations make it increasingly difficult to calculate the total number of refugees in the world. Fourth, the figures only represent the first half of 2016 — there is more data still to analyze. Finally, refugees who have been resettled are not included in these estimates. Although, the UNHCR still monitors these groups to ensure their safety and welfare. Overall, the question — how many refugees are there in the world — is answerable in a relatively statistical sense.

The UNHCR claims that many industrialized nations are not equipped with refugee registers or effective data collection procedures. This means governments are unable to accurately report on the number of refugees within their borders. One step forward in managing this crisis would be to standardize definitions and collection procedures so that precise figures can be ascertained. Without reliable data, there is only guesswork.

With a U.S. federal budget battle brewing, the impact of reduced diplomacy and foreign aid investments could prolong the suffering of millions around the globe. A weakened State Department may be unable to cope with the decades-long fallout of mass disillusionment, fear and anguish. Furthermore, the spectrum of sentiment among U.S. leaders and divided public opinion on matters of foreign policy signals an era of uncertainty regarding the management of the refugee crisis and any progress toward a swift resolution.

JG Federman

Photo: Flickr

World Hunger Statistics facts
While great strides have been made towards fighting hunger and malnutrition, world hunger remains a persistent problem. Hunger is detrimental to developing countries, as it pushes impoverished families into a downward spiral and prevents further development. This article discusses the leading world hunger statistics.

Top 15 World Hunger Statistics


  1.  Approximately 842 million people suffer from hunger worldwide. That’s almost 12 percent of the world’s population of 7.1 billion people.
  2. Ninety-eight percent of those who suffer from hunger live in developing countries. 553 million live in the Asian and Pacific regions, while 227 million live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Latin America and the Caribbean account for 47 million.
  3. India has the highest population of hungry people. In 2014, over 190.7 million people were undernourished in India.
  4. Approximately 9 million people die of world hunger each year according to world hunger statistics; more than the death toll for malaria, AIDs and tuberculosis combined in 2012.
  5. Over 60 percent of the world hungry are women, who have limited access to resources because of the patriarchal societies in which they live.
  6. Because of the prevalence of hunger in women in developing countries, malnutrition is a leading cause of death for children. Approximately 3.1 million children die of hunger each year, and in 2011 poor nutrition accounted for 45 percent of deaths for children under five.
  7. Malnutrition is a primary symptom of hunger. Forty percent of preschool-age children are estimated to be anemic because of iron deficiency, and anemia causes 20 percent of all maternal deaths. In addition, it is estimated that 250 to 500 thousand children go blind from Vitamin A deficiency every year.
  8. Malnutrition causes stunting among children, a condition characterized by low height for a child’s age. In 2013, it was estimated that 161 million children under 5 were stunted worldwide.
  9. Malnutrition also causes wasting, a condition characterized by low weight for a child’s age. In 2013, it was estimated that 51 million children under 5 were wasted.
  10. Great strides have been made towards ending world hunger. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations estimates that the total number of hungry people worldwide has been reduced by 216 million people since 1992.
  11. 11. The regions that have made the greatest progress towards ending world hunger have been Latin America and South-East Asia. Latin America reduced its hunger rate from 14.7 percent in 1990-1992 to 5.5 percent in 2012-2014, whereas South-East Asia reduced its hunger rate from 30.6 percent to 9.6 percent in the same period.
  12. One region that has shown little reduction in hunger has been Sub-Saharan Africa. While the hunger rate in this region fell 10 percent from 1992-2014, the number of hungry people has actually risen during this time period, from 175.7 million to 220 million.
  13. The world produces enough food to feed everyone. Food availability per capita has increased from approximately 2220 kcal per person per day in the 1960s to 2790 kcals per person per day in 2006.
  14. Poverty is the number one cause of world hunger. The World Bank estimates that 10.7 percent of the world’s population, or 767 million people, lived on less than $1.90 per day in 2013.
  15. Over 75 percent of the world poorest grow their own food. This causes widespread food insecurity in developing countries, as drought, climate change and natural disasters can easily cut off a family’s food supply.

World hunger has proven to be a difficult problem to solve, despite the efforts of many nations and organizations working to eradicate it. However, world hunger statistics show that great progress has been made towards reducing it, and regions such as East Asia, South-East Asia and Latin America have met the Millennium Development Goal for developing countries to cut their hunger rates in half by 2015. If efforts from organizations like USAID and UNICEF continue, even more progress can be made to fight world hunger.

Chasen Turk

Photo: Flickr


Spending $1 and getting $4 back? It’s a deal that sounds too good to be true. Yet that’s exactly the return rate for investment in family planning. In terms of international aid, for every $1 invested in family planning, $4 is saved in areas such as education, public health, energy and water and sanitation.

Access to family planning and a decrease in fertility rates are widely documented to expand populations of working adults and decrease the proportion of dependent children. This contributes toward a “demographic dividend” — a surge in a nation’s economic growth. The World Bank has termed the economic and social impacts of increased access to family planning “transformative.”

As detailed in a working paper published by the Council on Foreign Relations, one of the “greatest challenges” facing poor countries is the urgent need for comprehensive, reproductive health services, including family planning. If this need goes unmet, “this challenge will jeopardize poverty reduction measures taken by governments, civil society, and aid- based organizations and threaten their long-term growth prospects.”

As the statistics below demonstrate, the need for increased access to family planning is outweighed only by its massive potential benefits:

  1. Globally there are 222 million women who want to prevent pregnancy but are in need of contraception.
  2. 73% of women who lack desired access to contraception live in the world’s 69 poorest countries. In sub-Saharan countries like Somalia, as little as 14% of women have access to contraception. As a result, the average Somalian woman gives birth to six children and one out of every 12 women die of pregnancy-related causes. Globally,1,000 women die every day from complications due to child birth — more than 80% of them live in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
  3. In a comprehensive study conducted in Bangladesh, women in villages that were involved in a family planning outreach program reported monthly earnings that were 40% higher than in comparison villages. Women of childbearing age who were part of the outreach program were also healthier, with bigger BMIs, and were more likely to have access to clean water. Child mortality rates also decreased by 30%.
  4. Research since the Cairo International Conference on Population Development has indicated that if the global birth rate had dropped by five per one thousand during the 1980s, there would be a full one-third fewer people living in poverty today.
  5. Despite numerous research findings that illustrate the substantial economic, health and environmental benefits of providing access to family planning and the crucial role it plays in poverty reduction, there remains a sorry lack of available resources to the populations in need. Only 22% of family planning funding needs are being met worldwide.

Kelley Calkins

Sources: Council on Foreign Relations, mamaye!, World Bank, Population Action International
Photo: Global Press


The world poverty standard is an income of $2 per day or less. By this world poverty statistic, 50 % of the global population lives in poverty.  Of the 2.2 billion children in the world, 1 billion live in poverty.

Poverty is closely linked to access to clean water. 1.1 billion people lack access to clean water, with only 25 % of the global poor having indoor plumbing.  More than half of all people suffering from illness in developing countries because of poor water conditions.

Poverty contributes to global hunger. Malnutrition is the lack of basic nutritional needs.  In the context of world hunger, this refers to protein-energy malnutrition is the lack of calories from protein.  This is the most deadly form of malnutrition because the body does not receive enough calories or amino acids to develop and maintain muscle tissue.

The U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) estimates one in eight people worldwide suffer from malnutrition.  On average, malnutrition affects 15 % of the population of developing countries.  In developing countries around 28 % of children are underdeveloped.

The problem is not a food shortage, but rather a logistical one.  There is plenty of food to go around, but many areas do not have access to sustainable farmland or lack the ability to import large quantities of food.

The global poor also suffer from poor medical care.  270 million people have no access to health services. Malaria is one of the most devastating diseases among Africa’s poor.  Malaria interferes with children’s education, social interactions, physiological development, and neurological health.

In 2005, among all developing nations, 72 million school-aged children were not enrolled in classes.  Nearly a billion people worldwide are not literate.  Collectively, each year children miss 443 million days of school due to illness.

– Stephanie Lamm

Sources: Global Issues: Poverty Facts an Stats, Statistic Brain, WHO, Global Issues
Photo: The Feed

How prevalent is anemia in children and women? Is there a good vaccine against malaria available where it’s needed the most? What are the consequences of domestic violence? And what are some complications resulting from second-hand smoke?

Seeking to provide accurate answers to these, and many other questions of similar nature, MEASURE DHS (Monitoring and Evaluation to Assess and Use Results of Demographic and Health Surveys) is a comprehensive database which employs a wide variety of household surveys and evaluation methods around the globe.

There are over 300 survey templates spread across more than 90 countries. Complementing the survey results, biological markers and GPS data are often collected together with the survey questions for maximum accuracy. Through an online platform called STATcompiler, DHS results are viewable in scatter plots, charts and maps – these are all sorted by indicator and year.

The purpose of DHS is not solely to collect and catalogue, though. Evaluating valuable statistics on disease, fertility and nutrition is crucial to solving global issues within those, and other categories.

Two kinds of surveys are utilized to ensure the most precise measuring data technique: standard and interim. The former is conducted at circa five-year intervals to allow for comparison over time, and the latter deals with key performance monitoring. Although both types are nationally representative, sample sizes for standard surveys tend to be much larger than interim.

Started in 1984 by ICF International and funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), data collected by DHS is used for planning new programs in host countries and policy formation. Developing countries are specifically targeted in this long-running project, and many of the findings are published online.

For instance, an interesting trend has recently been discovered that seems to disprove the common misconception that HIV affects impoverished communities most: factually, HIV-afflicted citizens of many of the countries surveyed have a tendency to belong to the wealthiest families.

MEASURE DHS is open to communicating with the media for coverage of results and promotion of new survey distributions; this way, it becomes possible to reach as many people as possible and collect an accurately representative sample.

When new information comes to light and is indicative of a desired policy change, MEASURE DHS often forms partnerships with other organizations in order to help understand and get the most out of the results and develop new, effective programs as a response. For example, after the 2003-2004 Tanzania HIV Indicator Survey, MEASURE DHS developed a curriculum which aided hundreds of professionals in their work with AIDS/HIV, and worked together with Pathfinder, Pact Inc., and the Tanzania Commission on AIDS.

Together, they organized new training for staff working with HIV/AIDS, which lasted for three days and provided valuable insight for the future of AIDS studies, both on location and in the U.S.

Overall, MEASURE DHS provides essential data from the past few decades which supports and shapes the partner USAID’s (and others’) global work. First-hand quantitative and qualitative questions on the surveys allow for unique and accurate depiction of an entire country’s population. Although the project itself tends to be somewhat underappreciated in social media, it has since its start been the sturdy backbone of humanitarian workers across the nation.

– Natalia Isaeva

Sources: Measure DHS, ICFI