All of the world’s 10 poorest countries by GDP are in Africa. These countries generally have poor government infrastructures and corrupt officials. They are wracked with violence and disease. Climate change severely affects the rural areas. However, anti-poverty strategies have already been successful. Thanks in part to efforts by the U.N., the number of people living in extreme poverty has been cut in half over the past 27 years. Here is a list of and facts about the world’s 10 poorest countries and the efforts to reduce poverty in them:
- Madagascar is exposed to droughts brought on by climate change. After multiple poor harvests, roughly 450,000 people suffer severe food shortages. The country has the fourth-highest child malnutrition rate in the world. Freedom from Hunger and the World Bank Fund combat poverty in this country through micro-loans and safety net programs.
- Eritrea is still recovering from a revolution in which it gained independence from Ethiopia. The country is in self-imposed isolation, causing economic stagnation. A harsh military conscription keeps young men and women in military camps and out of work. Eritrea has rejected recent U.N. humanitarian aid offers.
- Guinea is very oil-rich, but while corrupt officials amass vast capital, the government spends an estimated 17 percent of its oil revenue on health and education. Meanwhile, infant mortality rates are high, and roughly 40 percent of young children go without education. The first democratically elected President Conde has stated that he plans to focus on fighting corruption to solve these problems.
- Mozambique is still dealing with the impacts of a 16-year civil war. Fifty percent of the population is below the poverty line. Poverty is highest in rural areas, where as many as 45 percent of people suffer from chronic malnutrition. Poverty reduction programs in the country have been successful by focusing on agricultural aid and educating farmers in agricultural development.
- Malawi was hit hard by the AIDS epidemic, which orphaned over a million children. Climate change severely hurt the nation because it relies heavily on subsistence farming. Food shortages are common, and 47 percent of children suffer from stunted growth. President Mutharika has made steps to fight agricultural insecurity by investing in agriculture and individual farmers.
- In Niger, corruption and political apathy allow for Boko Haram and bands of cattle rustlers to terrorize local communities that are already plagued by drought. The country has a 70 percent illiteracy rate. To address this, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Nigerian government have made steps to improve schools in the country.
- Liberia suffered heavily during the Ebola crisis. The quarantined zones designed to combat the virus hurt trade and stopped farmers from working together. During the epidemic, countless farm plots had been abandoned, leaving much of the population with food insecurity. USAID continues to work with the Liberian government to combat poverty and the impacts of the Ebola virus.
- In Burundi, political violence is rampant. Hundreds of people were killed during the fallout of the latest election and nearly 245,000 have fled the country. The country is at the top of the global hunger index, and violence increases malnutrition rates. The EU, Burundi’s biggest humanitarian aid donor, has cut aid, hoping it will force the government to do more to end the bloodshed.
- The Democratic Republic of Congo is still recovering from a civil war that revolved around natural resources. As a result, the country suffers from widespread disease and malnutrition. Poverty levels are at 64 percent. The U.N. estimated that there are 2.3 million refugees living in the country. The U.N. has recently taken steps to bring humanitarian aid to refugees and bring investors into the country.
- In the Central African Republic (CAR), ethnic violence is widespread, displacing millions. Because of this, the CAR has the world’s highest malnutrition rates, despite its fertile soil. According to the U.N., nearly half the population is in need of humanitarian assistance. The U.N. has asked for and recently received nearly $400 million to combat starvation and poverty.
While poverty, starvation and violence are prevalent in these countries, major improvements have been made in the world’s poorest countries. Sub-Saharan Africa has seen a 20 percent increase in primary school attendance. From 1995 to 2003, advanced medical techniques saved 7.6 million people from the AIDS virus. Child mortality has been cut roughly in half despite a boom in global population. This is all thanks to foreign aid, which has been proven effective. Nevertheless, it is clear there is a long way to go toward ending global poverty. This is why it is so important that global leaders remain strong in their fight against poverty.
– Bruce Truax