The World Bank’s projections on extreme poverty say progress in Sub-Saharan Africa has been uneven

According to World Bank projections, this year, extreme poverty will fall below 10 percent of the global population. This projection has estimated that over 700 million people – predominantly in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia will live below the poverty line this year.  Although this is an improvement from the 902 million people that were recorded last year, the report shows that sub- Saharan African and Asia has to take a decisive and effective steps to end poverty or be ready to suffer for many more years.

Extreme poverty is defined by the World Bank as average daily consumption of $1.25 or less. It is also a condition in which a person in deprived of basic human needs which include food, clean drinking water, and access to health, shelter, education and information. In trying to measure the level of poverty across the globe, the World Bank started the ‘dollar a day’ international poverty line in 1990. By 2005, the international poverty line has been increased to $1.25.  However, due to inflation across the globe, World Bank has now set a new international poverty line using the Purchasing Power Parities (PPP). PPP is a standard measure of the real value of different currencies in relation to each other based on local prices of the goods and services consumed in each country. According to report from the 2014 PPP survey, anyone who lives on $1.90 or less is extremely poor.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, over 200 million people live in extreme poverty and of the 40 poorest countries in the world, about 33 are Sub-Saharan African countries. In a bid to address the problem of poverty across the globe, world leaders converged at the UN summit and pledged to end extreme poverty by 2030. To this effect, the UN has adopted the Sustainable Development Goals and which will cost over $3 trillion per year.

These are a few of the reasons economic growth in Africa has been uneven:

Prolonged conflict and violence

In places like DR Congo, Burundi and Central African Republic, unrest, war and inter religious conflicts have become the order of the day. These conflicts increase the number of Internally Displaced Persons in the country thereby increasing poverty. For example, in the 2015 United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) report, the Democratic Republic of Congo has over 2 million IDPs due to the ongoing religious crisis. The report estimates that the country needs over $ 200 million in order to provide food, shelter, water and education for its people.

Poor governance

According to the list released by Transparency International, Somalia ranks first on the list of most corrupt countries in the world and also has 73 percent poverty rate, which is one highest in the Africa. About 800,000 Somalians require life-saving assistance, according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). When African leaders abuse their offices by engaging in dishonest and fraudulent dealings or diverting public funds for personal gains, it increases the level of poverty. Citizens robbed of public services, such as good health care system, standard and affordable education, constant power supply, subsidized housing among many others. Also, poor governance allows for income inequality.

Gender discrimination

The Human Development Report placed Niger Republic as the country with the highest gender inequality index in the world. Only 31 percent women are actively involved in labour force as opposed the 91 percent male representation. In most African countries, girls and women continue to experience discrimination in social practices and legal rights. Research has shown that only about 18 percent of women have land titles in countries like Nigeria and Zambia. Also in over 40 countries, discrimination is practiced, making women susceptible to unpaid labour and sexual harassment.  This increases the risk of extreme poverty for households, especially the ones supported by women

Climate change

This is particularly common in the Northeastern parts of Africa which accounts for about 30 percent of the total African population. The region is not favorable for farming or fishing due to poor climate and the adverse geographical conditions. Poverty can thrive in these countries also due to their vulnerability to natural disasters. For example, the drought that hit East Africa in 2011-2012 reduced the GDP of the countries affected by at least 30 percent and caused over 9 million people to be homeless and hungry.

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