The problem relating to poverty in Africa as well as how to address is still the most
insistent dilemma within the international platform. Poverty is not a simple concept to delineate.
According to Susan et al., “the dominant definition of poverty has been in terms of money,
where it is measured by use of income levels as well as the consumption” (90). Poverty is a
situation where a person(s) does not can afford fundamental human needs like nutrition, clothes,
shelter, as well as housing. Poverty is among the leading concerns that most people are facing
on a global platform. A poverty line refers to the minimum level of income that is used as the
approved standards for finding out the proportion of a given population that it living in poverty.
It is the designated minimum income level that is required in order to sustain a specified living
standard. This paper will look into the major aspects of poverty within the African continent with
the aim of recommending the policies that may be adopted so as to address this issue ultimately
There are varied causes of poverty. They include; lack of appropriate education,
corruption, weak economies. Poverty refers to a state of most people in the world, in addition to
countries. There are approximately 3 billion people who live on less than $2.50 in a single day
(Susan et al. 74). Approximately one billion children worldwide who are living in poverty,
implying that they do not have access to adequate shelter, safe food, as well as health services.
Absolute poverty refers to that time when individuals may lack adequate funds to meet the
fundamental threshold that is required for one to survive. There are many people who fall beyond
this line as they cannot be able to afford food, clothes or shelter. On the other hand, relative
poverty may be described as a situation where an individual is living in an expensive house, and
has access to the basic needs, but lacks the capacity to purchase luxurious things, in comparison
to the people who live within that geographical location. Such kind of an individual can still be
referred to as poor. Relative poverty keeps changing more often as well as modifies itself to the
changes that occur in the society. Absolute poverty, however, remains the same.
Socio-economic factors of Poverty in Africa
In all the places, people face various risks as well as vulnerabilities. However, poor
people, particularly those who live in rural areas of Africa face many problems than others, as
they are dependent on agriculture (Van 45). There are different risks as well as vulnerabilities
that are responsible for driving poverty within the African continent.
Harvest Failure: this is a major risk among rural households that are found in Africa
(Susan et al. 55). The geography of Africa, in addition to the agroecology factors, coalesce with
ineffective technologies in agriculture along with insufficient support for agriculture increase the
vulnerability of the crops to fail. In case the crops fail, the crops-dependent households suffer so
much. The extensive rural and national economies are as well negatively affected and made to be
unstable. This is because along with other factors, crop failure will in turn initiate food crisis.
According to Meth (76), approximately 16 million persons in Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, as
well as Lesotho were threatened.
Market Failure and Volatility of the Markets: market volatility as well as market failure
enhance the prevalence of poverty within the African continent. This is so as, in many cases, the
poor people lack the level of assets that are essential in shielding themselves from shocks that
may result from the market itself. There are as well insufficient as well infrastructural linkages
such as roads, railway lines, as well as mobile telecommunication, between local markets with
those that are international. This implies that there is a poor integration of markets in terms of
space and time in most parts of Africa. As a result, this does not merely influence physical
markets, but as well lessens the producers’ as well as traders’ access to valuable information
such as a change in price that limits their capacity to modify their production patterns as well as
trade so as to evade economic shocks. The essence of rural infrastructure is evident in Tanzania
where rural households within one hundred meters have accessibility to good roads that are
served with regular buses, therefore earning a third more capita in comparison to the average
rural capita (Humphries 212).
Conflict: there is a strong correlation existing between high conflict levels with
multidimensional poverty in the African continent. For instance, between 1995 and 2007,
approximately 40 percent of low developed nations internationally were found to be negatively
affected by armed conflict , in comparison with less than 2 percent of high human development
nations (Meth 65). This is significant since most African nations are vulnerable to conflict. In
2007, Africa, with 13 percent of the worldwide population, had more than 40 percent of the
global violent conflicts, where 11 countries were directly affected (Susan et al. 100).
Violent conflicts have direct, immediate, as well as devastating effects, including
destruction of assets in addition to lowering the confidence of investors to invest in a country
(Van 112). Low external investments within African states as a result of conflict has indirect as
well as long-term poverty consequences through the increment dependency ratios that result
from the lack of men to form the labor that is utilized in the production process by factories and
companies. Violence has destroyed a lot of infrastructure systems in Africa over the last decade,
disrupting lives, as well as reducing the level of savings hence contributing to the high poverty
Health Shocks: Concerns of prolonged health complications often leads to a loss of assets
as well as impoverishing people, who are compelled to abandon productive activities. According
to Forje (57), there exist a complex relationship between poor health and poverty as it works in
both ways; that is, poor health may cause poverty whereas poverty can result into poor health.
Health statistics from Africa are distressing. The mortality rate in 2007 was 166 per every
one thousand Africans. This rate is way up from the international average. There is as well poor
maternal health in many African countries, with the odds that an African woman will die out of
complications during the pregnancy as well as during childbirth, where one in every sixteen
deaths recorded in comparison to the developed where death of mothers during childbirth is one
in every three thousand eight hundred cases. Untreated illnesses significantly contribute to the
low life expectancy. For instance, seasonal illnesses such as diarrhea or malaria cause death of
hundreds of Africans, which have a widespread implication on the poverty rates. Limited
Livelihood Opportunities: In 2004, the average level of unemployment was nominally 9.5
percent, and it has risen to 35.3 percent within the previous decades. Nevertheless, this
proportion did not include the size of agricultural as well as informal economies, substantial un-
and under-employed individuals were not included. Moreover, those who are working and are
poor constitute a significant proportion of the population. According to Meth (75), 80 percent of
Africans were not able to earn adequately to live themselves above $2 per day poverty line.
People in Africa remain to be poor since they do not have adequate productive as well as
profitable dealings to engage in. There are factors that contribute to the limited livelihood
opportunities within the rural areas such as poor agroecology in addition to sub-marginal land.
Additionally, there are limited livelihood opportunities within the agricultural sector leading to
rural households traveling to the urban areas.
Political-Economic Factors of Poverty in Africa
So as to comprehend Africa’s poor economic performance as well as its bleak poverty-
reduction analysis, it is significant to address the social relations which shape the decision-
making as well as policy-implementation process is needed. Devoid of this, it is hard to
understand why decisions that are to fight poverty are taken by African leaders.
Non-development politics: there are particular aspects of the political systems in Africa
that hinders transformational change as well as efforts to reduce poverty. This is due to profound
social forces that create power relationships which are referred to as ‘neo-patrimonial’ states that
share different characteristics. In many African nations, politics are ethnic directed instead of
being based on developmental issues (Susan et al. 40). Some leaders as well have embraced
discriminatory practices that are based on regionalism or tribalism. These forms of politics are
used by elite politicians to retain support, which ends up hurting the entire economies, preventing
them to come out of poverty. According to Humphries, “countries such as Congo and Liberia are
endowed with a lot of wealth, but have not been able to experience development due to tribal
politics which have no intentions of propelling the countries ahead in terms of development”
(87). The result of this is that lack of developmental policies by the African governments, leads
to under-utilization of resources, hence increasing the poverty rates.
Corruption: Poverty in majority of African states results from the abuse of office by those
individuals who have been elected into public offices. Corruption is apparent in various forms
such as bribery as well as kickbacks for the process of public procurement. There is as well the
evasion of tax paying which results to wastage of a lot of public funds. Many African leaders are
notorious for embezzlement of public funds, as well as the misuse of public property is very
rampant. For instance, over the past decade, privatization of public companies have been
ongoing in all the African countries. However, this process has only been beneficial to the
insiders at the expense of the nation’s equitable growth. These practices slow down the
development of these nations, increasing the level of poverty. A moral corruption economy takes
place in many African states.
There are different social welfare programs as well as anti-poverty efforts that different
governments have used during the previous decades in order to address poverty. They include
provision of free education, contribution to social health funds, as well welfare funds that are
supposed to help those who do not have employments or sources of income. Eradication of
poverty is a necessary intervention to the developing nations. One of the approaches that may be
utilized in the eradication of poverty is through the education of the masses, particularly the
youth, who are a building block of the economy of any country. The government can encourage
poor individuals, such as the youths, to set up small business through the awarding of loans
which they can apply for and use it as capital.
The poverty level is measured by means of several money income threshold that changes
due to the family size, along with its composition, so as to make a determination about who is
poor. In the case where a family’s total income is low than the family’s threshold, that family is
then considered as being poor. The income that is used during the computation of poverty
includes a family’s earning, compensations for unemployment, retirement income, rent et cetera.
Poverty threshold refers to the money that is used in the determination of the status of poverty.
In conclusion, poverty in African states is one of the problems that bothers the
international society most. Despite the previous interventions to address the problem of poverty,
the poverty levels are soaring up in most countries. This implies that the programs employed
been ineffective, and organizations such as The World Bank ought to come up with a good
intervention program that would address poverty efficiently. African leaders should wake up and
embrace developmental leadership, which is relevant for the advancement of the country. It is as
well recommendable that the developed countries to invest more into these African nations so as
to stimulate economic activities, hence reducing the rates of poverty.