Africa faces 'centuries' of poverty

Kent Mensah




Extreme poverty would continue to hit sub-Saharan Africa out of 80 countries for another 200 years, latest research revealed January. Unless poverty intervention actions are intensified the situation would be worse, the report conducted by Social Watch, a network of campaigning groups added.

The group uses "basic capabilities index" to assess the level of hardship throughout the world.

The report finds that 80 countries - home to half the world's population - fare badly when three criteria are examined: the number of children who die before their fifth birthday, the proportion of children who complete primary education, and the proportion of births that are attended by trained midwives or other medical professionals.

The Social Watch report said “only 16 of these countries have registered considerable improvement since 2000. Although the countries making progress include India, home to 1.6 billion, regression has been recorded in others with a combined population of 150 million. The latter category includes Chad, Niger, Malawi, Benin and Yemen, while Bangladesh, Uganda, Nigeria, Madagascar and Ghana have been listed as stagnant.”

It added: “While much of sub-Saharan Africa has recorded strong economic growth in recent years, this has not translated into a major drop in poverty levels. As things stand, the basic needs of millions of Africans will not be met until the 23rd century, with many governments struggling to fulfill pledges they have made. Zambia, for example, has undertaken to provide free basic health care for all citizens, yet continues to have one of the lowest rates of life expectancy on the planet.”

The Coordinator of Social Watch, Roberto Bissio, predicted that the crisis which gripped international capitalism during 2008 will complicate matters further. “Poor countries are very likely going to suffer quite heavily from a crisis which they did not at all create,” he said. Crucial sources of money such as remittances from migrants overseas will probably decline, he added.

Bissio noted that governments need to develop a more coherent response to the fulfilment of human rights, particularly those with an economic and social dimension. Over the past twenty years, he said, international bodies have been eager to promote the 'rights' of corporations to establish themselves anywhere in the world, forbidding poor countries to "impose on them conditions that contribute to the development of host countries."

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