Seventy-five percent of the world’s poorest countries are located in Africa, including Zimbabwe, Liberia and Ethiopia. The Central African Republic is ranked the poorest in the world with a GDP per capita of $656 in 2016. The 10 countries with the highest proportion of residents living in extreme poverty were all in sub-Saharan Africa.
Hunger and malnutrition
One in three people living in sub-Saharan Africa are undernourished. The Food and Agriculture Organization 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, over 40 percent of all Africans are unable to obtain sufficient food regularly.
HIV/Aids is the biggest killer in Africa by a large margin, with 122 deaths per 100,000 people in 2012. This is nearly double the rate of deaths from diarrhoeal diseases, which caused the second-largest number of deaths. The deadly Ebola virus ravaging Sierra Leone and Liberia has pushed already weak healthcare systems into a desperate state.
Regardless of their type, the challenge for today’s governments is the creation and implantation of policies which respond to the immediate and future needs of the people. Healthcare, security, political stability, and development projects are all affected by poor governance.
Corruption is endemic in the way of life in much of Africa. The effect has been great inequalities both in access to services from government offices and in opportunities for investment, with many local and foreign firms discouraged and forced to close business.
The whole world may be facing a surge of unemployment especially of young people, but the situation for Africa is more precarious. This is because governments do not sufficiently invest in the young. As the work force increases, there is a huge disconnect between the older generation and the ever expanding young population.
The African continent has some of the highest averages for fertility rates and population growth in the world. The statistics alone reveal a huge challenge now and years to come. While the average world fertility rate is 2.5 children per woman, in Africa it is 4.7 children per woman.
From urban crime and terrorist groups like Al-Shaabab and Boko-Haram to civil wars in South Sudan and political instability in Libya and Somalia, the examples are endless. The consequent insecurities affect all factors of production, cause massive displacement of people, loss of investment and, lives and also scare away direct foreign investment.
Droughts and famine
Prolonged drought periods result in diaplacement of people and deplete grain reserves and bring about the loss of livelihoods for a great number of people in the continent especially in the Horn of Africa. It reverses development in countries and affects the ability of future generations to struggle from a malnourished childhood to a better standard of living as adults.
The northern tip of the continent (the countries closest to Panama) are the countries with the largest number of impoverished people in South America, ranging from 20 percent to 40 percent of the population. Guyana and Suriname have between 46 percent and 53 percent of the continent’s population who live on $4 per day; some live on less than that amount.
Water and sanitation
The World Water Council reported that 77 million people lack access to safe water or live without a water source in their homes. Of the 77 million, 51 million live in rural areas and 26 million live in urban areas. An estimated 256 million rely on latrines and septic tanks as an alternative to basic sanitation.
Poor Latin Americans lack access to basic healthcare services. Approximately 20 percent of the Latin American and Caribbean population lack access to healthcare because of their poverty. The region also has high rates of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity and cancer.
Unequal distribution of wealth
In much of South America, particularly in well-known tourist countries, run-down slums exist side by side with wealthy urban areas, partly as a result of the unequal distribution of economic success. According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, Latin and South America are the most unequal regions in the world in terms of wealth.
In South and Latin America, poverty can become a generational epidemic because of leftover institutions and sentiments from the Casta system. Casta was a complex system of written rules based on racial segregation similar to the Hindu Castes, where people were separated into societal classes based on appearance and ethnic makeup that determined where they could live, whom they could marry, what jobs they could take and more. The system was favoured by early white colonists in the region and the lingering effects of it have been among the causes of poverty in South America.
Honduras, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina and others have undergone major changes in political leadership in recent months and years, and the lack of clear democratic process in a lot of these countries has been among the causes of poverty in South America. Corrupt or destabilized governments often prove disastrous for the economies of the countries they oversee, which can only have a negative effect on the poverty level in the country.
In South America, the education gap mirrors the income gap between rich and poor. According to WorldFund, “74 million South Americans (about 12.4 percent of the region’s population) live on less than $2 per day. Over half of them are children. Children in the bottom income quintile complete an average of eight years of school versus over ten years completed by children in the top income quintile.” Access to quality education in South America for those living below the poverty line is incredibly rare and difficult to achieve.
A reported 75 million people were living below the poverty line of $3.10 in 2017, placing them at high risk of disaster. China, Indonesia and the Philippines contain most of East Asia’s urban poor. In 2017, Afghanistan had the lowest annual average income in the world at $1,100.
About 519.6 million people do not have enough food to eat in Asia, and a startling 70 percent of world’s malnourished children live on the continent. Due to lack of proper nutrients, 100 million children, 28 percent of the total youth population in Asia, have stunted growth.
The second biggest cause of death among children under five years old in more than 60 percent of East Asia is diarrhoeal diseases. About two out of every five people in East Asia do not have proper sanitation facilities. Open defecation is still the norm for 130 million people throughout countries in the region.
With education unaffordable and families trapped in the vicious cycle of poverty, child labour is common in Asia. Children work excessively long hours and are put in harm’s way doing hazardous work.
Natural disasters and climate change
Natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, extreme temperatures, storms, wildfires and droughts affect agriculture in Asia. According to World Vision, Asia Pacific is the most disaster-prone region in the world.
Many students attending primary school in South Asia are taught on a rote basis. This leads to many skills such as problem solving, writing grammatically correct sentences and measurement being weak. In 2014, studies showed that “one quarter to one third of those who graduate from primary school lack basic numeracy and literacy skills that would enable them to further their education.”
The first and the foremost reason is Asia’s huge population. Almost 60 percent of the world’s population is in Asia. While density of population is not the same everywhere, the monumental growth of population compared to the scarcity of resources is one of the major causes of poverty in Asia.
According to a report by the Asian Development Bank, 67 percent of the world’s hungry live in Asia. Since 2000, there has been an increase in basic food prices, causing food insecurity for the poor, who allocate a large amount of their income for food. Various factors like urban spreade, population growth, a decrease in agricultural land and poor policy making are responsible for increasing food insecurity in Asia.
In some countries of South Asia, caste discrimination is prominent in different levels of the society. This prohibits equal opportunities among the mass population, making certain sections of the population poorer than others.
One in four Europeans experiences at least one form of poverty. Forms of poverty include income poverty, severe material deprivation, very low work intensity and social exclusion. Income poverty is the most common form of poverty in Europe, affecting 17.3 percent of people. One hundred and eighteen million people (23.5 percent) of the EU-28 population were at risk of poverty or social exclusion, with 43 million of those not able to afford a quality meal every second day. This is known as severe material deprivation.
Social exclusion is the lack of social resources and rights available to most people as a result of poverty or being part of a minority group. In 2015, more than a third of the population was at risk of poverty or social exclusion in three EU countries: 41.3 percent in Bulgaria, 37 percent in Romania and 35.7 percent in Greece. The countries with the lowest risk were the Czech Republic at 14 percent and Sweden at 16 percent.
The unemployment rate in Europe is only around seven per cent. According to Eurostat, some countries rank above this average with Greece at 20.9 percent and Spain at 16.3 percent. In 2016, 48.7 percent of people who were unemployed were at risk of poverty. Unemployment also puts people more at risk of severe material deprivation.
While the proposed aid package has the potential to go far in helping refugees at risk along their journey, the EU has not done enough to address the problems the refugee crisis in Europe pose to all parties involved. It is not enough to ignore the misconduct of the Libyan authorities or to send refugees on yet another journey to regions that cannot provide for them as well as Europe can. And it is certainly not enough simply to send refugees back to their home countries.
Many people today think that child labor in Europe cannot exist anymore. For such a developed area of the world, dependency on children for work seems both outdated and absurd. However in reality, child labour still maintains a hold in Europe. According to UNESCO, 29% of children from age 7 to 14 in the country of Georgia are working. Similarly, in Albania, 19% of children of that age group work. Additionally, an estimated 1 million children are labourers in Russia. Even in Italy, 5.2% of children under the age of 16 are working. There are still millions of other unreported cases of child labour across the continent.